I was excited when I received Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage” on my doorstep. I eagerly opened the box, removed the book, and began reading. Truth be told, I initially struggled because I am accustomed to theories and research-based books and had to fight off that mentality because Lencioni’s “The Advantage” isn’t based on research, and wasn’t meant to be. As he explains, “Because I’m not a quantitative researcher, the conclusions I draw here are not based on reams of statistics or finely crunched data, but rather on my observations as a consultant over the past twenty years” (Lencioni, 2012, p. xvii). I appreciated his upfront honesty.
Lencioni said that most organizations have plenty of talent, intelligence, and expertise to be successful. What’s more, he contends that almost every organization has access to the best ideas and practices about technology, strategy, and many other topics because information is everywhere and easy to locate. However, what many organizations lack is organizational health.
Organizational health is about integrity—whole, consistent, and complete. An organization is healthy “when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense” (Lencioni, 2012, p. 5).
Healthy organizations have the following qualities:
- Minimal Politics
- Minimal Confusion
- High Morale
- High Productivity
- Low Turnover
What “The Advantage” is, is a call to action and a blueprint about how to go from an unhealthy to healthy organization. It’s simple and practical, and it won me over. The real-world examples and true client stories were particularly compelling because they reinforced the concepts and brought them to life.
Lencioni offered his “Organizational Health Model” which consisted of four disciplines: (1) Build a Cohesive Leadership Team; (2) Create Clarity; (3) Over-Communicate Clarity; and (4) Reinforce Clarity.
In addition to the emphasis on creating and maintaining a cohesive team, Lencioni contends that there are six critical questions that a leadership team must rally around and clearly answer. They include:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important, right now?
- Who must do what?
“Most organizations are unhealthy precisely because they aren’t doing the basic things, which require discipline, persistence, and follow-through more than sophistication or intelligence” (Lencioni, 2012, p. 148).
By eliminating politics and confusion from an organization’s culture and environment, a healthy organization will almost always find a way to thrive and succeed because, without politics and confusion, it will tap into and use every ounce of “knowledge, experience, and intellectual capital that is available to [it]” (Lencioni, 2012, p. 11).
Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the pastor of a medium-size church, or the president of a small volunteer group, Lencioni’s “The Advantage” is your road map to both the ins and outs of what healthy organizations do and the costly mistakes that unhealthy organizations make.
Lencioni, P. (2012). The advantage: Why organizational health trumps everything else in business. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Disclosure: Although I received Lencioni’s “The Advantage” as a complimentary gift, my review and recommendation were given as if I had purchased it.