Six Disciplines for Excellence — Strategic Prioritization

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I recently read Six Disciplines for Excellence by Gary
Harpst.

Here’s what differentiates this book: it bridges concept and
principles to execution. The point Gary makes, as noted in the introduction, is
that when it comes to achieving excellence, figuring out the right thing to do
isn’t nearly as difficult as continuing to do them over the long term. Most
books focus 80% on principles and 20% on implementation. This book is 80%
implementation.

Like most revolutionary concepts, the principles are pretty
simple:

  • Discipline I: Decide What’s Important
  • Discipline II: Set Goals That Lead
  • Discipline III: Align Systems
  • Discipline IV: Work the Plan
  • Discipline V:
    Innovate Purposefully
  • Discipline VI:
    Step Back

Within the disciplines, Gary shares hundreds of frameworks, steps, processes, questionnaires, roles, responsibilities, and
to dos to make them come to life. He shares the what, but more importantly, expands
on the how with utilitarian advice.

A useful concept, under Working the Plan, is a framework to put strategic rigor in prioritizing daily activity. Prioritization comes down to
choosing what action to take – what you’re doing today, at this instant and
asking “Is this work aligned with what’s important to the company, or not?” As
simple as it sounds, the connection day to day work and tasks list to the
overall strategy and impact is overlooked by most employees.

The book shows this pyramid as a framework to choose and prioritize actions:

He gives an example of a task list, which could be
implemented such that you can score task impact against short and long term goals
of the company. Imagine the impact if everyone in your company did that!

This is one example of many principles Gary shares that (if executed) would make big impact in a company or organization.

For pragmatists and those who love execution, I give this book a strong recommend. Buy Six Disciplines of Excellence.

3 Responses

  1. I always say, the smaller the steps the easier it is to see the forest for the trees. With all of the books and mantras out there in the bizsphere, more of the “divide and conquer” kind is needed! Thanks for the heads-up on the book, Sam!

  2. Six Disciplines: A Review

    I’m beginning to notice a trend. Business authors are finally coming around to embrace execution. Maybe strategy books don’t sell well anymore, or maybe these authors have just gotten tired of watching people plan, strategize, and then flounder when it…

  3. Strategy is execution

    David Decker’s blog discusses today a book entitled “Six Disciplines for Excellence.” http://decker.typepad.com/welcome/2005/09/six_disciplines.html
    What a horrendous title — it sounds like something created by some kind of “Business Book Title

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