Organizational Health and Your Competitive Advantage

Precise Measurements Needed for Designing More Effective Organizational Performance and Change

Why Does Organizational Health Matter?

Before discussing organizational health, let’s quickly address why organizational health matters. Please take a moment to watch this brief video from acclaimed business management author and speaker Patrick Lencioni, in which he describes what sets a healthy organization apart:

“The health of an organization is the multiplier of its intelligence.”

– Patrick Lencioni


organizational health assessment - graphic

Work Systems Associates has extensively researched and tested our Organizational Health Assessment model

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that it is almost impossible to sustain any real competitive advantage for any length of time based on business strengths such marketing, strategy, technology or finance.

Rather, those organizations that have indeed been able to set themselves apart and build lasting, sustainable competitive advantage have done so through their culture: they have managed to create a culture that is so healthy and so whole that it is very difficult to duplicate. The result is an organization with minimal politics, little confusion about its mission, very high employee morale and off-the-charts productivity.

Strong organizational health enables you to build a culture where leaders work well together, people communicate and understand what’s important and what’s going on, and you are able to tap into the knowledge, skill and passion of virtually your entire team.

What is an Organizational Health Assessment?

Our Organizational Health Assessment is a thoroughly researched diagnostic system tool that assesses the human side of your enterprise … from which your culture is determined.

  • It allows your organization to compare itself to a benchmark of how the best companies are performing
  • It significantly improves the effectiveness of your organizational development efforts
  • It identifies the real roadblocks to change in your organization
  • It identifies the hidden elements that need to be addressed in order for change and development initiatives to succeed
  • It makes it easy for you and your executive team to understand, agree on and set priorities for the organizational issues that don’t necessarily show up on your financial statements
  • It ensures the important human factors affecting organizational health performance are being measured and monitored
  • It provides time tested information, validated for over a decade of organizational development effort
  • It provides accurate measurements that are validated to be accurate through extensive statistical research

Organizational Health Assessment Overview Video

What is Meaasured in a Health Assessment?

The organizational health assessment measures three major areas (Vision, Culture & Practices, and Individual Work). These areas are broken down into nine major sub-focus areas that are further broken down into 31 action items. An organizational health assessment report identifies clear areas where action needs to be taken.

Extensive research was conducted to ensure measures are focused on the human factors that truly affect organizational performance.

For a more detailed history of the Work Systems organizational health assessment and how it was developed, click here: How the Organizational Health Assessment was Developed.

Accurate Information For Improving the Human Side of Enterprise

Our Organizational Health Assessment measures identify where your organization is strong and where development work is required. It identifies where management has executed well and where performance has been weak.

When your organizational health assessment scores are low, the architecture for any change initiative must be adjusted to add skills and organization development effort as part of your operational and strategic change initiative.

Why is Organizational Health Assessment Information Valuable to an Executive?

The organizational health assessment information is valuable to you as an executive because it reveals the following:

  1. Why your organization is not as responsive as you’d like it to be.
  2. The inner workings of the organization to identify where it is not functioning properly. Like an MRI informs a trained physician what is happening in a patient the ODS can do the same for a human enterprise.
  3. The view of the organization from an employee’s perspective.
  4. How people enjoy their work.
  5. The anonymity provided by the ODS enables an employee to answer truthfully.
  6. The gap between what the Senior Executives believe is happening and what the Managers and Individuals state is really happening.
  7. Where investing in organizational development will provide the best return by leveraging the existing strengths of the organization.
  8. Where the company is relative to what other companies have achieved. The ODS provides a benchmark and an average from our database of over 130 companies and 20,000 individuals who have taken the ODS over the years.
  9. Where the organization is today, thereby creating a baseline for any changes the executive team may wish to introduce to measure progress.
  10. What aspects of the company’s culture the team can leverage when a change is needed. It will also provide information about how to get the quickest return on investment (low hanging fruit) for any change initiative.
  11. The organization’s response to 31 action items clearly enables executives to see and discuss the actual “data” rather than their own “opinions” about what changes need to be made.
  12. Differences in the performance of departments or divisions where one group is doing better than another group for no apparent reason. The ODS will create a well informed dialogue with the senior team if a department by department survey is done allowing cross company comparison.
  13. Provide the executive team to give the workforce the feedback that their voices and opinions have been heard and at the same time signal the company is planning to change culture.
  14. Pointing out potential roadblocks when contemplating a culture change so that action can be taken to deal with them before the change is launched.
  15. Provides a snapshot of how your organization is functioning at three levels:
    • Individual Contributors offer their viewpoint and attitude
    • Managers offer their perceptions separately
    • Executives get a reality check on their beliefs – what they think is going on

Creating Meaningful Measures

health assessment scores - graphic

At Work Systems Canada, we have expended a great deal of effort to solve the problem of confusing scores that is characteristic of most organizational health diagnostic systems.

The chart above shows how confusion is created.

When the range of response for different companies varies with the question, it is hard to make a meaningful conclusion.

The chart shows the variation of scores that can exist for different questions:

  • The maximum score achieved by any company
  • The average score achieved by all the companies
  • The lowest score received by any company

Let’s briefly take a look at how your organizational health assessment data is reported so you can make meaningful comparisons of your own performance to that of other companies.

Meaningful Measures Compare You to Other Companies

The WSA Organizational Diagnostic System compares one company’s scores to a database of other companies. The above chart shows that a comparison to other companies is the only way to get a meaningful measure. For each question, the average of all companies varies from 3.8 to 7 on a 7 point scale. This means a score of 5 can be way above or well below average.

BenchMarks and LowMarks
organizational health benchmark - graphic
After extensive statistical testing, WSA identified a separate normal range for each question. Company scores are reported compared to the range. In this range:

  • 100 = scoring better than 85% of companies
  • 50 = scoring average
  • 0 = scoring worse than 85% of all companies
  • Most companies score within this range

Meaningful Measures – Easy to Understand

organizational health response range - graphicThe chart on the left shows how each survey question has a different “Maximum” and “Minimum” score and a different score range in which most (70%) companies have responded.

Now understanding scores is easy.

Instead of typical survey numbers which are very difficult to interpret your scores are compared to the normal response range.

For example, a score of 5 might be a good score (question 9) or a poor score (Question 2). Now instead of looking at your score number WSA compares you to the range. The result is a meaningful organizational diagnostic,

This simple way of displaying the data enables a meaningful organizational diagnostic process to begin.

Easily Identify Current Competence and Improvements

health assessment before and after - graphic
The chart to the right shows a clear need for improvement (the blue bars) and substantial progress after 2.5 years of development effort (the red bars).

The organizational health assessment provides a simple report format to compare where your organization excels, where it needs to develop or where improvement has occurred.


EXAMPLE: Q110 asks about having a “Short term vs. Long term view”. The change demonstrated is a dramatic shift of the company to a more planful work style.

Your Organizational Health Report Card

When you work with us to complete your organizational health assessment, you end up with a report card on the multiple performance dimensions of your organization:

  • Middle management leadership
  • Training programs in place
  • Employee appraisal system
  • Compensation and Bonus programs
  • And many more …

Interested in Learning More About our Organizational Health Assessment Theme?

At WSA Canada, our seasoned team of executive-level consultants works with you and your executive team to custom craft the organizational health assessment around the specific needs of your team and organization.

To discuss how this unique and extensive approach to building vibrant organizational health might work for your organization Contact Work Systems Canada Today.