Peer to Peer Magazine

September 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 85 of 107

THE CEO'S FOUR DISCIPLINES As CEO, Rich refocuses his leadership priorities on the four disciplines that he has identified, enumerating them as follows: • Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team • Create organizational clarity • Overcommunicate organizational clarity • Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems Armed with his fresh realizations, Rich re-engages with his firm in a vital, energizing manner, addressing festering issues with his executive team and striving for new levels of constructive interaction. However, not all problems can be exposed and resolved through more effective meetings and productive offsite activities. A disaffected member of Rich's team who is preoccupied with his own agenda and whose number-one priority is to protect himself is simply unable to adopt a new set of behaviors. And he is also in a position to undermine the CEO's initiatives and reverse the positive direction of the firm. The health of Rich's organization takes a sudden, sharp downturn, and the hit quickly translates into significant losses. And what of Vince, the underdog rival? That disaffected executive, knowing that his place on Rich's team is insecure, can be Vince's key to gaining an edge on the competition once and for all. When the 'Four Obsessions' become game pieces in a showdown, Rich's grasp of his leadership role is put to a final test. PRINCIPLES AT WORK IN LIFELIKE SCENARIOS The virtue of fiction as a teaching device is that the author can both lead us through the characters' experiences and thought processes, so that the ideas unfold to us with the power of revelation, and also show us how the principles work in practice. Moreover, the author can offer us vivid counterexamples to contrast the use of effective techniques with the results of their absence. It is Lencioni's gift to be able to do this, creating believable situations in a business setting, recognizable characters and authentic-sounding dialogue. We don't see a storyteller pulling the strings of puppets whose function is to prove his points. Rather, we sense that Lencioni may have been eavesdropping in workplaces exactly like ours. As he says in his introduction: "This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real life is purely unavoidable." Like the fables of old, Lencioni's tale does not leave us to work out the moral for ourselves. The lesson concludes with a summary of his model for organizational health. A guide for implementing each of the four disciplines comes with practical criteria for assessment and recommendations for intervention. He leaves us with the implication that the four obsessions of the extraordinary executive, classically simple but not easy, are not beyond the reach of the committed CEO; instead, adopting and practicing these disciplines can make the executive extraordinary. ILTA THE BUNDLE OF STICKS [A Fable of Aesop] A man had several sons who could not get along. The man was determined to put an end to their quarreling. "Bring me a bundle of sticks," he commanded. Handing the bundle to his eldest son, he said: "Break it." No matter how hard he tried, the son could not break the bundle. "Now each of you try," said the man, but the other sons likewise failed. The father untied the bundle and handed a stick to each son, who snapped it in two without difficulty. "Together you can stand against your enemies," said the man. "But if you let your quarrels drive you apart, see how easily you can be attacked and defeated." In union there is strength. Meredy Amyx is a writer and editor with three decades of experience in the high-tech industry in the heart of Silicon Valley. She has edited hundreds of thousands of pages of technical documentation and related materials, as well as nontechnical content such as novels, memoirs, essays and short stories. She is a member of the Bay Area Editors' Forum, is an active member of the South Bay Branch of California Writers Club and has won a number of prizes for her writing. She can be reached at Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 87

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