This is a continuation of my LinkedIn blog series on Jim Collins’ best seller “Good to Great” which examines the common thread of companies that have went from good companies to sustainable GREAT companies over a period of time. (View my previous posts: “Good to Great” By Jim Collins and “My LinkedIn Blog Series “Good to Great”: Are You a Level 5 Leader?)
Now I must warn you, as I did in my first post letting you know that I would be doing this series, that I will be challenging some of Jim’s concepts—-not because they are wrong but because some of his concepts may not fit neatly or make sense in the context of operating a small business. Jim’s “Good to Great” book focuses on publicly traded companies, multi-national, multi-million, multi-employee companies. The purpose of this blog series is to take those concepts and apply them to small growing businesses.
Now….there is a chapter in “Good to Great” that talks about getting the right people ON the company bus and the wrong people OFF the bus. I think we all can agree as business owners that this is a vitally important concept because you are only as strong as your weakest link in any organization. One of my favorite sayings is “Hire character. Train Skill.” The reason I think that is SO important is because you cannot teach someone passion, integrity, honesty, hard work but you can teach someone over time what their job function entails, at least in theory.
But here is where I disagree with Jim Collins. He suggests that you hire the right people FIRST, and then decide STRATEGY. Now as important and vital as I think it is for businesses to get the right people on board with their business and vision, I find it hard to be able to find the right people unless you know what your business strategy is—where you want the business to go. Now maybe Jim believes that the company’s business strategy should be decided by the right people that are hired. Fair enough. But I don’t think that is necessarily the case and leads to a circular argument—-if you hire the “right people” that come up with the company’s business strategy, what is that strategy doesn’t fit with the best fit for the company? Then you have the right people, right strategy fitting with the wrong company.
Instead, I posture this: That as business leaders we come up with the overall company strategy (vision, mission, objectives, etc.) in a general way. And then we find the “right people” to help us accomplish our strategy. It may sound novel but I just can’t imagine not having a road map and guide for when I am writing out a job description to seek applicants of what questions to ask during interviews. Without a strategy, how do I know who the “right” person is? Sorry Jim. I just don’t agree with your strategy. But we both agree that the RIGHT people are vital to any business growth.
Discussion Question: Do you agree with my theory or Jim Collins’ about the priority of strategy and hiring the “right” people?
Attorney Dar’shun Kendrick is the owner of Kendrick Law Practice, LLC, a boutique business law firm in Decatur, GA focused on keeping growing Georgia business owners “IN business and OUT of Court” through a variety of customized business and legal services. She has an M.B.A. as well as serves in the Georgia House of Representatives.