Patrick Lencioni has written another great book. He has a gift for making complex concepts understandable. In this case, he argues that being smart is only half the equation in organizational success. Being healthy is just as important if not more.
Being smart includes the decision sciences of strategy, marketing, finance and technology. This is the quantifiable part of a business, one that has dominated many organizations. However, being healthy includes these characteristics: minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity and low turnover (pg. 6).
He presents a model with 4 disciplines required for organizational health. They are:
- building a cohesive leadership team,
- creating clarity,
- over-communicating clarity, and
- reinforcing clarity
Yes, being clear is very important. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what is important at all times.Most employees want to be clear on how what they do makes a difference. You have heard me sing this anthem many times. Like many of his books, these models come with checklists and many examples.
If your organizational experience is like mine, you will find yourself agreeing with much of what he has to say. He distilled a lot of experience into this model. Unfortunately for most organizations (and he points this out) change won’t happen. Why? It’s just too easy to stay in the comfort zone of numbers (the ‘smart side’). Organizational health requires personal behavioral change and as most of you know, that is the most difficult of all.
This is one reason I believe this book is highly compatible with TIGERS. We take the impossibility out of changing organizational and interpersonal behavior when TIGERS is unleashed in organizations.
I have watched Inscape Publishing, now owned by Wiley demonstrate how productive and successful a healthy organization can be. When the new leader took over about 10 years ago, the company was dying. He turned it around by having everyone learn the answers to the 6 Critical Questions Lencioni offers in the Creating Clarity part of the model.
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is important, right now?
- Who must do what?
In a case study that applies to this book, I’ve listened to multiple employees of Inscape tell the stories of how Jeffrey Sugarman helped them create the answers to these questions 10 years ago. The distributors who were around then describe how Jeff asked them questions and listened. Many of these long-time distributors have seen a lot of bad management.
Despite being a fairly small group (and they too have very, very low turnover) they have created a string of innovative and exciting products in a short time period. The results are measurable. While they have been a private company and don’t report financial results, the fact that Wiley bought them a year ago and is investing in new products, shows how successful they have been financially.
In fact, at the moment the latest innovations are in testing and one is a product that integrates Lencioni’s work with the Everything DiSC profile. Interesting enough, Jeff has a background in OD. So does organizational health matter as much as Lencioni claims? There’s no doubt in my mind. I bet not in yours either. Because while the numbers do matter, how people feel about work matters just as much.
I do recommend this book. You will find many helpful suggestions on what to do to increase the focus on organizational health. I do have to stress however, that changing an organization’s culture comes much easier when you unleash TIGERS in the process. Some of our new licensed TIGERS facilitators are doing exactly that and very successfully by the way because the TIGERS system is designed to handle it.
I say this because the book doesn’t reflect just how challenging change can be. I always suggest any change effort start small, however, and you can do that with suggestions in the book.
I love the checklists. I think you will, too. Let’s discuss more of the book for those of you who are like me on the fast read to success!