Book Category: Leadership, Business,

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (book summary)

Author: Patrick M. Lencioni
Life Changing Principles
8.0
Quality of Writing
7.2
Overall Value
8.2
pros: Unique processes, helpful for businesses
cons: Broad advice
78.0%
overall rating
7.8

QUICK SUMMARY:

The Advantage provides insight into powerful ways to make an organization healthy. Organizational health, as espoused by Lencioni, should be the most important goal of any company, and it can be achieved using specific strategies.

KEY INSIGHTS:

  • Organizations will know they have found organizational health when they have minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees which is a direct result of the organization being whole, consistent, and complete and when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense.
  • Create a strong and cohesive leadership team to begin the process of finding organizational health. The team should not be too big – no more than nine people – and each leader should acknowledge that their department is part of a greater good so that individual departments are neither favored nor ignored.
  • The leadership team should answer 6 questions around which all decisions, goals, tasks, meetings, etc. should be centered and focused:
    • Why do we exist? 2. How do we behave? 3. What do we do? 4. How will we succeed?            5. What is most important, right now? 6. Who must do what?
  • Every decision, no matter how large or small, needs to be determined by the leadership team and then communicated very clearly and effectively to the rest of the team as a cascading communication effect. This communication then should be reiterated over and over and over again.
  • Most organizations don’t hold enough effective meetings. The four types of meetings every organization should hold are:
    • Daily check-in meetings: 5-10 minutes, key points, little to no problem solving
    • Weekly staff meetings: 1-2 hours, pertinent information and updates centered around the 6 questions
    • Adhoc topical meetings: 2-4 hours, critical information, problem solving
    • Quarterly off-site meetings: 1-2 days, recenter around the 6 questions, reiterate and reinforce key goals and aspirations

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

  • The more specific our goals and aspirations can be, and the better informed each team member can be, the easier the goals will be to achieve and maintain.
  • Hiring decisions, and in fact, the first few days of a New Hire’s time with the company, are critical to maintaining the company’s values and mores. 
  • If your team has one common goal and purpose, and they all work toward it together, they’ll be more in sync and much stronger as an organization.

MEANINGFUL QUOTES

The health of an organization provides the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.

At every step in the process, the leader must be out front, not as a cheerleader or a figurehead, but as an active, tenacious driver.

Almost no employees willingly leave an organization where they are getting the levels of gratitude and appreciation that they deserve just to make a little more money, unless, of course, they are so grossly underpaid that they can’t justify staying in the job for the sake of their livelihood.

At its core, accountability is about having the courage to confront someone about their deficiencies and then to stand in the moment and deal with their reaction.

An organization’s core purpose—why it exists—has to be completely idealistic.

Most organizations I’ve worked with have too many top priorities to achieve the level of focus they need to succeed. Wanting to cover all their bases, they establish a long list of disparate objectives and spread their scarce time, energy, and resources across them all. The result is almost always a lot of initiatives being done in a mediocre way and a failure to accomplish what matters most. This phenomenon is best captured in that wonderful adage, “If everything is important, nothing is.”

In a cohesive team, leaders are not there simply to represent the departments that they lead and manage but rather to solve problems that stand in the way of achieving success for the whole organization.

The fact is, every organization of any size needs some division of labor, and that begins at the very top. Without clarity around that division of labor, the potential for politics and infighting, even among well-intentioned people, is great.

Great organizations, unlike countries, are never run like a democracy.

The best approach to hiring is to put just enough structure in place to ensure a measure of consistency and adherence to core values—and no more.