“ Achieving your wildly important goals ”

by Sean Covey and Chris McChesney

Book Cover

What it is about

Describes an improvement method applied by FranklinCovey consulting to transform behaviors and allow businesses to achieve their goal. The method itself is good, worth a 4. The force of the method is to be short and focused, and the book is a bit stretched past its point which gives it its 3.5


Organizations traditionally set a lot of goals, all of which very fuzzy, generic, and sometimes non-achievable. Instead, create clarity by focusing on the wildly important.

Focus on the wildly important. Setup one Wildly Important Goal (two max for particular cases) for the organization. A WIG is defined as “Change measurement M from A at date X to B by date Y”. This goal needs to be achievable. Setting up one goal only is hard, but that’s what being good means. It ensures the direction is clear for the entire company.

By keeping their weekly commitments, team members influence the lead measure, which in turn is predictive of success on the lag measure of the WIG.

~ The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Sean Covey

Define the lag metric that you want to change at the organizational level. A lag metric is a consequence, and observable after the fact, such as “improve customer-support customer satisfaction by 15%”. It is strategic: a course of action to change the organization. Each sub-org / team will define how it will contribute to that lag metric with their own lag-metrics. Refine at each step of the org, creating a hierarchy of objectives.

At the team level, define how you want to impact the lag metrics you’ve set using lead-metrics. Lead-metrics are directly influenceable and observable, such as “contact 10 customers per day”. These are tactical: they are believed to be impactful for the lag metric it corresponds to.

Measure accomplishment with a score-board, make it accessible to the team, and oriented towards them rather that towards leadership. Keep it updated. Make sure it tracks both the lead and lag metrics, such as we see the correlation between both.

Keep a weekly cadence of accountability, where everyone makes commitments on how they can impact the lead metric, and keep commitments from one week to the next.


Focus on just a couple priorities. More forces you to multitask, which prevents from being deep.

Say no to the rest. Resist looking busy for being purposeful

Finding a WIG can be achieved by determining the mission of the company, and finding what is preventing from achieving it

Hierarchy of goals - leaders choose top level wigs, then team leaders choose local WIGs.

Specify WIG with precise measure; starting point and target, with date

Example of result changing WIG: NASA had no results until Kennedy gave them a WIG: put humans on the moon before decade ends

From vague strategic directions to organized , measurable hierarchy of goals

The second discipline is to put pressure on lead measures that achieve WIGs

Lag metrics are the outcome but hard to control. Lead metrics are directly under control an tell if lag metrics will likely be achieved

Instead of doing a rigid plan, define the lead metrics to be measured and define on a cadence how to impact them

Lag measures are the target being achieved, are hard to control. Lag metrics are predictive of the result, and influenceable. One is sort of derivative of the other

Data on lead measures is usually harder to get than data on lag measure

a more granular lag metric (eg monthly instead of yearly) is still a lag metric

example of hierarchy for lag "increase production" -> "reduce downtime" -> increase compliance of preventive maintenance by x%

lead metrics are tactical bets on how to accomplish lag metric

Identify what does work, set these as lead metrics , and get the team to maniacally focus on these

use data to determine what the issue actually is, then find actions tailored to fixing that, and measure this

Focusing on lead metrics in the whirlwind of urgency might seem unimportant (note - that's the never-ending battle of P/PC)

For crash-like issues, a checklist is a good lead measure

Improving the lead metric must be a game the team can win

3rd discipline is to keep everyone engaged by showing a score board telling if you are winning

Without a scoreboard engagement towards lead metrics dies in the whirlwind

The scoreboard is meant for the players, not the coach

Characteristic #1: simple scoreboard. Coach might need more to do their job, but players only need to understand if they are winning

  • #2 visible and obvious

  • #3: show lead and lag - help the team see that the et is paying off, and the purpose of what they are doing

  • #4 - it must tell if you are winning

The game needs to be winnable

Discipline 4 is to create a cadence of accountability

Accountability is making a personal commitment to the team to move the score forward

Wig sessions - hold each other accountable in the whirlwind to do the actions that contribute to the lead metrics

Wig session agenda -

  1. accountability: report on commitments
  2. review the lag and lead metrics and discuss lessons learned
  3. discuss how the path can be cleared

team members should ask themselves "what can i do this week to impact the lead measures"


The WIG session is a good time o review what works and what doesn't, and try new ideas if lead doesn’t move lag

Commitment is a precise deliverable and impacts te lead metric

Commitments to the wig is only 20% of the week

Three signs of a miserable job: anonymity, irrelevance, im-measurement

When big upfront plans are set rather than common metrics, teams play defensive to protect achievement of the plan, rather than collaborative to achieve the goal

Priorities as a leader are simple: model focusing on wig, set impactful lead metrics, create scoreboard, accountability meetings

some will conform, so

Select team wig that is the most impactful for the overall wig

Validate the wig - is it measurable, is it in line with overall wig, who owns the game: our team or another; who plays the game: team or leader

WIG starts with a verb, has dates, defines a lag metric, focus on what, not how

Set challenging goal, but that are doable

If goal is completion of project, find a lag that is a business outcome

Lead measures can be a small outcome (something on which the team can have an impact however they want) or a behavioral change (something they need to do)

Test for lead measures - predictive, influenceable, ongoing, team focused, measurable

Pick leads that are significantly better than what you have today

Keep score board simple

It tells ar a glance if we are winning

Commitments need to be important, personal , only 1 or 2


don’t let commitments slip

4dx gives a way to link work to results

The goal of discipline 4 is to keep the team in the game


Focus on the wildly important: avoid the question "what's our top priority, instead answer: if everything staid the same, what one area would we want to see progress?

The wildly important will most likely impact the entire business

Picking a WiG i a commitment which is why it's ard to do

Wig are usually financial (increase a financial result) operational (get better at something) or customer satisfaction oriented

The wig does not represent the company's vision or mission statement. instead it is a laser focus on an area of transformation

Among dozens of possible wars, which are the few battles critical to win

Wig is supported by battles ~3 lag metrics which are used as lever to win the war. Lags are accomplished by teams defining their wig based on that

The whirlwind is the biggest factor of failure. Accountability and cadence is key to success

requires the whole org to be in to have impact

Wig of the team must be picked by the team, not the senior leader

lead measures are the hardest to pick

report quarterly on top wig achievement

smell: absence of goal that really matters

smell: sr leader not committed

4dx usually starts t middle of org

for support organization, pick wig that helps line functions to accomplish theirs

wigs remain ets, they can be wrong

if goal is accomplished early , FIRST celebrate success; THEN set a new one

Control system obviously woks for personal goals, between lag, lead, scoreboard and accountability

About Reading Notes

These are my takes on this book. See other reading notes. Most of the time I stop taking notes on books I don't enjoy, and these end up not being in the list. This is why average ratings tend to be high.