Saturday, 15 December 2012

Achieving Organisational Clarity

Today's post relates to one of the books written by Patrick Lencioni – if you have already followed me you may know that he is one of my favorite writers. The book is titled 'The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family. A Leadership Fable'. The concept of the book is that any family is a small organisation and that, as any organisation, should and can achieve organisational clarity.

The marginalia below which are extracted from the book, relate to achieving organisational clarity within a business context (if you were keen on knowing more about how to transfer those concepts into the family I would strongly recommend reading this book since the author makes the analogy easy to follow).

In one of the chapters titled 'Business School' the character – a business consultant - explains that the executive team of any company should focus on answering some fundamental questions in order to get organisational clarity:

  1. Core Purpose: What is the ultimate reason you are in business?

    Companies need to remember why they exist so they don't lose their way and start getting into markets and business that are not consistent with what they're all about. And they need to give their employees a sense of purpose.”

  1. Core Values: What are the essential characteristic that are inherent in your organisation and that you could never knowingly violate?

    Core values...those are the traits or qualities that are fundamental parts of an organisation's culture...You don't make them up, you just look around and describe what's already true...what you are at your core.(The author gives a clear explanation about the difference between 'core values' and 'aspirational values'. “Aspirational values' are the ones you wish you had because it would make your organisation better...it is not a reality by definition, which is why an organisation would aspire to adopt it”).

  1. Business definition: What specifically does your company do, and for whom?

    That is a description of what a company does...Some companies don't really agree on whether they are a product or a service company. Others have quite disagreements about what line of business they should be in...It is important to get the definition right before moving on.”

  1. Strategy: How do you go about doing what you do in a way that differentiates you from your competitors and gives you an advantage?

    Only after you have figured out what your company does, why it does it, and what it stands for...then you have to figure out how you are going to go about doing it...that way everything the company does, every decision it makes, is done for a reason...The most common problem in companies is that they do not have a strategy...they make decisions without anything to guide them and so they end up with a collection of actions that do not fit together. Before they know what's going on, the company has no direction and is just being reactive and opportunistic, chasing down every new idea without knowing why”. (The author then explains the usefulness for companies to determine three strategic anchors, three big areas of strategic focus”... “You have to focus on what is most important . Also he explains the difference between a core value and a strategic anchor: “core values do not change over time, strategies do”).

  1. Goals: What is your biggest priority, and what do you need to accomplish to achieve it?

    If everything is important, nothing is”...The character in the book explains this saying as “that's what having a top priority is all about. Making something most important so that nothing distracts the organisation from achieving it. It's about rallying people around one big thing at a time...Companies need to have a clear overall priority which gives them context, and then the basic building blocks of that priority (The author explains that after having decided about one top goal called the 'Rallying Cry' – which should have a time frame no shorter than two months and no longer than one year – companies would need to identify its 'Defining objectives' and 'Standard Objectives'. 'Defining objectives' describe basic categories of things you have to do to achieve the rallying cry while 'Standard objectives' identify the regular, ongoing things to do and to pay attention to in order to achieve it).

  1. Roles and responsibilities: Who has to do what to achieve your goals?
...everyone on the executive team knowing what they have to do when the meeting is over to accomplish whatever it is that they have agreed to do”.



Finally, one more important thing highlighted in the book relates to the role of communication and the relevance of conducting effective and quality discussion for keeping organisational clarity alive. Meetings for example, would be essential to assess progress against the achievements of the rallying cry, its defining and standard objectives and discussing those areas that are in more need of attention.

While I do hope these marginalia have been useful to you in some way, at the same time as always, I do encourage you to fully enjoy the original source!