Select Page

The book that changed my life

The 4 disciplines of exectution

I would like to share with you something that changed my life forever and put me on a path of self-improvement, books, and specifically one called the 4 disciplines of execution.

I’ll be frank with you, this change did not come easy and my boss at the time would even say it happened with me kicking and screaming.

I want you to picture a young man in his 20’s being handed a dusty old book with 300+ pages, I swear when I first opened the book, moths flew out of it! But I did not want to let my boss down, so I committed to reading it, and better yet she honored me with the privilege of teaching our entire district of phone sales managers the contents of this boring text.

As I started reading the 4 disciplines of execution, I realized it wasn’t going to be a page-turner, but I am so grateful that I slugged through it. The information that I extracted took our sales district from one of the worst-performing to the #1 spot in our district, let me say that again, from the worst-performing to the #1 spot in our district! No magic pills, no raw raw meetings, just a few simples lessons that can be used anywhere and I’m going to share them with you today.

Discipline 1 – focus on the wildly important. Focus on less to accomplish more! How many times have you worked for a boss or company and it feels like there are a million goals and you are spinning your tires and getting nowhere? Well, the book says that if you can narrow it down to 2-3  wildly important goals, you will accomplish 2-3, crank that up to 11+ you end up accomplishing nothing.

Discipline 2 – act on the lead measures, not the lag. Lead measures are something you can control, while lag measures tell you if you made the goal. These lag measures are something you lose sleepover. They are things like revenue, profit, quality, and customer satisfaction. They are called lags because, by the time you see them, the performance that drove them is already passed. You can’t do anything to fix them, they are history. Lead measures track the critical activities that drive or lead to the lag measure. They predict the success of the lag measure and are influenced directly by the team. A great example of a lag measure is weight loss. Which activities or lead measures will lead to weight loss? Diet and exercise! Proper diet and exercise predict the success of weight-loss and they are activities that we can directly influence. Simple enough, but be careful. Even the smartest people fall into the trap of fixating on a lag measure that they can’t directly influence. This is because lags are easier to measure and they represent the result we ultimately want. Think of a lead measure as a level that moves your wildly important goal.

Discipline 3 – keep a compelling scoreboard. People play differently when they are keeping score. If you doubt this, watch a group of teenagers playing basketball. See how the game changes the minute scorekeeping begins, it’s not a subtle change.

The lag and lead measures won’t have much meaning to the team unless they can see the progress in real-time. Bowling through a curtain is not that much fun. Discipline 3 is the discipline of engagement. People perform best when they are emotionally engaged and the highest level of engagement comes when people know the score: whether they are winning or losing the game. It’s that simple.

Discipline 4 – create a cadence of accountability. The cadence of accountability is a rhythm of regular and frequent team meetings that focus on the wildly important goal. These meetings happen weekly, sometimes daily. Ideally, they last no more than 20 minutes. In that brief time, team members hold each other accountable for commitments made to move the score.

After I implemented these disciplines and realized the massive impact it had on myself and the business, I asked myself a question that changed my life forever “I wonder what else I can learn from books” and I never turned back. I challenge you, read one book a month this year and you will not regret it!

About The Author

1 Comment

  1. Kathleen Lemieux

    Thanks for sharing Stephen. I follow these disciplines and they work.