Execution Excellence with 4DX – 4 Disciplines of execution
 

To achieve a goal you have never achieved before you must do things you have never done before   ~Stephen Covey

What is so inspiring? All of us already know that in order to do something new, we are expected to do something different.

Well, the answer is “FISH discover water last”.  I will write a separate blog to explain why fish discover water last.  Lets find out the relation between 4DX and the above quote.

The 4DX or The four disciplines of execution is designed to create a winnable game.  Very simple and easy to understand while tricky to implement and sustain because this requires us to work differently than what we do.

Steve Jobs quoted “Ideas are worthless without execution”. It is easy to say that someone “stole your idea” but the truth of the matter is that ideas are worthless until they’re brought to life and executed

The 4 Disciplines of execution – A wonderful book written by Mr. Sean Covey where he talked about how focusing on goals that matter and further how to win the game by step by step process. You can be very well assured that this really works with more than 1500 organizations that have adopted it and seen wonderful results.

In order to understand the disciplines, let’s understand the two key concepts

  1. Strategy &
  2. Execution

A leader can influence two of the items when it comes to producing results.

Strategy and Ability to execute that strategy.  Which one you think leader struggle with more – I don’t have to ask as it’s obvious.

The answer is the ability to execute the strategy.

In case if you are MBA or spend time in learning management – What did you were taught?   “It’s Strategy”

No wonders great strategies fail –  Now the question is why people fail to execute the goals – It’s because of whirlwind.  Whirlwind – These are existing work and urgent tasks that need attention now. For example – Management reports, KPI, Status report, reviewing code, 1x1s, and the list goes on.

On contrary to that there is another concept called WIG or wildly important goals (WIG) which are nothing but “new activities” and “Innovation” which affects the future success

If you closely observe you would find whirlwind are urgent items because it affects today while WIGs are extremely important items that affect the future. When there is a battle between Urgency and Importance, obviously urgency will win.

Now, let’s understand the 4 step process to make a balance between your WIG and Whirlwind.

  1. Discipline of Focus

Ask yourself if everything else remained the same, what is the one thing you could change that would have the greatest impact.

If you have 4-10 goals – you achieve 1. if you go with more than 10, you typically achieve none. Interestingly if you have 2-3 goals, the chances of achieving them all are very high. Sounds interesting, isn’t it?

To define a WIG;  Identify 1. Where are you now, 2. Where you want to be 3.  & By When

Or you define the starting line, finish line, and deadline

  • Focus on your wildly important goals
  • Focus on less to accomplish more
  • There are always good ideas than the capacity to execute
  • Focus on what not how

Focus Traps

Inability to reject good ideas 

This is the disciplines of focus and the first step for creating a winnable game

  1. Discipline of leverage

The second discipline is to act on the lead measure. In order to understand this, we need to understand lead and lag measures

Lag Measure – Lag measures measure results towards your wildly important goal. They’re easy to measure but hard to influence.

Lead Measures – Most high impact things you must do to achieve your goal.

If we take the same weight loss example, I want to lose 10 kg by December. The 10kg is the lag measure. The lead measure would be cutting 100 calories a day and working our 5 times a week.

Using Lag Measures without Lead Measures is dangerous. They only measure the result of your goal. Lead Measures can influence the chance of success in achieving your goal. They are even predictive of success.

  1. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

Think of a bunch of players playing a cricket match on the ground

People and teams play differently when they are keeping score, and the right kind of scoreboards motivate the players to win.  Great teams know at every moment whether they are winning or losing. They must know, otherwise, they don’t know what they have to do to win the game. We need to publish the score regularly and that should be visible to everyone.  The Agile “Information radiators” plays a critical role here. 

Discipline 1, 2, and 3 are nothing but a formula for creating a winnable game. Discipline 4 is how we play the game hence it’s the most important activity we need to focus on

  1. Create a Cadence of accountability

Discipline 4 is to create a cadence of accountability – It’s all about regular and frequent team meetings that focus on the wildly important goals. You should remember

  • This should not last more than 20 to 30 minutes
  • The meeting should be held at the same time and same day of the week. Consistency is critical to have a sustained cadence of accountability.
  • The whirlwind never allowed in the WIG session no matter, how urgent it may seem.

