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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Advantage to The Advantage
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,"...
Published on October 3, 2012 by Paul Sanders

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lets all hug
i guess the idea is great, but maybe i am too cynical. For sure there are some great takeaways like conflict being a good thing in meetings. OR that managers should feel open to speak to the manager openly otherwise the team wont be a unified force. So some might find it a great book, for me its ok.
Published 17 months ago by Steven Richardson


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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Advantage to The Advantage, October 3, 2012
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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. Studying spreadsheets and financial statements is relatively safe, Lencioni suggests, unlike the messier, unpredictable ways of establishing the health of the organization.

The healthy organization is the victim of three strong biases: The Sophistication Bias (organizations often ignore that which is simple and straightforward); The Adrenaline Bias (most leaders suffer from chronic adrenaline addiction, the stress rush of fighting fires every day); and The Quantification Bias (the difficulty of measuring it in financial terms).

Lencioni suggests there may be a fourth reason for such bias: no one has ever presented it as a simple, integrated discipline. In doing so for the first time, the author believes that it is the practice that will surpass all other disciplines in creating competitive advantage.

This foremost advantage, organizational health, is about integrity, Lencioni says. Integrity in this context is defined as an organization that is whole, consistent and complete, "when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense."

Health can be recognized by reading the signs within an organization that include, minimal politics, low confusion, strong morale, high productivity and very low turnover.

The author suggests an organization becomes healthy in much the same way as a couple builds a strong marriage or family--"it's a messy process." It involves doing several things at once.

He outlines four disciplines to do this:
* Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Team. The leaders of any group, whether a church, school, or international corporation must build trust, master conflict, achieve commitment, embrace accountability and focus on results. "Teamwork is not a virtue," Lencioni says. "It's a choice."
* Discipline 2: Create Clarity. Six questions help to clarify, including, "why do we exist? What do we do? Who does what? "What is new is the realization that none of them can be addressed in isolation; they must be answered together," the author says. "Failing to achieve alignment around any one of them can prevent an organization from attaining the level of clarity necessary to become healthy."
* Discipline 3: Overcommunicate Clarity. Clearly, repeatedly and enthusiastically give the answers created to help clarify. There is no such thing as too much communication.
* Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity. Critical systems must be implemented to reinforce clarity in every process. Every policy and program should be designed to remind employees what is really important.

The book also contains practical structures gathered from Lencioni's previous books. For effective communications, for example, a healthy organization deals in daily check-ins, weekly tactical staff meetings, monthly strategic meetings, and offsite meetings.

The author's enthusiasm is more than compelling; it is contagious. "Is this model foolproof?" he asks about the healthy organization. "Pretty much," is the response. If leaders are aligned around a common set of answers, communicate those answers repeatedly, put effective processes into place that reinforce them--they effectively "create an environment in which success is almost impossible to prevent. Really."

That would indeed be a healthy organization.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even a Moron Like Me Can Do This, October 14, 2012
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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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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Four Disciplines of Healthy Organizations, March 30, 2012
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This review is from: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (Hardcover)
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.

DISCIPLINE 3: OVERCOMMUNICATE CLARITY
Once a leadership team has established behavioral cohesion and created clarity around the answers to those questions, it must then communicate those answers to employees clearly, repeatedly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly (not a typo). There is no such thing as too much communication.

DISCIPLINE 4: REINFORCE CLARITY
In order for an organization to remain healthy over time, its leaders must establish a few, critical nonbureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity in every process that involves people. Every policy, every program, every activity should be designed to remind employees what is really most important.

This book is a five star business book. Give it a read. You won't be disappointed.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of redundant "overcommunication" of what is most important to achieve and sustain organizational health, March 23, 2012
This review is from: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (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. Moreover, in addition to being competent in what they are expected to do, members of the team must also communicate, cooperate, and collaborate effectively with each other. Lencioni recommends four specific steps to build such a team

To achieve clarity (i.e. everyone involved "being on the same page"), Lencioni recommends that "six simple but critical questions" be asked and then answered. My own opinion is that these questions should be posed frequently. Why? The best answer to that is provided by this anecdote. Years ago, a colleague of Albert Einstein's at Princeton pointed out to him that he always asked the same questions on his final examination. "Yes, that`s quite true. Each year, the answers are different."

