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In my last article I spoke of a client a that I am working with whose industry has changed and market position eroded as the competition copied-then-developed lower-cost products.  They have a sound strategy, but were not clear on how to achieve it.

We outlined a 3-step process to closing the Strategy – Execution Gap experienced by this leadership team and so many others:

1)    Determine where you want to go and where you are now

2)    Identify the capabilities required to get you there

3)    Focus like you’ve never focused before

While we acknowledge that obtaining this focus is rare- there is a way to break through. This method (The 4 Disciplines of Execution) can be explained via a series of questions.

1)    What is the most important thing we can do to achieve the strategy?  This is the Discipline of focusing on the ‘wildly important’.  Leaders must step back and understand which is the most important goal and then double-down on achieving it.  It must be Specific, Measureable, Achievable (but not easy), Relevant, and Time Bound (SMART).

2)    What are the critical activities that we believe will lead to achieving that goal?  This is the Discipline of Lead Measures.  For example, if I want to lose 5kg I don’t need to measure my weight.  That’s a Lag measure – and by the time I see it there’s nothing I can do to influence it.  I need to measure the #of calories I eat and the amount of exercise I get.  Those I have control over and measuring those Lead Measures will help me achieve the goal.

3)    How will we know if we’re making progress?  This is the Discipline of creating a Compelling Scorecard.  A simple scorecard must be visible to help the team understand how the Lead Measures are trending and see how they are impacting the Lag Measures.  My client has a ‘Revenue Growth by 2020 Goal’.  They believe that their sale steams need to be more visible at the client sites.  So, instead of measuring $Sales per person (Lag Measure) they are starting to track Lead Measures such as #Site Visits per person.  As they do this they will see the correlations and – critically- understand which sales people are most actively following the critical activities.

4)    How will we help one another succeed and hold ourselves accountable?  This is the Discipline of Accountability.  The best leaders have always known that people’s own goals are far more compelling than anything handed down from above.  So in this Discipline the team members ask themselves: “What are the 1-2 things that I will do this week to specifically push against the Wildly Important Goal?”  The Leader hosts a 20 team minute meeting every week where this question is asked and answered by every team member.  These commitments are captured and tracked for discussion at the next meeting.  You won’t be surprised to hear that the level of accountability (see this Article on Accountability) shown to the team is far greater than what people hold themselves accountable to and greater than anything the ‘boss said to do’ can generate.

Once Step 3 has been executed and the Wildly Important Goal achieved (and by achievement we mean: built into the recurring habits and processes of the organisation) we identify the next Wildly Important Goal.

Rinse and Repeat.

This article was written by Eric Miller, Senior Partner with Lighthouse and forms the second in a series of 3 articles on achieving strategy through focus and discipline. Stay tuned for the next article in this series “Dealing with Hidden Resistance”.  

Lighthouse’s purpose is to spark an evolution in leadership. We know that having an aligned and disciplined leadership team are the key ingredients to achieving your strategic objectives. For more information on our approach to Leadership Team Strategy, please visit our webpage. Please get in touch with us if you would like to have a confidential discussion on how you can implement these principles with your leaders. Phone 02 9091 0305 for Sydney or 03 9563 6628 for Melbourne.

Call 1300 244 373