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First who, then what

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Uploaded on Mar 24, 2011

FIRST WHO.... THEN WHAT - an extract from Good-to-Great.
The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.

The key point of this chapter is not just the idea of getting the right people on the team. The key point is that "who" questions come before "what" decisions- before vision, before strategy, before organization structure, before tactics. First who, then what- as a rigorous discipline, consistently applied.

The comparison companies frequently followed the "genius with a thousand helpers" model- a genius leader who sets a vision and then enlists a crew of highly capable "helpers" to make the vision happen. This model fails when the genius departs.

The good-to-great leaders were rigorous, not ruthless, in people decisions. They did not rely on layoffs and restructuring as primary strategy for improving performance. The comparison companies used layoffs to a much greater extent.

We uncovered three practical disciplines for being rigorous in people decisions:

When in doubt, don't hire - Keep looking. (Corollary: A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people.)
When you know you need to make a people change, act. (Corollary: First be sure you don't simply have someone in the wrong seat.)

Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems. (Corollary: If you sell off your problems, don't sell off your best people.)
Good-to-great management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet who unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.

Unexpected findings.

We found no systematic pattern linking executive compensation to the shift from good to great. The purpose of compensation is not to "motivate" the right behaviors from the wrong people, but to get and keep the right people in the first place.

The old adage "People are your most important asset" is wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.

Whether someone is the "right person" has more do to with character traits and innate capabilities than the specific knowledge, background, or skills.

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