Tag Archives: 4 Disciplines of Execution

Overseeing Implementation Of Strategies

Over the last 2 months I’ve received the national plans or national objectives from 70 different countries for our organization, along with plans from 11 regional leadership teams. This is a record for us. So, what next?

These plans vary from a summary of the philosophy of their work, to short list of objectives, through lists of key action items, to comprehensive lists of key actions with dates, resources and finances allocated. However, the important thing is not the plan, but the execution of the plan.

So, if you are a leader, how are you going to ensure that the plan gets executed?

Different teams are taking different approaches, for example:

  • Some teams have taken a “4 Disciplines of Execution” approach, with weekly reviews of lead measurements, lag measurements, and actions.
  • Other teams are holding bi-weekly reviews of progress towards targets.
  • Other teams plan to hold monthly reviews of completion of actions, and progress towards goals.
  • Other teams will review widely accessible dashboards.

The important thing is that progress is being monitored, and if insufficient progress is being made, that corrective action is taken. A long time ago I shared that I thought the hardest question that a leader can ask someone who is working with them is: Show me that you are making the most effective progress towards your goal. The implications of this being asked by a leader are that the leader will listen to an answer from time to time to see this “most effective progress”.

So, have you:

  • allocated regular time in your calendar to review progress against the plan in the coming year;
  • made this the priority in your calendar so that it does not get usurped by the urgent;
  • figured out how you are going to do this when you are travelling or otherwise away from your normal routine;
  • made sure that the team executing the plan has allocated time to review its progress with you over the coming year?


There’s no point in having a strategy that is not implemented.

I spent last week with my colleagues in Francophone West Africa, where we went through the tools Stellar Execution and 4 Disciplines of Execution to help them implement the things that are most important to them over the next 6 years

If you are in my organization then you can contact me for more information about Stellar Execution. If you are not in my organization, then please contact Bob Lewis at Lewis Leadership consulting.

In the meantime, I heard a really good webinar on execution of strategy from a chap called Jeroen De Flander. He has a lot of great public domain tools relating to strategy execution on his consultancy’s website at www.the-performance-factory.com.

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.