Using 4DX to Implement Change

While the Influencer  model–in particular the Six Sources of Influence (6SI)–deals with motivating and removing barriers to change, the Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) model deals with the mechanics of bringing about organizational change. The goal of 6SI is to help an individual want to change, to be personally motivated and enabled to change, and support that with social and structural forces. The 4DX model largely operates in the structural sphere and employs a more “top-down” approach. Both models are helpful and appropriate for different situations, though 6SI is more broad and can be used by anyone to help encourage change.

The two models do have a lot of similarities and overlap as well. While using different terms, both models
discuss the importance of a primary, measurable goal which can be influenced by smaller, measurable actions. While not identical, vital behaviors are very similar to the lead measures and the measurable result is similar to the lag measure. Both models emphasize the need for accountability and a small, focused number of goals. Both prioritize regular, quick feedback.

Having looked at an example of how to apply 6SI to my innovation plan, another example using the 4DX model would be useful. Following this model will lead us through the 5 stages of change. 

Getting Clear

Success in the 4DX–especially in the early days–depends largely on how clearly the objectives are developed and stated. Our Wildly Important Goal (WIG) will be to decrease the number of incoming students needing to take developmental education courses. However admirable that goal may be, it is very difficult to gauge progress or success toward that WIG. Stating the WIG in the “From X to Y by WHEN” format, then, will give us an actionable WIG and lag measure.

WIG: Reduce the percentage of incoming students taking developmental education courses from 50% to 45% by the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester.

Lag Measure: Percentage of incoming students taking developmental education courses to total incoming students.

A few lead measures that would have a direct effect on the lag measure are the following:

Lead Measures:

  • Recruit Sauk-bound students for the college prep courses.
  • Improve courses with more authentic learning experiences
  • Collect full data sets for incoming students to identify other, earlier methods of remediation

A dashboard interface would be developed in the College’s reporting platform to show the following:

  • a graph for the lag measure should show at least 3 years of past data so a trend can be observed (since data for the lag measure can only be collected once a semester),
  • a weekly graph showing the enrollment in the college prep courses,
  • a weekly graph showing the level of engagement in the courses (activities performed, interactions recorded, etc.),
  • a weekly graph showing the count of students enrolled with/without full data sets collected, and
  • a series of graphs showing the data collected from incoming students.


A task force comprised of admissions representatives, academic advising representatives, and instructors would be assembled to begin weekly WIG meetings. Kickoff meetings could be scheduled for the beginning of semester kickoff day or mid-semester workshop day, to demonstrate that this has support from the administration.


As adoption begins, care will need to be taken to celebrate achievements and keep on pace. Accountability is crucial, here, to avoid losing momentum and help to overcome resistance. Focusing on helping the “potentials” improve (instead of focusing on the “resisters,” which may be the tendency) will help keep spirits high and have more of an impact on the final goal.


Particularly with the course quality and engagement lead measure, it will be important to look at ways to improve as the project moves into the optimization phase. As the data is analyzed, too, the plans can be refined and changed.


With a project like this, it is hard to imagine ever getting to the point where the project is “complete”–there will always be room for improvement–but seeing higher success rates for students and a new normal where more incoming students aren’t blocked by developmental courses will pave the way for the next WIG.



McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals (Reprint edition). Free Press.
Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.