EDLD 5304: 4DX, What am I getting into???

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

So reading the 4 discipline of execution makes it sound so easy, the hard part is keeping it going. So many innovations have been implemented throughout the past 13 years at my school district and they have all slowly died away. How do I keep this from happening to my innovative change? Well, the first step is to take the "my" out and replace it with "our", so that it becomes "our innovative change". Then we need to ensure that all members of the team understand the Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) model while using the influencer model to keep it moving. In my Innovation Proposal, introducing ePortfolios into the high school CTE and/or Fine Arts departments was the plan. After meeting with our curriculum director and the CTE district coordinator as well as the Fine Arts director, I received mixed results; therefore, the focus, based on the curriculum directors recommendation is toward elementary teachers. It seems the whirlwind (day to day operations) is in strong force in the CTE and Fine Arts departments. So,elementary it is. How do we get the ball rolling? There are 4 disciplines of execution and 5 stages of change (Covey, Huling, & McCHesney 2016).

The 5 stages of change:

Stage 1: Getting Clear

Everyone needs to have a clear understanding of the Wildly Important Goal (WIG) which we are working on achieving. Introducing and working towards the 4DX model is essential as well so we can establish the lead and lad measures as well as determining a scoreboard to track success and failures. We all need to be working together, focusing on the end product, student ePortfolios. With the curriculum directors help, feelers will go out to an elementary school, targeting first and second grade teachers to select the initial team by the end of this school year.

Stage 2: Launch

Once the WIG is established and the whole team understands it forwards and backwards, we start working towards achieving. This means meeting with the team, setting the training necessary and committing to weekly conferences, for a maximum of thirty minutes. Making sure all have access to the necessary software at the right price, free as they already have the technology available to them.

Stage 3: Adoption

In this stage, resistance is going away, thanks to the Influencer Model, so teachers that are still here are committed to achieving success. Teachers are holding each other accountable, peer review and constructive criticism is viewed without a personal attack. They are ready to introduce it to their students.

Stage 4: Optimazation

The team starts to shift toward engaging students and seeing the success of it. They have achieved a comfort level with the WIG and are making growth, in themselves and in their students. Weekly meeting are no longer a chore and hopefully those resisting teachers who decided to stick around and seeing the benefit.

Stage 5: Habit

No longer preaching to the choir. Habits become the norm so that others will see the success and want to be a part of it, starting the cycle anew. Achieving this stage enables a long lasting effect and success. The WIG will be achieved and a new WIG will emerge for the next term.

These are the steps of making change happen, hopefully painlessly without too many setbacks. Within the 5 stages, the 4DX model is embedded

The Four Disciplines of Execution

Discipline 1: Focus on the WIG (Getting Clear)

When you want to achieve a new idea of innovation, you start with brain storming. The team writes them down and then work on achieving one or two realistic and achievable goal. that is what the WIG is. The main focus of the whole plan set in motion going back to the "why" it is happening in the first place. What will students have to show after 12 years of public education? The team would normally develop the WIG. This discipline is part of Stage 1: Getting clear. So to start them off, two WIG's might be presented as a starting point:

WIG1: Establish a network of 1st grade teachers implementing ePortfolios by the end of the 2019-2020 first semester.

WIG 2: Develop a rubric and creation of student badges for students to earn each year for the 2019-2020 school year.

Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures (Launch and Adoption)

Within this discipline is establishing the lead measures and doing something about them. "Lead measures are the "measures" of the activities connected to achieving the goal" (Covey et al., 2016). The team will develop these lead measures through discussions at weekly meetings as well as an online forum where ideas go back and forth. The lag measures will tells us if we achieved success, after the fact. We can only review lag measures, we cannot act upon them. The measure if we achieved our goal.

Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard (Optimization)

The purpose of a scoreboard is to know who is winning and who is losing. This is where we know if we are headed in the right direction. Can you imaging attending a sports event and they didn't keep score? What would be the point in playing to your very best effort if no one wins? The scoreboard here is not to single out individuals, but to focus on the team as a whole winning. It allows teachers to assist others who may be struggling, to keep them focus on the WIG and as a visual reminder of where they are at. The scoreboard has to have rules that everyone understands. It has to be simple, I've taken my wife to a professional football games and the statistics on the scoreboard are meaningless to her. Everyone on the team needs to have access to it, transparency is the name of the game here and simple enough that you can look and immediately know where you are at, not have to use some formula to find that out. This is where the lead measures are seen so that the lag measure will reflect on whether or not we were successful.

Example of the Scoreboard

Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability

This is where we all look at the scoreboard and determine if we are executing the plan or not. The weekly meeting is vital to make sure we are all headed in the same direction. If we see that one team member is headed off in a tangent, we work together to bring that team member back into the fold. The team needs all members to be winners, there can be no losers in this game. Its a circle that repeats itself by reviewing what we wanted to accomplish, looking at the scoreboard to see if we did accomplish it and finally, plan to make adjustments if needed and set the next weeks commitment.

Influencer Model vs. 4DX

My goal is to lead, not dictate to them what the end result will be. I may speculate on what the lead measure will be but the reality is the true lead measure will be set by the teaching team, not by me. The 4DX and the 5 Stages of Change are the process of achieving the goal. The influencer model reflects on my ability to guide the team toward the ultimate goal of creating ePortfolios for each student. If I , then we, cannot achieve at least four if not all six sources of influence, then the whole innovation is subject to fail


Covey, S., Huling, J., & McChesney, C. (2016)  The 4 disciplines of execution: achieving your wildly importanty goals.  New York, NY:  Franklin Covey Co.

Grenny, J., Maxsfield, D., McMillan, R., Patterson, K., & Switzler, A.  (2013).  Influencer:  The new science of leading change(2nd ed.).   Provo, UT:  VitalSmarts, LLC.  

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