Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

Lencioni, Patrick. Advantage Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print


Organizational health, the foundation to achieving success and the results your organization desires.


“At its core, organizational health is about integrity, but not in the ethical or moral way that integrity is defined so often today. An organization has integrity – is healthy – when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense.” (Lencioni, 5)


“More than a side dish or a flavor enhancer for the real meat and potatoes of business, it is the very plate on which the meat and potatoes sit. The health of an organization provides the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.” (3)


Patrick Lencioni, in Advantage Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, touts the four guiding disciplines for organizational health, explaining “The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organization health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free and available to anyone who wants it.” (1)


Smart versus Healthy


Healthy organizations can be recognized by the following attributes; minimal politics, low confusion, high morale, high productivity and very low turnover. Lencioni explains, “After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are. (9)


Health Begets – and Trumps – Intelligence


“An organization that is healthy will inevitably get smarter over time.(9) The truth of the matter was that those companies weren’t smarter than their competitors; they simply tapped into the adequate intelligence they had and didn’t allow dysfunction, ego, and politics to get in the way. (10)


Patrick Lencioni, deriving the concepts from his previous books, puts together the following common sense four discipline actions for creating organizational health and success.


Four Disciplines:

  1. Cohesive Leadership Team
  2. Create Clarity
  3. Over Communicate Clarity
  4. Reinforce Clarity


Discipline 1: Cohesive Leadership Team


Must include the following 5 Behaviors:

  • Behavior 1: Building Trust
  • Behavior 2. Mastering Conflict
  • Behavior 3. Achieving Commitment
  • Behavior 4. Embracing Accountability
  • Behavior 5. Focusing on Results


Discipline 2: Create Clarity by asking six critical questions

  1. Why do we exist? “Employees in every organization, and at every level, need to know that at the heart of what they do lies something grand and aspirational.” (82)
  2. How do we behave? “If an organization is tolerant of everything, it will stand for nothing.” (91)
  3. What do we do? “No flowery adjectives or adverbs here. Nothing ethereal or abstract. Just an unsexy, one-sentence definition- something your grandmother can understand (no offense to grandmas).” (105)
  4. How will we succeed? “An organization’s strategy is nothing more than the collection of intentional decisions a company makes to give itself the best chance to thrive and differentiate from competitors.” (107)
  5. What is most important, right now? “Every organization, if it wants to create a sense of alignment and focus, must have a single top priority within a given period of time.” (120)
  6.  Who must do what? Division of labor, who does what. (132)


Discipline 3: Over Communicate Clarity

Continually communicate clearly so the organization has clarity about the answers to the six critical questions. “Great leaders see themselves as Chief Reminding Officers as much as anything else.” (143)


Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity

Everything the organization does should reinforce clarity and the answers to the six critical questions.

“An organization has to institutionalize its culture without bureaucratizing it. (154)

“In order to ensure that the answers to the six critical questions become embedded in the fabric of the organization, leaders must do everything they can to reinforce them structurally as well. The way to do that is to make sure that every human system – every process that involves people – from hiring and people management to training and compensation, is designed to reinforce the answers to those questions.” (153)

Get healthy to be successful!


For additional tools to enhance organizational health, Advantage includes an organization health checklist on pages 195-197 and resources located at

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