• Sam Decker

Achieve Prioritization with Six Disciplines for Excellence


One of my favorite 'saved' books is 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 prettysimple:

  1. Discipline I: Decide What’s Important

  2. Discipline II: Set Goals That Lead

  3. Discipline III: Align Systems

  4. Discipline IV: Work the Plan

  5. Discipline V: Innovate Purposefully

  6. 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.