OKR vs 4DX (Disciplines of Execution)

Jun 29, 2022
OKR vs 4DX (Disciplines of Execution)

OKRs vs 4DX

One of the hallmarks of any successful organization is how well it prioritizes and achieves its goals. It is all about creating and implementing the right goals. But how do you go about doing that? Setting quality objectives involves aligning the organization, its teams, and its members. Everyone needs to work on shared objectives collectively to achieve organizational success.

As there are several goal-setting methodologies, you may wonder which ones to adopt. Should you go for the 4DX or the OKR framework? We bring you this OKR vs. 4DX guide to help you understand the right tool you need for your organization.

What is 4DX?

4DX is the 4 Disciplines of Execution. Stephen Covey and Chris McChesney were the inventors of this methodology to help organizations complete their work efficiently. Businesses can execute the strategies in the best way possible to generate exceptional results. The four disciplines are as follows.

  • Focus
  • Leverage
  • Engagement
  • Accountability

Let us now look at these disciplines in detail.

Discipline #1: Focus on critical goals

The first discipline is about focus that is essential to get the best results. Businesses need to understand the goals that are essential to achieve the desired results. It is also necessary to set fewer but essential goals as they help everyone stay focused. There are four rules to set critical goals. Let’s take a look at them.

<<Rule 1>>

Do not focus on more than two critical goals at any point in time. It will help your team remain focused and avoid feeling burdened by too many objectives.

<<Rule 2>>

You should set goals that are actionable and measurable. At the end of the day, these goals should contribute positively towards improving the bottom line.

<<Rule 3>>

The management should focus on defining goals only for the top positions. When it comes to individual teams, they should do this task themselves for better clarity and execution.

<<Rule 4>>

The goals should remain measurable and bound by time. There will be no meaning when objectives do not have a fixed end date.

Discipline #2: Keep goals measurable

The second discipline talks about keeping things measurable. Here are the two different types of measures.

  1. Lag- Lag involves goals that your organization and team wish to achieve. Some examples include increased sales revenue or website traffic. Since these metrics remain driven by numbers, it is easy to track them. You can also measure them and get detailed results.
  2. Lead- Lead involves doing activities that bring a change in lag measures. For example, one of your objectives would be to increase the subscriber count of your email newsletter. The lag measure here involves the increase in the number of subscribers, while the lead one will be to ensure consistent publishing of the newsletter each week.

Discipline #3: Have engaging dashboard to track progress

When you define the goals and measures, it is time to think about the engagement part. People would use complex spreadsheets earlier to design strategic plans. 4DX changes all of that through scorecards that enable easy tracking of measures. You can customize and design your scorecards to help your team track the progress.

Make sure that the scorecard you design is easy to use. Your team should have access to all the necessary information. The scorecard should also display the lead and lag measures comprehensively. Furthermore, it should accurately reflect how well you are progressing with your objectives.

Discipline #4: Make everyone accountable

The first three disciplines are about laying the foundation, while the last is about executing things successfully. If you want to ensure the successful implementation of your objectives, making everyone accountable is critical. It is necessary to conduct regular meetings to track the progress and ensure things move forward in the right direction.

Regular meetings with set agendas will improve accountability and keep team members engaged. It will also give you the time to reflect on things that worked and how you can use that to fuel your growth.

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a goal-setting framework that businesses use to prioritize goals. It consists of Objectives and Key Results that are measurable and motivational. The key results give actionable information on how you can achieve your goals. You can then conduct an OKR evaluation to see how things got executed.

When you write objectives, you get an overview of what you want to achieve through OKR planning. Key results act as an indicator and help you measure the progress you make on each goal. Let us consider a few examples here.


Successfully launch a new product.

Key Results

  • Create a strategy to promote the product in the market
  • Host three events around the product launch
  • Collect positive feedback from 15 customers


Improve the awareness about the brand

Key Results

  • Publish two blog posts each month during the quarter
  • Send a newsletter every week
  • Publish five posts on company’s social media handles each week

How do OKRs vs. 4DX compare against each other?

OKRs and 4DX have many similarities between them. Both frameworks help organizations create a strategy and execute it seamlessly. They also help align teams and engage them for better organizational benefits. Another plus point about these methodologies is that they make it easy for everyone to understand and implement. However, the key differentiator is how they structure the process related to strategy execution,

OKRs serve the dual purpose of structuring goals and executing strategies. It is also best to create Initiatives around each OKR cycle. You will benefit as there will be a clear idea of how to drive progress through initiatives and measure the success through key results. OKRs follow a tactical approach with well-defined processes and cadence.

When it comes to 4DX, we have already seen that the first three principles are about structuring, creating, and measuring goals. The last one is about reviewing the progress that comes with specified time limits and structure. It is where the difference lies.

OKR-related cadences show the progress of organizations on the whole. The quarterly OKRs are about the teams, while the annual ones are related to the organization. There are also regular check-ins to track and measure the progress of each OKR.

4DX only focus on the lag and lead measures and do not distinguish between tactical and strategic goals. 4DX also do not have specific periods in which organizations can set and achieve goals. To summarize, 4DX does not offer a comprehensive framework related to goal-setting. These are thus not ideal to use as compared to OKRs. Let us now take a look at how OKRs are effective and why you should choose them.

Benefits of using OKRs?

Here are some benefits of using OKRs for your business.

  1. Improves company cultureCompanies that do not already have a goal-setting framework can experience a tangible shift in the organizational culture. Teams will remain more focused on outcomes that positively impact the organization instead of just executing tasks. OKRs also promote transparency, add accountability, and align teams. Teams can experience improved productivity and engagement.
  2. Enables strategic alignmentOKRs help leaders bring all the teams and employees on the same page. When there is no clear direction, it can lead to a chaotic situation where no one knows where the company is heading. OKRs help avoids this situation.
  3. Improves business focusOKRs allow employees to focus and execute only those tasks that matter. By working meaningfully, teams can achieve organizational objectives much faster.
  4. Promotes employee engagementA highly engaged set of employees will show improved motivation and willingness to beyond the usual. It makes for an exciting prospect to achieve the desired goals. OKRs make it easy for everyone to look at the bigger picture and how it will shape the future for everyone.


Both OKR and 4DX frameworks help organizations bring a change in the culture and achieve results that matter. 4DX help in the implementation of goal-setting methods. However, OKRs go a step ahead to align teams and employees through a unified approach for better business benefits. Hence, OKR outranks 4DX as a goal-setting tool as it is a comprehensive solution to manage people better.

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