This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 4 Disciplines of Execution" by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What is a WIG session in 4DX? How should a session focused on wildly important goals be run?
A WIG session is a critical part of accountability on what you’re trying to accomplish. These meetings are focused solely on the wildly important goals rather than getting caught up in other day-to-day minutiae.
Keep reading for a sample agenda and structure for each WIG Session.
WIG Session Agenda
A WIG session has a set agenda, and only these three things are covered:
Report on last week’s commitments.
Everyone outlines their WIG commitments from the previous week and the outcome:
- Example #1: You might have committed to call three customers. You would tell your team that you did make those calls and what you learned.
- Example #2: You might have gone to a meeting you committed to attending but not gotten the information you were looking for. You would explain the problem.
Review scoreboard. (Update the scoreboard before the session.)
Look at the scoreboard and assess the lag and lead measures. Are the lead measures moving the lag ones? Discuss what the team’s learned about what’s working and what’s not, and how to adjust. Meaningfully celebrate both the team and specific individuals when there are successes. This increases engagement, as everyone likes being publicly praised.
- Example #1: While looking at the scoreboard, you might discuss how a lead measure is improving but you’re not seeing the effect in the lag measure yet.
- Example #2: To celebrate an individual or team, you might create awards such as highest performer of the week or best WIG session, or get pizza.
Plan for next week.
Everyone makes new commitments for the next week. Some of these commitments might be to help team members with problems that came up in the account part of the meeting (“clear the path”). For example, you might commit to doing research on an issue and coming back next week with at least three ideas.
Each commitment must:
- Be specific. Avoid language like “focus on” or “work on.” If your commitment isn’t specific, the whirlwind will eat it.
- Directly influence the lead measure, and so directly contribute to the WIG.
Team members come up with the commitments, not the leaders. The commitments must be personal. Guide your team members if you need to, but the goal is to get to a place where people understand the WIG so well they can tell you how to best execute it. Ownership creates engagement.
If a team member fails to fill their commitments, they must do so the next week, in addition to the next week’s commitments.
(Shortform note: When the agenda is first given, the order of actions is 1) report, 2) review scoreboard, 3) plan. Many of the examples, however, reverse steps 1 and 2. In the examples in this summary, the agenda order adheres to the original book’s.)
If you are a leader, you’ll likely be attending two WIG sessions a week, one with your team and one with your boss.
It takes 3-4 weeks to get into the rhythm of weekly WIG sessions. A few more weeks later, the lag measures start to move.
The WIG session is a large part of why 4DX is more effective than conventional annual planning. No matter how detailed your annual plan, you can’t anticipate things months in advance as well as you can week-by-week. At the beginning of the year, you don’t know what commitments will be most effective based on last week’s events. (And annual plans usually have too many goals.)
Scheduling WIG Commitments
You need to schedule time to complete you WIG commitments or the whirlwind will eat up all of your time. As Parkinson’s Law says, work expands to take up all the time, space and energy it can. If you don’t schedule your WIG commitments, not only will you not achieve your WIG commitments, you’ll feel like you worked really hard all week but didn’t actually get anything done. Spend 80% of your time on whirlwind matters, and reserve 20% for 4DX.
There are a few dangers to watch out for with Discipline 4. All of the following will derail your progress:
- Whirlwind. This is the most common challenge with Discipline 4. WIG commitments should never have anything to do with whirlwind activities.
- Deviating from the WIG session agenda. All three parts are critical
- The same commitment more than two weeks in a row. 4DX is about changing behaviors, and repetition makes things routine
- Letting unfulfilled commitments slide. If you don’t enforce accountability for both commitments and results, your team members won’t take accountability seriously.
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