Book Learnings: The 4 Disciplines Of Execution - FocusU

Book Learnings: The 4 Disciplines Of Execution

I took a very long time to read this book and even more time to write about it. This is because the more I read, the more I started missing the Wildly Important Goals (or WIG) sessions in our office. Also after reading it, I could connect on how we all were accountable for the things we did and how I have grown as a person following the numerous WIG sessions.

The book further talks about how a WIG organizational policy doesn’t work effectively and thus helped me understand why we stopped following it. Below are some key learnings of the book along with tips and tricks to sustain and accomplish your personal WIG.

Often, We know the strategic plan, but struggle to execute it. Indeed, even if we know broadly what we must do, we may not always know how to do it.

The “Why” and “How” Of It All

In “The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals”, the author explains how to achieve effective execution using 4 key disciplines of execution (4DX). These 4 disciplines can help anyone to become more engaged in their work and produce outstanding results.

Execution typically fails due to a lack of clarity, commitment, and accountability. But above all, it fails because we get so caught up in the whirlwind of urgent daily work that we’re distracted from our most vital goals. 

Discipline 1- Focus on what’s wildly important:

The first discipline is to focus your finest effort on a limited number of goals that will make all the difference, instead of giving mediocre effort to dozens of goals. Execution starts with focus, without it, the other three disciplines won’t be able to help you.

In section 1, the book introduces four rules to help you narrow the focus of your entire organization:-

  1. No more than 1 to 3 WIGs per person at the same time 
  2. Win the battles to win the war 
  3. You can veto, but don’t dictate
  4. A WIG must have a finish line (from X to Y by when)

While these rules may seem straightforward, following them requires tremendous commitment and discipline. Creating focus is never simple for any organization; it only looks simple once it’s been accomplished.

Discipline 2 – Act on the lead measures

Discipline 1 takes the wildly important goal for an organization and breaks it down into a set of specific, measurable targets until every team has a wildly important goal that it can own. Discipline 2 then goes on to define the leveraged actions that will enable the team to achieve that goal.

All outcomes can be measured either as lead or lag measures.

Lag Measures (e.g. weight loss) show your performance based on what happened in the past, while Lead Measures (e.g. diet and exercise) show the high-impact things that you must do now to reach your goal. This discipline is about deliberately focusing on the lead measures (or high-impact activities) that will drive your lag measures

Discipline 3 – Keep a compelling scoreboard

It’s not enough for people to understand what the lead measures are. For team members to perform at their best, they must be emotionally engaged. Everyone must know the score at all times, so they know if they’re winning or losing. This discipline is about motivating your team with a scoreboard

Discipline 4 – Create a Cadence of Accountability

It’s tough to execute a new strategy as it requires people to do something different while managing their daily whirlwinds. The first 3 disciplines help to bring focus, clarity, and engagement, while this discipline ensures that people actually do what they should consistently to achieve the WIG. It’s about creating a regular, recurring cycle, where people show accountability for past performance and plan for further improvements to the score.


I was personally struggling with my daily whirlwinds. However, this book has really helped me in getting a clear picture of how to complete my goals in time. One personal suggestion I would like to make is to commit and keep a track of your scoreboard every week.

I hope these pointers help you along the way and would recommend this book to anyone looking to find a way to efficiently manage their goals.

Read Also  Team Performance Questionnaire

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