The focus of the session is to make team members hold each other accountable.  In this meeting, we would have answers to three things

  • What did we accomplish last week?
  • Did that move our lead or lag measure or need to course correct
  • What are 1-2 things we should do to push the lead measure which would push the lag measure?

The Behaviors play a critical role while ensuring 4 steps

  1. Establish a sense of urgency (Kotter’s law of change) – The constant sense of danger to survive or innovative leadership can bring in urgency.  Precisely you are expected to challenge the status quo and push employees to no longer be complacent.
  1. Change is inevitable – We need to realize that change is mandatory but you don’t need to be perfect. Have you heard of leaders’ plans to plan and further plan – to achieve perfection but the same focus is not there in execution. Don’t be perfect. Perfection is a fallacy. Start with a good plan and move towards perfection.
  1. Take an economic view – It’s tough to say no to good ideas.  Use the Pareto principle which is 20% of ideas will generate 80% of success.  Pick what is important and narrow your focus. The human brain is not programmed to multitask.  Prioritize looking at the benefits of goal to the organization and not with emotions
  1. Don’t make your Whirlwind to be a WIG – Don’t get so busy that you are 100% reactive. 20% of your time must be focused on doing WIG then only you can make a difference and that would result in organizational success.
  1. The decision should go where the knowledge exists – Unless a decision is one time, makes a significant financial impact, move that to your team. That would help you to move faster and at the same time help your directs to grow in their career.
  1. Intrinsic motivation – This is one of my favorites. This is from the book Drive written in 2009. If you want to bring the highest level of motivation to your team, you should focus on three core factors – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
  • Autonomy– people are trusted and encouraged to take ownership of their own work and skill development.
  • Mastery– people see no limits to their potential and are given the tools they need to continue to improve their skills.
  • Purpose– people are encouraged to use their skills to achieve a “greater” purpose – for instance, getting involved in a “good cause” that they are passionate about.

Money doesn’t motivate people though not giving enough money demotivates them.

  1. Credit Game – Don’t fall into trap of getting the credit. Have you observed people want to sign up for every initiative just for “Face Value”? As a leader, you should discourage that and moreover lift people up based on the outcome they produce. It is very easy to develop bias because somebody has said great words about your people or your direct has taken up great sessions. Once you are focused on the outcome, people would start getting out of the credit game. Focus on the outcome and not output.

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.

  1. Create short term wins – Remember principle #3 – Keeping a compelling scoreboard – It’s imperative to create short term wins. Celebrate your wins – Celebrate success and celebrate failure but ensure that you keep moving towards your goal.
  1. Embrace the feedback – If you are wrong, accept mistakes. If you get feedback, listen, and act. Don’t shoot the messenger instead embrace your messenger. Feedback is the best way to improve faster.
  1. Relentless improvement – Last but not least, continually improve. The relentless improvement is mandatory in the current competing priorities. You can go up the ladder or go down. You can never stay where you are today.  Create an environment where people are encouraged to learn, read, and contribute. In fact, go back and read the book which will be given to you. Make sure the team read this before you start following 4 DX in your team.

You can buy the book 4DX – 4 Disciplines of execution by clicking at The 4 Disciplines of Execution

The ONE Invisible Code – Think beyond mediocrity & rise to the Next Level – Book Review
 
I just read an interesting book The ONE Invisible Code – I loved every bit of it. Sharat has done complete justice to convey the message to rise beyond mediocrity.  
In this post, I am sharing with you what I found to be interesting in the book. Firstly, this is one of the finest books I read in the recent past. The book is very practical and filled with exercises. This helps you apply the concepts you learn immediately.
 
The book starts with Joy and his struggles. A failed entrepreneur and an employee. He meets his Mentor in unusual circumstances. The book then picks momentum and is an interesting conversation between Joy and his Mentor. During the conversation, Joy’s mentor helps him get unstuck and makes him realize his full potential.  
 
