The 20 Mile March Discipline – Great by Choice

Why all this focus on Great by Choice?

10 X leadershipIn a word – Discipline. The triangle to the right illustrates the fundamental elements of Great by Choice and the stories it offers. You’ll notice the  prominent place for what they call “Fanatic Discipline” at the tip of the triangle.

Nothing illustrates the impact of discipline more than one of the fundamental lessons from Great by Choice on how great companies achieve success.

Over and over stories of the great companies (10Xers) offer lessons on how success didn’t come in a single leap or even an enormous ascendancy in a short period of time. It’s comparable to Good to Great’s principle of slow steady pressure on the flywheel. The 10Xers Collins describes in the book focused on hitting specified performance benchmarks with great consistency over longer periods of time. The comparison companies tended to over-extend and get greedy or gobbled up when the economy or times got hard.

The 20 Mile March discipline requires dealing with two distinct types of discomfort:
 Delivering high performance in difficult times
 Holding back in good times.

20 Mile MarchYou may have seen other articles written about the 20 Mile March, the classic offered in the book is Ronald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott’s quest to be the first to reach the South Pole. The “20 Mile March” comes from the winner of the race, Amundsen’s methodical, disciplined consistent approach to march 20 miles each day no matter how good or bad the weather and conditions were. Amundsen’s approach
applies the principles of SMaC, Specific, Methodical, and Consistent.

In order to demonstrate this type of discipline you need to
decide consciously not to be greedy when times are good and
not loaf or diminish your efforts or expectations when they aren’t. How many of us have that kind of

What’s the benefit of this 20 Mile March philosophy? According to Great by Choice’s research in 29 events in which companies 20 Mile Marched into a turbulent industry episode, they came out of the turbulence with a good outcome in every single instance. That’s without exception a prefect 29 out 29 times. In 23 events where companies failed to 20 Mile March heading into turbulent industry episodes they emerged from the turbulent episode with a good outcome 3 out of 23 times.

Figure out the numbers.
100% versus 13%.
That’s the value of building a 20 Mile March Philosophy for your company.

Does this not demonstrate the impact of discipline? It’s the value of developing and practicing the disciplines in our Scaling Up Operating System

The 20 Mile March Discipline is very similar to developing the practice of Strategic Discipline focusing on establishing priorities, determining dashboards/metrics to monitor achieving your priorities and then a cadence of accountability through consistent meeting rhythms.

Disciplines become routines, and when they do the habit becomes natural. That’s the value of establishing and practicing Strategic Discipline. Before long you have built an unconscious discipline that keeps your business in a continuous process of accepting and initiating change. It guarantees you will maintain and grow your business while navigating storms that periodically confront your industry.

My good friend, Doug Wick – Gazelles Coach in Cedar Rapids Iowa is the author of this insightful article.

To Scale Up your business! Take our Scaling Up/Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Ted Bonel – Strategy & Execution Advisors

Need assistance to help your team achieve your objectives to grow your business? Contact me at to schedule a free 30-minute discovery meeting.

About Strategy & Execution

We have been providing organisations and their leaders with facilitation support and executive education focused on strategy development & strategy execution for more than 20 years. We support organisations seeking to create or refine excellent strategies and execute them quickly and effectively.

Our expertise is based on a mixture of wide business experience, effective tools as well as a great deal of consulting and executive education. Our approach to working with clients is as unique as our specialist focus. We always seek to challenge our clients’ thinking – but equally are unafraid to roll up our sleeves and help execute the ideas we help generate. Learn more about us here or view our upcoming workshops and events.

If you are preparing for strategy development and/or a strategy implementation challenge and are committed to creating value for your organisation, we look forward to hearing from you. Contact us now

Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter below to receive our articles and blogs every month.