The Importance of Organizational Health

Organizational HealthToday I want to review just a tiny portion of The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni – a book that a Rich recommended in the comments sections awhile ago. I really appreciated the tip because this book dovetails beautifully with everything I just learned on my Birkman certification course. The “advantage” Lencioni writes about is Organizational Health. His whole premise is that any organization that is healthy will have an advantage in its field. Why?


An organization that is healthy will inevitably get smarter over time. That’s because people in a healthy organization, beginning with the leaders, learn from one another, identify critical issues, and recover quickly from mistakes. Without politics and confusion getting in their way, they cycle through problems and rally around solutions much faster than their dysfunctional and political rivals do . . . In contrast, smart organizations don’t seem to have any greater chance of getting healthier by virtue of their intelligence. In fact, the reverse may actually be true because leaders who pride themselves on expertise and intelligence often struggle to acknowledge their flaws and learn from peers (p.9)

Lencioni says there are two requirements for success. You have to be smart in your strategy, marketing, finance and technology and you have to be healthy. He defines “healthy” as:

  • minimal politics
  • minimal confusion
  • high morale
  • high productivity
  • low turnover

If you’ve spent any time in the corporate world, you may have found that the opposite is true for many, many organizations. Why is that? Lencioni writes, “Most leaders prefer to look for answers where the light is better, where they are more comfortable. And the light is certainly better in the measurable, objective, and data-driven world of organizational intelligence (the smart side of the equation) than it is in the messier, more unpredictable world of organizational health” (p.7).

Figuring out the “human” element of “human resources” is definitely messy and unpredictable and that’s the beauty of the Birkman. It’s data-driven, objective and measurable. The data it provides takes some of the unpredictability away and maps it for us in terms of interests, usual behaviors, our actual motivational needs and stress behaviors when our needs aren’t met. It is specifically tailored to address communication issues and interpersonal conflicts, help managers maximize potential and guide individuals in finding their best career fit. You can use it manage more effectively, develop accurate job descriptions and make better hiring decisions.

Having worked in three different companies in the last five years, I’ve seen a variety of dysfunction firsthand and that’s exactly why I’m so excited to be a Birkman Consultant. I hate to see potential go to waste. I hate to see frustration and politics getting in the way of people being able to do their jobs well and enjoy them. And I think the Birkman gives people a phenomenal platform for addressing some of these core issues and become a healthy team.

Unfortunately, as Lencioni points out, many employers and managers view this kind of thing as optional, believing that “team building” has no impact on the bottom line, when in fact it’s the exact opposite: “The financial cost of having an unhealthy organization is undeniable: wasted resources and time, decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, and customer attrition. The money an organization loses as a result of these problems, and the money it has to spend to recover from them, is staggering” (p. 13).

By the end of this month, I plan to “officially” launch this business. Addressing organizational dysfunction and helping frustrated individuals will be my primary goals.

What do you think about this concept of Organizational Health? Got a story to share about it? And feel free to contact me if you want to jumpstart the Birkman process for yourself or your team!