Although I have used the models and tools for Organisational health for many more years than I have been a *CapaPro member, I have only recently been using them from “*soup to nuts” as The Table Group like to say. Each model and tool, i.e. The 5 dysfunctions of a team or The Ideal Team player which are from books with the same names can be used as stand alone interventions with great success, but it has only been in the last two years that I have seen the power of using them as they were intended, as a journey to organisational health.
Sadly, what I have also discovered is that not every one is excited to go on the journey. And I totally get it. There are a lot of “team building” things that are fun in the moment, but don’t actually change anything. And look, I am not being “judgey" here, because I have actually been guilty of running them myself. The trouble is, it does not matter how fun, flash or clever your offsite is, if it doesn’t end in meaningful work being done that will actually change what will happen on Monday morning, it is all for nothing.
I started out as a trainer, so I have seen all sorts of training interventions and styles. I also have a passion to learn so have done many courses myself in pursuit of growth. I have seen the "fluffy lets hold hands and hum to build unity" to the cold and calculated "this is how to manipulate persuade people out of their money” to the “trust-falling team building” courses. Some of them had nuggets of gold in them for sure, but I quickly became disillusioned with the industry that over promised and under-delivered. This is why I moved over to coaching, because coaching ensures you have Accountability, Backing, Consistency and someone to hold a space for you to have those aha moments, and that is how lasting change happens.
So I get why leaders would be jaded and cynical about doing another offsite, their time is precious and limited and they have been burnt before. This is a shame because organisational health is very different and isn’t touchy-feely, and as Patrick Lencioni puts it: “it's far bigger and more important than mere culture. The health of an organisation provides the context for strategy, finance, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organisation’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.”
It does require courageous leaders who have to, as Lencioni, put’s in in his book, The Advantage, “humble themselves enough to overcome the three biases that prevent them from embracing it.”
So what are the 3 biases?
The Sophistication Bias: Organisational Health is so simple that leaders find it hard to see how it can give them a meaningful advantage. Frankly, they just think it is beneath them. It doesn’t require great intelligence or sophistication, in fact it is just common sense, but it does require huge levels of it as well as discipline, courage, and persistence.
The Adrenaline Bias: It takes time to become a healthy organisation, it requires patience and most leaders are hooked on the daily rush of activity and rush of adrenaline which comes with firefighting. It is far more exciting coming to the rescue than slowing down to deal with the critical but not urgent things that make an organisation healthy. It seem mundane and boring. Even Formula One drivers, who love the thrill of the chase, understand how critical the pit stop is. As the old race-car drivers’ axiom goes “you have to slow down in order to go fast."
The Quantification Bias: It is hard to quantify the benefits of becoming a healthy organisation, even though the benefits can be powerfully felt in one’s that are healthy. For those leaders who are very analytical, they find it hard to accept because it relies on a level of conviction and intuition. Organisational health permeates through so many aspects of a company it would be hard to quantify, but like companies like SouthWest Airlines, they are known and celebrated for it. They are miles in front of their competitors because of it. It is what gives them their competitive edge.
So how do I invite leaders to take a journey with me to pursue the simple, but by no means easy, path to organisational health? Well, for now it is by doing the mahi with those who are willing to put their biases aside and to partner with them and serve them with all of my heart, mind and energy as they courageously become pioneers and lead the way, against the tide of cool and on trend. I have found a few who are willing to lean in, do the mahi and cut new paths. Watch this space.
*Consultant and practitioner alliance. A profession network of The Table Group.
*soup to nuts refers to from beginning to end.