Review: The Advantage

Book Title:  The AdvantageThe-Advantage

Author: Patrick Lecioni

Year Published: 2013

In One Sentence: Organizational health is vital for sustainable and successful organizations.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5 stars, a very good text

Review

Patrick Lencioni has developed a  well earned reputation for being a leading edge writer addressing some of the key issues and practices which make, or break, successful businesses. Through several best selling books, Lencioni has often presented his analysis and recommendations through stories or fables. In The Advantage, Lencioni moves away from this pattern and crafts a straightforward text that leverages stories and examples from his own consulting experience to speak to his central idea.

At the outset of his first chapter, Lencioni states his big idea for the text: “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 anyone who wants it.” (1)

Over eight chapters, The Advantage walks through its presentation of what organizational health is and some specific actions which create and sustain it for organizations. The chart to the left here is a version of the one found in the book. Its four quadrants explain the four disciplines which lead to and build healthy organizations.

Each of the disciplines are essential to organizational health and Lencioni does well to explain and give examples of how each one works. While it is too simplistic to do, indeed the book works out each point appropriately, they do ultimate boil down to:

1. Having a cohesive team

2. Being able to communicate clarity well

Having been part of a number of organizations in the church world, this book is definitely a reinforcement of how some organizations have gotten it and others have missed it. As a kind of addendum to the chapters on the four disciplines, there is a helpful chapter on why it is essential to have great meetings. As I read through this chapter I was reminded of a number of good points from his other book, The Five Disfunctions of a Team. The main portion of the text wraps up with a five page charge that reinforces the essentials of the text.  Finally, there is a checklist for all the disciplines that have been discussed in the text.

Interaction

The book is very good and if you haven’t read any of Lencioni’s other texts it does well to act as a kind of capstone text that brings together many of his best ideas. (This isn’t to say you shouldn’t read the other ones, but there isn’t an intellectual penalty if you haven’t.) We’ve all been part of organizations that rise or fall on this issue of organizational health. Particularly for churches, health should be intrinsic to what we do but it often is overlooked.

For ministry leaders, this is a great book to have your principal leaders go through during a two day retreat. If, as leaders, we think health can be ignored we are just pushing off difficult days. Our people thrive on properly articulated and communicated clarity about goals and vision. (Proverbs 29:18)

There isn’t much I found to disagree with in the text. Lencioni writes clearly (which is important for book about clarity) and often has great lines. A couple of concepts would be challenging to incorporate if not handled by a consultant (e.g. the strategy ameba.)

Bottom line: this is a very good text that will help organizations, including churches, find the kind of life giving health to be sustainable.

Have you read The Advantage? What did you think? What are some of the things you think are central to building healthy organizations?