This book was ok. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to others. My raw notes below:
Organisational health is about integrity – when management, operations, strategy and culture fit together and make sense.
Think about it as being smart (strategy, marketing, finance, tech) vs. healthy (minimal politics and confusion, high morale, low turnover) – most execs only focus on smart.
How to become healthy? There are 4 disciplines that Lencioni goes through: build a cohesive leadership team, create clarity, over-communicate clarity and reinforce clarity.
Building a Cohesive leadership team
A Leadership Team (LT)should be 3 to 12 people. Anything over 8 or 9 is usually problematic, partially because people don't feel as if they have enough opportunity to contribute. A good LT should have collective responsibility for a common set of goals.
Behaviour 1 – Building Trust: This is mostly about vulnerability, when people are completely comfortable being transparent and honest. A good way to start is by having people share a little bit of their personal history. Behavioural profiling can also be valuable (although is overrated in my opinion). In these situations, the leader has to start first.
Behaviour 2 – Mastering Conflict: When there is a high level of trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. Conflict is healthy. Execs should foster this within their team as it ultimately leads to better decisions.
Behaviour 3 – Achieving Commitment: Conflict is important because a team can't achieve commitment without it. People will not actively commit to a decision if they haven't had the opportunity to provide input, ask questions, and understand the rationale. "Disagree and commit" is the well-known term to describe this. To prevent ambiguity in commitment, ensure you communicate exactly what was agreed upon.
Behaviour 4 – Embracing Accountability: Peer-to-peer accountability is the primary and most effective source of accountability on a leadership team. The more comfortable a leader is holding people accountable, the less likely they’ll be asked to do so.
Behaviour 5 – Focusing on Results: Execs need to be focused on the needs of the overall company, above the needs of their specific departments. Company goals over team goals.
This is about alignment – you want to create so much clarity that there is little room for confusion. Rather than spammy-sounding mission statements, focus on answering the following 6 questions:
Q1: Why do we exist? This is the underlying reason for the company existing. Start by asking “how do we contribute to a better world?” and remember, your reason for existing does not need to be a differentiator.
Q2: How do we behave? If an organisation is tolerant of everything, it will stand for nothing.
Q3: What do we do? This is a simple description of what the company does and should be very quick.
Q4: How will we succeed? Strategic anchors give you the ability to overcome distractions. 3 anchors is generally a good number.
Q5: What is most important right now? Every company that wants to create a sense of alignment and focus must have a single top priority within a given period of time. The goal should be singular, qualitative, time-bound (3-12 months) and shared across the LT. Supplement this with a set of standard operating objectives (evergreen stuff, i.e., BAU work)
Q6: Who must do what? The LT should individually write down their responsibilities – then compare them to ensure alignment and that nothing critical has been missed.
Great leaders see themselves as Chief Reminding Officers – employees won't believe something until they hear it repeatedly.
The LT team should leave meetings with clear and specific agreements about what to communicate to employees, and they cascade those messages quickly after meetings.
The goal is to institutionalise culture without bureaucratising it. To do this, you will need the following human system: recruiting and hiring, orientation, performance management, compensation and rewards, and recognition. A strong recognition system is often far more powerful and effective than monetary rewards.
Observing the LT during meetings is a great way to understand the health of a company. There are 4 basic types of meetings:
Daily Check-Ins: <10 mins, purely an exchange of information.
Tactical staff meetings.
Ad-hoc topical meetings: it's important to separate tactical conversations (above two) from strategic ones.
Quarterly off-site reviews.
The biggest factor determining whether an org will get healthier is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the person in charge.