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A Leadership Fable About Restoring Sanity To The Most Important Organization In Your Life

Author: Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors and his fables make his message interesting to read as a story and easy to learn from.  This fable resonated for me since it looks to apply business skills and strategy to your home life, which I’m often finding myself striving to do anyway.  This book is based on the premise that even successful  business people with well structured knowledge and strategy business practice typically lack the application of any such strategy or even goals for managing their own families.  As a result, we have frantic families with nothing more than organized chaos and no clear direction or strategy for being operated.  This story explores that from the point of view of a stay at home mom, Theresa, of one of these successful business strategists.

The family of Theresa and husband, Jude, is introduced showing all the classic signs of family overload with the Jude having a busy work life and some travel away form home while the 3 kids in the family consume enormous effort with all their programs, volunteering and sports they are involved in which of course, create a hectic daily schedule.   As day to day life seems to get in the way of what Theresa and Jude wish their family to be like, an argument erupts and Jude makes the statement, “if my clients ran their companies the way we run this family, they’d be out of business.”  This sets Theresa off on a mission to discover what really is it then that Jude’s strategy consulting firm gives clients and she looks to apply that to their own family.  She discovers and applies a set of questions from the strategy consulting to the family model and uses these to shape a new found purpose, control and direction for her family.  This is all shaped into 3 big questions.

Question #1: What makes your family unique?

This section looks at core values that really define your family to be unique.  Not just any values you want or aspire to, but actual core values that clearly define your family.  The book through both the story and through the model outline at the end give many examples of how to then turn this into a short paragraph that defines the family, its purpose and the values that it adheres to in accomplishing its purpose.

Question #2: What is your family’s top priority rallying cry right now?

Evey family has an area to work on, solve or stress to relief at any time and this section is to define that focus area and get the family working together to make that rallying call happen.  This could be anything from spending more quality time together, to finishing a renovation to getting a kid to college.  Whatever it is, the family should be focused to achieve it and working together consistently to make it happen.  It can also be used to align short term decision making with what is priority for the family, especially when a new activity or event could get in the way of that rallying cry!

Question #3: How are we going to talk about and use the answers to these questions?

This last question is a way to plan the family strategy and make commitments around them.  Setting up some kind of review of progress, communication towards the goals on a regular basis and fixed times to talk or share important events and decisions as they come up.  This should include how to talk about areas as parents as well as with any children in the family or extended family that are directly involved.  Planning the communication strategy to answer questions about priorities and if the family is making progress towards those only helps to bring the family together to achieve the rallying cry.
So, there is lots to learn from all of Lencioni’s books and this book is no exception.  It’s an engaging story that teaches the ideas well and the examples and struggles are easy to relate to and apply in your own life and family. I definitely recommend it!

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