The book is divided into 4 sections:
 

Section 1: Orbit of Mastery Vs Orbit Of Mediocrity – Where are you?

Here is where the foundation of every great success is presented in an interesting way. The concept of Orbit Of Mastery and Orbit Of Mediocrity. When we give too much emphasis on safety overgrowth, comfort over the challenge, and short-term pleasure over long-term purpose, we get stuck in the orbit of mediocrity. Mastery begins with self-awareness is something that I really enjoyed.

Section 2: The 4 Mindsets
Knowing and mastering our mindset is the key to achieving all the success and fulfillment. The top priority of every successful individual, entrepreneur, or a corporate leader has been the power of mastering their mindset. When you know your mindset, you can consciously choose to change and sail through any adversity that life throws at you. Learn 4 mindsets and discover your inner potential.
 

Section 3. Owning The Truth

All high achievers own certain truths which help them create exemplary results. Many of these unconventional truths make you think beyond what you have learned. It’s time to challenge the conventional wisdom and learn to own these truths

 

Section 4: The ‘ONE’ Invisible Code
All high achievers practice a pattern or a series of steps to achieve massive success. Do you want to know what are these steps? Do you want to decode these patterns and find that invisible code? You can discover these steps to breakthrough mediocrity and reach the next level of success in the book.

 
Here is a 90sec introduction video of the book https://youtu.be/JXnf-ASjAYg
 
You can grab a copy of the book using this link 

The ‘One’ Invisible Code: An Uncommon Formula To Breakthrough Mediocrity & Rise to the Next Level

Attachments area

Preview YouTube video Introduction – The ‘ONE’ Invisible Code

The Culture Code – Daniel Coyle – A Quick Book Review
 

Figure – what is common among a special Operations Military Unit, a professional movie studio, a Professional Basketball Team, and of course a Gang of Jewel Thieves?

Confused how this most diverse set of groups can have anything in common – The one loud response I could gather was exemplary Team Culture.  Team culture is one single most powerful force to achieve the maximum outcome in any undertaking.

In the Culture Code, Daniel Coyle, takes us deeper into the team-building aspects of some of the leading organizations in the world.

Coyle starts with a definition of culture that’s a little bit different than the norm. He says, “Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are, it’s something you do.” So, what is it that you do? What do people in organizations that create strong cultures do that their peers in other organizations don’t do?

Culture Code - Daniel Coyle

There are three most significant skills at the heart of great teamwork as per the book.

  1. Build safety to make everyone feel comfortable in working together

Safety is an important enabler that allows us to do great work. For example, keeping our day job can help us practice our creativity freely in a side hustle. Similarly, a work environment in which you feel safe in acting as you naturally would and speaking your mind is very conducive to group work. It’s only natural: you don’t want to keep looking over your back all the time, because if you need to, you can never really focus on the task at hand. Anybody could predict the outcomes of negotiations within five minutes of starting a session. That’s because how close we are to our co-workers, whether we mimic their behavior, and look into their eyes, are instant tells of how safe we feel. One good way to make others feel safer is to confirm you understand what they’re telling you by occasionally interjecting affirmations like “uh-huh,” “yes,” “got it,” and so on. Just don’t interrupt them.

  1. Share vulnerability to show no one needs to be perfect

When we share our own flaws with others, something amazing happens. He calls it a vulnerability loop, in which other people detect when we signal vulnerability, thus signal vulnerability too, and thus both parties become closer and trust each other more. Workplaces are usually seen as competitive, especially in the Western world, we think we need to look confident and powerful all the time. But that’s not true. It’s usually the person who takes the first step in admitting they’re not perfect, who’s perceived as a leader, not the one who berates others for being weak.

Vulnerability not just increases trust, it’s also a way to show acceptance: if you admit no one’s perfect, people will feel okay even after making mistakes, which are inevitable in accomplishing a shared goal.

