The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary- Be the best in executionJust 15 min read

In The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary, we will briefly see 4DX and how to use it in your organization.

In The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary, we will cover how leaders can use the 4 disciplines and get outstanding results for the organization? For example, how can leaders make the team focus on important aspects and not get lost in day-to-day issues?

Have you witnessed a promising project that can be a breakthrough for the organization but failed miserably when it came to execution? 

The 4 disciplines of execution will address the same problem and cover all 4 disciplines in brief.

What are the key takeaways from The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary?

  • What is the real problem with execution?
  • Discipline 1 Focus on wildly important goals
  • Discipline 2 Act on lead measures.
  • Discipline 3 Keep a compelling scorecard.
  • Discipline 4 Create a cadence of accountability.

What is the real problem with Execution?

The real problem with the execution is a whirlwind, or overwhelming tasks and information, that can fail in executing strategic initiatives.


Whether you run a start-up, large organization, or family-run business, execution is key to success for any organization to survive.

Organizations may make better decisions, but if execution is weak, the true benefit of such a decision may never be realized.

The real problem with the execution is the whirlwind, the massive amount of energy required to keep day-to-day operations working, the behavior of the team towards change, and leadership.

Discipline 1 Focus on wildly important 

Let’s see the first discipline in The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary.

Execution is about focus; the other three disciplines won’t be that effective without focus.

It is better to focus on one or two crucial aspects than to concentrate on dozens of goals.

While you focus on one to two important goals, you can utilize capabilities and resources better.

How to identify wildly important goals?

In determining wildly important goals (WIG), we ask, “Assuming all areas are performing at the current level of performance, where to make changes that will have the greatest impact?”

All wildly important goals are the goals that have a massive impact on the organization and does not end up in a whirlwind,

Wildly important goals set a new performance standard for the team for future references. 

You will allocate a disproportionate amount of resources, energy, and capabilities to achieve goals; hence it is crucial to identify Wildly important goals.

Here are four rules to help leaders narrow down Wildly important goals for the organization.

Rule #1: No team focuses on more than two WIGs simultaneously.

The key is not to overload teams or leaders with dozens of goals and less important goals.

Rule#2: The battle you choose must win the war

The purpose of having is Wildly important goals at a lower level is to help achieve the help higher-level goals.

Rule#3: Senior leader can veto but not dictate

A senior leader will decide on the higher level of goals, but they should allow all leaders to define their Wildly Important Goals. 

Rule#4: All WIGs must have a deadline and tools to measure success

Installing Discipline 1: Focus on Wildly Important Goals 

The Foundation of successful execution focuses on one or two important goals, without which the team will get lost in the whirlwind of daily tasks.

In The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary, we will see how to install discipline 1: Focus on Wildly Important Goals. 

Step 1: Consider the possibilities

“No Involvement No Commitment”

To define Wildly Important Goals, the Leader must brainstorm with the team, peers, superiors, and alone.   

A leader must make sure to involve everyone while identifying goals.

Step 2: Rank by Impact

After generating as many ideas as possible, the next task is to rank them based on their impact on the organization.

The leader must avoid the trap of selecting goals that improve team performance but may not contribute to the organization’s Wildly Important Goals.

Step 3: Test top ideas

Once the leader has identified possible ideas, the next step is to test them against four specific criteria:

  • Is the team WIG aligned to the overall WIG of the organization?
  • Is it measurable?
  • Does the team have ownership of the result?
  • Who owns the WIG? It must be depended on the team as a whole, not on the leader Individually.

Step 4: Define the WIG

After identifying top ideas and testing them with the four criteria mentioned above, it is time to define the WIG.

Begin with Verb

The verb has the power of bringing focus on immediate action. 

For example, “cut costs” or “Process enhancement.” 

Define the lag measure

Write the lag measure from ‘X” to “Y” and when.

Lag measure tells the leader if he has achieved the goal. Then, they create precise deadlines for the team.

Keep it simple

Goals should be simple, easy to understand, and follow.

If organizational goals are vague, complex, and pretentious, they are challenging to achieve.

Focus on What not How

WIG should focus on What and not be confused with a lengthy description of how the team will achieve the goal. 

Discipline 2: Act on the Lead measures

Let’s see the second discipline in The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary

Lead measures are more helpful for goal achievement than lag measures.

The lag measure will tell you if you have achieved the goal or not, while the lead measures will tell you if you are likely to achieve the goal or not.

For Example

You can’t control how often your car breakdown on the road, while you can control how often your car gets routine maintenance.

