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Too Good To Be True?

By Patrick Lencioni - April 2017

You know that feeling when you discover something that seems too good to be true, and you have a hard time convincing someone of it? People listen to you and begin to wonder, what’s the catch? That’s how I feel about organizational health.

See, I am convinced that making a dysfunctional organization healthy is the best thing a leader can do in order to achieve a real competitive advantage in the market, and it’s the best way to make your employees become more fulfilled and productive at work. On top of all that, it’s largely free.

See what I mean? It can’t possibly be true, can it? I wouldn’t believe it if I heard it from someone else. So let me try to explain it as best I can, starting with competitive advantage.

Over the years, ambitious executives have always looked for ways to get a leg up on their competitors by implementing the latest new idea or concept before everyone else did. In the 80s, when I graduated from college, it was all about ‘strategy.’ Next came ‘quality.’ For much of the past two decades, it has been largely about technology.

The thing about new ideas is that they eventually become so well-known and widely adopted that they become something of a standard, which reduces the opportunity for competitive advantage. Consider that today even smaller, relatively unsophisticated companies have adopted state-of-the-art strategies, quality programs and technology solutions. We can thank the ubiquity of information and the affordability of technology for that.

So what’s left? Where is the next opportunity for serious, substantial advantage?

The best way to go about answering that question is to look for real pain points in the world of business that have been largely unaddressed. And that’s where organizational health comes into play. After twenty years of working with CEOs and their organizations, I’m convinced that the majority of companies in the world—yes, the majority—are riddled with levels of politics and confusion that drive leaders and employees (and customers) equally mad. And yet, we’ve come to accept this as an inevitability in business, a form of corporate penance, if you will.

But what if there were a way to drastically reduce those problems, and raise productivity and morale at the same time? Wouldn’t that be worth doing? And wouldn’t any CEO want his or her company to be the first kids on the block to do it? That’s what organizational health (OH) is all about.

But don’t take my word for it. CEOs and leaders who have implemented OH in their organizations would tell you that they have stronger, more cohesive leadership teams, that they’ve achieved real alignment around the handful of critical questions where they need to agree, they have a solid plan for communicating to their employees and they’ve established some simple but essential human systems to support what they are trying to do.

There are very few things in life, and even fewer in business, where the right decision and the best decision are one in the same. After twenty years in business consulting to organizations all across the world, I am utterly convinced that what is best for your company, best for your employees, best for your customers and best for your bottom line is a wholehearted commitment to organizational health. It isn’t too good to be true.