In the audiobook, “The Four Disciplines of Execution”, Stephen Covey and Jennifer Colosimo say that the first discipline is to focus on wildly important goals. To do this, they state that people can only accomplish two or three goals at once with excellence and insist that we must narrow our focus in order to achieve such WIGs. An excerpt:
One of the most fundamental principles of organizational activity is that human beings are genetically hard-wired to do one thing at a time with excellence. And there’s no better place to illustrate how this principle is honored than at the airport. Because right now there could be more than 100 airplanes either approaching, landing, taking off or moving around. And all of them are very, very important – especially if you happen to be in one of them.
For an air traffic control specialist only one aircraft is wildly important right now. That’s Flight 457. The controller is aware of all of the other planes on her radar. She is keeping track of them, but all her talent and expertise is solely focused on Flight 457. If she doesn’t get Flight 457 on the ground safely, if she doesn’t do that with total excellence, nothing else she might achieve is really going to matter much.
Wildly important goals are like that. They always share one unique characteristic. They are the goals we must achieve with total excellence. Any other goal we might achieve really won’t matter much. This is what we suggest you must do in your work. You must make the hard choices and separate what is wildly important to you and your organization from all of the other merely important goals that may be on your radar. Then you must approach that wildly important goal with focus and diligence until it is delivered as promised with excellence.
The other three disciplines as per Covey & Colosimo are:
- Create a Compelling Scoreboard
- Translate Lofty Goals into Specific Actions
- Hold Each Other Accountable — All of the Time