Saturday, September 9, 2017

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important GoalsThe 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me by several people at different times over the last year, and I was even given a hard copy by one of them. With my training schedule I have been moving through the audio books, so the hard copy sat on the shelf until another friend lent me their audio version. I'm calling out the audio version here because I try to stick with unabridged audio versions of books to keep my "reading" goal pure, but this was an exception.

Here is my take.
Pros: The process and principles they talk about in The Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) seem to be valid, both intuitively and as far as I have experimented with them. The authors took some common sense, mixed it with corporate experience and feedback, and then wrapped it in a cocoon of marketing for memorability, and thus 4DX was born. I feel like you could quickly and easily share this process of execution with a team and ask be on the same page.

Cons: I don't think the authors see that they give conflicting and incomplete advice. It is conflicting because they preach loud and clear the doctrine of focus, but then outline a system that represents several large changes all at once. If you actually implemented all of this system all at once, you would use all your focus on the process, not the outcomes. In our company we have been having regular accountability meetings, and followed several other patterns mentioned in 4DX, and while our execution is far from flawless, we have seen a huge benefit from this structure. Now, with the 4DX info in my toolbox, we are going to make a few tweaks their direction which I think will improve our execution even more, but there are parts that I don't plan on implementing right away, if ever. Secondly, it is incomplete because the authors missed a major component: managing the change that implementing 4DX requires. These guys are professional management consultants from Franklin Covey. Last I checked, they teach stuff like change management to execs all the time. Why is it missing here? I'll refer here to my favorite change model- the Influencer Model. They need to deal with the structure and social requirements to make 4DX stick in organizations. At the end of the book they include success stories that all exhibit behaviors that comply with these models, but the authors don't give it the credit it is due. For example, the idea of a bunch of blue collar workers wearing pink wigs together to their WIG meeting was an example of a group that was engaged. Another common example was the creative bulletin boards of metrics. But it is more than just employees having fun with the program. It is an important social aspect to a successful implementation. You have to have a change model in place. Visible scoreboards are important, but why? You are changing the physical environment, or structure, of the situation, but I would bet there are many other structural components in a successful implementation that are just as important.

So at the end of the day, I'm luke warm on this one. The content was good, but not as comprehensive as it is painted to be. It is a worthwhile read but, like a fine meal, needs to be paired with complimentary pieces to really deliver. (Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Influencer, Leadership and Self Deception. )