  1. Establish purpose through a common goal and a clear path to get there

Put simply, the purpose is a set of reasons for doing what you do. In the case of a group, it’s the sum of all beliefs and values among your team, as they relate to achieving your common goal. That goal might be something straightforward, like selling the most phones any company has ever sold, but ideally, it’s about something bigger, like making phone users feel special and that they have good taste. Since the goal is in the future, but your group lives in the now, your purpose should be like a bridge between the two. Thus, if you can come up with a simple narrative as to how your purpose will help you go from today to tomorrow and reach your goal, you’ll be able to activate those around you.

With safety, vulnerability, and purpose all in one place, it’ll be almost impossible to stop you and your team from accomplishing whatever you set out to do! There are several chapters about each skill. There’s a good mix of stories and studies. Coyle chooses his examples carefully and tells their stories well. He doesn’t use bullet points or frequent summaries, so sometimes you will work to tease out his meaning.

Most business authors put summaries of key points or action steps at the end of every chapter. Coyle doesn’t. Instead, he includes a chapter at the end of every section, titled “Ideas for Action.” That chapter functions as a review of the other chapters in the section. I think that’s a good device, but I’d rather he also put his key points at the end of every chapter.

I thoroughly reinstated my beliefs of building team cultures after reading this book and will recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the transformation of the team culture.

You can buy “The Culture Code” book here

 

 

The five dysfunctions of a team – How to build a great team
 

I got an opportunity to drive ‘team book reading’ with my highly competent team for one of the very critical facets of team building i.e. “What it takes to be successful as a Team”. The book chose was “The five dysfunctions of a team – A leadership fable” which I personally found very interesting hence thought of sharing the summary with you all.

Precisely the book talks about the five dysfunctions of a team that restricts the team to be successful. It is very important to understand and overcome them in order to be more effective as a team. The dysfunctions are

Absence of trust
Trust & respect are the foundation stones of any relationship be it a home or office. If the members of the team do not trust each other then they cannot be completely honest with each other.

Hence “Create Trust” by following but not limited to:

  • 360-degree feedback
  • Spend time together
  • Understand each other personal history
  • Believe in each other
  • Be honest

Fear of conflict – Without trust, team members will not have healthy debates that are necessary to arrive at better thought through decisions.
It’s very important to have open lines of communication (so that everyone is clear & aligned). Always remember

  • Open discussions. Debate leads to a better solution
  • Focus on the issue, not the individual.

Hence “Value Conflict” (It has to be in a healthy way!) by following but not limited to:

  • Straight talk
  • Calling people on behavior traits that demonstrate fear of conflict
  • Identify how we respond
  • The leader leads in behavior

Lack of commitment – If the team has not aligned to a decision then the individual members who did not agree with the final decision will ultimately be less committed to that decision. It is important to know that the “Alignment” is more important than agreement

Hence “Encourage commitment” by following but not limited to:

  • Summaries decisions made in group discussions or meetings
  • Come to consensus — Any decision is better than no decision – Timeboxing decisions.
  • Clarify all scenarios including worst-case ones.
  • Talk it loud, hear everyone’s opinion.

Avoidance of accountability – If they are not committed to the course of action, then they are less likely to feel accountable (or hold other people accountable). Lack of clarity of roles & responsibilities and not holding individuals accountable leads to “Avoidance of accountability”
Hence “Promote Accountability” by following but not limited to

  • Open disclosure of goals, standards, and metrics
  • Continuous progress reviews
  • Reward for a team not individual

Inattention to results – If the individuals are not accountable, they are less likely to care about the group results (Instead they would focus on achieving their individual goals).
Hence “Celebrate Results” by following but not limited to:

  • Group declaration of results
  • The reviews to be based on results.
  • The leader should lead to behavior.

Disclaimer “This is a just summary of the book we read – In order to have more details, you are required to read the complete book”.

