Using the 4DX model to Achieve the Wildly Important Goal

There are four disciplines of execution within five stages of change. Too many times, the reason an initiative fails is that the focus is scattered across too many goals or the focus is on the wrong goals to achieve success. The 4DX model addresses this issue by instructing the team how to choose the correct goals and measures in order to be successful.

The 4DX model, not to be confused with the Influencer model, focuses on the actual process of developing goals and executing them. The Influencer model focuses more on behavioral science and the psychology behind getting the team to continue working on reaching their goals. The 4DX model is a model for guiding leadership through the planning and implementation phase of this initiative.

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The 4 Disciplines of Execution are:

Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important Goal

Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures

Discipline 3: Keep a Scoreboard

Discipline 4: Create a System of Accountability

5 stages of change.jpg


Figure 1. Graphic representation of the five stages of change.

Step One: Get Clear

This step begins with the leadership team engaging in Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important Goal.

One of the first steps the team must take will include getting clear on the goals of the initiative. This team will identify and create the “crystal-clear WIGs. lag and lead measures, and a compelling scoreboard” (McChesney, Covey, & Huling, 2016, p. 107). The “Wildly Important Goal” or WIG will give focus to the initiative, giving priority to “one or two goals that will make all the difference, instead of giving mediocre effort to dozens of goals” (McChesney et al. p. 23).

WIGs for this initiative might focus on decreasing the number of at-risk students who do not make it to graduation in four years, or on improving the Panorama survey results for student engagement, either of which target areas specified by the campus improvement plan.

Following the development of the WIGs, the team will develop the lag and 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 (McChesney et al. p. 45). The difference between the two is a lead measure can influence change and a lag measure can only reflect what has happened. For this initiative, a lag measure might be increasing daily attendance rates of the at-risk population. A lead measure might include every teacher making a point to have at least one positive interaction with each at-risk student on their roster per day. Those positive interactions build relationships and ultimately lead to a more positive experience for the student, which eventually can lead to increases in student attendance rates.

Once the WIGs, lag measures, and lead measures are created, the team is ready to create a scoreboard to track progress on lead measures and then move into the next phase.


Increase number of at-risk students who graduate within 4 years.
Improve daily attendance rate of the at-risk student population.
Every teacher will make one personal positive connection with each at-risk student on their roster per day.
Teachers work to identify barriers to attendance.

Step Two: Launch

In stage 2 of the stages of change, the lead measures are put into practice. This is also known as Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures. The most important thing for the team to remember at this point, is that they need to trust the process and try to stick to only the lead measures that they have created.

The phase requires active leadership to help the team wrestle with the addition to their whirlwind. Knowing who the positive and negative influencers are within the team will be crucial. This stage is a great opportunity to leverage the Influencer model, as it is the most difficult to persevere through. Adding the elements from the Influencer model will remind the team why they are involved and add social and structural motivation. The leaders will need to actively monitor to provide any additional support or training to make sure that the team is able to act on the lead measures and add their information to the scoreboard.

Creating the scoreboard brings us to Discipline 3: Keep a Scoreboard, and contributes to social motivation. By keeping a scoreboard, the team can track and celebrate their progress. The scoreboard should be kept simple and visible so that the team can easily determine the status. The WIG, lag, and lead measures are all represented and the progress toward the target is clear. The scoreboard’s job is to keep the team engaged.

Every week, the team will meet to discuss their progress, which brings us to Discipline 4: Create a System of Accountability. The team will be responsible to each other for keeping the scoreboard up to date.

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Sample Scoreboard for tracking attendance



Sample Scoreboard Display for Accountability

Step Three: Adoption

Eventually, if the team has managed to stick with the process, they will realize that these new measures have become part of their daily whirlwind. Resistance should fade as enthusiasm begins to increase. The teams continue to meet weekly to evaluate the scoreboard and discuss how they are moving toward success. Adoption occurs when the team finds its rhythm and is able to stick with the process.

Step Four: Optimization

The optimization phase allows the team to begin to see where they can improve the process, possibly even revising the lead measures to make more significant gains on the lag measures. This phase is all about fine tuning the process so achieve the maximum results. Team leaders should encourage ideas about moving the lead measures and becoming more efficient and effective.

Step Five: Habits

When the practices that were lead measures have become standard, then they have become habit and are now a normal part of the daily whirlwind. Once these practices become habit, the team is ready to take on a new WIG.

The leaders of the team should analyze performance data and help any team members who may have not performed consistently according to the scoreboard. Helping these team members to reach a higher level of participation will help the entire team succeed on the next measure.



Grenny, J. (2015). Influencer: The new science of leading change. New York, NY. McGraw-       Hill.

McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2016). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY. Free Press.

Ranjan, A. (2014, April 14). The 4 Disciplines of Execution –Retrieved from https://touchonweb.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/the-4-discipline-of-execution/

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