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"There is a giant difference between knowing a thing and knowing the data behind that thing. "
-Chris McChesney, Co-Author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures
While a lag measure tells you if you've achieved the goal, a lead measure tells you if you are likely to achieve the goal.
No matter what you are trying to achieve, your success will be based on two kinds of measures: Lag and Lead. Lag measures track the success of your wildly important goal. Lags are measures you spend time losing sleep over. They are things like revenue, profit, quality, and customer satisfaction. They are called lags because by the time you see them, the performance that drove them is already passed. You can’t do anything to fix them, they are history.
“Once a team is clear about its lead measures, their view of the goal changes.”
ChrisMcChesney, Co-Author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution
Lead measures track the critical activities that drive, or lead to the lag measure. They predict success of the lag measure and are influenced directly by the team. A common example of a lag measure is weight loss. Which activities or lead measures will lead to weight loss? Diet and exercise! Proper diet and exercise predict the success of weight-loss and they are activities that we can directly influence. Simple enough, but be careful. Even the smartest people fall into the trap of fixating on a lag measure that they can’t directly influence. This is because lags are easier to measure and they represent the result we ultimately want. Think of a lead measure as a level that moves your wildly important goal.
Act ON the Lead Measures
Long-term plans are often too rigid. They lack the ability to adapt to the constantly changing needs and environment of the business. Discipline 2 requires you to define the daily or weekly measures, the achievement of which will lead to the goal.
Then, each day or week, your team identifies the most important actions that will drive those lead measures. In this way, your team is creating a just-in-time plan that enables them to quickly adapt, while remaining focused on the WIG.
This organization-wide transformation process teaches and sustains the behaviors necessary to execute the most important goals. It ensures that managers and employees identify and execute their highest priorities through focusing on the Wildly Important Goals, translating top goals into specific actions, creating a compelling scoreboard, and holding each other accountable.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution Operating System is an online tool designed as a self-paced approach for application of The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Each discipline can be accessed at four levels — Learn, Apply, Facilitate, and Create — allowing for easier implementation of the 4 Disciplines solution.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing on your most important strategic priorities in the midst of "the whirlwind." The 4 Disciplines of Execution is not theory. It is a proven set of practices that have been tested and refined by hundreds of organizations and thousands of teams over many years. The 4 Disciplines of Execution represents a new way of thinking and working that is essential to thriving in today’s competitive climate.