You can find the book at this link

or

Click on below

Top 20 leadership interview questions which you must prepare in advance
 

Have you ever noticed that the questions asked during leadership interviews are so easy and everything went so well but still you were not selected? Or probably you could have answered slightly different then what you did. The questions seem so easy but your selection would be decided not based on how many questions you answered but the quality of your responses.  The key is to prepare well and that’s something many of us don’t do it very well. Whenever you go for an interview, you must write down all the questions post that interview and think through that what you could have answered or how would you have responded. The preparation is most important. If you attend 10 interviews, you would find, a majority of the questions are keep getting repeated. I am not providing an answer to any of the questions listed below as the answer depends on your role, the company you are going for an interview, culture, future expectations etc. etc.  There is nothing wrong or right in leadership interview. It is all about how do you articulate and respond to different situations. Following are must prepare questions well in advance in order to increase your chances of not only higher success rate but getting better role and money. Go ahead and read more about understanding leadership roles and how it can help your business succeed.

1. Tell me something about yourself?

Tip: You know too much about yourself and it is quite tough to articulate the most important part upfront. Prepare well for this question. This is something you would hear almost all the times in some or other form.

2. Explain your current project/s and your role?

Follow up question – Sell your product to me.

Tip: Preparation is key here as well. What you are talking should show your knowledge and strengths. Don’t forget to get that aligned for your job you have come for an interview. If you can answer “what is there for me” from interviewer perspective, you have won half the battle.

3. What is your biggest weakness?

Follow up question – What did you do to overcome your weakness?

Tip: This is the question where interviewer expects you to open up and further wants to know what you did about it. It’s not a perfect world.  It’s highly impossible that individual doesn’t have a weakness.

4. What is your biggest strength?

Follow up question – How did you leverage it to support your organization?

Tip: How can you align that with your upcoming job needs?  You’re a great cook but does it really help?

5. How do you motivate your team?

Tip: Provide your answer with an example.

6. How do you manage conflicts between two members or among the team?

Tip: Answer the question and justify with an example. Everyone can talk bookish theories while implementation gets more priority in this case.

7. Why should we hire you? What is that you could do which others can’t?

Tip: You should know your prospective company where you are going for an interview well in advance. Moreover, you should talk about how your success and knowledge align with interview company’s expectations.

8. Did you ever fail? Did you make a blunder? A decision what you have taken and you regret it?

Follow up question – How did you later get that corrected?  What did you learn from it?

Tip: Fail faster succeed sooner. If you have never failed either you are a god which is highly unlikely or you are faking it. Talk about the situation and be ready for follow-up question as an interviewer is more interested in knowing what did you learn and how would you avoid that situation in future.

9. Where do you see yourself in next 5/10 years? What are your short terms and long term goals?

Follow up question – What are you doing to achieving them?

Tip: You must be able to justify for what you say. I have seen people saying software development or managing a larger team but unable to align that with their future goals.

10. What is your passion? How do you keep that alive?

Tip: I say, my passion is reading and when asked what the last book you read is, you don’t have a concrete answer. Weird? Off course yes.

11. What are your salary expectations?

Tip: If you don’t plan this question or prepare to answer in advance, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to convince your interviewer with real expectations.

12. What do people criticize about you?

13. Why are you looking for a change?

Tip: No company is perfect and there are always challenges. Don’t talk ill about your current organization.  

14. What is the most difficult part of being a leader?

15. Tell me a situation where you had to make a tough decision which was supporting your company’s goal while that had a short-term financial impact?

Tip: Leaders take big decisions and you are one among them. If you are instruction follower you are not a leader.

16. Would you compromise your team member pride over company’s purpose?

Tip: There is no perfect answer for this. It all depends. To you, what is right is more important. You should have an example else you are in deep trouble.

17. What are three most critical things for you as a leader?

Tip: As a leader, one of the best things which I learned are people, business alignment and building relationships.

18. Did you ever fire anybody?

Follow up question – What is the process? How did you go about it?

Tip: Be honest about whether you have done or not. In this competitive world, you have to let go non-performers. You must know the process around it. (Read about Performance Improvement Plan)

19. How do you handle stress and pressure?

Tip: It is very obvious that you will have challenges. You can’t say that everything is great and I manage them so good. If that’s the case, you may not be even looking for a change.

20. What is your biggest achievement in your career as a leader?

Tip: If you don’t prepare, you may answer right but chances are slim that you would be articulate it well.

In case if you encounter any other question/s which you found it interesting, please post it in the comment below. Thanks in advance!!