How Healthy Is Your Organization?

Is it better to be smart or healthy?


Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group, explains that even though competence and health are both important factors in a business, we tend to lean on the side of competence because it is easier. 

Watch the video to learn more from Patrick about keeping a healthy organization.

Now, when I show most leaders this slide, "Healthy and Smart", they look at the Healthy side and they say, "Pat, I'd give my left leg for that, because that healthy stuff drives me crazy. I know it keeps me up at night; it costs our organization; it causes all kinds of problems. Man."

But then somehow, they drift over to the left side of the equation, the Smart side. They say, "I think I'll tweak the dials on the Smart side a little more." Why do they do that? Because they're like Lucille Ball in that episode of "I Love Lucy" where Ricky comes home from work and finds Lucy crawling around the living room on her hands and knees. And he says, "What are you doing?" She says, "I'm looking for my earrings." He says, "So you lost your earrings out here in the living room?" She says, "No, I lost them in the bedroom. The light out here, though, is much better."

And ladies and gentlemen, the light is better on the left side of this equation. Because this is an objective, measurable area. It's not emotional. The stuff in the healthy side is very emotional and messy and hard to measure and subjective. And so we're more comfortable on the left side. The problem is this: in this day and age of ubiquitous information and the Internet era, almost every organization is smart enough to succeed. I never go into a company and think, "Wow, this could be a great company. It's just these people are too dumb to make it work."

What's the thing we can do that's going to make our organizations even better? It's making them healthier. Because, you see, an organization's health is its multiplier of its intelligence. The healthier we are as an organization, the more of that intelligence we get to use. A really, really smart organization that's unhealthy—and I see a lot of them all the time—especially in the high tech arena, they tap into only a fraction of the knowledge they have.

Healthy organizations, like Southwest Airlines, they're not smarter than their competition. They don't have more PhDs and pay their people more and have more knowledge of the industry. You know what they are? Their culture is so healthy, so functional, that they tap into all the knowledge they have. And that analysts look at them and say, "They must be much smarter than their competition." But it's not about that. If we can build a healthy organization, we can make decisions that certainly look a lot smarter and we can thrive.

Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to providing organizations with ideas, products and services that improve teamwork, clarity and employee engagement.

Patrick’s passion for organiz...

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