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The 4 Disciplines of Execution Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals Sean Covey

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It was nice to consume the content within this audio book and refresh some concepts that I’ve known about for some time.

I make it a rule to find concepts that will help you build a better, more productive and profitable business and believe this book will help your business effect positive and sustainable change.

That said, this is not a magic bullet solution or a walk in the park for the new business owner looking to introduce a change process into their business.

At its core, the four disciplines of execution are essentially rules that help organisations turn their high level strategy into effective action throughout an organisation.

There is a shared accountability within the model which although positive in its intent, will largely depend on ongoing support and nurturing from senior management for the process to be useful and to avoid getting lost in the day to day organisational issues that will no doubt exist.

The four disciplines:

  1. FOCUS – here the intention is to make sure your team has a crystal clear understanding of the goals that matter most – too many goals, however, will feel out of reach, so it is important to carefully consider which WIGS will help you move the needle, so to speak, towards achieving the agreed goals. There is an important element of overcoming resistance in this discipline which challenges the status quo of current daily operations. There is a real need to narrow the focus of the team to achieve WIGS. Thus, it is vitally important that leaders in organisations learn to say NO more often, or at least NOT NOW.
  2. LEVERAGE – this is essentially working smarter with the resources you currently have – small hinges swing big doors!
  3. ENGAGEMENT – this is the focus on inclusion and bottom up involvement – although senior management has the authority, the process must be owned by those actually working towards the WIGS.
  4. ACCOUNTABILITY – This is not only about being consistent, it’s also about pushing through when things get tough – and they will get tough. This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of implementation. Discipline four can only be successful where the three previous disciplines are in place.

One thing that struck a chord with me is the focus on thanking those who execute, not senior management who typically do not generally implement activities that move them closer to achieving the goals.

I liked the CADENCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY which shifts the focus away from a purely worker, boss accountability, to accountability of the worker to their team members. This essentially moves the focus away from professionally important, to personally important – which is a significant psychological shift and one that greatly improves performance. The reason for this is that workers want to disappoint their team mates less than they do their boss, which I found interesting.

This book is not so new in terms of goal setting or behavioural change in the workplace. It is, however, important for newer businesses who are looking to establish robust change processes.

With that, I believe newer businesses like this, will get value out of the discussion around achieving the organisations WILDLY IMPORTANT GOALS or “WIGS”.

WIGS are higher level focal points that the business agrees will help move the business towards achieving its strategic goals. The problem with this is what the book recognises as the ‘whirlwind’ which is everything in the day to day operation of a business which may take away the focus on achieving the WIG.

As a result of the daily whirlwind, it might be easy for the organisation and its team member’s who are responsible and accountable for achieving the WIG, to push it to the side. This is a mistake.

The likes of the Marriott Hotel chain are noted as being a fan of the four disciplines of execution process and many hotels within the group actively seek to be a part of the process to effect positive change in their workplace.

Out of a possible 10, I give it a 7. Well worth the investment for newer businesses who are looking for proven change management processes.

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