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The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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“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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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. They over-sell and under-explain why the changes are not only important but imperative. They do little (if anything) to recruit buy-in. Change initiatives are imposed from above (i.e. the C-suite) rather than introduced at the shop floor level where momentum -- and buy-in -- can be increased organically rather than imperially.
McChesney, Covey, and Huling introduce 4DX in Section 1, explain how to install it with a team in Section 2, and then explain how to expand installation throughout the given enterprise in Section 3. I commend them on identifying the "what" of achieving "wildly important goals." (Jim Collins would call them BHAGs, or Big Hairy Audacious Goals, but BHAGs tend to be somewhat more general than WIGs.) However, they devote the bulk of their time and energy to explaining "how" to achieve strategic objectives that include these:
o Assemble a project team and its leader (with full support of C-level executives) and charge them with
o Selecting the most important goals
o Formulating metrics for lead and lag measurements
o Formulating a comprehensive and cohesive "game plan," one that includes benchmarks and deadlines
o Devising a multi-dimensional communications program
o Establishing and then sustaining transparency re goals, strategies, metrics, etc.
o Sharing weekly, monthly, and quarterly updates
Throughout their lively and eloquent narrative, McChesney, Covey, and Huling focus on real people in real-world situations, who are struggling with real questions to answer and real (sometimes daunting) problems to solve. Readers will also appreciate the provision of supplementary resources that include "4DX Frequently Asked Questions," "Bring It Home" observations and recommendations, and a remarkably candid response to "So, Now What?"
For some C-level executives, this may well prove to be one of the most valuable business books they will ever read. But I also highly recommend it to those who aspires to reach that level and I have two specific reasons for that recommendation: It will help them to prepare themselves for expanded duties, responsibilities, and (yes) head-snapping challenges; but meanwhile, it will prepare them to add much greater value to the support they provide to the C-level executives in their organization now.
We will recommend this book to our coaching clients. Buy it, and take action. Make it happen. You can do it.