SPP vs. 4DX vs. PM

Our organization uses a Strategic Planning Process (SPP) and we have recently introduced 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) and Project Management (PM)So, how do these tools fit together?

These tools are different, and fit different scenarios. The scenarios might overlap and the tools are compatible, but they are designed to be used in different ways.

SPP is designed to re-align an organization (a whole company or a division) to the main strategic goals is needs to achieve. Part of the Strategic Planning Process is to identify what the main goals are and how to achieve them given what is happening in the market. The SPP may result in a series of high level goals and actions, independent of implementation detail.

4DX is designed to help implement one key change (or maximum two) that a strategic plan (or quality review, or audit, or financial review etc.) has identified needs to happen along with everything else that is happening. However, 4DX only really works when there is a team of people needed to implement the change over a period of time (between two weeks and a year) using a repeated number of common actions. In other words, 4DX applies when multiple people can identify a core event that they can repeat to effect a desired outcome. 4DX is not applicable in tasks that happen once, or are implemented by one person (unless that person likes holding weekly meetings with them-self).

PM is designed to help implement a complex project of varied actions to achieve a specific goal. PM is good at breaking a major task down into varied sub-tasks across people of multiple disciplines, and controlling their implementation to achieve the goal. PM can be used to manage performance of repeated tasks, and to track the results of those tasks, but is overkill in this application when compared with the simplicity and focus of 4DX.

SPP would be used to do things like:

  • Stand back from the day to day and see if everything that we have been doing is achieving the highest level goals of our organization.
  • Annually assess if the “way we do things” should change.
  • Identify what new actions to take because the world has changed around you.

Examples of things that fit the 4DX model include:

  • A team decides to collectively gain weight by each eating larger meals every day.
  • Influencing the behavior of a large group of people by repeatedly influencing small actions taken by each member of that group.
  • Saving money at the department level by repeatedly reducing the costs of each individual item used.

Project Management is better suited to objectives that require varied tasks like:

  • Arrange a conference.
  • Build a skyscraper.
  • Develop a new product.
  • Purchase a company (unless your core actions is something like buying one new share of stock of the company on NASDAQ each day).

Note that these are different tools, and one is not necessarily related to the other.

However, if the SPP identifies a specific critical new objective that needs to be achieved, then 4DX may (or may not) be a good tool to drive implementation of some of the actions to achieve that objective and PM may be a good tool to drive the implementation of other actions to achieve that objective.

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