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The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Sean Covey is the President of FranklinCovey Education and the original architect of the 4 Disciplines methodology. A Harvard MBA and former Brigham Young University quarterback, Sean is also a New York Times bestselling author and has written numerous books, including The Leader in Me and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.
Jim Huling is the Global Managing Consultant for FranklinCovey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution. In this role, Jim is responsible for the 4 Disciplines methodology, teaching methods, and the quality of delivery worldwide. Jim also regularly serves as an executive coach to a number of senior executives.
—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 --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B005FLODJ8
- Publisher : Free Press; 1st edition (April 24, 2012)
- Publication date : April 24, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 23540 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 353 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #29,028 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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What’s in The Book
The authors identify four core disciplines that can combine to make any individual or team more effective. The disciplines are focus, leverage, engagement, and accountability. Here’s a little bit more about each one of them and why my initial impression was that there wasn’t much new in this book.
Discipline 1 is about focusing on wildly important goals. Well, of course. People who use goals to guide their behavior and practice some form of essentialism and zero in on the most important goals certainly will do better. It didn’t seem like there was much new here.
Discipline 2 is to leverage your lead measures. I first learned about the power of lead measures working with my friend Stephen Lynch on his book, Business Execution for RESULTS. Stephen demonstrated the power of lead measures (the acts you do to drive results) and how concentrating on them is more likely to make your results come out right. It seemed like I knew that, so what could be new here?
Discipline 3 is boost engagement by having employees keep score. This one may not be obvious to everyone, but I’ve been keeping score in one form or another for half a century. I track my daily work and results. I attach them to a simple score sheet. So, I figured I had this one. There was a new wrinkle, though, and that was the purpose of a visual scoreboard and how it’s a great way to keep track of how you’re doing.
Discipline 4 is accountability. Well, of course. If you’re leading a team, you must hold people accountable for their behavior and their results. If you’re tracking things for yourself, you should hold yourself accountable and not fudge. That seemed obvious, too.
If you looked at the table of contents for the book or poked around a bit inside it, you may have come to the same conclusion I did and you and I would both be right. There’s not much new here if all you consider are the individual disciplines. Concentrating on your most important goals will help you improve your performance. Identifying and tracking your lead measures will definitely improve your performance. And, it’s always necessary to hold people accountable for their behavior and their performance. So, what’s different?
The System’s the Thing
If all this book was a description of the disciplines, it wouldn’t be much. But the book is about how to use those four disciplines as a system. When you use them together, you get a positive synergy. Any one of the four will improve your results. Using the four all together will improve your results dramatically.
My Proof Was in the Trying
When I read the book, I was impressed, but I wasn’t ready to give it a great review until I figured out if it worked. I knew the parts worked, it was the system I wasn’t sure of.
I had to make some adjustments in the way that I worked and the way that I tracked my performance based on what I read in The Four Disciplines of Execution. When I did that, two things happened. First, my overall results improved. Second, the time I was spending to get those results dropped. This stuff works.
How the Book Helps You
The writing in this book is clear and the examples are good, but there’s one “design feature” that I really liked. This book is divided into two parts. The first part identifies and explains the four disciplines and the basic system. The second part is about how to put the system into action. This helped me and it would have helped me even more if I had a team that I was going to apply this with.
The material in this book can make a difference in your performance, your team’s performance, and your overall quality of work life. But beware: you’ve got to do the work and it won’t be easy.
The hard part isn’t understanding the concepts. The hard part is breaking some habits and changing some procedures and maintaining energy while you work through those changes. If you’re not willing to do that, don’t buy the book.
The second important point is that the book is about a system. You can adopt any one of the four disciplines, or improve the way you handle each one, but to get the best results, you’ve got to use them all in a coordinated way. If you’re not willing to do that, don’t buy the book.
One more thing. This book is not about principles or secrets or magic of any kind. It’s about disciplines. That’s good because it means that people like you and like me can make it work. It will take work and, well, discipline, but we can make it work.
If you are willing to do the work and take the time and make the changes, The Four Disciplines of Execution is a book that will help you make a dramatic improvement in your performance and your quality of work life.
The main problem with the 4DX approach is it acknowledges and accepts the whirlwind as unavoidable and something to be worked around instead of working to reduce / remove it. Based on that mindset, the Wildly Important Goal becomes a special project that succeeds because the leader makes great efforts to fence it off from the whirlwind. So instead of fixing the workplace / whirlwind, you resign yourself to it and work around it. This isn't the stuff of greatness; it's a workaround.
