it’s easy to look at other organizations that are doing things differently, bucking the trends, and challenging the status quo with their people strategy and say, “i’m not concerned about what they’re doing; they’re not our direct competitor.”
the problem with this line of thinking is that while they may not be in the same marketplace as you, both of your organizations are fighting for the same talent pool. that innovative company you dismiss as not being a competitor needs mathematicians, statisticians, business analysts, computer programmers, data architects (i could keep going…) the same way your organization does.
if they’re trying new and different things and having success in the process while you’re still defending the same management practices from 20 years ago, it’s time for you to start taking notice.
“they’re not our direct competitor.”
a colleague of mine started a discussion on our yammer network about our winter investment festival being too focused on innovations for our firm and not focused enough on innovations for our clients.
If we are going to devote seed money, shouldn’t we be seeding future lines of business?
the following is my reply, slightly edited for clarity. it got a handful of likes in a short amount of time and figured it was worth sharing outside the network as well:
if you look at silicon valley or just the large tech industry in general (cause there are still a few very well known primetime players in seattle) you’ll see that there’s a war raging. companies like google, amazon, apple, microsoft, and i think you’re starting to see yahoo! again in that mix, are in an arms race to provide the best possible employee experience that they can.
why spend a ton of money on large corporate campuses with professional chefs working in large cafeterias? why provide on-site health and dental and child care? why include bonuses and equity as part of an employee’s yearly compensation? why buy cell phones for every employee and pay for their wireless bill? why do any of those things that don’t help the bottom line? that stuff is expensive!!
why? because every one of those companies realizes that if they have the best people working for them they can provide the best products and services to their customers.
if you ask me, it’s not the company’s job to be customer focused–that lies with the individual people. the company’s job is to be employee-centric and ensure that the people they hire and retain are the best possible people for the job; that they grow those people to be leaders of not just their own company but leave to create their own start-ups to become competitors or partners; and that they provide every tool they can to give their people an advantage over the competition.
i understand your point, certainly, and it’s very valid given what i just mentioned above–that customers need to be the individual’s focus, not the company’s–but i think it’s wrong to assume that something that’s internally focused is not “good” for the company.
i want a company that’s committed to helping out in the community. a company whose mission is to make life better for the people they serve, and the children they want to develop and recruit for the future.
i want a company that truly values their employees over everything else. a company whose benefits demonstrate an appreciation and commitment to the people who make the organization successful.
i want a company that’s willing to part with general consensus on topics as important as the role of management within an organization. a company dedicated to creating value and shipping products that delight customers regardless of who gets credit for it.
i want a company that lets its employees work the best way they know how to, with the tools they prefer to work with, in an environment that makes spending time at the office a joy rather than a place where only business is done.
i want a company that is as accepting of failure as it is accepting of the new ideas which lead to it (and ultimately success).
i want a company that measures success not in financial profit but in customer satisfaction. a company whose focus is on creating the best possible experience for their customers.
it might sound crazy or even impossible, but i believe it’s out there. until i find it, i’m going to keep on looking.
i have a feeling you’re looking too.
when it comes to organizational design, size matters. it sets the table for how your organization acts—what kind of culture you have—and what type of work you conduct. you have to decide what you’re after: more frequent, yet smaller meals; or bigger meals spread further apart.
to be successful, a small organization needs to specialize in something—one thing in particular above all else—and perform really fantastic work when it comes to that one thing. you can’t spread your resources too thin in a small organization because you just don’t have that much to distribute. the resources you do have must be very smart, very talented, and very motivated around your core mission. because of this, you should be paying those people with the talent and ambition to force success on your organization better than most others would pay. they are your bread and butter and you cannot succeed without them, and the name of the game is success. the work itself is often smaller and more transactional than enduring. yet due to the unique output from your highly talented resources, however, it’s possible to charge more for your products and services.
on the other hand, large organizations need work that is both larger in scope and has a longer duration. you have many resources that need to be paid and stability is paramount—”job security or job satisfaction” as they say. the nature of your large scale work is generally far less innovative or ‘start-up’ minded and more focused on sustainment and improvement which requires a different breed of employee. your resources are butt-in-seat personnel paid to do a specific task for some specified (or unspecified) amount of time. these personnel demand far less in terms of compensation because they are interchangeable parts—more trained in breadth of knowledge rather than in depth—which can easily be replaced.
every organization needs to make this decision, large or small? the worst part is when organizations find themselves caught in the middle: the culture is too small making it impossible to compete in the market with larger, cheaper organizations, but the organization is too large to maintain that smaller culture and still make a profit.
so which one will it be? large or small?
image by vittonettophoto, flickr artist
it’s true. every team needs a superstar.
balance is important to a winning formula, and i think we all know that. people have to complement each other, make up for each others faults, and bring a certain set of skills to the table â€” even if those skills aren’t going to make many people stand up and take notice. you hear it many times, “someone has to do the work.”
but there is such a thing as having too much balance.
we’ve become enamored with utility players in our businesses. people that we feel we can take and throw into any situation and they’ll still produce dividends for us (and for our shareholders). we want everyone to be able to do everything. we’re even groomed as such, going all the way back into our childhoods and early adult lives.