Patrick Lencioni has written many wise and sensible books on leading organizations, such as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. His main focus is “organizational health.”
“Organizational health” is a low-cost, high-impact investment to make in your organization. It should be a priority during all times, not just during a recession. But during a recession, when there are possibly less opportunities pulling you in so many directions, you (perhaps) have a unique opportunity to give it more undivided attention.
Lencioni makes this point in his latest newsletter, “The ‘Down Economy’ Bandwagon“:
… use this time to invest in your organization’s future, especially when the investment is not a financial one.
The best place for an investment right now is in the general health of an organization. I’m talking mostly about improving the functioning of the executive team, and their clarification of and recommitment to the organization’s values and purpose. Doing this will require a little time and energy, but very little money. And it will yield significant returns now, and even more when the economy rebounds.
I got into Lencioni’s books about a year ago and have found his thinking to be among the most wise and useful out there on how to manage an organization well. He doesn’t give mainly “business thinking.” His thinking is useful to businesses, but it stems from broader principles that pertain to things like working well in working well in teams, managing people humanely, making jobs menaingful, and creating healthy organizations. In other words, his thinking is useful across all types of organizations — including families.
To flesh out the meaning of organizational health, I recently took notes over his book The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, which focuses most directly on this topic.
He points out that organizational health is perhaps the key competitive advantage for any organization:
Organizational health is one competitive advantage that is available to any company that wants it, yet it is largely ignored. And, it is highly sustainable because it is not based on information or intellectual property. It should occupy a lot of time and attention of extraordinary executives (139).
What is a healthy organization?
A healthy organization is one that has less politics and confusion, higher morale and productivity, lower unwanted turnover, and lower recruiting costs than an unhealthy one (140).
How do you create a healthy organization?
The first step in making it happen is to realize that, like so many other aspects of success, it is simple in theory but difficult to put into practice. Requires high levels of commitment, courage, and consistency. Does not require complex thinking and analysis—and that is crucial. The second step is to master the fundamental disciplines and put them into practice on a daily basis. That’s what the rest of the book is about (140).
The fundamental disciplines or organizational health that Lencioni mentions are:
- Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team
- Create organizational clarity
- Over-communicate organizational clarity
- Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems
I hope to do more posts on organizational health in the future. Also, for more on this I would highly recommend The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.