Thursday, November 6, 2008

Getting the right people on the bus

Re-read a memorable passage last night from Jim Collins in his classic book "Good to Great."

According to Collins, those leaders "who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there.

No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it."

In the case of a sports franchise, getting right people on the bus isn't limited to the coaching staff or team roster. It's the entire organization -- trainers, equipment managers, media relations staff, administrators, etc. Many of these people remain with an organization for years despite being, as Collins puts it, "the wrong people."

Writes Collins:

"They said, in essence, 'Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.'

The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths.

First, if you begin with 'who,' rather than 'what,' you can more easily adapt to a changing world. If people join the bus primarily because of where it is going, what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You’ve got a problem.

But if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it’s much easier to change direction: 'Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me.'

Second, if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away. The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great.

Third, if you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company. Great vision without great people is irrelevant."