The Advantage and the Fundamentals System™

By David Friedman, CEO/Founder

One of my favorite business books is Patrick Lencioni’s best-seller, The Advantage:  Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.  Like all of Lencioni’s work, it’s straightforward and down-to-earth, and presents a simple, logical formula for building a great organization.  Not surprisingly, many of our clients are advocates (and practitioners) of this approach, and they’ve had great success blending the Fundamentals System™ right into Lencioni’s approach to achieve even greater effectiveness.  Let me use this blog to offer some insights into how they do this.

Organizational health governs speed

Lencioni astutely notes that, regardless of how smart your strategy is, or how high-powered your marketing plan may be, the true rate-determining factor in your success is how “highly functioning” or “healthy” your organization is.  For example, you may have a brilliant strategy, but if you have a dysfunctional group of people, you’re not going to get very far.

He then goes on to identify the four disciplines of organizational health:

  1. Building a cohesive leadership team
  2. Creating clarity
  3. Over-communicating clarity, and
  4. Reinforcing clarity

Notice the obvious emphasis on organizational clarity.  To put it simply, everyone in the organization must be on the “same page.”  Lencioni articulates 6 questions that everyone needs to understand in order to achieve this clarity:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What’s most important, right now?
  6. Who must do what?

The Fundamentals System, and its emphasis on behaviors (vs. values) provides a degree of clarity about how we behave (Q2 from above) that helps employees understand exactly what’s expected.  While this represents a slight departure, in form, from Lencioni’s work, it’s entirely consistent in spirit.  Lencioni tries to answer the behavior question by articulating 4 different types of values, which, in my experience, are a bit confusing and tend to cloud the issue more than create clarity.  To be sure, the goal isn’t to create a set of values.  It’s to create a clear understanding of how we behave, and the Fundamentals do that in a way that’s easy for everyone to get.

Operationalizing the culture

To take it a step further, the Fundamentals System provides the actual means to operationalize the culture.  Notice that Lencioni’s 3rd discipline is about over-communicating clarity.  The weekly rituals that are so integral to the Fundamentals approach do exactly that.  They provide repeated and consistent opportunities to drive the message home.

The Fundamentals System also provides the structure to deliver on Lencioni’s 4th discipline – reinforcing clarity.  From coaching guides to eMinder™ to CultureWise™ to the Video Tutorial series to surveys, the Fundamentals System equips organizations with a set of tools that makes it easy to reinforce the clarity that’s so important to success.

Here’s the easiest way to think of it:  Lencioni provides the framework for organizing what it takes to be successful.  The Fundamentals System gives you the tools and the methodology to more easily implement major elements of that framework.  Together, it’s a powerful combination.

If you’d like to learn more about how these two approaches can be combined for greater speed and effectiveness, just give us a call or shoot us an email. Or consider joining us and other leaders for Culture Summit 2017.

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