Smart vs Healthy: Two Requirements for Success

Lionel Grealou Business Operations Strategy 3 minutes

Photo credit: Oblivion movie

Patrick Lencioni argues in his book The Advantage that “being smart is only half the equation in a successful organisation“. The other half of the equation, the one that is largely neglected, is about being healthy.

SMART organisations excel in subjects like strategy, marketing, finance and technology – while HEALTHY organisations are particularly concerned with minimal politics, minimal confusion, better alignment, higher engagement and morale, high productivity and high talent retention.

Patrick Lencioni, 2012

While the above statement is simple, this alignment requirement translates into the ability of an organisation to define and articulate a compelling vision combined with a well-articulated strategy and implementation roadmap that is supported by its operating culture and climate. Simply put, an organisation is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified.

Organisations spend 98 % of their time on being SMART when competitive advantage lies in being HEALTHY.

Effective teamwork, collaboration and integration are the three core enablers of ‘getting things done‘. Fundamentally, every initiatives require a combination of talents, functions and trades which collectively aim at delivering what no single individual or trade can do alone. Not only, each team and individual have to be successful, but most importantly, the team have to work cohesively together, at all levels, in a trust environment to ensure that their combined efforts are delivering collective success.

When performance is measured, performance improves; when performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates

Successful organisations demonstrate excellence in executing its strategy and delivering its services, while being effective at understanding, interacting with, adapting to, and shaping its situation and external environment. To achieve organisational health, Lencioni (2012) advocates that leaders must createover-communicate and reinforce clarity to their teams on six key questions:

  1. Why do we exist? — reaffirming the core purpose of the organisation / team and inspiring everyone to support it; obviously, this requires more than simply elaborating vision-mission-value statements, but also relating to how it translates into “everything that we do” across all key functions (not simply the most obvious ones)
  2. How do we behave? — elaborating and reinforcing the identity of the organisation / team, cascading and elaborating on the required behaviours from core values to the way that its operates on a day to day basis
  3. What do we do? — defining and maintaining effective operations which are geared towards supporting the continuous development of differentiated solutions andservices
  4. How will we succeed? — aligning objectives across functions against common organisational strategic statements which define how the operations and differentiators are implemented
  5. What is most important, right now? — determining priorities, what metrics to measure them against, and then set a disciplined set of meeting rhythms to ensure continuous communication and alignment
  6. Who must do what? — implementing routines and operational tracking measures and governance to ensure ownership and execution clarity

Ultimately, operational results will drive strategy enhancements and give the organisation the ability to invest further into its future. No matter the strategy, every functions and teams must align and work toward the same objectives and plans; the organisation’s support functions and enterprise tools (financial planning, forecasting, cost tracking, resourcing, delivery realisation, supplier chain, etc.) must align to the operational requirements (hygiene factors for effective governance and execution) to deliver success.

What are your thoughts?


  • Lencioni P (2012) The Advantage: Why Organisational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 28 November 2017.

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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