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The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business Hardcover – March 13, 2012


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The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business + The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable + Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470941529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470941522
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review




Q&A with Patrick Lencioni, Author of The Advantage

Patrick Lencioni, Author
Your other books have all been fables, but The Advantage isn't. Why?
Unlike my other books, The Advantage is not written as a fable because the nature of the subject it covers is just too broad to fit into one story. In the past, I've taken on slightly more contained and limited issues--teamwork, meetings, employee engagement--but this time I'm taking a much more holistic, comprehensive approach to improving organizations. Still, I've used stories about real organizations to bring the points to life, and I'm hoping that readers enjoy those stories and find them helpful in learning and applying the principles.

Do you consider your company healthy?
Yes, I consider my company healthy. And like any healthy company, we're messy and imperfect. We argue sometimes, we make mistakes, we try things that don't work. But we know who we are, what we believe in, and what we're trying to accomplish, so we're able to recover from setbacks quickly and grow stronger through conflict and adversity. I'm glad to say that we've always believed in living the principles that we espouse. And though we can sometimes forget and feel like the cobbler's children without shoes, we have certainly worked hard to become a healthy organization, and we continue to do so every day.

Having worked with companies for so many years, is there anything that still surprises you?
Yes, I still get surprised by what I see in companies I work with, even after all these years. Some of that surprise is just a function of the fact that no two people, and thus no two organizations, are exactly alike. The nuances are interesting and keep me on my toes. But ironically, the biggest surprise I get is being reminded again and again that even the most sophisticated companies struggle with the simplest things. I guess it's hard for me to believe that the concepts I write and speak about are so universal. I don't know that I'll ever come to terms with that completely.

How can someone who's not in the upper levels of their organization make an impact on its health?
While it's true that no one can influence and organization like the leader, and that without a leader's commitment and involvement, organizational health cannot become a reality, there are many things that employees deeper in an organization can do to make health more likely. First, they have to speak truth upward in the organization. Most leaders, even the struggling ones, want to get better. They're not leading and managing in the way they really want to, even if they don't come out and say so. When an employee is courageous and wise enough to come to them with respect, kindness and honesty, most leaders will be grateful. Without honest upward feedback, a leader cannot get better. Beyond that, people deeper in an organization can focus on making their own departments healthier, and not getting too distracted or discouraged by their inability to change things outside of their "circle of influence", as Stephen Covey says. By focusing on their own departments and their own areas of influence, they provide others in the organization with an example to follow, and they put themselves in a position to be promoted and to have even greater influence.

What's something I can do tomorrow morning to get started?
The first thing anyone can do, immediately, to begin the process of making their organizations healthier, is to begin with themselves and their team. A leader has to understand and embrace the concept of being vulnerable, which inspires trust on the leadership team. That trust is the foundation for teamwork, which is one of the cornerstones of organizational health. If a leader cannot be vulnerable, cannot admit his or her mistakes, shortcomings or weaknesses, others will not be vulnerable and organizational health becomes impossible.



Review

Consulting executive Lencioni (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) has an answer for floundering businesses—aim for organizational health. In other words, businesses that are whole, consistent, and complete, with complementary management, operations, strategy, and culture. Today, the vast majority of organizations have more than enough intelligence, experience, and knowledge to be successful. Organizational health is neither sexy nor quantifiable, which is why more people don't take advantage. However, improved health will not only create a competitive advantage and better bottom line, it will boost morale. Lencioni covers four steps to health: build a cohesive leadership team, create clarity, overcommunicate clarity, and reinforce clarity. Through examples of his own experiences and others', he addresses the behaviors of a cohesive team, peer-to-peer accountability, office politics and bureaucracy and strategy, and how all organizations should strive to make people's lives better. This smart, pithy, and practical guide is a must-read for executives and other businesspeople who need to get their proverbial ducks back in a row. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, 1/16/12)

More About the Author

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping leaders improve their organizations' health since 1997. His principles have been embraced by leaders around the world and adopted by organizations of virtually every kind including multinational corporations, entrepreneurial ventures, professional sports teams, the military, nonprofits, schools, and churches.

Lencioni is the author of ten business books with over three million copies sold worldwide. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and USA Today.

Prior to founding The Table Group, Lencioni served on the executive team at Sybase, Inc. He started his career at Bain & Company and later worked at Oracle Corporation.

Lencioni lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and their four sons.

To learn more about Patrick and The Table Group, please visit www.tablegroup.com.