Here Car breakdown is the lag measure while routine maintenance is the lead measure.

The more you work on car routine maintenance, the fewer chances of getting roadside breakdowns.

We can’t control lag measures as it has already occurred, while we can control the lead measures as it is predictive.

The lead measure can also help anticipate the lag measures, so there are fewer surprises.

Moreover, the team can influence the lead measures, while the lag measure team can’t do anything.


The lead measures make the team proactively manage goals. Otherwise, the teams are left to manage the consequences of the lag measures.

The data on lead measures enables leaders to understand the gap between where they are and where they need to reach.

Defining and tracking lead measures.

If you are serious about organizational goals, you must work on the lead measure to put you closer to goals.

You need to create a process to track lead measures for goal achievement. Then, the data on the lead measure can anticipate goal achievement.

The data will also help create course correction if lead measures indicate the goals are not likely to be achieved.

Defining and tracking the lead measures is the key to achieving your Wildly Important Goals.

Lead Measures and engagement

Developing the right lead measures will make sure everyone in the team becomes a business manager.

Lead measures can hold everyone accountable for the goal achievement and results.

The team feels involved and wants to contribute more to the achievement of Wildly Important Goals.

Clearly identified lead measures will bring commitment and engagement to the team.

The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary

Installing discipline 2: Act on Lead Measures.

Installing discipline 2: Act on lead measures is one of the most challenging aspects of installing the 4 disciplines of execution.

Acting on lead measures is crucial for superior performance in the team.

The following three reasons make installing 2nd discipline difficult.

  • Lead measures are counterintuitive.
  • Lead measures are hard to keep track of.
  • Lead measures are often looked too simple.

However, Identifying the right lead measure can provide powerful leverage to leaders.

Step 1: Consider the possibilities

Leaders should consider all possibilities while brainstorming with the team, allow and encourage everyone to participate.

The best example of a lead measure is the 15% rule of 3M. At 3M, employees are allowed to work on a project of their choice to devote 15% of their time.

A simple lead measure of 15% at 3M increases their profit more than 40-fold since implementing the 15% rule.

Step 2: Rank by Impact

Narrowing down focus to necessary lead measures helps to gain stronger gains.

All tasks are essential, and every project is crucial; however, if we focus on many projects or assignments, we tend to lose focus on any of them.

The best practice is to focus on one lead measure at a time and do so, and leaders can rank them by their impact on the organization.

Step 3: Test top Ideas

There are six criteria to test top ideas.

Is it predictive?

If the lead measure is not predictive, just drop it.

Is it influenceable?

The team should have 80% of the influence on the lead measure.

Is it an ongoing process or once done process?

The lead measure should help in continuous improvement and lead to behavior change.

Is it a leader’s game or a team’s game?

Lead measures in the team’s game are better to drive performance and accountability in every team member.

Can it be measured?

A leader needs to find ways to measure behavior, and it will ensure the achievement t of WIG.

Is it worth measuring?

If it takes more effort than its impact, the selected lead measure may need to be amended.

Step 4: Define the lead measures.

To put lead measures on the final form, answer the following questions.

Are we tracking team or individual performance?

Tracking team results will ensure individual performance, while focusing on individual performance may become a considerable task with less impact on WIG.

Are we tracking lead measures daily or weekly?

A leader should select the frequency of tracking lead measures based on suitability to the team.

Daily performance tracking may bring out more accountability in the team, while it may also be the reason for burnout in the team.

Weekly tracking will ensure performance, accountability, and freedom in the team.

What is the quantitative standard?

In other words, “How much/how often/how consistently are we supposed to perform?”

What is the qualitative standard?

In other words, “How well are we supposed to perform?”

Does it start with Verb?

The verb has the power to bring focus toward action. 

Is it simple?

The Lead measure should be simple and can only be described in a few words.

Lead measures will ensure organizations has fewer lag measures towards goal achievement.

Discipline 3: Keep a compelling scorecard

Let’s see the third discipline in The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary

Out of sight is out of mind.

If a team can’t see their progress on lead and lag measures, they tend to lose focus.

Organizations should have a visual scorecard where everyone can see whether they are going on the right track to achieve Wildly Important Goals or failing.

Keeping a compelling scorecard will engage the team and serve as motivation.

Great teams always know whether they are winning or losing the game, having a compelling scorecard helps them keep themselves updated with the status.


Scorecard will give real-time information necessary for decision making and course correction if required.

When the team can see the score, they can relate their performance to results and want to make more efforts for the goal achievement.

