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Chris McChesney

4 proven actions to lift team productivity: Franklin Covey's famous 4DX method

The 4 Disciplines of Execution strategy to achieve your Wildly Important Goals

Image: Chris McChesney, Global Practice Leader of Execution for FranklinCovey

Making goals is not the same as reaching goals.  Execution is the answer, but execution is almost always the problem. 

Leadership training institute Franklin Covey says the breakdown in execution occurs in 4 ways: 

1. Managers and work teams don’t know the goal.
2. Managers and teams don’t know what to do to achieve the goal.

3. They don’t keep score.
4. They are not held accountable.

In summary: The 4DX framework for increased productivity

Franklin Covey's solution lies in the framework "The 4 Disciplines (4DX)".

In a nutshell, they are:

  1. Focus on the Wildly Important.
  2. Act on the Lead Measures (the actions - not the result).
  3. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard.
  4. ​Create a Cadence of Accountability.

The 4DX model has lifted productivity at: Marriott International, ANZ Bank, ConvaTecHarley DavidsonShaw Industries (a carpet-making subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.), Ritz Carlton, Bolinda audio booksDell, NSW Transport, Lockheed Martin, Downer, and Pfizer.

Intention vs Execution 

To make understanding the 4DX framework simple, let's say you want to make more sales calls. 

You're determined to execute on your Wildly Important Goal to lift productivity in the sales team, and, by doing so, lift revenue. 
You got to this point because cash flow is dire, the sales team are not meeting targets, and a rising feeling of panic is setting in. 

You clap your hands, and say words to the effect, “Okay, I want the sales team to make a lot more sales calls this week.”  You use your most encouraging voice. In bright green marker, you write "Focus this week: More sales calls" on the office whiteboard.  

Measuring results is key to execution 

Why, then, is this “make a lot more sales calls” a badly formatted commitment to really move the needle on productivity? 

A quote (wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill) provides the answer.

‘However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally measure the results,’ Churchill never said.  

In other words, you need to go numerical.

A well-formatted commitment is needed

“I will make 20 phone calls and send 10 emails to my qualified leads every day this week” is an example of a well formatted commitment.  

And, it’s a nice example of one discipline from The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) – Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals written by Chris McChesney, Global Practice Leader of Execution for FranklinCovey.

McChesney, a charismatic keynote speaker, explains in his book and workshops that a (20+10) x 5 goal passes the test because it is:

  • Specific (what, when, how)

  • Has an ability to influence the scoreboard (your goal)

  • Is timely (the impact of the activity can be seen in the near future)

But influence a scoreboard? Who’s keeping score here?

McChesney says to achieve results, you require a scoreboard.  

Think stickers on a chart (and a gold one at the end of each month). 
Think crosses on a whiteboard (and pizzas for the office once the goal's reached). Chris McChesney says he's even seen paper snowflakes on a giant snowman. 

People tend to play differently when they are keeping score.

Imagine for a moment two teams kicking a ball around in the park. The minute you mark out goals and announce that you’ll keep score, the individual’s and the team’s motivation soars!


Recapping the 4DX framework 

Remember, the 4 Disciplines are:

  1. Focus on the Wildly Important (your WIG or Wildly Important Goal)
  2. Act on the Lead Measures (the actions - not the result).
  3. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard.
  4. ​Create a Cadence of Accountability.

Lead measures and Lag measures

The specified actions you take (20 calls and 10 emails every day) are Lead Measures . They must be actions that move the needle towards your goal. 

In other words, they are actions that have an impact on your Wildly Important Goal (WIG).

Counting the sales made as a result of those calls is called a Lag Measure. The Lag Measure,here in this example, might also be revenue, number of new contacts added to the database, number of referrals. 

You must act on and keep a score of lead measures to make any skerrick of a difference.

In other words, you could measure product sales but that in itself won’t move the needle. (A Lag Measure is the result of your actions or Lead Measures).   

Acting on the Lead Measures,however, will certainly start to make a difference.

Action you can take NOW: 

  • Go back over this article and swap out making sales calls with your most valuable actions that will move the needle towards your own Wildly Important Goal. It could be “sending samples”“emailing past clients”,“submitting tenders”, or “responding to social media”and “filming content” etc. 

Defining actions that will move the scoreboard 

See what you’re doing?

You’re defining actions that will move that scoreboard.

Instead of "making calls", you’re committing to making “20 minutes of calling prospects every day” or similar. Instead of "find ways to reduce costs", you're committing to "45 minutes a day of sweeping our systems and processes to find unnecessary expenses."  

Mark your efforts and keep that "scoreboard" close and visible.

Acting on your Lead Measures is one of the 4DX keys to success for some of the world’s most robust and profitable companies, and you can implement it in your business. 

Opportunity for the whole team to workshop the framework

  • World expert and primary developer of the 4DX method Chris McChesney, author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution, will walk teams through the framework at one-day workshops in Sydney on September 16, 2019, Melbourne on September 18, 2019, and Brisbane on September 20, 2019.  It's an opportunity not to be missed to ensure you're maximising the potential of your team - Book here.
  • Check your company's behaviour against this checklist: The 5 biggest challenges to execution

Register now for the FOUR DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION - CRITICAL EXECUTION STRATEGIES FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS on September 16, 2019, in Sydney; September 18, 2019, in Melbourne; and September 20, 2019, in Brisbane. 

Note: Members of The Growth Faculty receive discounts for events like this. Click here to become a member.