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Customer Reviews

You can literally read the book as a group and get started making your company healthy.
Al Mayer
With a book that claims clarity is three of the four main ways to create a healthy organization, Lencioni put the pressure on himself to be clear--but succeeded!
Austin Maxheimer
Lencioni's writing style makes for an easy read, and this book strikes a good balance between theory and example.
Darryl Kerkeslager

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Paul Sanders on October 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business
By Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni is a proven master of the business fable--a short story that provides a lesson that can be applied to the business world. His numerous bestsellers, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," "Death by Meeting," and "Silos, Politics and Turf Wars," among others, each focus on providing the reader with a lesson on a particular business topic.

In his latest book, "The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business," Lencioni pulls together the many separate themes of his previous works and weaves them into a comprehensive business theory. And despite his expertise as a storyteller, in this book he chooses not to use the business fable.

Perhaps the fable format is not extensive enough to meet his needs. Whatever the reason, the insight and strength of this book prove that he made the right choice. The result is first-rate writing that supports discerning insights about the essentials factors for business success.

The opening line in the first chapter captures the premise of the book, "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 everyone who wants it."

Organizational health is readily accessible, the author argues, but most organizations choose to be smart rather than healthy. Smart may include a great marketing plan and cutting edge technology. It focuses on "tweaking the dials," in these and other areas, rather than on overall health of the organization.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Cole Brown on October 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a church planter. That means I started an organization that didn't exist and have spent the past six years trying to lead it toward fulfillment of its mission.

During this process we have seen a significant measure of success and also a significant measure of frustration. The success is solely due to God's grace. The frustration is largely due to the fact that though I know how to start a healthy organization I don't know how to keep that organization healthy as it grows and changes.

Or at least I didn't.

Until I read this book.

Lencioni argues that the key to success in any organization is organizational health. He does so persuasively. But far more importantly, he walks his readers through a process in which we can assess the health of our own organization and take steps to improve it. We have put Lencioni's questions and exercises to use and have seen noteworthy progress in each of the key areas of health Lencioni names.

I imagine this book would be helpful for any leader. But for a leader, like myself, who is not naturally gifted in creating and sustaining organizational health it was beyond helpful. It was a lifeline.

[...]
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Al Mayer on March 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first discovered Patrick Lencioni via a moving foreword that he wrote for another great business book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Since then I've read everything that Lencioni has put out and this book may very well be his best book yet. For those of you who love the parable style, be warned this book is not a parable. However, that's what makes it even better than the rest.

Lencioni is bursting with wisdom, and that means all 240 pages are overflowing with great ideas for how to run a company well. It's refreshing for him to just come right out and say it, and what he has to say is both brilliant and practical. The book teaches the four disciplines in great detail (enough that you learn just how to apply each in your organization). You can literally read the book as a group and get started making your company healthy.

The four disciplines are:

DISCIPLINE 1: BUILD A COHESIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM
An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are chartered with running it are not behaviorally cohesive in five fundamental ways. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation, from a small company, to a church or school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top inevitably lead to a lack of health throughout.

DISCIPLINE 2: CREATE CLARITY
In addition to being cohesive, the leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to six simple but critical questions.
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Format: Hardcover
After eight bestselling business fables, Patrick Lencioni has written a book in which he gathers his most important insights from them in a single volume. However, as he explains in the Introduction, "The book is the result of an unpredictable journey, one that began when I was just a kid, probably eight or nine years old." (He was born in 1962.) It draws upon but almost expands upon those books and really should be judged on its own merits, not theirs. That said, I wish to add that this is not a "best of" book, per se. Those who read it need not have read any of its predecessors, although I hope they eventually do read a few.

First, Lencioni makes a case for organizational health, not because the value of organizational health is in doubt but, rather, because it is ignored. "This is a shame because organizational health is different." It seems reasonable to me that many (most?) executives take their company's health for granted just as they take their own health for granted, at least until....

Next, Lencioni introduces "The Four Disciplines Model" and devotes a separate chapter to each discipline. With appropriate modifications, this model can be of substantial value to leaders in any company, whatever its size and nature may be. "An organization does not become [and remain] healthy in a linear, tidy fashion. Like building a strong marriage or family, it's a messy process that involves doing things at once, and it must be maintained on an ongoing basis in order to be preserved. Still, that messy process can be broken down into four simple disciplines." They are best considered within the book's narrative, in context. Suffice to say now that both a company's health and an organization's health (be it a company, school, church, etc.) requires a team effort.
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