CTech's Book Review: Understanding the 6 critical questions for leadership teams
Micha Breakstone Co-Founder and CEO of Neuralight.ai, shares insights after reading “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business” by Patrick Lencioni
Micha Breakstone is the Co-Founder and CEO of Neuralight.ai, an AI-driven platform to accelerate and improve drug development, monitoring, and care for patients with neurological disorders. He has joined CTech to share a review of “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business” by Patrick Lencioni.
Title: “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business”
Author: Patrick Lencioni
The book’s main thesis is that for an organization to succeed, reach its maximum potential, and thrive it must be (a) a smart organization; and (b) a healthy organization. Smart organizations don’t necessarily become healthy, but healthy organizations do become smart. So the main assertion of the book is that the key to any successful organization is to be a healthy one. But what is a healthy organization? The book defines it as an organization in which the vision, mission, values, strategy, and execution are aligned. Healthy organizations are characterized by high morale and productivity, and minimal churn, confusion, and conflicts. The book covers several highly actionable principles to turn your organization into a healthy one.
The book covers a wide range of themes including:
- A study of organizational health, why healthy organizations are successful, and why leaders tend to neglect organizational health. For example, often leaders think that health at an organization is “too simple a task”, many leaders prefer exhilarating tasks instead of “going slow to go fast”, and also there is a bias against tasks that are very hard to quantify.
- How to build a cohesive leadership team, including a discussion of size, responsibilities, and goal setting. Specifically, the book discusses the criticality of a leadership team for becoming a healthy organization, the commitment of leadership, and leading through example.
- Behavioral principles of a healthy organization, which include trust and vulnerability (similar to the notion of “psychological safety”), not to fear conflict, committing to decisions, accountability, and delivering results.
- Continuous reminding of purpose, values, strategy, and priorities.
- Discussion of human systems, and how they must be kept simple.
- Discussion of meetings, and their criticality to a healthy organization. Often leaders feel meetings are a waste of time, but leadership meetings are where cohesion and clarity originate. To resolve this, the book suggests four different types of meetings set in a defined context, setting, and cadence.
What I’ve Learned:
My key learning from the book was around the six critical questions for leadership teams, as an amazing company-building tool that maximizes efficiency and creates alignment in both thought and action. The six questions are:
- Why do we exist? Or in other words: what is the core purpose or the just cause of the organization? It should be entirely idealistic, grand, and aspirational. A hack to doing this is continuously asking “why” until you get to an answer like “make the world a better place”, your reason for existence is then the previous answer!
- How do we behave? This is a set of values or principles that guide the organization's behaviors and decisions and do not change over time. Usually, one should define two or three core values that articulate an organization’s character and should be deeply embedded and integrated into the day-to-day.
- What do we do? The answer to this question should articulate in plain English the business definition and basic activities of an organization. If question number one is the “why” then this question is the “what”.
- How will we succeed? This question is about strategy (which the book defines as “the collection of intentional decisions an organization makes to thrive”). The book recommends defining three strategic anchors that will inform every decision the organization makes. A beautiful quote is: “Many leadership teams struggle with not wanting to walk away from opportunities. Strategic anchors give them the clarity and courage to overcome these distractions and stay on course”.
- What is most important now? This helps address the organization's ADD and defines a single thematic goal, that is qualitative, temporary, and shared across the entire leadership team.
- Who must do what? A clear definition of each leader’s responsibilities.
Only for myself to be more rigorous about implementing the learnings.
Who Should Read This Book:
Any leader or aspiring leader at any organization.