I won’t bury the lead, the answer is diet and exercise. You know, I know, even the dog knows.
The WHAT is easy. It’s the HOW that’s difficult. Fortunately, I came across an amazing answer to that very question.
From losing 10 lbs to saving more money, how can we set and accomplish sustainable goals (despite being in a pandemic)?
The Four Disciplines of Execution
The Four Disciples of Execution or 4DX is one of the most important books that has ever been recommended to me over my career. I’ve used this approach on many occasions.
But, probably on the largest scale when I had to work on a Sanitation project, that stretched across multiple shifts and different managers. It helped get my team to reduce a 30+ hour clean by close to a half. So, this process is capable of delivering fantastic results.
If you are process-oriented and you like to have a guide for how you accomplish goals and initiatives. This is a great book for you. If you’re not process-oriented, but you want to learn foundational principles, with real examples, for how to accomplish sustainable initiatives. This is also a great book for you.
# 1 Focus on your Wildly Important Goals
The authors want you to think BIG. Cut losses to zero. Grow by 100%. Meet 10,000 people. What are the initiatives that can have the most dramatic impact on your business or personal goals?
Once you have that goal the next step is to put it into an X to Y by when format. That’s when interesting things start to happen. You see, most goals, visions, and slogans are vague. They might be sexy, but they are vague.
The X to Y by when format is concrete. Lose 10 pounds in 3 months. You have a measurable goal, a finish line and the clock is running to get there.
#2 Act on Lead Metrics
Lead metrics are activities that will create, or “lead to”, the outcomes we hope to accomplish. Working out 3 times a week is a lead metric. While losing 10 lbs. in 5 months is a lag metric.
Most of us in business and our personal lives are hyper-focused on lag metrics. It’s how we have been wired to think about results, goals, and accomplishments.
However, 4DX makes a compelling argument that once we measure lag metrics it’s too late. Focusing on what we can control and execute are much better indicators of success.
#3 Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
This is a great metaphor because we all know exactly what a scoreboard does. It tells us the most important information, who’s winning and how much time is left in the game.
Keeping a compelling scoreboard has the same intent. You should be able to look at your scoreboard and know if you’re winning or losing. Here’s how we do it. Plot the results of our lead metric over time with the expectation highlighted.
“You can’t improve what you don’t measure” and measuring lead metrics is a fantastic way to understand if your efforts are working early on.
#4 Create a Cadence of Accountability
This is where your scoreboard is going to come in handy. This discipline is centered around assessing your progress or lack thereof, understanding what led to your results, and making decisions on how to move forward.
In a business setting, this often looks like a meeting for your team. It’s geared towards the folks that are executing the lead metrics. And on a personal level, you’re asking the same questions.
If we are winning, what worked well? What should we double down on? If we are losing, what’s the root cause? What do we need to change? Having these check-ins frequently ensures that we remain proactive.
The great thing about this approach is that it works for a team of 1 or 100. It’s where we provide feedback and insights to help us have the highest chances of success.
My challenge to you is to approach your personal goals and initiatives with a structure that will encourage you to be successful. Begin with the end in mind.
Ensure that you have a path to your goal that you can consistently follow, otherwise, they end up being less goals and more wishful thoughts.