Organizational Health

I’m still working through the pages of notes I took during the Willow Creek Leadership Summit a couple of weeks ago. Another speak whom I really appreciated was Patrick Lencioni. I’ve read many of his books, and I think he has such a knack for explaining business principles in a way that seem so easy to process and apply.

Patrick talked about the two needed ingredients for organizational success: things that are smart and things that are healthy. He said that most of the time we cannot do the smart things because we are not healthy enough to do them.

So, how do we make our organization healthy? Here are four disciplines he encouraged us to pursue:

1.  Build and maintain a cohesive team at the top. [This is behavioral alignment.]

2.  Create clarity by asking these questions:

  • Why do we exist? [core purpose]
  • How do we behave? [core values]

These need to be core values, not our aspirational values.

There should only be one or two endemic values.

Core values are those that we will stick to even if we don’t get rewarded for it.

  • What do we actually do?
  • How will we succeed? [strategy]

These are the myriad of intentional decisions we make that help us be successful.

As an example, consider the three strategic anchors for Southwest Airlines: (1) make the customer happy; (2) keep the plane on time; (3) keep fares low.

  • What is most important in our organization right now?
  • Who must do what?

3.  Over-communicate the answer to the above six questions. I love this: Patrick said, “If your people cannot do a good impression of you, you’re not communicating enough.”

4.  Reinforce the system through creative ideas.

The bottom line: “Organizational health provides significant advantages for organizational success.”

I’m working on the application of these thoughts for the organizations I help lead, and I’m really excited to encourage some conversations around these great thoughts from Patrick Lencioni.

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