Question #3 is "What do we do?" and reminds me of another anecdote. When Home Depot held a meeting of its store managers many years ago, one of the company's co-founders (either Bernie Marcus or Arthur Blank) reminded them that when a customer came through the door, it was not to purchase a quarter-inch drill. Rather, to purchase a quarter-inch hole.

The section entitled "The Centrality of Great Meetings" provides an explanation of how to sustain the rigor of the four disciplines, hence the health of the given organization. My own opinion is that very few meetings are "great." Most accomplish little (if anything) while wasting precious time, energy, attention, and enthusiasm. They are usually detrimental to organizational health. However, Lencioni asserts - and I agree - that there are four different types (conducted on a regular basis) that can be "great" if leaders follow the guidelines he recommends. (Please check out the material in Pages 175-187.) Of course, if an organization's leaders are inept with regard to establishing and then following the four disciplines, meetings will accomplish nothing.

For whom will this book be most valuable? It will help leaders of an organization that either needs to "get in shape" or "get in better shape" to gain or increase its competitive advantage. The key considerations include teamwork and clarity. An effective leader is imperative. If everyone is in charge, no one is. Moreover, with regard to clarity, repetition is imperative. There must be constant reminders - perhaps in the form of affirmations - of the shared vision and of what is most important to achieving it. Lencioni calls it "overcommunication."

Patrick Lencioni brilliantly explains why organizational health trumps everything else in business and, in fact, in all other domains of human initiatives. I presume to add, so does terminal illness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meaningful Meetings, September 6, 2012
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The Advantage discusses improving the health of the organization. To this end, Mr. Lencioni proffers four disciplines that, if followed, will certainly improve the morale, esprit de corps and, yes, the health of the organization. Of particular interest to me was insuring the people that are brought into the organization "fit the organizational values." A lot is being written on how the organization should adapt to the individual. It would be so much better to bring a person into the organization that models the organizational values. Thanks for a thoguht provoking book.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Centerpiece to Growth - Lencioni's Life Work, March 16, 2012
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This review is from: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (Hardcover)
I was thrilled when my Kindle lit up last night and downloaded The Advantage. Even though not a (famously Lencioni) fable, the book has pace and is highly engaging. The author knows he's sticking his head out stating that organizational health should be the number one priority with businesses everywhere, of all sizes. And that everything else follows. But he quickly makes his case, then in a very practical and logical fashion, lays out an action plan to build the disciplines into your business. While I've not completed the whole book, I can already see it will enrich our own small firm as well as set a vision for how we can help many of our own clients. Thanks Patrick.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Meetings: Birthplace of Unhealthy Organizations, March 28, 2012
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This review is from: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (Hardcover)
Leaders who read my book reviews know I'm on a perpetual trek (or is it a treadmill?) to find gold in them thar hills--culminating in my Top-10 books of the year list. I just found one--and it will take a rare gem to knock this one off its current perch as my Number One pick of 2012.

Any new book by Patrick Lencioni is worth the read, but this treasure--published just this month and already on the Wall Street Journal's Top-10 business books list--is in a class by itself.

Lencioni says that "bad meetings are the birthplace of unhealthy organizations and good meetings are the origin of cohesion, clarity and communication." He adds, "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."

And he says all of this on page 173, in his next to last chapter, "The Centrality of Great Meetings." I couldn't agree more. As Lencioni points out--your meetings are a barometer of everything else.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Why is this such a spectacular book? What moves it from fad-of-the-quarter, ho-hum pablum, to YOU MUST BUY THIS TODAY for every person on your senior team?

