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The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals Hardcover – April 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


The 4 Disciplines of Execution offers more than theories for making strategic organizational change. The authors explain not only the ‘what’ but also ‘how’ effective execution is achieved. They share numerous examples of companies that have done just that, not once, but over and over again. This is a book that every leader should read!”
—Clayton Christensen, Professor, Harvard Business School, and author of The Innovator’s Dilemma

“What Six Sigma and Lean are to manufacturing, The 4 Disciplines of Execution is to executing your strategy. 4DX is a practical methodology that can solve every leader’s #1 challenge: execution.” (Ram Charan Co-Author of the Best Selling Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done and the au)

“Many of the foundational values of Marriott are embodied within The 4 Disciplines of Execution. By utilizing this process inside our organization, our leaders and teams have been able to set and achieve extraordinary goals, which have had a significant impact on making 'Our Guests’ Experience' truly remarkable. Any organization can create these same kinds of breakthrough results if they apply the principles and processes taught in this book!” (J.W. Marriott, Jr Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International, Inc.)

“The State of Georgia had unprecedented success as a result of implementing the principles outlined in The 4 Disciplines of Execution. We certified hundreds of leaders to take the disciplines to every department, achieving unprecedented results in customer service, quality improvement, and cost reduction. These execution principles are a must for any government agency that is seeking to be world class.” (The Honorable Sonny Perdue Governor of Georgia, 2003-2011)

“Customers are loyal to a brand when they can trust it to deliver a consistently outstanding experience. This requires the commitment of everyone up and down the organization to innovate new ways to economically delight customers, so they become promoters. The 4 Disciplines of Execution offers a proven process for engaging the hearts and minds of every employee toward this vital goal. I highly recommend this book to any leader committed to making customer loyalty a mission-critical goal.” (Fred Reichheld Bain Fellow, Inventor of the Net Promoter® System and author of: The Ultimate Question 2.0)

“In a business world where the essence of leadership centers around strategy, this book highlights the true requirements of any organization to focus on the principles of execution. At The Ritz-Carlton, I believe the only way to strengthen operational excellence is through flawless execution. The application of Focus, Leverage, Engagement and Accountability, as discussed in The 4 Disciplines of Execution, are key to our success and make exceptional reading for today's business leaders.” (Herve Humler President and Chief Operations Officer, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company)

The 4 Disciplines of Execution book contains principles and processes that do indeed work. I do believe that 'execution excellence' is the ultimate competitive differential of this decade. As we have partnered with FranklinCovey to apply the methodology and process globally throughout our organization, it has not only had a significant impact on our organization’s business results, but it has been transformational for me as a leader, both personally and professionally.” (Jeff Simmons President, Elanco Animal Health, Eli Lilly and Company)

“We believe that The 4 Disciplines of Execution are the keys to growth and success. For years we have struggled with creating focus for our people. We have used priority sheets, standards of performance measures, and others. We have fallen in love with the concepts of “whirlwinds and WIG!” When you read this book you will never look at work, or life, the same!” (Danny Wegman Chief Executive Officer, Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., #1 on Fortune magazine’s 2005 list)

“The 4 Disciplines’ practical guidance on goal-setting and measurement resonates with groups of all levels in our organization. Many teams have applied this intuitive approach to build engagement and increase execution and accountability.” (Dave Dillon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Kroger Co.)

“The 4 Disciplines of Execution helps leaders, teams, and front line employees to narrow their focus and spend their time executing those things that will bring the highest return for their organization and customers. This book is a must read for any leader who wants to achieve that which is extraordinary in their company!” (Diana Thomas US Vice President of Training and Learning Development, Hamburger University, McDonalds Corporation)

About the Author

Chris McChesney is the Global Practice Leader of Execution for FranklinCovey and one of the primary developers of The 4 Disciplines of Execution. For more than a decade, he has led FranklinCovey's ongoing design and development of these principles, as well as the consulting organization that has achieved extraordinary growth in many countries around the globe and impacted hundreds of organizations.

Sean Covey is Executive Vice President of Global Solutions and Partnerships for FranklinCovey and oversees FranklinCovey's international operations in 141 countries around the globe. As the Chief Product Architect for FranklinCovey, Sean organized and directed the original teams that conceived and created The 4 Disciplines of Execution and has been an avid practitioner and promoter of the methodology ever since.

Jim Huling is the Managing Consultant for FranklinCovey's The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Jim's career spans more than three decades of corporate leadership, from Fortune 500 organizations to privately held companies, including serving as CEO of a company recognized as one of the "25 Best Companies to Work for in America." Prior to joining FranklinCovey, Jim was one of the first leaders to adopt The 4 Disciplines of Execution.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145162705X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451627053
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For whatever reasons, many decision-makers are victims of what Jeff Pfeffer and Bob Sutton characterize as the "Knowing-Doing Gap." That is perhaps what Edison had in mind when expressing what serves as this review's title. Pfeffer and Sutton also have much of value to say about the "Doing-Knowing Gap" (i.e. Aim, Fire, Ready) and to the great credit of the co-authors of this book, the material they provide will enable almost anyone to avoid or escape from either trap.

Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling introduce and then rigorously examine what they characterize as "four disciplines of execution" (4DX): Focus on the "wildly important" rather than on what is urgent (advice Steve Covey offered decades ago), Act on the "lead measures" (i.e. progress of what is done) rather than "lag measures" (i.e. results of what has been done), Keep a "compelling" scoreboard (i.e. one that simply cannot be ignored), and create a "cadence" of accountability (i.e. a cycle and rhythm of frequent accounting in coordination with what I think Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow"). Adopting, indeed embracing these four disciplines requires a total commitment. The challenge to change agents is substantial. As Jim Stuart observes, "To achieve a goal you have never achieved before, [especially a `wildly important goal,'] you must start doing things you have never done before."

Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original expectations and, more often than not, the resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." However, it should be added, many of the wounds that change agents receive are self-inflicted.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Carl S on December 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an exceptional book that can be best summarized in one sentence: "Start with the end in mind." The book addresses how to get a team to focus on ultimate goals and work backwards. As a strategy consultant, I definitely found the book to be a solid read because it takes away much of the daily minutiae that consultants and leaders often get tripped up by (what the authors term the "whirlwind").

Although I already implement many of the methods outlined in the book in my work, I found that the book summarized the methods very succinctly. Of particular importance were the discussions on lead and lag measures (measures we want to ultimately change versus measures we have the power to directly influence), periodic reporting and limiting those meetings to short intervals, encouraging buy-in from employees, and allowing employees to see how their contributions are contributing to the overall goals of the organization.

My enthusiasm for the 4 disciplines content began to wane over time as the authors rehashed it over, and over, and over again. I found myself asking "didn't I read this point 3 times already?" I began to wonder if the book couldn't have been 1/2 the length. Overall, it wasn't extraordinarily frustrating, but I did find it very redundant.

I purchased the Kindle version which is peppered with links to the 4DX paid-membership website. I recognize that FranklinCovey is a business, but as just an ebook reader I found this to be very distracting and self-promotional. I would have favored either the links to be removed or to receive a 1-month complimentary membership so that I could see what the links were referring to.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By WhoAmI? on August 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For achieving the goals of a TEAM in business or otherwise this is an excellent book. What I love best about it is that it's not the same old new-age non-concrete smut that's repeated in most self help books. This book focuses primarily on PRACTICAL advice.. real concrete measurable steps. Other books spend 99% of their pages with motivational "You can do it" speech with 1% or even 0% on the HOW to do it. This book flips that around where very little is devoted to the new-age talk and most of it is devoted to the How aspect. I appreciate that a great deal.

Unfortunately I was disappointed to find that virtually the entire book is devoted to How to achieve goals within a team- such as a sales-team for instance or even a sports team. This wouldn't be a big deal to me if the technique could easily be converted to one's personal goals, but it's not that easy because discipline 4 involves being held accountable by others. There is a chapter in the end that talks about implementing the technique in your own personal life and home called "Bringing it Home", but this chapter is only 4 pages long! I didn't find that it delved deeply enough in creating discipline and execution in your own life. The title is deceiving because it says "Achieving YOUR wildly important goals" when in reality it should read "Achieving your TEAM'S wildly important goals". The 4 pages in the 300 page book that deals with your own important goals is not enough to constitute this title.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James on August 10, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Separate your long-term goals from your short-term goals. Set apart some time each week to work towards achieving long-term goals.

I just gave, in its entirety, the only substantive material from 4DX. It calls long-term goals "Wildly Important Goals" and short-term goals "whirlwind." The rest seems like it came straight out of a Dilbert strip.

To be sure, if you do have problems with working towards long-term goals, your business practices will probably improve, but in the least efficient way possible. This is a book written to impress upper management (the ones writing positive reviews, I'm sure), who are disconnected from the people in corporations that do the real, day-to-day work. 4DX only gets in the way.

Employees end up spending far more work creating and maintaining things like "scoreboards" than actually working towards those long-term goals. I've spent WEEKS of work creating, tweaking, and recreating (because it's never good enough) posters instead of doing anything productive.

The extra work gets dumped on the lower-level employees. Then it becomes "Lord of the Flies," as they compete with each other. They compete by being forced to design "WIGs" and "lead measures" that are vague and meaningless, because they don't know that the coming week will bring. Since their actual work, both long-term related and short-term related, can't necessarily fit into the categories of a "lead measure," they're forced to make up imaginary work instead of doing something useful for the company, so that they can check it off for the week.

Notice that there's another review that said that 60% of the workforce left because of 4DX? There's a reason for that. This is extremely destructive.
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