About our Blog Post Author: Laura Kragness, SPHR: is a local Human Resources Field Representative for Synergy, a Chicago-based Professional Employer Organization (PEO).  She currently provides HR support to client business owners and their employees located in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.  Laura has over 20 years of human resources experience working as a generalist, benefit specialist and regional manager in the hospitality, healthcare, insurance, banking and PEO Industry.  She received a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead.  She is an active member of both IndySHRM and SHRM and currently serves on the IndySHRM Strategic Leaders Forum committee by assisting with programming.


Executing strategic goals is one of the greatest challenges businesses face today.  With the never ending daily demands and push for everyone to do more with less, aligning an organization’s work teams with the most important objectives can seem overwhelming and sometimes impossible to achieve.

However, on Tuesday, August 23, 2011, FranklinCovey Executive Leader, Scott Thele, presented a very engaging and participatory training session entitled, Creating a Culture of Execution.    The 2-hour session 1) reviewed how standard development models relate to the strategic execution process, 2) tied in very timely concepts from popular books (e.g., Jim Collins, Good to Great), and 3) introduced principles from FranklinCovey’s future book entitled, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.

Prior to the training, attendees were asked to watch a FranklinCovey video and complete prework questions.  The prework was incorporated into the training and was very helpful for attendees to see how the 4 disciplines of execution can work for their organizations top strategic goal.  In addition, it provided repetition of new concepts, so participants could leave the training with immediate insight, knowledge and tools they could take away and incorporate at an organizational, departmental or individual level.

At the beginning of the training, Scott quoted Ram Charan, Author of the book entitled, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by stating that, “70% of strategic failures are due to poor execution of leadership.  It’s rarely for lack of smarts or vision.”  This was a startling statistic, however by the end of the training it was clear that if leaders follow proven execution methods, strategic failures could be reduced or even eliminated.

According to FranklinCovey, results fall into two categories, 1) those you can’t control (i.e., economy, competition, technology, weather, etc.) and 2) those you can control through strategy and execution. Unfortunately, for many leaders, once results aren’t achieved, blame is generally placed on those areas that can’t be controlled and the leader goes back to more strategy and planning rather than focusing on execution. To help break this cycle of strategic failures, Scott reviewed a strategy map and showed how HR professionals can fill a critical role in the execution process by helping their organization 1) drive behavioral changes, and 2) maintain a balanced score card approach between the financial, operational, employee and customer needs.

Participants learned some new terminology, such as Wildly Important Goals (WIG’s), which are the important activities that require a broad scale behavior change necessary to reach a strategic goal, and Whirlwind, which is the urgent day job that acts on us and consumes most of our work day.  Scott pointed out that in order for strategic goals to be realistically met, they must be incorporated into the day-to-day activities, so they don’t get put on the back burner when the whirlwind takes over.


FranklinCovey’s 4 disciplines of strategic execution are:

  • Focus on only 1-2 WIG’s at a time.  This prevents work teams from becoming overwhelmed in addition to their consuming whirlwind/day job.
  • Act on the lead measure (but focus on the lag measure).
  • Keep a compelling score board that is simple, visible to players, displays lead and lag measures, and clearly tells if the organization is winning or losing.
  • Create a cadence of accountability by holding a 20-minute weekly WIG meeting.  The WIG meeting should be kept short and simple by individuals reporting on last weeks commitments, reviewing the scoreboard, and making commitments for the following week.

Scott used weight loss as an effective example for how the 4 disciplines work towards executing a goal.  Weight loss is obviously the strategic goal.  The WIGS are to eat less and exercise more.  The lead measures are to track the number of calories consumed and the amount of calories burned through exercise.  The scale is the lag measure and can tell a person if they have lost or gained weight, but it doesn’t predict or help them to influence winning for the following week.  A person can be successful at weight loss by being accountable for those lead measure behaviors each week.  Depending on what the lag measure (scale) shows, the individual must recommit to either eating less, exercising more, or doing both to work towards the ultimate weight loss goal.

The above and many other examples Scott shared, tied in how successfully executing strategies directly ties into driving employee engagement and increasing moral.  Scott stated, that “people play differently when they are keeping score.”  “When keeping score people and teams inevitably want to win and be part of a winning team.”

Executing strategic goals is one of the greatest challenges businesses face today.  However, when organizations successfully implement and execute strategies not only do they reap benefits from higher sales, more revenue or better customer service scores, but they can also benefit from a more engaged workforce.  This session effectively demonstrated that there is no mystery to executing strategies, but it does take a very disciplined approach from leaders to get everyone within an organization to stay focused on the same goal.

If you missed this session and would like more information, you can, 1) review the below video link http://www.franklincovey.com/4dflv/4D_bottomvid.html, 2) review PowerPoint slides located on the IndySHRM website, or 3) contact Lindsey Wegman, FranklinCovey Associate Client Partner, at 317.288.0734 or Lindsey.wegman@franklincovey.com.

The next IndySHRM Strategic Leaders Forum will build on this session by focusing on a Balanced Scorecard and HR Metrics to assist with measuring the success of HR strategies.  Join IndySHRM’s Strategic Leader Forum on October 11, 2011, for the next program entitled “How to Achieve Strategic Goals by Identifying Effective HR Metrics and Developing an HR Scorecard”, which will be presented by Michael Simpson with the Developing Institute. Watch for IndySHRM’s weekly updates for more details.