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Book Review: The Advantage

CSR is growing and welcoming our first full time consultant in addition to Alex.  As part of this growth, we held a planning session last week.  After many experiences feeling trapped in a room while the team is led (or pushed) through a SWOT analysis, I was looking for a fresh approach to our planning session. I found the perfect approach in Patrick Lencioni’s newest book, The Advantage.  His premise that companies with a healthy culture are the most successful reminded me of Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust.  Trust, team dynamics and communication — all things that are more difficult to measure than net profit or number of clients — are nevertheless essential in order for an enterprise to succeed and reach its full potential.

In The Advantage, Lencioni departs from his usual fable-based approach and simply explains business truths and sprinkles some helpful examples from his own consulting work.  After making the case for how crucial organizational health is, he takes the reader through what he calls the four disciplines.  These are:

(1) Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

(2) Create Clarity

(3) Over-communicate Clarity

(4) Reinforce Clarity

When I came across a summary of the book, these four disciplines really struck a chord with me.  One of Alex’s hallmarks is fomenting a work culture within client companies that is built on a cohesive and collaborative leadership team.  One of his favorite maxims is, “Clarity is charity.”  And to top it all off, Alex is always reminding those of us around him to OVER-communicate.  As I pondered Lencioni’s method as explained in the book, I knew it was a perfect fit for our planning session.

As CSR’s leadership team is growing for the first time ever, the five of us focused on Discipline 2 (Create Clarity) to ensure we are all on the same page and to map out who we are as a company, where we are going and how we will get there.  Lencioni’s process of creating clarity is based on a series of six critical questions:

Why do we exist?

How do we behave?

What do we do?

How will we succeed?

What is most important right now?

Who must do what?

Working through each of these questions over the course of 5 or so hours truly did create clarity for the team.  Lencioni’s website for The Table Group was an invaluable source of tools we were able to use during our sessions.  Though the book is geared more towards large corporations, it proved easy to adapt to a small business like ours.  I highly recommend not only reading the book, but planning to concretely implement the methodology in your own business.  The principles apply to small companies and large corporations alike because they are based on the way human institutions work.  In fact, the exercises would make great fodder for family meetings…but that will have to be the topic of a future post.

~ María Rosa ~


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