Execution Gets It Done

Ambition… creativity… drive..

These are some of the characteristics that often propel individuals to leadership positions, such as leading a county 4-H program.  However, these are the same characteristics which oftentimes can impede work from actually getting done.

The book “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” (McChesney, Covey, and Hulking, 2012) presents this argument while making an excellent case that it is the lack of execution (not vision) that prevents most organizations from moving forward.  Fortunately, the authors present a four-step plan for helping any size organization achieve their most desired impacts.

DISCIPLINE 1:  Focus on the Wildly Important.
The more you do, the less you accomplish.  An organization should have no more than 1-2 wildly important goals (WIGs) simultaneously.  It takes time to make headway on a goal because you are trying to make progress on such whilst maintaining day to day operations.  This clarity of focus on ONE goal allows all members of the organization to focus their efforts on this one goal.

DISCIPLINE 2:  Act on the Lead Measures.
In work there are lag measures and lead measures.  Lag measures tell you if you’ve reached a goal, lead measures something that leads to the goal.  For instance-  losing weight is a lag measure, but specific caloric consumption is the lead measure.  Measuring your calories leads to weight loss.

DISCIPLINE 3:  Keep a Compelling Scoreboard.
People play differently when they keep score.  An organization’s leader must keep a visible scoreboard (focusing on lead measures) that is so easy to understand that the players (members of an organization) know in a simple glance whether they are “winning” or “losing”.

DISCIPLINE 4:    Create a Cadence of Accountability.
It is in this discipline that execution actually happens.  The book suggests leaders maintain some sort of check-in system on a weekly basis (no more than a 20-30 minute weekly meeting) where the team holds each other accountable toward progress on their wildy important goals (WIGs).

How might this look in your world?

DISCIPLINE 1:  Focus on the Wildly Important.
Goal:  Increase the membership of X county 4-H by 25 community club members in 2017.

DISCIPLINE 2:  Act on Lead Measures.
The lag measure is the number of club members.  The lead measure may be a number of things (forming new clubs, recruiting new volunteers, improved external communications, etc.) so it’s important to pick the one that has the potential to have the greatest impact.  For this example lets say the lead measure is number of individuals reached by 4-H promotional materials.

DISCIPLINE 3:  Keep a Compelling Scoreboard.
If you are working with volunteers to accomplish this task its a little more challenging than simply meeting once a week with your co-workers.  In this instance the scoreboard might be something you email out weekly as opposed to a bulletin board everyone passes on the way to get their morning coffee.  Either will work as long as it is focused on lead measures, and the “winners” and “not-so-much-winners” are instantly identifiable.

DISCIPLINE 4:  Create a Cadence of Accountability.
No, you probably are not going to hold weekly 20 minute meetings with your volunteers to see how they are progressing toward their goal.  However, you can have a weekly conversation on Monday mornings via email.  Volunteers can easily email you a tally of how many people they communicated to about 4-H in the prior week, you as the leader input that into a scoreboard, and send back out to the total group.

Above all remember vision does not do good things for young people, action does.  And we are all here to do good things for young people.  As my friend Yoda says,




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3 Responses to Execution Gets It Done

  1. Sarah Hensley says:

    Love 4DX!

  2. slsgator says:

    This is so good! I really like focusing on lead measures instead of lag measures, which are always at the back of our mind because they are the ultimate goal. 🙂

  3. Re-reading this to re-focus on the new 4-H year…just as inspiring as the first time!

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