The Advantage : Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni – 1st ed. pdf
This book is the result of an unpredictable journey, one that began when I was just a kid, probably eight or nine years old.
My dad was a salesman who was extremely good at what he did, but I remember that he’d often come home from work frustrated, complaining about how his company was being managed. I didn’t know what management was, but I was pretty sure my dad shouldn’t feel frustrated after putting in ten hours at work.
A few years later I started working, as a busboy in high school and a bank teller in college, and I had my first real glimpse of management. Although I still didn’t understand everything that it entailed, it was clear to me that some of the things that took place in the organization where I worked made sense, that others didn’t, and that it all had a very real impact on my colleagues and the customers we served.
After graduating from college, I went to work for a management consulting firm and thought I was finally going to figure out this management thing. Instead, I found myself doing data collection, data entry, data analysis, and a variety of other things that had to do with data.
To be fair, the firm taught me quite a bit about strategy and finance and marketing, but not much about organizations and how they should be run as a whole. But somehow I became convinced that the biggest problem our clients faced, and their biggest opportunity for competitive advantage, was not really about strategy or finance or marketing; it was something a little less tangible—something that seemed to revolve around the way they managed their organizations.
When I suggested that we look into that, my superiors politely informed me that this was not something our firm did for a living, which was ironic because we were a management consulting firm. But I had been hooked and decided I needed to change the focus of my career.
I spent the next few years working in corporate America in the world of organizational behavior or development or psychology—whatever you want to call it. I found it interesting, for sure, but ultimately too soft, fragmented, and academic. This bothered me because I knew that there was something that needed to be more widely appreciated and understood. But something was missing. Context. Integration. Practicality.
And so a group of colleagues and I started our own firm, and I began consulting and speaking about a practical approach to improving organizations. I have to admit that we were a bit surprised by just how quickly and enthusiastically clients responded to our approach. There was definitely a need out there. Over time it became clear that scores of people working in all kinds of organizations, at every level, were experiencing the same pain that my dad had, and they were hungry for a better way.
So I began writing books that took a practical approach to addressing various issues relating to organizational dysfunction—teamwork, meetings, alignment, employee engagement—while my firm’s consulting focused on the integration of all those topics.
Demand for those books, and for our integrated approach to implementing the concepts in them, far exceeded our expectations again, and I started to become convinced that we had found that missing something—that advantage—I had been searching for throughout my career. Based on the feedback and encouragement of readers and clients, I finally decided that at some point in the future, I should bring all of the ideas from my books and consulting practice together in one place. That time is now.
Unlike my other books, this one is not a fable but rather a comprehensive, practical guide. I’ve tried to make it as engaging and fun to read as possible using real-world examples and actual client stories to illustrate my ideas. It’s worth mentioning that many of the individual concepts I cover here have been introduced or touched on in one of my eight business fables—most notably, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary’ Executive; The Five Dysfunctions of a Team; Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars; and Death by Meeting—where I use fictional characters and plot situations to bring my theories to life.1 For those who would benefit from a narrative approach to a specific topic, I make reference to those books whenever possible.
Because I’m not a quantitative researcher, the conclusions I draw here are not based on reams of statistics or finely crunched data, but rather on my observations as a consultant over the past twenty years. But as Jim Collins, the research giant, once told me, qualitative field research is just as reliable as the quantitative kind, as long as clients and readers attest to its validity. And I’m happy to say that based on my experience with executives and their organizations, the principles in this book have proven to be as reliable as they are simple.
I hope you enjoy reading The Advantage and, more important, that it allows you to transform your organization, whether it is a corporation, a department within that corporation, a small entrepreneurial venture, a school, or a church. It’s my goal that one day in the future, the simple principles contained here will be common practice, and that salespeople, busboys, bank tellers, CEOs, and everyone else who works in an organization will be more productive, successful, and fulfilled as a result.