The Importance of Execution

A business leader’s job is to successfully move the organization forward and improve business performance. This requires a continuous process of reflection, analysis, planning and execution. There is no better way to learn/practice these skills than “by doing”. During a business simulation exercise participants create their own plans and execute them in the simulation. The “execution” using the simulation is easy. In the real-world, not so easy. According to FranklinCovey leaders are good at planning, but struggle with execution. FranklinCovey has found that organizations fail at execution because :

  • 85% of the employees do not know what are the important goals of the company
  • 87% of the workers do not know what to do to achieve the goals
  • 80% of the employees do not know or track their measures of success
  • 72% of the workers are not held accountable for their results

It doesn’t matter how good your strategies and tactics are, if you don’t execute them well it won’t really matter. Much has been written about execution, and many tools and frameworks exist. One of our favorites is FranklinCovey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX). The framework helps companies translate strategy into action by cutting through the “whirlwind” of urgent activity to execute on the most important goals in the face of competing priorities and distractions. The 4DX approach has 4 main elements:

I. Focus on the wildly important goal – WIG
Narrow your focus by clearly identifying one Wildly Important Goal (WIG). And define a “lag measure” that will indicate success and when it will happen. In the form of: “From X to Y by Z”. For example, “Lose 15 pounds by December 15th.”

II. Act on the lead measures (levers you can influence)
Identify and track metrics that you can influence and directly act upon. Lead measures are things you can track daily or weekly, for example: “Work out 3 times this week”. Executing on the lead measures (working out) leads to achieving the lag measure (losing 15 pounds).

III. Keep a compelling/fun scoreboard (of lag & lead measures)
Of both lead and lag measures. For example, put a 6-month timeline up on your wall and track your workouts and your weight. Either you “Worked out 3 times this week” – or you didn’t. And 6 months later you’ve either lost 15 pounds – or you didn’t…

IV. Hold each other accountable (weekly reviews/commitments)
This is a simple weekly meeting that highlights successes, analyzes failures, and course-corrects as necessary. For example, standing at the timeline on your wall and explaining to your 8-year old son why there are no checkmarks in the Workout column for the past week…

If you are interested in enhancing real-world execution capability, we strongly recommend incorporating a discussion of 4DX into the simulation event. During your business simulation exercises, Disciplines 1, 2, and 3 can be thoroughly practiced by participants thus improving their ability to execute real-world plans.