These are three questions to make the scorecard compelling for everyone.

Is it simple?

A scorecard should be as simple as a scorecard in any sport. Having more data can be confusing.

We can set up a simple scorecard where it has a color code of red, yellow, and green.

Where Red indicates the team is failing to achieve goals, Yellow in the middle, while green means the team is on the right track to achieve goals.

Can I see it Easily?

A scorecard should be easily visible to everyone, and the organization can put these scorecards at the main entry, desktop screen saver, or near the lunchroom.

Does it show lead and lag measures?

A scorecard should give the team status on lead and lag measures to know precisely where they need to improve.

Installing Discipline 3: Keep a compelling scorecard.

To increase ownership in the team, include them in creating a compelling scorecard. 

Step 1: Choose a Theme

Choose a theme for your scorecard with various options like a bar chart, trends line, speedometer, or any other graphical representation that gives an instant view of the status.

A scoreboard should be personalized with graphics relevant to the industry the organization is working in. For example, it can be an image of injection for hospitals.

When a scorecard becomes personal, the team gets more engaged.

Step 2: Design the scoreboard

The team should design the scoreboard with these questions in mind:

• Is it simple?

• Can the team see it easily?

• Does it contain both lead and lag measures?

• Can we tell at a glance if we’re winning?

Step 3: Build the scoreboard

Finally, build the scoreboard as discussed in steps 1 and 2. The organization can create an electronic board or any digital board also.

Step 4: Keep it updated.

Updating the scorecard should be a regular activity, and the scorecard should be easy to update. 

If the scorecard is challenging to manage or not updated regularly, it simply beats the purpose.

The sense of winning drives engagement in the team, and having a robust scorecard is an easy way to achieve the same with less effort. 

Discipline 4: Create a cadence of accountability

Let’s see the fourth discipline in The 4 disciplines of execution 4DX summary

Creating a cadence of accountability brings the team into the game. To this point, disciplines 1,2, and 3 are planning stage, while actual execution happens in discipline 4.

To create a cadence of accountability, the teams have weekly meetings to discuss WIGs and check the scorecard.

In this meeting, the teams have the following agendas:

  • Account: Report on commitment.

Team members share the status of commitment they made to achieve WIGs or any other important activity.

  • Review the scoreboard: Learn from success and failure.

The team reviews the scoreboard to understand the status of the lead and lag measures. Based on that, they decide the next plan of action.

  • Plan: Clear the path and make a new commitment

Based on the commitment report and scorecard, the team discussed on next course of action for goal achievement.

Remember, this WIG session shall be completed in 20 to 30 minutes. It is not a brainstorming session.

In the WIG session, team members ask each other,” What can I do to clear your path?”

As a Leader, you want each team member to take up ownership, and the best way is to give them the freedom to work besides telling them what to do. 

The involvement of each team member is the key to engagement and accountability.

A different kind of accountability

The WIG session creates personal accountability as the team members themselves decide what they want to achieve in the week and how they can help each other to achieve the goal.

Weekly WIG sessions build gentle peer pressure that makes everyone contribute and stick to their commitments. 

When team members see other peers following up and completing their tasks, it motivates them to do the same.

Weekly WIG session motivates team members by working on the fundamentals of people who want to feel significant, respected, and involved in the process of goal achievement.

Installing Discipline 4: Creating a cadence of accountability.

To Create a cadence of accountability, a leader should avoid the following common pitfalls:

  • Competing whirlwind responsibilities
  • Holding WIG session without specific agenda and outcome
  • Repeating commitments for consecutive weeks.
  • Accepting unfulfilled commitments.

While having weekly WIG sessions, a leader can avoid the above pitfalls by preparing for meetings, explaining the agenda to the team, and adhering to the agenda.

Here are some of the steps to follow for an effective WIG session.

Step 1: Demonstrate Respect

In the WIG sessions, Team members should demonstrate respect for each other. Here the team is gathered for a common purpose, not to play a blame game.

Step 2: Reinforce Accountability 

Allowing the team members to take up tasks and follow their commitment usually brings accountability. However, in cases where team members are not keeping their commitment leader can use follow-ups to reinforce accountability.

Step 3: Encourage performance.

When a team member fulfills the commitment, the leader should provide them with recognition by sharing how their contribution has impacted overall WIG. 

Creating a cadence of accountability keeps the team in the game, increases engagement and motivation. 

Who should read this book?

New managers, entrepreneurs, business managers, HR managers, leaders, or anyone needs execution.

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