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Accountability IS the Game

Discipline 4 is where execution really happens.

The first three disciplines set up the game, but until you apply Discipline 4, your team isn’t in the game. It is based on the principle of accountability: that unless we consistently hold each other accountable, the goal naturally disintegrates in the whirlwind.

The cadence of accountability is a rhythm of regular and frequent meetings that happen at least weekly and ideally last no more than twenty to thirty minutes. In that brief time, team members hold each other accountable for producing results, despite the whirlwind.

The magic is in the cadence. Team members must be able to hold each other accountable regularly and rhythmically. Each week, one by one, every member of your team answers a simple question: “What are the one or two most important things I can do in the next week that will have the biggest impact on the scoreboard?” Then they report on whether they met the previous week’s commitments, how well they are moving the lead and lag measures on the scoreboard, and their commitments for the coming week, all in only a few minutes.

The secret to Discipline 4, in addition to the repeated cadence, is that team members create their own commitments. Because they make their own commitments, their ownership of them increases. Even more importantly, making commitments to their team members, rather than solely to you as the leader, shifts the emphasis from professional to personal. The commitments go beyond their job performance to become promises to the team.

Discipline 4: Create a cadence of accountability asks to establish a regular rhythm of accountability – one where commitments to the goal are kept despite the whirlwind of urgent priorities

Watch this video to learn how to create a cadence of accountability in your team – one that ensures your wildly important goal will be achieved.

Uncategorized posted March 17, 2015 Comments Off on Accountability IS the Game

People Play Differently When They’re Keeping Score

If you doubt this, watch any group of teenagers playing basketball and see how the game changes the minute scorekeeping begins. However, the truth of this statement is more clearly revealed by a change in emphasis: People play differently when they are keeping score. It’s not about you keeping score for them.

The highest level of performance always comes from people who are emotionally engaged and the highest level of engagement comes from knowing the score—that is, if people know whether they are winning or losing. It’s that simple.

The scoreboard that will drive the highest level of engagement with your team is one designed solely for (and often by) the players. This “players’ scoreboard” is quite different from the complex coach’s scoreboard that leaders love to create. It must be simple, so simple that members of the team can determine instantly if they are winning or losing.

Why does this matter? If the scoreboard isn’t clear, the game you want people to play will be abandoned in the whirlwind of other activities. And if your team doesn’t know whether or not they are winning the game, they are probably on their way to losing.

Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard asks you to create a scoreboard with a single purpose: to motivate the players to win.

When you and your team design this type of scoreboard, it will have these unique characteristics:

  • It’s simple – so simple that everyone on the team understands it
  • It’s complete – it shows both the lag measure results and the lead measures that are driving them.
  • It’s visible – displayed publicly for the team, and others, to see easily.
  • It’s compelling – any member of the team can easily tell if you are winning or losing.

Watch this video to learn how to create a compelling players scoreboard – one that will engage your team at the highest level.

Uncategorized posted February 17, 2015 Comments Off on People Play Differently When They’re Keeping Score

All Actions are Not Created Equal

Some actions simply have more impact than others and it is those that you want to identify and act on if you want to reach your goal. We call them lead measures.

Think of it this way: whatever strategy you’re pursuing, your progress and your success will be based on two kinds of measures: lag and lead.

Lag measures are the tracking measurements of the wildly important goal, and they are usually the ones you spend most of your time praying over. Revenue, profit, market share, and customer satisfaction are all lag measures, meaning that when you receive them, the performance that drove them is already in the past. That’s why you’re praying—by the time you get a lag measure, you can’t fix it. It’s history.

Lead measures are quite different. They are the measures of the highest impact things your team can do to reach the goal. In essence, they measure the new behaviors that will drive success on the lag measures.

Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures asks you to shift your focus from the lag measures that are behind you to the lead measures that are predictive of your future results.

When you implement Discipline 2, you start by identifying the one or two new behaviors that will have the greatest impact on achieving your goal. These new behaviors must be predictive of goal achievement, meaning that if you’re winning on the lead measures you will move the lag measure. They must also be influenceable, meaning that the team can take ownership for performing them.

Acting on the lead measures is one of the little-known secrets of execution.

Watch this video to begin identifying lead measures that will give your team high leverage for achieving the wildly important goal.

Uncategorized posted January 20, 2015 Comments Off on All Actions are Not Created Equal

The More You Try to Do, the Less You Accomplish

This is a stark, inescapable principle that we all live with. Somewhere along the way, most leaders forget this. Why? Because smart, ambitious leaders don’t want to do less, they want to do more, even when they know better.

Isn’t it really difficult for you to say no to a good idea, much less a great one? And yet, there will always be more good ideas than you and your teams have the capacity to execute. That’s why your first challenge is focusing on the wildly important.

Focus is a natural principle. The sun’s scattered rays are too weak to start a fire, but once you focus them with a magnifying glass they will bring paper to flame in seconds. The same is true of human beings—once their collective energy is focused on a challenge there is little they can’t accomplish.

Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important requires you to go against your basic wiring as a leader and focus on less so that your team can achieve more.

When you implement Discipline 1 you start by selecting one (or, at the most, two) extremely important goals, instead of trying to significantly improve everything all at once. We call this a wildly important goal (WIG) to make it clear to the team that this is the goal that matters most. Failure to achieve it will make every other accomplishment seem secondary, or possibly even inconsequential.

Watch this video to begin setting goals that will bring clarity and focus to your most critical objectives.

Uncategorized posted December 17, 2014 Comments Off on The More You Try to Do, the Less You Accomplish

4 Rules of Execution Every Leader Needs to Know

Do you remember your last important initiative that launched well and then died? How did the end come? Was it with a loud crash and a tremendous explosion? Or did it go down quietly over time, suffocated by the constant distraction of competing priorities.


We’ve asked thousands of leaders this question and we always get the same answer: “Slow suffocation!” If this has been your experience, I have good news. The problem likely wasn’t your strategy, it was your execution.

You see, the real enemy of execution is your day job! We call it the whirlwind. The 4 Disciplines of Execution aren’t designed for managing your whirlwind. The 4 Disciplines are rules for executing your most critical strategy in the midst of your whirlwind.

Discipline 1 – The discipline of focus. Extraordinary results can only be achieved when you are clear about what matters most. As simple as this principle may sound, few leaders ever master it. The first discipline is to narrow the number of goals to only one to two per team.

Discipline 2 – The discipline of leverage. With unlimited time and resources, you could accomplish anything. Unfortunately, your challenge is usually the opposite: accomplish more with less. The second discipline, is to put energy against lead measures that are predictive of goal achievement

Discipline 3 – The discipline of engagement. You have the authority to make things happen, but you want more than that – you want the performance that only passion and engagement can produce. The third discipline is to create a compelling (players) scoreboard.

Discipline 4 – The discipline of accountability. No matter how brilliant your plan or how important your goal, nothing will happen until you follow through with consistent action. The fourth discipline is to drive weekly accountability and follow through, despite a whirlwind of competing priorities.

We’ll go into much greater detail about how you can follow each discipline in the next blog posts. But first, here’s a video that will help you see why your initiatives may have failed in the past, and what you can do differently to execute in the midst of your whirlwind.

Uncategorized posted September 26, 2013 comments (0)