Continuing our theme of how effective execution of improvement and other strategic initiatives results in both goal achievement and workforce engagement, today’s focus is on the second of “The Four Disciplines of Execution,” as presented in a book by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney, and Jim Huling.
Our previous post focused on the first discipline, the Wildly Important Goals (WIG’s).
The second key discipline is to focus on the lead measures, which are the activity or process measures that predict and influence the results measures (WIG’s).
We monitor the WIG’s or lag measures, but we must act on the lead measures to achieve the desired result goals (WIG’s).
People tend to focus their attention on the WIG’s ― sales goals, weight loss, yield, etc. ― because they are what matters most and because they are typically more easily measured.
But these are not directly “influenceable”.
For example, to influence your weight goal you must act on the lead measures: exercise (calories burned) and calories consumed.
In addition, determining the right lead measure(s) is essential to influencing the lag measures and achieving the WIG; and it is not always obvious what each lead measure should be and how we should measure it.
For example, if increasing sales ‘from x to y by mid year’ is your WIG, the most predictive and influencable lead measure might be the number of sales calls. The team could work on increasing the number of sales calls in order to increase the sales. But at another organization or a different time in that same organization, the best lead measure to influence might be quality of preparation for the sales calls or the messaging used by the sales team during the calls.
Similarly, at another place or time, prospect targeting or lead quality might be a better choice of lead measure.
Thus the team must understand enough about the process to choose a good lead measure to act on, one that both predicts and influences the lag measure. They must also constantly monitor their effect on the lag measure to ensure they are working on the right thing in the right way. The simple combination of being empowered to identify activities and being involved in measuring progress is a critical component of the engagement process. People tend to be more engaged when their goals as well as their contributions are clearly identified.
Notice the clarity of action we are building as we implement these disciplines. Instead of many vaguely measured goals, we have 1‒2 clearly defined ― ‘x to y by when’ ― goals (WIG’s). Instead of obsessing on the WIG’s, we focus all our efforts on the lead measures, which are more easily influencable or actionable. This clarity is what enables us to carve time out of the busy day-to-day environment or whirlwind.
Our next step is to create a compelling scoreboard that will enable us to accurately measure and recognize “activities,” which will be the subject of our next post.