Great examples and stories (a hallmark of Covey works) with multiple pages of endorsements (also a hallmark of all things Covey) make this interesting and useful, but I don't think it attacks the core of the problem: the whirlwind.
The key thing that this book that many leadership and management books don't do is that it mostly discusses the "how" versus the "what". In addition, it gives good examples of companies (a good variety of companies) that have successfully used 4DX, how they used it, why and what challenges they had in implementing it across their organisations.
Negative areas are:
- the book could be around 30% shorter with repetition and at times, what feels like needless fluff.
- it often feels like a sales pitch for FranklinCovey.
Overall, the book is worth reading if you want to figure out how the team can execute to a higher level without burnout while staying focused on the goal. It won't teach you a huge amount of stuff you don't know but it does tell you "how" and will remind you to stay on focus.
What I really liked about this audio book is that the focus is on Execution rather than Strategy, its more of a how-to rather than theory.
The authors have clearly demonstrated that it works and that many people and organisations are benefitting from it.
It seems straightforward enough to follow and I'd wager that its a benefit to anyone involved in a 4DX process.
Team leaders will likely love 4DX as its pretty clear what they need to do and how to do it.
Top reviews from other countries
Many business books are based on looking at successful companies and finding common factors in what they do. Other times, academics will develop their theory and then go out looking for evidence it works. This book is different.
Before it was written, the authors had tested these ideas in more than 1,500 businesses. That's staggering. Before the authors developed the ideas and started testing them in the real world, the amount of research into understanding the problems and solutions is incredible. It takes a business as large as FranklinCovey to do such an exercise.
Improvement initiatives often fail because of the "whirlwind". This is a great name for all the day to day activities which have to be done to keep the business operating. Stuff happens and has to be dealt with so recognise the whirlwind and make improvements anyway.
One of the reasons why good intentions get overwhelmed is because too many good things are tried without recognising the few most critical elements that can drive improved success.
The Four Disciplines of Execution (often shortened to 4DX) is a powerful system where each element is essential to getting the best results:
Discipline 1 is focus on the wildly important goal (often shortened to WIG).
Discipline 2 is to act on improving lead measures.
Discipline 3 is to keep a compelling scoreboard visible to all team members.
Discipline 4 is to create a cadence of accountability through weekly meetings.
Concentrating on this system means improvement initiatives can move forward despite the whirlwind.
This sounds simple in theory and the book could have finished after part one and I'd have been wowed. The insight of the whirlwind and how it consumes more than one main goal is important. A great example where common sense isn't that common or obvious when you're in the heat of the battle.
Part two takes you deeper into the implementation issues of each discipline and then continues in a similar vein. This format of the book does mean it feels repetitive as it peels away layer after layer. For some, this will help reinforce learning, for others it will feel boring. I considered docking a star.
I read the kindle version and there are a number of diagrams too small to read and poor produced. Even when you zoom, these are hard to appreciate. I'm a visual leaner and again, I considered docking a star.
For much of the book, I thought I was going to criticise it for lacking guidance on how to choose the WIG (wildly important goal) and how it could link with your existing mission, vision and strategy. Fortunately, in a case study chapter, this issues was dealt with clearly, even though the important diagrams were poorly presented in the kindle format.
The final chapter looks at how 4DX can be used to achieve personal goals for your own health of for improving family relationships. Understanding the system can improve your life outside of work as well as your business.
I have a natural affinity towards 4DX as it brings together my beliefs about the benefit of focus and the importance of performance measures to explain the game and motivate performance when the manager keeps attention on them and regularly asks the question "what can you do next week to most influence the goal?"
My problem is with the execution of the book. I believe the authors had the best of intentions to share their knowledge, even if it's also selling their training. Too often business books (and training) will tell you what to do but not how to do it. This book goes out of its way to give you plenty of guidance.
I think part of the problem is the wide scope. 4DX can be used by individuals, teams, small businesses and very large and complicated businesses. This creates a lot of different usage situations and means complexity and more explanations.
I read to help my own one man business and the small businesses I work with. Other readers won't care about my issues because they are interested in applying the Four Disciplines to a large business or a department within a big organisation. I feel 4DX needs a series of books for different situations to help reduce the overwhelm. I have some resistance to recommending it to time pressed business owners and have docked one star.
I like the system a lot although it does become clear it is tough to maintain the process for long enough to get the gains you want. The book starts really well but then starts to feel like hard work. If you buy it, I urge you to persevere.
Paul Simister, business coach
No real rocket science here but does make you reflect on what you are concentrating on in the workplace and how you might focus more on the “right” stuff.
Good real life examples used and practical tips for embedding in the workplace