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Create Alignment in Your Business with the Four Disciplines of Execution

Not sure how to meet your objectives? Setting up smaller, achievable, and measurable goals can help. Company-wide communication and strategy helps your execution. Always work towards a common goal.

Kevin had a lot of anxiety before he started using the disciplines of execution. It was a totally foreign concept and his business was struggling.

Most of the goals in his company always remained in the ideation stage. He couldn’t figure out how to manage his team efficiently and get everyone to work towards common goals.

By improving communication and the method of execution, Kevin turned things around.

Management coaching taught him the four key disciplines of execution that his company needed. First, he started improving communication. Next, he spent more time on strategizing and setting clear actionable goals.

His business pivoted towards solving one small problem at a time. From there, the domino effect kicked in and everything improved. Kevin understood that it’s possible to influence the focus of an already talented team.

That is, once everyone knew what common goals to work towards.

You can do the same for your business if you use the right strategy. But, do you know what that strategy is? Chances are that, of the two of them, you’re using the wrong approach.

The Two Strategies

Businesses often rely on two strategies. The first one is the stoke-of-pen strategy. It’s a simple concept that doesn’t always yield the best results.

For example, let’s say that you need more customers. At the stroke of a pen, you think you need to spend more on marketing so you have to hire additional salespeople.

Something like this doesn’t take a lot to execute. You need the money and authority to hire new people.

But it doesn’t really solve a lot. Sales involve more than hiring new people. You need to know what you’re selling and who you’re selling to.

That’s why the second strategy is superior, and that’s the behavioral change strategy. It’s harder to implement, but it accomplishes more.

This strategy involves changing the behavior of your salespeople. Change their mindset from rapid closers to those who want to solve your customer’s problems. Make them go through a discovery process and adopt strategic thinking.

That way they can better serve the customer.

The behavioral change strategy includes looking at current inefficiencies. It’s about figuring out how you can fix internal issues with the tools that you have. It doesn’t rely on hiring more bodies because that’s not always the way to progress.

To implement the best strategy for your business, you need to understand the four disciplines of execution.

Discipline #1 — Focus on the Wildly Important

You can’t focus on the wildly important unless you know what that is for your company. So ask yourself what happens if everything stays the same.

Assuming everything in your business remains the status quo, what area provides the biggest impact after a change?

The goal here is to identify one key area of your business that you can improve if you work on it. After you make adjustments, you can see an immediate positive impact.

Note that this doesn’t mean that you should drop everything else. You still have to serve customers, and you still pay your employees.

But the idea is to implement a management system that also allows you to work on one problem at a time. All the while, everything else stays the same, at least until you can do two things at once, to speed up the process.

Your wildly important goal (WIG) could be that you want to increase your prices. It’s a common goal for many companies. To get it done, all departments must focus on that particular WIG and nothing else at the same time.

You pick your battles to win the war. It’s also important that you identify the WIG in a collaborative process.

Discipline #2 — Acting on Lead Measures

Lead measures are the high-impact actions that your team must take to reach the WIG.

The nature of lead measures is predictive. You create your lead measures by identifying intentional actions that help you towards moving the WIF.

Let’s look at the previous example of wanting to increase sales. In this case, a lead measure isn’t cutting down on your expenses. This action doesn’t contribute towards the WIG.

It helps with profitability, sure, but that may be a very different goal, not your WIG in that scenario.

For another example, let’s take a landscaping business that wants to reduce its incident reports from 20 down to 15. Creating a lead measure for this situation would include making a safety checklist.

How can you follow through with that? You can assign a field supervisor to check on the crews to see if they’re wearing the right equipment.

It’s an actionable measure with a direct and clear impact on the proposed WIG.

You know what’s going to happen from the moment you design that lead measure.

This is a key discipline for a very simple reason. You don’t want to take action on activities that you’re not sure would help you reach your goal. You don’t want to waste time on anything but the believable actions that contribute with certainty.

Discipline #3 — Creating a Scorecard

Let’s talk about what makes people work harder. People need the motivation to work harder and deliver better results.

Some may do it for extra rewards. But you can also use a different incentive, which is the scorecard.

What do employees do when they’re judged and compared to others based on their performance? They play harder. It doesn’t matter if you judge them individually or based on team performance.

Yet, to create an effective scorecard it’s essential to make it readable. Everyone needs to understand what it says, what it indicates, and where everyone stands.

The scorecards should also clearly show the WIG and the lead measures that need implementing.

The great thing about this discipline is that it’s highly customizable for every business. There’s no one strict model you have to follow that could confuse things.

You can also create digital or physical scorecards and put them up in the office.

It’s vital for those that look at the scorecards to understand all the metrics. They need to know where they stand if they’re winning or not.

Discipline #4 — Cadence of Accountability

Scorecards don’t mean anything if you don’t review them. This is the moment when the cadence of accountability comes in.

You have to hold weekly review meetings for your scorecard. You don’t need to meet in long sessions for that. Up to 30 minutes is more than enough for most companies. What’s important is maintaining consistency and going over the important issues.

These issues include what your lead measures are. Where does everyone stand with respect to them? Is the WIG moving in the desired direction?

The reason you do this is that you may not always choose the best lead measures from the start. Maybe you’re doing something that won’t give you the desired results.

By holding weekly meetings, you don’t have to wait until the end of your quarter to see where you stand. You can tell in two or three weeks if you have effective lead measures or not.

With that information, you can then tweak your approach and come up with a more efficient solution.

You can come up with new tasks and hold your team and yourself accountable for what’s happening.

Another important rule of a WIG session is to keep things to the point. Don’t let other internal issues creep into your discussion. Don’t talk about staffing if that’s not an influencing factor for reaching your set WIG.

The only thing on everyone’s mind should be the WIG and the progression towards it. It may sometimes be harder to implement than you think, what with all the distractions.

Using the landscaping company example, the field supervisor could get distracted by clients. That means that they would need constant reminders to work on the scorecards and only address incident reports in meetings.

Leverage the Disciplines of Execution to Get Everyone on the Same Page

You can’t accomplish anything if you don’t set goals and plan a clear strategy for meeting those goals. At the same time, it isn’t so easy to focus on more than one thing at a time.

Communication and transparency are the building blocks of great leadership and management. Accountability gets people laser-focused on the wildly important goals that help a business scale.

It’s critical to create predictive lead measures that move the WIG in the right direction. It’s important to track everything that influences those actions. More than that, it’s also essential to review everything once a week to make sure you’re on track.

You may not get it right the first time. But, if you catch any mistakes early, there’s time to make adjustments.

And whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways I can help you make you and your team more productive in order to grow your business:

1. Join the Executing Executives Facebook Group and connect with other business owners who are strategizing to execute, too. It’s our new Facebook community where smart entrepreneurs learn to get more income, impact, and independence. — Click Here

2. Get 90-Minute Crash Course
I’m getting business owners together this month to map out a simple plan, so they can get you and your team executing productively in 30-days. — Click here for the details, and register if it looks useful to you.

3. Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your business to the next stratosphere… Just reply to this message and put “Private” in the subject line… Tell me a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!

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