Business Growth & Strategy

Getting Results Using the Four Disciplines of Execution from Franklin Covey

Getting employees and teams to do the right things at the right times—the wildly important projects, tasks and initiatives that ultimately matter most to your organization—remains an enormous challenge for business leaders today. In a recent Fridays with Vistage webinar, Matt Oldroyd shared a simple formula for creating breakthrough results through flawless execution, based on the book The Four Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling. Matt is the president and CEO of Partsmaster, and has successfully implemented the four disciplines of execution in several other businesses he runs in North America and Asia.

Four Disciplines of Execution The difficulty in achieving goals comes from the fact that everyone is already busy with the day-today operations of the business itself. Matt calls these activities “the whirlwind.” Any goals you set for your organization have to be accomplished while you and everyone else are already busy maintaining the whirlwind. The four disciplines of execution are designed to ensure success without overwhelm, and in addition to the tasks and to-do’s that already occupy every member of your team.

Discipline #1: Focus on the wildly important.

WIGs stands for “wildly important goals,” and they’re different from important goals. An important goal is a goal with significant consequence and value, while a “wildly important goal” is a goal that makes all the difference. Failure to achieve a WIG renders any other achievements inconsequential.

So the first thing you have to do to implement the four disciplines of execution is to answer the questions: What’s the one thing your organization must achieve this year or else nothing else really matters? Is it a financial goal, an operations goal, a customer goal, a people development/learning goal, or something else? What are the battles required to accomplish your WIG? (battles refer to the sub-goals that drive the WIG and are critical to its achievement.)

What are the implications if your team achieves this goal with excellence?

Make sure there is a clear finish line, or time frame established for goal completion. Write a statement like, “From X to Y by When.” Make it specific and measurable. It’s also important to choose only one to three WIGs at any time for any person. When people are given too much to focus on, they get overwhelmed and shut down. Matt asserted that “There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute.”

Discipline #2: Act on the Lead Measures.

There are lag measures and lead measures. A lag measure focuses on the goal. A lead measure focuses on the tasks that lead to the goal. Matt used a weight loss analogy to illustrate this key difference in how to measure your progress. Let’s say your goal is to lose weight. A lag measure is to weigh yourself on the scale. A lead measure is to count the number of calories consumed and the amount of exercise performed. The lead measure is the better focus, because that’s what drives weight loss. Lead measures are predictive and influence-able. Too many leaders fixate on lag measures, which keeps them stuck on yesterday’s news.

Discipline #3: Keep a compelling scoreboard.

Matt reminded our audience that people play differently when they are keeping score. They play to win. The scoreboard must be highly visible and easy for the “players” to determine at a glance whether they are winning or losing against their goal. The scoreboard should be motivating, simple, complete, updateable and accessible.

Discipline #4: Create a cadence of accountability.

This is the most critical step because the team comes together and you drive accountability.

It’s critical that you block time for a 20-minute meeting each week to discuss the tasks that you must to perform in order to move closer to your goal. At this meeting, you report to the group on the commitments you made last week, and how you met those commitments. Then you review and update the scoreboard to show the group how much closer to the goal you all are. Then you make new commitments for the coming week. Everyone should ask themselves: What’s the one thing I will do this week that will move the scoreboard forward?

Matt closed by asking each participant to identify one WIG for their organization, to identify the lead measures needed to accomplish that WIG, and to identify one thing you can do today to begin your organization’s journey toward accomplishing your WIG.

To learn more about the Four Disciplines of Execution, you can view the 16 minute video on

The Fridays with Vistage webinar series provides members with timely and compelling business information they can immediately apply to their businesses. From strategic planning to employee engagement, these hour-long webinars feature the best thought leaders in the business world today.

Learn more about our webinar series here.

Category: Business Growth & Strategy


About the Author: Rebecca McCarthy

Rebecca L. McCarthy is the owner of the The Written Coach in San Diego, California where she gives business professionals the tools they need to write and publish their books. She has published more than 40 books—some se

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