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OKR vs. 4DX: Who’s the winner?

8 min read

The path to success in any organization starts with setting the right goals. 

How do you set the right goals? How do you align the goals of individuals, teams, and your entire organization in a common direction? 

Short Answer: Effective Goal Management. 

However, things become complex the moment you see so many goal-setting methodologies around you. For example, OKR, EFQM, SMART goals, 4DX, etc. 

In this series, we have also compared:  

  1. OKR vs. EFQM  
  2. OKR vs. SMART goals  

Today, we will check OKR and 4DX. 

What is OKR? 

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a goal-setting methodology that helps organizations manage priority goals by focusing on achieving a set of Key Results for measurable objectives with the help of available resources. 

Two main components in OKR: 

  • Objectives: Describes what exactly you want to achieve in terms of desired outcomes. 
  • Key Results: The indicators that define the progress made on achieving the set outcomes (objectives). 

OKR example: For Marketing Departmentsample OKRs can look something like this.  


Objective– Build buzz around a new product launch 

Key result 1- Create a marketing strategy for the next 3 months. 

Key result 2- Host at least 4 community events this quarter regarding the product launch. 


Objective- Utilize email marketing for brand awareness 

Key result 1- Send a weekly newsletter consisting of product updates and launch information. 

Key result 2- Use organic channels to grow the email list by 30% month over month. 


For more Marketing OKR examples, please visit here

What is 4DX? 

4DX stands for 4 Disciplines of Execution. It is a precise framework developed by Stephen R. Covey and Chris McChesney to help businesses execute efficiently. The 4 disciplines help organizations produce exceptional results by executing business strategy in the best way possible. 

The 4 disciplines are: 

  • Focus 
  • Leverage 
  • Engagement 
  • Accountability 

Let’s understand these 4 disciplines and how they operate.

Discipline 1: Focus on WIGs (Wildly Important Goals) 

The first discipline is all about focus. For best results, it’s important to figure out which goals matter the most. Less is good because the more goals one has to achieve, the less focus they’re gonna have. For setting WIGs, follow the structure of “From X to Y by When. 

To further help you narrow your focus, here are 4 sub-rules: 

Rule 1: At a given point in time, no team will focus on more than 2 WIGs.  

To save employees from feeling burdened, this rule ensures focus. 

Rule 2: The battle you choose must win the war.  

It ensures that the chosen WIGs are the ones that will contribute heavily towards the growth of the entire organization. 

Rule 3: Senior leaders can veto but not dictate.  

It means that the people at the top positions will define the key WIGs, but they have to allow people at the lower level to define WIGs for their own teams. 

Rule 4: All WIGs must have a finish line based on the structure “From X to Y by When.”  

It ensures measurable results for each goal and also a deadline for the same. 

Discipline 2: Act on the lead measures (Leverage)

This discipline is all about what to measure.  

Two kinds of measure: 

Lag: This measure focuses on the goals you are trying to achieve. Things like sales target, organic traffic, revenue, etc., are all part of lag measures.  They are easy to track, and the results are precise. 

Lead: This measure focuses on using predictive activities to drive changes in the lag measures.  

Let’s take the example of increasing website traffic. Here the lag measure is traffic in numbers. Lead measures would be churning out 10 new content pieces every week and making the old content better. By incorporating fresh content, traffic will move up. 

Discipline 3: Keep a compelling scoreboard (Engagement)

Now that the goals and measures are set, discipline 3 focuses on engagement. Back in the day, strategic plans were designed with the help of complex spreadsheets. 4DX is changing that norm and uses scorecards for WIGs to track measures. 

Teams have the liberty to design their own scorecards. A simple dashboard provides information to let people know when everything is going great or not-so-great. 

Elements of a well-designed scorecard: 

  • It’s simple and easy to use. 
  • All the information is clearly visible to the team. 
  • It shows both lag and lead measures. 
  • It shows when you’re winning or losing. 

Discipline 4: Create a cadence of accountability 

An okay plan with good execution is way better than a great plan without any execution. To make things happen, you need to walk the talk in the form of consistent action. The first 3 disciplines set the game, while this 4th discipline plays the game.  

It’s all about reviewing the past performance and keep moving forward. How? By having weekly WIG meetings. Short meetings with set agendas to drive accountability and engagement among the team members.  

Meeting structure: 

  • Report and review the commitments. 
  • Learn from successes and failures. 
  • Agree upon the next course of action and create new commitments for everyone. 

OKR vs 4DX (The Differences)

Both OKRs and 4DX methodologies have a lot in common. Both help organizations set and achieve goals through strategy, focus, accountability, and engagement. Both are easy to implement.  

A key difference between the two is Cadence. While setting up WIGs, you mostly follow it up with weekly WIG meetings. You monitor lead and lag measures regularly and keep on executing the same strategy till you win. OKRs, on the other hand, can be set quarterly/ annually.

Depending upon the need of the hour, OKRs can be adjusted to reflect the strategic demands. In this rapidly unstable business environment, adapting is the key to survival for any organization out there. What worked today will not work tomorrow. 

For example, COVID-19 forced businesses to move online. It was a sudden change. Now people focus on end results rather than working for a certain number of hours.  

Think of OKR as a goal framework and a strategy execution framework. It works great for setting up goals in an organization on a hierarchical level. On the other hand, 4DX doesn’t distinguish between strategic and tactical goals. Instead, it focuses only on lead and lag measurements. Without a specific timeframe to set goals, 4DX lags behind OKR methodology in this area.  

To round out this comparison, the best way to describe 4DX is a framework that fits between OKR and SMART goals.  

To learn more about OKRs and goal management, visit Keka. 

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    Meet the author

    Keka Editorial Team

    A bunch of inspired, creative and ambitious youngsters- that’s Keka’s editorial team for you. We have a thirst to learn new subjects and curate diverse pieces for our readers. Our deep understanding and knowledge of Human Resources has enabled us to answer almost every question pertaining to this department. If not seen finding ways to simplify the HR world, they can be found striking conversations with anyone and everyone , petting dogs, obsessing over gadgets, or baking cakes.


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