4DX – Four Disciplines of Execution Strategy

How will you stay focused in the midst of your whirlwind? Image by J.Lyon (2018).

In my previous post, I talked about the Influencer Strategy, which allows us to identify key people within the organisation who can help to move the project forward. In addition to those who can influence others to move forward on the project, we must also consider The 4 Disciplines of Execution, or 4DX (Covey, S., Huling, J., and McChesney, C., 2016). The Influencer Strategy helps us to identify key players and behaviours that we need as we move our project forward. The 4DX program helps us to maintain focus, break the overarching goal(s) into smaller more manageable chunks (Lead Measures), develop a scoreboard to track progress of the teams toward project completion, and describes a system, or cadence of accountability. These steps help to ensure that the team remains focused and accountable, and does not slip into the mire of the Whirlwind, or those daily tasks that also must be accomplished throughout the project’s duration.

To ensure that implementation and execution of the innovation project are successful, the following disciplines must be initiated.

Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important Goal

Implement a network of support and development for adjunct faculty by September 2019.

To ensure that our team is built on culture that is focused on the Wildly Important Goal (WIG), we will begin with weekly WIG meetings. The team will be comprised of OC Global staff, Instructional Leadership, and Teaching and Learning Staff for the development of the framework. These meetings will be scheduled at the same time each week, and will last no longer than 30 minutes. As other measures are identified, the team leaders may need to also have weekly WIG meetings with their departments to ensure that everyone remains focused on the one primary goal… the WIG.

  • The entire team will develop and administer a survey to learn what training needs the adjunct faculty have.
  • OC Global will be responsible for developing a course shell (Faculty Support Studio) that will serve as a development and support hub for all faculty, including adjuncts.
  • OC Global and Teaching and Learning Staff will work collaboratively to convert face-to-face faculty development experiences to online format to be delivered through Blackboard Learn.
  • Teaching and Learning Staff and Instructional Leadership will develop a structured plan of professional learning communities that will include adjunct faculty.
  • Teaching and Learning Staff and Instructional Leadership will identify full-time faculty that can serve as mentors for adjuncts.
  • Instructional Leadership will develop
Image Attribution: Group of Business People Analysis With Marketing Report... Designed by Jcomp. Licensed through Creative Commons, CC-BY-SA 2.0, retrieved from Freepik.com (https://www.freepik.com)

Group of business people analysis with marketing report graph, Young specialists are discussing business ideas for new digital start up project.


Discipline 2: Act on Lead Measures

For this project, lag measures will include the following:

  • increased participation of adjunct faculty in departmental and institutional meetings
  • increased participation of adjunct faculty in professional learning communities
  • increased participation of adjunct faculty in professional development activities, including Blackboard 101 and Quality Course Components

These performance indicators can only be assessed after they have occurred, so the team will focus on lead measures, shorter term goals that can be delegated to various team members and departments, and will be predictive of the team’s progress toward the final goals. For this project, lead measures will be distributed primarily among OC Global (OCG) and Teaching & Learning (T&L), with some lead measures that will be handled by Instructional Leadership Team (ILT).

Responsible Party/Department
Lead Measure
OC Global Develop a Course Shell for Faculty Support Studio by 30-November-2018.
Course Shell will be created, with standard Odessa College template for online courses applied by 30-November-2018.
OC Global/Teaching & Learning Convert existing training activities that have been delivered Face-to-Face (F2F) to online format by February 2019.

These include:

  • FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
  • Odessa College’s Drop Rate Improvement Plan
Beginning immediately


FERPA will be updated and loaded into Faculty Support Studio by 31-December, 2018.

Drop Rate Improvement Plan will be updated and loaded into Faculty Support Studio by 28-February, 2019.

Instructional Leadership Team, Departmental Leadership, Faculty (full-time and part-time) Develop a plan for part-time faculty to participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and departmental  meetings, by 31-December-2018. Working together with Teaching & Learning, ILT will focus on implementing a structure that will allow part-time faculty to participate in at least two (2) PLCs and/or departmental meetings each term by 31-December-2018.

By 1-September-2019, this plan will be implemented and in place with the expectation that part-time faculty will participate in PLCs and departmental meetings.

Teaching & Learning Develop and administer survey to determine needs, attitudes / perceptions, and levels of satisfaction of all faculty (full-time and part-time) by 31-January-2019. Beginning immediately, T&L will develop a survey that will be loaded into Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) by 5-January-2019

Survey completion by 31-January-2019

OC Global Load Survey into Blackboard LMS, and send to all faculty (Full- and part-time) by 10-January-2019.


Collect Survey results from Blackboard by 21-January-2019.

Develop database to create viewable reports on data by 30-January-2019

Provide Survey Results to ILT and T&A by 31-January-2019

Loaded and sent to faculty by 10-January-2019.

Surveys completed by Faculty and part-time faculty by 20-January-2019.

Results extracted from database by 21-January-2019.

Create Access or SQL database that will group survey results in a usable format.

