Could Crime Scene Investigations use a new hairdo? No, this is not what we are discussing here. For this discussion, CSI is Continual Service Improvement from the ITIL framework. ITIL, that is, IT Infrastructure Library™, is the international standard for best practices in IT Service Management (ITSM).
In that ITIL is a framework for ITSM, many methodologies and standards can be used within its framework to achieve organizational effectiveness. The PDCA Deming Cycle, from management philosopher W. Edwards Deming, is used extensively throughout ITIL. COBIT, ISO/IEC 2000, ISO standards, Program and Project Management, Carnegie Mellon CMMI, Balanced Scorecard and Six Sigma are all effective and can give guidance within an organization employing the ITIL framework.
With CSI being an integral part of the ITIL Framework and overlaying the PDCA Deming Cycle, ITIL CSI has a fundamental seven-step improvement process consisting of:
Step 1. Identify the strategy for improvement
Step 2. Define what you will measure
Step 3. Gather the data
Step 4. Process the data
Step 5. Analyze the information and data
Step 6. Present and use the information
Step 7. Implement improvement
With continual improvement in its name, CSI is open to the use of other effective methods. One can be found in The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. From authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling of the FranklinCovey organization, the book takes a straight-forward and effective look at achieving your WIG, i.e. – your “Wildly Important Goal”. The 4 Disciplines Of Execution go by the acronym 4DX. They are:
- Discipline 1 – Focus on the wildly important.
- Discipline 2 – Act on the LEAD Measures.
- Discipline 3 – Keep a Compelling Scoreboard.
- Discipline 4 – Create a Cadence of Accountability.
Let us take a look at how the Disciplines can address the Seven Steps of CSI.
Discipline 1 – Focus on the wildly important.
4DX differentiates between the whirlwind of the “urgent” and that which is more “important” to address. Namely, the “important” are the goals that you and your organization want to achieve. 4DX cautions to focus and prioritize your efforts. A group should have no more than two and maybe three WIGs. The 4DX book lays out more examples and parameters for developing your WIG. Rather than reacting to the “urgent”, you focus and act on the “important”. In creating and focusing on your WIG, you have addressed Step 1 of CSI.
Discipline 2 – Act on the LEAD Measures
Most organizations focus on LAG measures. They measure whether or not they reach a goal. For an IT Network Division, an LAG measure example would be to maintain a 98% uptime on all servers. 4DX suggests determining two or three LEAD measures that will ensure the LAG goal is met. LEAD measures in this example could be to conduct and track periodic scheduled routine maintenance of the servers and establish a constant monitoring of data center temperature. An absence of these LEAD measures could lead to a probable decline in the resultant LAG measure. The LEAD measures are predictive of the LAG measures. Discipline 2 of 4DX covers Step 2 and 3 of CSI.
Discipline 3 – Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
With your data in hand, now you process and analyze it. 4DX points you to keeping a compelling scorecard to accomplish this. Where scorecards limit themselves often to just “Here we are” with the data displayed, 4DX takes it a step further and shows “Here is where we should be” too. Along with the LEAD measures reported, your scorecard should also show your LAG measure goal. Personnel respond more effectively when they know what they are aiming for. They understand both what their score is and what it should be to reach the goal. Display both the LEAD and the LAG. In doing so, you accomplish both Steps 4 and 5 of CSI.
Discipline 4 – Create a Cadence of Accountability
Once you have the Scorecard, you need to get the word out. CSI is strong on communication and 4DX employs the same ethic. More than posting results on a bulletin board or a SharePoint site, 4DX creates a culture that gets out of the whirlwind of the “urgent” and actually has personnel meet to see how they are doing on the “important”. This meeting is consistent, recurrent, short in duration, full of information, sacrosanct in time and attendance, holds people accountable through weekly commitments, and focused on the WIG attainment only. “Whirlwind” urgencies are left at the door of the meeting. No exceptions. With Discipline 4 you have fulfilled Steps 6 and 7 of CSI, established the cadence of accountability, and are moving to achieve your WIG.
Do you need a WIG?
The authors from FranklinCovey lay out a very readable book in The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. Included in the material is everything from Scorecard examples to LEAD and LAG measures to web links with video explanations of the concepts to a process for installing 4DX in your organization. 4DX is worth the read and to have on your shelf for reference as you implement it in your organization.
If you have already read the book or have a continual improvement program within your organization, let me know your thoughts on applying 4DX to CSI. Please share them in a comment below.
 ITIL Continual Service Improvement, 2011 Edition, Page 3
 ITIL Continual Service Improvement, 2011 Edition, Page 39, Section 3.9.3 – “The seven step improvement process”
 McChesney, Chris, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. First Edition. New York, NY: FREE PRESS, 2012
 Ibid, page 7
 Ibid, page 11
 Ibid, page 12
 Ibid, page 13