Business Operating System #8: 4DX

The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) program, created by FranklinCovey, drives organizational results through behavior change. 4DX focuses on articulating your major, definite objective, the one it calls the Wildly Important Goal (WIG or The War) and then breaking it down into a handful of “WIG Battles” and quarterly execution steps.

The process includes keeping a weekly scoreboard of lead measures for each team participant and monitoring performance using a cadence of weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings. Simply put, if your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is the “What” of your organization, the process of execution is the “How”.

The authors argue that most leaders find strategy much easier than execution; strategy is what major MBA programs focus on as well. This is not surprising because strategy “only” takes analysis, frameworks, and smart people putting their heads together, whereas execution requires lasting behavioral change.

The book quotes W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality movement, as saying, “When the majority of the people behave in a certain way, the problem is systemic.” Execution is the key to your people understanding the organization’s strategy in the first place.

The authors commissioned Harris Interactive to survey employees at hundreds of businesses and governmental agencies and found that the major reason for failure of execution was lack of goal clarity:

  • 85 percent of the people surveyed did not understand the goal of their organization,
  • 49 percent were not committed to that goal when it was stated,
  • 81 percent were not held accountable to reaching their organization’s goal, and
  • 87 percent had no idea how they personally contributed to achieving that goal.

In other words, most of the people surveyed were caught up in the whirlwind of daily emergencies and had no bandwidth left to dedicate to progressing their organizations.


In One Sentence: Drive your organization forward by prioritizing one or two simple, big goals; measure their execution through personalized lead measures; and hold people accountable using regular meetings.