Book review: The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family, by Patrick Lencioni

I bought this book about a year ago, along with three other books written by Patrick Lencioni. I finally decided to read The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family in hopes of finding a few nuggets to help bring balance to my personal (family) life.

Not unlike the typical entrepreneur, I have a pretty intense professional life – and now that my son is more aware (he’s 2.5 years old), making time and having a strategy for family is not an option.


The book definitely addresses the pains and challenges of running a 21st century family. Similar to Lencioni’s other books, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family is a short fable. The story follows Theresa, a suburban soccer-mom with three children and an entrepreneur husband.

In her quest to find stability, structure, and sanity, Theresa unsuspectedly finds her answers in the philosophies of her husband’s consulting firm. The following are six important questions the firm asks their clients.

  1. Core purpose
    What is the ultimate reason you’re in business?
  2. Core values
    What are the essential characteristics that are inherent in your organization and that you could never knowingly violate?
  3. Business definition
    What specifically does your company do, and for whom?
  4. Strategy
    How do you go about doing what you do in a way that differentiates you from your competitors and gives you an advantage?
  5. Goals
    What is your biggest priority, and what do you need accomplish to achieve it? What is your “rallying cry”?
  6. Roles and responsibilities
    Who has to do what to achieve your goals?

Taking into account the above six questions, Theresa drills down and simplifies an already effective philosophy for businesses into something that every family can understand, learn, teach, and apply.

An expert from a Q&A with Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni - The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family

What is the link between running an organization and running a family?

There is a clear link between the two, though there are certainly differences. First, being a parent is primarily a leadership role. And while subordinates at work are not the same as children, there are requirements of being a leader in any context that apply across the board. Building trust, entertaining healthy conflict, inspiring commitment, holding people accountable and focusing on results are the hallmarks of leading any organization, be it a corporation, a professional football team, a church, a military squadron or a family.

And from an organizational standpoint, a family needs to have cohesive leaders and a clear plan with focus, and constant communication, no different from a business. However, we tolerate lack of focus and clarity at home that we would not accept at work. Again, this makes no sense because our families are more important than our jobs.

Download the full Q&A

Business lessons

Not only did I learn a few pretty solid philosophies on keeping a healthy and focused family, but I also got a lot of business schooling out of it. In fact, in our “State of the Nation” workshops, the team and I reviewed passages pertaining to the 6 questions, and now have incorporated the questions and our answers within our organization.

What I love most about this book and Lencioni’s other books, is that he takes complex business practices and philosophies and simplifies them in a fable that can be easily digested and applied.

Overall, the book is short (read in two sittings), to the point, and provides great insight and direction to ensure your organizational health is positive – both at home and at work.