I read Patrick Lencioni’s The 3 Big Questions For a Frantic Family over the past couple of months in different sittings. In short – it’s a strategic planning book for families, which sounds horrible and boring. But it’s not. If you didn’t know, I’m a strategic planning professor right now – but that doesn’t mean it’s a niche book.
What I like about this book, like a lot of Lencioni’s leadership fables is there is a simplicity that makes organization and leadership doable, sustainable, and worthwhile. It’s a great book not because it’s sophisticated, but because it’s simple in its strategy for helping parents take greater ownership in stewarding their family in line with their sense of purpose and values.
The 3 questions are basically?
- What makes our family unique?
This is a simple way of doing value and identity work. It’s important to get a working understanding of what your family is about and what you’re committed to. So this is a “vision and values” type of question but it’s framed simply.
- What is our top priority right now (rallying cry)?
This is a simple and family version of the rally cry/thematic goal Lencioni unpacks in Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars. But this is one of the most helpful things and I actually have utilized this concept in trying to lead our family. Right now our family rallying cry is, “To increase our family capacity and live with more joy and peace in a challenging city.” It’s a 2-6 month big picture goal that you can make significant progress towards that’s crucial for your family vision and values. A part of this is establishing some objectives and measurements to help you know you are going the right direction. He talks about defining objectives and standard objectives. Standard objectives are the more ongoing categories of life.
- How will we talk about these questions and help them stay alive?
This is a plan for communication and accountability.
So in some ways, it’s not rocket science. Lencioni does a good job illustrating that parents fail to exercise the same common sense and skills they might know in their work in the context of their family lives. He’s not advocating people lose the family vibe, but to just take the organizational leadership skills crucial to parenthood a little more seriously for the sake of more robust and value driven lives.
Go to tablegroup.com and download a 4-page summary as well as a worksheet you can use if you want to do some planning and prioritization for yourself or your family.
I’ve noticed that while many families may make some specific choices for the sake of values, most do not really plan intentionally in light of their true or desired values. We all save for vacations, but few are planning for family connection and intimacy. That’s where value driven planning can make a huge difference.