Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else

I recently finished reading The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Leniconi. I can already tell you that this is going to be on my top 5 reads from 2013. I deeply resonated with the concepts in this book. You see in many ways this book describes why I do what I do. I love to see all the facets of the Church work together to build an aligned and integrated culture that actually makes vision real!

There is no way for me to share everything I underlined, highlighted and the personal notes I wrote in the margins. So I shared with you my top 20 favorite quotes and ideas from the book that stuck with me.

1. The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.

2. An organization has integrity – is healthy – when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when it’s management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense.

3. If an organization is led by a team that is not behaviorally unified, there is no chance that it will become healthy.

4. Contrary to popular wisdom and behavior, conflict is not a bad thing for a team. In fact, the fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems.

5. When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer.

6. Nowhere does this tendency towards artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another.

7. When leadership teams wait for consensus before taking action, they usually end up with decisions that are made too late and are mildly disagreeable to everyone. This is a recipe for mediocrity and frustration.

8. No matter how good a leadership team feels about itself, and how noble its mission might be, if the organization it leads rarely achieves its goals, then, by definition, it’s simply not a good team.

9. Within the context of making an organization healthy, alignment is about creating so much clarity that there is as little room as possible for confusion, disorder, and infighting to set it.

10. Six Critical Questions: 1. 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?

11. As is true in many mission-driven organizations, there is a real temptation in schools for leaders to want to be all things to all people. Of course, with limited resources and high stakes, the cost of not being strategic is great.

12. …two of the most maddening day-to-day challenges companies face: organizational A.D.D. and silos.

13. Great leaders see themselves as the Chief Reminding Officers as much as anything else. Their top two priorities are to set the direction of the organization and then to ensure that people are reminded of it on a regular basis.

14. 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.

15. An organization has to institutionalize its culture with out bureaucratizing it.

16. Human systems give an organization a structure for tying its operations, culture, and management together, even when leaders aren’t around to remind people.

17. Bringing the right people into an organization, and keeping the wrong ones out, is as important as any activity that a leadership team must oversee.

18. Healthy organizations believe that performance management is almost exclusively about eliminating confusion.

19. If someone were to offer me one single piece of evidence to evaluate the health of an organization, I would not ask to see its financial statements, review its product line, or even talk to its employees or customers; I would want to observe the leadership team during a meeting.

20. Bad meetings are the birthplace of unhealthy organizations, and good meetings are the origin of cohesion, clarity, and communication.

Posted in Leadership

2 Responses to “Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else”

  1. Lori Laake February 28, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Will be downloading this book to my kindle pronto.
    I read each point and said a quiet “amen!”!!
    Thanks for sharing, Paul. Just another example
    of why you are a leader people want to learn from!

    • Paul Alexander March 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      You’re going to really enjoy the book Lori. Thank you for the kind words!

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