The Four Disciplines of Getting Things Done, Part 1

A great strategy without execution is merely wishful thinking, a dream on paper that is never translated into real life. I have found that many leaders, organizations, and ministries struggle with execution, with actually getting things done.

The book Four Disciplines of Execution has provided a sticky mental framework for me on leading teams to execute. Over the next couple of posts, I will share “four disciplines of getting things done.” I have seen these four disciplines bear fruit with ministries and teams I have led and am leading.


Many churches and organizations run after too many goals or initiatives at a time. Thus, they never realize the power of focus, of leveraging resources and people toward an overarching and important goal. Instead of having a list of 10 things, have a list of 1-2 really important goals. Run after these hard for a season. And once they are accomplished, effectively embed them into the regular and essential ebb and flow of work. Some questions emerge:

But how do you focus on 1-2 important goals when there are other important aspects of the ministry or organization?

Just because something is not the priority for a season does not mean it is not important. The regular, ongoing aspects of the work/ministry are absolutely essential. But raising an initiative to the top for a season of sustained focus will always rally a team around a clear direction.

One possible way to think of the wildly important is to imagine the current ebb and flow as 80 percent of each team member’s work. The additional 20 percent of energy is allocated toward the wildly important goal. Once the goal is complete, it is moved into the ongoing ministry/work and you have a healthier and more effective “new normal.”

From a church perspective, the wildly important goal may be an initiative: launch a campus, start a church, serve our city over the next several months, launch X number of new groups. Or it could be a value you are seeking to further drive into the culture: hospitality, worship, etc.

Why don’t more leaders do this?

Admittedly, it is risky. It feels much safer to hedge your bets and focus on a plethora of things. When you focus on a few at a time, you feel like you put your leadership on the line for everyone to see. The reality is that focusing on everything is more risky. Because few great things are accomplished when everything is the priority. When everything is the priority, nothing really is.

Read Part 2 of this series here.

Read more from Eric here.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >


Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

See more articles by >


What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.