The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) – Applying It to Implementing Your New Talent Management Solution

June 24, 2015

By Warren Phillips, HRchitect

Whirlwind – the daily activities of an organization, including other projects and urgent issues that compete for attention and resources.

Project – your project, a series of tasks executed within a specified period of time that will achieve a desired end result. In this case, implementing a Talent Management solution.

Will your Talent Management Implementation Project experience a slow death as it is suffocated by your “Whirlwind?”

The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a method of focusing the team’s energy on a successful path in the midst of distraction (the “Whirlwind”). These concepts are from the publication, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is not theory. It is a proven set of practices that have been tested and refined by hundreds of organizations and thousands of teams over many years. You too can apply these disciplines to help your project succeed.

Discipline 1 Focus. Identify your Wildly Important Goals (WIG).

These are Tactical Goals, that together lead up to a desired Strategic Goal. By using Wildly Important Goals, the leader narrows the team’s focus and clarifies what matters most. Start by selecting one or two extremely important goals. Do not try to use more than two.

Put some structure around your WIG by answering “From X to Y by When”. Where are you now, where do you want to be and by when. It is important to say “no” or defer new ideas until the results have been achieved.

Do one thing at a time with excellence. Apply more energy against fewer goals. The challenge is that most leaders try to do more and more with the resources they have. While this may accomplish more tasks, it often sub-optimizes the results. The law of diminishing returns is inescapable.

Discipline 2 Leverage. Identify Lead Measures for each Wildly Important Goal and focus effort on them.

These include Lag Measures and Lead Measures.

Lag Measure defines a desired future state. It lags because it is not defined until other tasks are completed. Focusing on “Lag Measures” is like driving a car while looking only in the rearview mirror and does not give a team the real-time feedback they need to drive to the highest performance.

Lead Measure/Behavior is Influencing and Predictive. It directly influences achievement of the goal, and is measurable and reliable.

A high performance team focuses on the play by play, taking the daily and weekly actions necessary to positively impact the lead measure.

Discipline 3 Engagement. Establish a compelling Player’s Score Card.

Whether it is completing a project or playing competitive sports, a Player’s Score Card can motivate the team. Great players know at any moment if their contribution is helping the team, and great teams know at any moment if they are winning or losing.

Measurements should be simple and visual, displaying the progress against the Lag Measures (the result they want) and the Lead Measures (what the team can directly affect). With just a glance, (5 seconds or less) you should be able to tell if the team is winning or losing.

Tip! The Player’s Score Card is separate from the Coaches Score Card, which is a separate drilling down into all of the information that is important to the coach. Those details, while important, are not part of the Player’s Score Card. Keep them separate.

Discipline 4 Accountability. Establish a Cadence of Accountability shared between all team members.

Nothing happens without follow through with consistent action, especially within the “Whirlwind” of competing priorities.

Accomplished through a 20 to 30 minute weekly meeting for the team. Each player being held accountable for their activities contributing to their Lead Measure. This is where the “game” is played. While the tendency is to have less meetings, experience has proven that more frequent team gatherings keeps the Wildly Important Goals in focus. Some teams opt for daily 15 minute meetings.

In closing….Your Talent Management Implementation Project is probably a part of a larger corporate Initiative. Your Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) should be in alignment with and support the WIGs at the higher levels of the organization. This is where solid sponsorship comes in. Through that partnership and governance, your project can deliver the greatest value.

Warren Phillips

About Warren Phillips

A Senior HCM Consultant with the HRchitect Consulting team. With over 30 years of experience in the training industry, Warren has led the implementation of training initiatives and Talent Management Systems for a wide range of commercial and government projects. He is also an expert in the technical side of training. An experienced training developer with a solid understanding of adult learning theories, instructional systems design, and user interface design for instructor led, self-paced and blended learning solutions.