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Change Management, Performance Management, Visual Management

70% of strategic failures are due to poor “execution”

PDCAI was interested to be sent a link to “The 4 disciplines of execution” this week. It’s a consultancy with its own formula for ensuring that organisational strategy is actually turned into effective execution. They quote Ram Charan, author of Execution: the discipline of getting things done; “Seventy percent
of strategic failures are due to poor execution of leadership. It’s rarely for lack of smarts or vision.”

There’s a great video on the website which talks through the challenges of execution and the “4 Disciplines”. They explain that the “day job” inevitably gets in the way of working on improvement because it is always “urgent”. They call it the whirlwind; a place where managers get sucked into every day unless they adopt the 4 disciplines. Working on strategy and improvement is, by contrast, “important” and will easily get bumped down the priority list by activity in the whirlwind.

The 4 disciplines are simple, but not easy:

  1. Focus on the wildly important – pick 2-3 goals to work on, rather than 10 or more
  2. Act on the Lead Indicators – implement the vital few actions that you can influence daily and that are predictive of the lagging indicators associated with the important goals
  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard – display the Lead and Lag Indicators and use these to keep score; weekly
  4. Create a culture of accountability – hold weekly team meetings around the scoreboard to review last week’s performance, identify its impact using the indicators and decide next week’s actions

They look remarkably similar PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT but with particular detail on what is required at each stage.

I liked the way the 4 Disciplines approach combines many of the things I help clients with:

The big challenge, as always, is whether senior managers have the personal discipline to adopt and institutionalise the 4 Disciplines to make them part of their workplace habits.

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