2016 PMI-LA Book Club Report - The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

PMILA Book Club Report:
The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business
By: Patrick Lencioni

Paul Lencioni (famous author and storyteller of such books as Death By Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) compiles a guide for businesses to understand the importance of organizational health. The author defines a successful business as one that is not only smart (exceeding in areas such as technology and marketing) but one that is also healthy. Many corporate leaders focus on the "smart aspect" of business due to its quantifiable aspect. However, Lencioni maps out a model to develop a healthy company (accompanied by anecdotes from his experience as a consultant) to allow anyone to understand the importance of organizational health. Organizational health may not be seen as a linear process. Instead, Lencioni breaks it into four disciplines, which are in turn broken down into questions and principles.

1) Build A Cohesive Leadership Team
2) Create Clarity
3) Overcommunicate Clarity
4) Reinforce Clarity

Discipline 1 covers building a great leadership team. Lencioni describes the recommended attributes of a leadership team, then breaks down five behaviors that keep them active and cohesive. Consistent leadership teams must build trust, master conflict, achieve commitment, embrace accountability and focus on results.

Discipline 2 ensures the organization is capable of answering six key questions. By answering the six questions, the organization obtains clarity in its purpose, behavior, business definition, plan for success, daily goals and organizational chart. Developing core values that embody the organization and crafting a battle cry are components in conveying clarity.

Discipline 3 stresses the significance of communicating the clarity established in Discipline 2. In fact, the importance of communication is so great that Lencioni tells the reader it is best to overcommunicate these messages.

Discipline 4 reminds leaders not to make the six answers developed in Discipline 2 as text written in a document and forgotten. Instead, they must be systematically implemented in the company. Questions asked should reference these answers and employees should hear these messages continuously reinforced. Lencioni also covers meetings and how to use them effectively. These pages are a bite size portion of the lessons gleaned in his book Death By Meeting.

Overall, The Advantage provides useful tools and tips for focusing on organizational health and the benefits of a healthy company. Although the subject matter is useful and very much needed in the corporate world, Lencioni tends to over explain every element. However, he may only be taking a page from his guide and overcommunicating the message to the reader as per Discipline 3.

The PMILA Book Club Rating: 3.6 out of a possible score of 5.

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