I ordered 24 copies for a CEO Dialogues roundtable last week--after reading just the first 50 pages. I thought to myself, "These 50 pages are so transformational--if teams apply the wisdom with discipline and desire--it doesn't matter if the other 150 pages are even readable."

Lencioni, who has sold more than three million business "fables," calls this book a "comprehensive, practical guide"--and it is. His goal was to bring all of the ideas from his eight books and consulting practice under the roof of one book--and he did. This one, especially, is brilliant.

"The single greatest advantage any company can achieve," says this plain-speaking author/consultant (blessed with wit and wisdom) "is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free and available to anyone who wants it." He builds his case quickly--not with fables this time but with real life peeks behind unnamed company closed doors. (Not all business or nonprofit/church leaders have it together, we soon learn.)

His model for organizational health is centered on four disciplines:
1) Build a Cohesive Leadership Team
2) Create Clarity
3) Overcommunicate Clarity
4) Reinforce Clarity

Is this just another yada, yada, yada or a big pile of nada, nada, nada? Nope. It is so simple and practical, I think Lencioni was a bit embarrassed to put so many cookies on the bottom shelf. But that's what sets this apart from all the other books in recent years--it's a comprehensive approach that any team can implement. And it's so simple--it may well be the death knell for us consultant types. (Buy the book and you won't need us anymore!)

In what I term the "Superman Syndrome," Peter Drucker said "No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings." Thus Lencioni skillfully delivers exceptional goods--for all of us average players.

Organizational health is like a family, comments Lencioni. "If the parents' relationship is dysfunctional, the family will be too." He adds, "Teamwork is not a virtue. It is a choice--and a strategic one." He paints the picture of what healthy teams look like, starting with the basics: size of teams, specific agendas when the team meets, and frequency and types of team meetings and staff meetings.

His five team behaviors (think of a pyramid from the ground up) of Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability and Results--are defined and explained in practical, practical ways in the first 70 pages. He writes, "The ultimate point of building greater trust, conflict, commitment and accountability is one thing: the achievement of results. That seems obvious, but as it turns out, one of the greatest challenges to team success is the inattention to results." (Three cheers for the Results Bucket!)

"Discipline 2: Create Clarity" is really a short-course in strategic planning without all the buzz words. His page on "BLATHER" is hilarious. "Though I can't be sure, I suspect that at some point about thirty years ago a cleverly sadistic and antibusiness consultant decided that the best way to screw up companies was to convince them that what they needed was a convoluted, jargon, and all-encompassing declaration of intent." (Think: vision and mission statements!)

I gotta end this review--but, really, I haven't even enticed you to the deep end of the pool yet. You MUST buy this book and read about: The Two-Headed CEO, the six key questions to create clarity, The Playbook (a few pages, on the desk and in every meeting), Cascading Communication, Performance Management ("Healthy organizations believe that performance management is almost exclusively about eliminating confusion."), The Price of Passivity, Behaviors Versus Measurables, The Universal Challenge of Peer Accountability, and Chief Reminder Officer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Putting all the pieces together, September 16, 2012
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This review is from: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (Hardcover)
I bought this book as a gift and ended up reading it on the plane. Lencioni puts all of the pieces together into one easy to read book - he helps you evaluate your organization and quickly see areas where you are already strong and areas where you have room for improvement. With a few statements, he helps you cut through the chaff and identify some easy to see assessments. I recommend this for anyone in a management position, especially those involved in consulting executive managers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from Lencioni, February 7, 2014
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Mr. Lencioni does it again. Another great book with practical common sense advice for the executive. All we have to do is apply the concepts and be diligent and consistent with their application - which many will read this book but few will apply it. That's why it's called the Advantage.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a healthy organization.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great, October 20, 2013
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It took a while to finish this book. It didn't have the "can't put it down" characteristic like some of his other books. However the information was excellent. Recommend for anyone that needs a fresh look at there organizational structure and wants ideas on how to improve the health of their group.
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The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
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