In this posting I will complete my postings about a great book I am reading, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. We’ll discuss Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability, then summarize the four disciplines and then begin tying all four of them into the development of the “new” Goal Tree. The authors tell us that “even though you’ve designed a game that’s clear and effective, without consistent accountability the team will never give their best efforts to the game. You might begin well, your team may have the best of intentions to execute, but before long the whirlwind will pull you back into a consuming cycle of reacting to the urgent.” I could not agree more with the authors on this point!
Three of the key points for Discipline 4 are that by applying the first 3 Disciplines, team members are invested in the results, are accountable to each other and, in effect, are playing to win. So how does Discipline 4 work? Discipline 4 asks teams to meet frequently (at least once per week) in what the authors refer to as WIG sessions in which each team member makes personal commitments to drive the lead measures in a positive direction. These WIG sessions are perhaps the most important activity of all because the team focuses on their collective efforts to drive their lead measure and discuss new commitments to each other on a regular basis. So what do these WIG sessions look like?
The authors tell us that these WIG sessions are “unlike any other meeting you will ever attend.” The WIG session has a singular purpose…to refocus the team on the WIG despite the daily whirlwind of other important “things” that everyone faces in running a company. And even though the WIG session is relatively short (e.g. 30 minutes), the intensity of the meeting is very high. This is because the purpose of the WIG session is to account for prior commitments made and to make new commitments to drive the WIG scoreboard in the direction of success, each of the team members feel responsible to each other. The authors tell us that a typical WIG session agenda might look like the following:
- Account: Each team member reports on last week’s commitments to the lead measure made in the previous week.
- Review the scoreboard: Learn from successes and failures: Simply put, the team assesses whether their commitments are moving the lead measure and in turn, whether or not the lead measure is moving the lag measure. The team discusses what is working and what is not and then how to adapt.
- Plan: Clear the path and make new commitments: Based upon the results of the team’s assessment, each team member makes new commitments for the coming week that will hopefully move the lead measure in the direction of winning. The thing that separates this type of meeting from your “normal” team meetings is that each team member has “skin-in-the-game” and it becomes personally important.
The authors tell us that “although this cadence of accountability is simple in concept, it takes focus and discipline to maintain in the midst of the whirlwind.” The authors also explained why having these WIG sessions are so important:
- The sessions keep the team focused on the WIG despite the constant whirlwind of other urgent demands.
- The sessions enable the team members to learn from each other about how to move the lead measures.
- The sessions give the team members the help they need to keep their commitments…..they help each other remove barriers to lead measure movement.
- The sessions enable the team to adapt on the fly to the changing needs of the business.
- The sessions provide an opportunity to celebrate progress, reenlist the energies of the team, and reengage everyone.
Finally, the authors provide us with the keys to successful WIG sessions as follows:
- Hold WIG sessions as scheduled, on the same day of the week every week at the same time of the day regardless of the whirlwind.
- Keep the sessions brief, but maintain a brisk and energetic pace. As a rule of thumb, the sessions should not be longer than 20 or 30 minutes.
- Set the standard as the leader. Begin every WIG session by reviewing the overall results of the scoreboard and then report on your own commitments.
- Update and post the scoreboard before the WIG session and then post it for everyone to see. Posting it reconnects the team to the game.
- Celebrate successes which reinforces commitment to the WIG by congratulating both the team and the individual members on successfully keeping commitments that move the lead and lag measures.
- Refuse to let the whirlwind enter the meeting by limiting discussions to commitments that move the scoreboard in a positive direction.
- Clear the path for each other by removing barriers and obstacles by leveraging the strengths of the team.
- Execute in spite of the whirlwind by holding team members unconditionally accountable for their commitments despite the pressures of the whirlwind. If a commitment is missed one week, it must be accounted for the following week.
Discipline 4 keeps your teams engaged and in the game every week. With this comes not only the awareness that they are winning on a key goal, but they have becomes a winning team.
So to summarize, the 4 Disciplines of Execution are:
- Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important
- Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures
- Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
- Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
In my next posting, I will begin visualizing how these 4 Disciplines of Execution will create a Goal Tree that is more powerful than I have ever reported here in other postings. Once again, I encourage all of my readers to go purchase The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling. I only wish I had found the book in 2012 when it was first published by Simon and Schuster.