The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business Hardcover – Mar 13 2012
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Consulting executive Lencioni (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) has an answer for floundering businesses—aim for organizational health. In other words, businesses that are whole, consistent, and complete, with complementary management, operations, strategy, and culture. Today, the vast majority of organizations have more than enough intelligence, experience, and knowledge to be successful. Organizational health is neither sexy nor quantifiable, which is why more people don't take advantage. However, improved health will not only create a competitive advantage and better bottom line, it will boost morale. Lencioni covers four steps to health: build a cohesive leadership team, create clarity, overcommunicate clarity, and reinforce clarity. Through examples of his own experiences and others', he addresses the behaviors of a cohesive team, peer-to-peer accountability, office politics and bureaucracy and strategy, and how all organizations should strive to make people's lives better. This smart, pithy, and practical guide is a must-read for executives and other businesspeople who need to get their proverbial ducks back in a row. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, 1/16/12)
Q&A with Patrick Lencioni, Author of The Advantage
Unlike my other books, The Advantage is not written as a fable because the nature of the subject it covers is just too broad to fit into one story. In the past, I've taken on slightly more contained and limited issues--teamwork, meetings, employee engagement--but this time I'm taking a much more holistic, comprehensive approach to improving organizations. Still, I've used stories about real organizations to bring the points to life, and I'm hoping that readers enjoy those stories and find them helpful in learning and applying the principles.
Do you consider your company healthy?
Yes, I consider my company healthy. And like any healthy company, we're messy and imperfect. We argue sometimes, we make mistakes, we try things that don't work. But we know who we are, what we believe in, and what we're trying to accomplish, so we're able to recover from setbacks quickly and grow stronger through conflict and adversity. I'm glad to say that we've always believed in living the principles that we espouse. And though we can sometimes forget and feel like the cobbler's children without shoes, we have certainly worked hard to become a healthy organization, and we continue to do so every day.
Having worked with companies for so many years, is there anything that still surprises you?
Yes, I still get surprised by what I see in companies I work with, even after all these years. Some of that surprise is just a function of the fact that no two people, and thus no two organizations, are exactly alike. The nuances are interesting and keep me on my toes. But ironically, the biggest surprise I get is being reminded again and again that even the most sophisticated companies struggle with the simplest things. I guess it's hard for me to believe that the concepts I write and speak about are so universal. I don't know that I'll ever come to terms with that completely.
How can someone who's not in the upper levels of their organization make an impact on its health?
While it's true that no one can influence and organization like the leader, and that without a leader's commitment and involvement, organizational health cannot become a reality, there are many things that employees deeper in an organization can do to make health more likely. First, they have to speak truth upward in the organization. Most leaders, even the struggling ones, want to get better. They're not leading and managing in the way they really want to, even if they don't come out and say so. When an employee is courageous and wise enough to come to them with respect, kindness and honesty, most leaders will be grateful. Without honest upward feedback, a leader cannot get better. Beyond that, people deeper in an organization can focus on making their own departments healthier, and not getting too distracted or discouraged by their inability to change things outside of their "circle of influence", as Stephen Covey says. By focusing on their own departments and their own areas of influence, they provide others in the organization with an example to follow, and they put themselves in a position to be promoted and to have even greater influence.
What's something I can do tomorrow morning to get started?
The first thing anyone can do, immediately, to begin the process of making their organizations healthier, is to begin with themselves and their team. A leader has to understand and embrace the concept of being vulnerable, which inspires trust on the leadership team. That trust is the foundation for teamwork, which is one of the cornerstones of organizational health. If a leader cannot be vulnerable, cannot admit his or her mistakes, shortcomings or weaknesses, others will not be vulnerable and organizational health becomes impossible.
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Top Customer Reviews
One not-so-common sense approach that Lencioni advocates early on is developing healthy conflict within the leadership team. After first fostering trust so that leadership partners can be vulnerable with each other, it is important to encourage constructive debate, to point where teams can cross the line into inappropriate conflict, pull back and still come out healthy at the other end. Its not often that you find a good framework for developing healthy disagreement that actually gives clear guidance, but Lencioni does here.
This book is refreshingly clear of leadership manual cliches. The author even apologizes at one point for talking about "empowerment".
The book uses a 4 discipline framework to establish a healthy organization: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team, Create Clarity, Overcommunicate Clarity and Reinforce Clarity.
I took copious notes while reading this book. Highly recommended.
First, Lencioni makes a case for organizational health, not because the value of organizational health is in doubt but, rather, because it is ignored. "This is a shame because organizational health is different." It seems reasonable to me that many (most?) executives take their company's health for granted just as they take their own health for granted, at least until....
Next, Lencioni introduces "The Four Disciplines Model" and devotes a separate chapter to each discipline. With appropriate modifications, this model can be of substantial value to leaders in any company, whatever its size and nature may be. "An organization does not become [and remain] healthy in a linear, tidy fashion. Like building a strong marriage or family, it's a messy process that involves doing things at once, and it must be maintained on an ongoing basis in order to be preserved. Still, that messy process can be broken down into four simple disciplines." They are best considered within the book's narrative, in context. Suffice to say now that both a company's health and an organization's health (be it a company, school, church, etc.) requires a team effort.Read more ›
Core culture change, better meetings, clear staff communication and a big chapter on hiring for fit are just some of the big wins this book really hits out of the park.
If you lead or manage a team in a large organization, THIS book will help you rock 2013.
Summarizing the ideas in his other books in a format that make it possible for the casual reader to understand the big picture he brings us to the realization that a lot a small and big companies are actually very lucky ti be successful...on the short term.
Beiing in the consulting business myself, I can honestly say that Lancioni's diagnostic is accurate and his solutions are not only realistic but eminently possible and profitable.
Most recent customer reviews
Stated as being a simple approach...but not so simple. For business leaders who truly want to create an organization that is productive with people who are performing and happy. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2013 by KJMc
One of the best books a leadership team could read. Organizational health trumps everything. Patrick Lencioni does an incredible job moving between the practical and theoretical... Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2013 by Carey N. Nieuwhof
This is a very useful book when working with business owners or management teams. Encompasses a lot of material found in other Lencioni books but good to have in one place.Published on Aug. 1 2013 by James R Griffiths
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