At Dixons, our commitment to organisational health has been longstanding; however, we have found the language and thinking of Patrick Lencioni, founder of Table Group, a source of inspiration that has offered us a helpful way to explain this to others. According to Lencioni, a successful organisation has to be two things: smart and healthy. A smart organisation is good at strategy, marketing, finance, and technology – the classic fundamentals and all those disciplines are important. However, as meaningful competitive advantages that make an organisation (or, in this case, a school) significantly more highly performing or a significantly better place to work or learn, they are no longer anything close to what they once were. What he is talking about is organisational health. It is simple, reliable and virtually free.
A healthy organisation has minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale and productivity, and very low turnover among their best employees. Even the smartest organisation or school will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. Conversely, a healthy organisation or school will always find a way to succeed because, without politics and confusion, it will inevitably become smarter and tap into every bit of intelligence and talent that it has.
According to Lencioni, there are four simple but difficult steps or disciplines to achieving long-term, sustainable success. At Dixons, we are taking these steps:
1. Build a cohesive leadership team
A team that is committed to do the ongoing work of developing and maintaining a high-performing team.
2. Create clarity
There are six simple but critical questions that need to be answered, eliminating all discrepancies among team members (see here for our answers).
3. Overcommunicate clarity
Once a leadership team has become cohesive and established clarity around the six critical questions, they need to communicate the answers to employees over and over again.
4. Reinforce clarity
Organisational clarity (the six critical questions) must become embedded into the fabric of the organisation.
Organisational health requires hard work and courage; it is Sisyphean – staff, students and families work together getting the small things right every day.
The individual elements of our approach at Dixons are not that revolutionary, it’s the way we do those things with rigour, the way we keep things as simple as possible that others have said has led to our success.