Report on results provided to Teaching & Learning and Instructional Leadership

OC Global Update Bb 101 (Technical training for Blackboard Learn LMS) and QC2 (Course component quality for all courses at Odessa College) by 28-February-2019. Bb101 and QC2 will be refreshed and updated for delivery through Blackboard. To ensure that these are palatable for part-time faculty, they will be separated into smaller, more manageable mini-courses or mini-workshops.
OC Global and Teaching & Learning Synthesise survey results to create online professional development experiences based needs/desires identified by full- and part-time faculty beginning in February 2019, and ongoing. Beginning in February 2019, and continuing through August 2019, with ongoing followup
Departmental Leaders Identify full- and part-time faculty to serve as mentors to new part-time faculty by 31-August-2019. Departmental leaders will identify faculty that have participated in professional development, that have expressed interest in mentoring, and that have a history of demonstrated support for learners to serve in a mentoring role for new part-time faculty. Identification of possible mentors will be complete by the end of July 2019, so that mentors can be paired with new part-time faculty in August 2019.
Teaching & Learning Pair mentors with new part-time faculty before Fall classes begin (by 23-August-2019). New adjunct faculty will be paired with a mentors who have been identified as leaders by their departmental leadership by 23-August-2019.


Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

To ensure that the teams continue to move forward with their lead measures, we will collaborate to develop a compelling scoreboard based on the lead measures identified. This will be updated weekly, and will maintained in the course shell in Blackboard, so that it will be visible for all team members at all times. During weekly WIG meetings, the scoreboard will be shared and discussed, as each leader and team member discuss their progress toward their weekly commitments, based on the lead measures chart above. According to Chris McChesney (2016), we play more purposefully when we keep score. By keeping a scoreboard, tracking everyone’s progress toward the lead measures and ultimately the WIG, each “player” will be more motivated to perform well and teams will become more competitive. Without a compelling scoreboard, we run the risk of losing sight of the goals and succumbing to our Whirlwinds.

Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability

During the WIG meetings, each leader and team member will discuss their progress toward goals and commitments. As a measure of accountability, when a commitment is not met, the team leader will encourage the team member to meet that commitment, plus any commitments for the next week. This will ensure that our team members do not allow the daily Whirlwind of their regular job duties and responsibilities distract them from the overarching goals. Just as we provide feedback to our learners, team members will be treated respectfully, with acknowledgement of the hard work they are completing within their daily Whirlwind, but will be reminded of the importance of their commitment to the lead measures.

Stages of Change

The challenge of changing vital behaviours is critical. According to the authors of 4DX, (McChesney, Covey, & Huling, 2016), teams typically go through five stages of behaviour change. For this project, the stages of change will incorporate all of the four disciplines outlined.

Getting Clear

In this stage of change, the team will discuss the overarching goals, determine lag/lead measures, and develop the compelling scoreboard. Establishing someone to be directly responsible for each lead measure will help to ensure accountability.

Training/development expectations for adjunct faculty will be implemented by Instructional Leadership.


The launch of the project will begin with the first group of lead measures, including the creation of an organisation shell in the Blackboard Learn learning management system (LMS), and with the development and distribution of a survey to adjunct faculty.


Adjunct faculty will complete the survey of learning and support needs, which gives them a voice in the process. This will increase the level of buy-in by part-time faculty. Weekly WIG meetings of team members will ensure that the project remains on target, and the scoreboard will help to enure accountability for each of the lead measures. Departmental leadership will be reminded regularly to include adjunct faculty in meetings and  in professional learning communities (PLCs).

Departmental Leadership and Teaching and Learning will contact each part-time faculty member throughout the course of each term to ensure that they are aware of training and development requirements, and encouraging them to participate in departmental and institutional meetings and PLCs.


Survey results will be analysed, and professional development opportunities will be developed to meet the needs the adjunct faculty identify for themselves. This will begin a culture of continuous improvement for the project.


Departmental leadership will continue to be reminded regularly to include adjunct faculty in meetings and  in professional learning communities (PLCs). Departmental and in departmental and institutional meetings will report on PLC and meeting participation through the Faculty Support Studio course shell. This will become a habit for the departmental leaders, and for the adjuncts.

So How Do the Concepts of 4DX Differ from the Influencer Strategy?

Though the ultimate goals are the same The Influencer Strategy and 4DX differ in many ways. The Influencer Strategy, which I spoke of in my previous post, focuses more on identifying key people to help lead the change, and in changing vital behaviours to propel the project forward toward the overarching goal (Big Picture). The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX), on the other hand, focuses more on motivation and accountability throughout, emphasising lead measures, or smaller goals that can be delegated to various team members, and serve as predictors toward the success of the overall project. Both offer exceptional strategies to help initiate organizational change, and I think that combining strategies for both will be instrumental in leading this project.


The 4 Disciplines of Execution in a Nutshell. (2016, December 29). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEJDliThj7g

Franklin-Covey. (April 2012). Executive Overview of The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/EZR2Ixm0QQE

Jcomp. (N.D.). ​Group of Business People Analysis With Marketing Report… [Photo]. Licensed through Creative Commons, CC-BY-SA 2.0, retrieved from Freepik.com (https://www.freepik.com)

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

Patterson, K., & Grenny, J. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill Education.