How To Crush Your Hardest Goals

I am going to tell you a little story. By the end of the story, you will have a much better understanding of a process that is virtually guaranteed to help you Crush Your Hardest Goals! The process is called the 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX), and I will share with you how I used 4DX to achieve our most-important goal and how investing in the methodology could help you and your organization.

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We had a problem.

Every single day.

Same problem with no end in sight.

Goals being unmet – problems without solutions.

We had lost $750k in a 3-month period.

Bad…very bad.

We were going to be fired by our client if we didn’t turn it around. In a 24/7, 365 operation, we were bleeding employees. Turnover was over 150% about 1 ¼ years in. Employees would just stop showing up – ghosting us – and we didn’t even know why most were leaving. This turnover problem was a central cause of nearly every other failure we were having.

The Pressures of the Whirlwind

One major roadblock that prevents an organization’s most-important goals from being reached is the pressures of day-to-day operations. The hundreds of emails, month end reporting, budget review, meetings, conferences, training, hiring, etc. It gets overwhelming when there are all these pressing matters in front of you. Who has time for the big picture?

This is known as the Whirlwind.

If you don’t know why something is happening, it’s very hard to fix. We dug deep, got organized with 4DX (4 Disciplines of Execution) and by the end of the year, turnover was cut in half to 75% – basically the industry standard.

Profitability turned around and without having to put out so many fires, we were able to shift our efforts to improving other areas of the operation.

Starting Point for Success

Here’s what we did, using the 4DX framework.

The first obstacle that most businesses face when trying to achieve their goals is not knowing which goal to target.

If the efforts of your team aren’t aligned, you can have some very mixed results, and certainly a lot of wasted effort. Think about a rowing team – no wasted motion, 100% in sync, moving towards a common goal.

We determined our Wildly Important Goal, also known as our “WIG”

  • This goal is so big and important that failure to achieve it would have gotten us fired
    • In our case, it was obvious that if we couldn’t staff enough people, we didn’t have a chance at keeping the account
    • In order to be able to achieve our WIG, we set a goal in the following format:
      • Go from X (our current situation of 150% turnover) to Y (the industry average was a good goal, so we set that at 75%) by When (we gave ourselves 12 months – 12/31 was the date).
      • Without knowing your starting point, how would you know how far you need to progress to reach your goals?
      • Also, it’s not enough to know your starting point and the goal you have set, because you need to add a time frame for achieving the goal
        • What use would it do us to take 2 years to achieve a goal? Without immediate progress, we were going to be fired.

Know Your Goal? Great! Now What?

Once we know our WIG, our starting point, end point and time frame, now comes the process of figuring out what actions or steps we can take to achieve that goal.

It takes careful thought to determine your Lead Measures – the pieces of the business that impact your goal the most. You don’t want to focus on more than 3-5 at a time. More than that, and you begin to spread your resources too thin, watering down your results. Ultimately, you begin spinning your tires, as you’re doing a whole bunch of stuff, but it’s not impacting your WIG (as a reminder, the WIG is your Wildly Important Goalthe goal that is the most-important one you can set).

So, let’s say everyone on your team knows the goal, but does everyone know what they need to do to reach the goal?

In your organization, if the goal is to increase sales, there may be some heated debates as to how to allocate finite resources. There may be no perfect answer, but through careful analysis and coming to a consensus as a group, the best options for Lead Measures can be selected and acted upon.

We went through several Lead Measures, but these were the ones that had the biggest positive impact on the Lag Measure:

  • Go from 0 to 200 Schedule Reviews per month by 2/28
    • We gave ourselves 2 months to get up and running and figure out the systems and processes necessary to ensure we didn’t miss any employees
      • Began by reviewing each employee’s schedule and availability
        • We approached the team in a collaborative manner looking to ensure we removed roadblocks that may prevent them from coming to work
        • If their school schedule changed, or they got another job, or had a baby, we wanted to accommodate them as much as possible
      • Ended up adding onto the Schedule Reviews by making them full-blown 1-on-1 meetings where we would give the associate a platform to share whatever they wanted with management
        • We would also talk about development and promotion opportunities and seek enthusiastic candidates to enroll in training programs
        • To get to know each associate as much as possible, we sought to take it beyond the typical employer/employee relationship – we wanted them to know they can come to us and we would approach them with a spirit of genuinely wanting to help
    • Go from 0 to 5 Employee Engagement Events per month by 3/31
      • Employee Engagement Events could be:
        • Staff Meeting
          • As long as we recognized the team in some way – Employees of the Month, etc.
        • We installed a bulletin board where employees could post open invitations to the rest of the team for everything from pick-up basketball, to soccer, to movies, to going to the beach, to bowling and so forth
          • This created bonds among the team and made it more than just a job, but made coworkers look at one another as friends and family

That’s a lot of info – and it only really scratches the surface – can you imagine?! So we know our goal – the WIG – and we know what we can do to impact the WIG – our Lead Measures.

Making Progress – More Is Needed

What now?

Are we done?

Problem solved?

Not quite – you can know your goal and how to achieve the goal, but if you don’t keep score, you’re going to lose focus and come up short.

Without measuring your progress, how can you say if you’re on the right track to achieve your goal by your deadline?

Think about this – you want to take a vacation 6 months from now that you know is going to cost you $5,000. In 6 months, you get 13 paychecks, which divides to $385 that you would have to put aside per check to have $5,000 for your vacation. You set up an automatic transfer to your savings account of $385 every 2 weeks and you’re already picturing yourself at that resort, with the beautiful beach and drinks with umbrellas in them!

Assess and Reassess

Fast forward 6 months – it’s time to pay up for your trip. You go to the bank to make a withdrawal and the teller, in a hushed tone, regretfully informs you that you don’t have $5,000 in your account.


She goes over your transaction history and it becomes clear what happened. Your bank account was setup so that overdraft from your checking was pulled from your savings. Allow Mr. Kevin Hart to explain the situation…

In order to avoid the situation above, you have to:

  • Create a Compelling Scoreboard
    • People play differently when they keep score
    • You want to beat the goal and derive the satisfaction of winning
    • The Scoreboard must be:
      • Complete
        • It must have all the necessary information about your Lead Measures and Lag Measure
      • Easy to update
        • Could be as simple as a dry erase board or something that looks like a science fair poster
        • The point is updating should take a few minutes and can be done weekly
      • You need to know instantly if you are WINNING or LOSING

Are You Winning Or Losing?

Ok, so your team knows their goal (WIG), they know what to do to achieve the goal (Lead Measures) and they are keeping score.

Is that all there is to it?

Well, consider that the name of the program is the FOUR Disciplines of Execution and I’ve only gone over THREE Disciplines so far, that would be a no.

The last Discipline is the one that ties everything together. Discipline 4 is to Create a Cadence of Accountability.

You do this by holding a 15-minute weekly meeting.

This is not a staff meeting – it is called your WIG Meeting.

Only your team’s leaders attend. They are called WIG Team Members.

What happens in the WIG Meeting?

See For Yourself

Essentially, the WIG Meeting has 3 steps:

  • Report on success or failure of your Commitment
    • Each WIG Team Member makes 1 Commitment every week
    • The Commitments are something that will impact a Lead Measure
      • The biggest impact you can make, without trying to do so much that you fail to accomplish your goal
  • Review the Scoreboard
    • Check to see if the team is Winning or Losing
    • See trends and use that information to determine future Commitments
  • Communicate a new Commitment
    • Need to determine a Commitment prior to the meeting
      • It can be adjusted if Scoreboard review merits doing so

Those are the 4 Disciplines of Execution – a framework you can use to help you take just about any plan from strategy to execution.

Check out the video below to give you an overview, with additional resources below.

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Still have questions?

For information about purchasing the 4 Disciplines of Execution for your organization, click the link below.

For a preview of the 4 Disciplines of Execution book, or to purchase, click below.

[The 4 Disciplines of Execution and 4DX, including any of the accompanying methodology, is proprietary to Franklin Covey Co. Please visit for direct access to their program and to purchase. The following story gives a real-life application of 4DX and any referral to the underlying process is merely to provide insight into how it led to Crushing my Hardest Goals!]

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