“When you decide to sell off your problems, don’t sell off your best people. This is one of those little secrets of change. If you create a place where the best people always have a seat on the bus, they’re more likely to support changes in direction.”
“At the top levels of your organization, you absolutely must have the discipline not to hire until you find the right people. The single most harmful step you can take in a journey from good to great is to put the wrong people in key positions. Second, widen your definition of ‘right people’ to focus more on the character attributes of the person and less on specialized knowledge. People can learn skills and acquire knowledge, but they cannot learn the essential character traits that make them right for your organization. Third – and this is the key – take advantage of difficult economic times to hire great people, even if you don’t have a specific job in mind.”
Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t.
Over twenty years ago, a large Christian publishing firm bought a quite small, but rapidly growing Christian publishing firm. Why? The large firm wanted the President of the small firm to work for them – and thought the easiest way to make that happen was to buy the company. That President later became the leader of the entire company.
The lesson – you do what you can to get the best people. Getting the best people provides the single greatest strategic advantage. Whatever else is second is a distant second.
The latest example of putting this wisdom into practice comes from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. To state it simply, he buys companies to get people. Here are a couple of excerpts from: Mark Zuckerberg: “We Buy Companies To Get Excellent People”:
Speaking to an audience at Y Combinator’s Startup School last weekend, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “Facebook has not once bought a company for the company itself. We buy companies to get excellent people.”
Facebook’s chief is on the prowl for top talent. And scooping up that talent has recently meant absorbing the companies they run.
Here’s the video of Zuckerberg talking about this practice:
Getting the right people. Mastering talent acquisition. The history of success is a history of products and people. And it is always people that find/discover/invent the products and the systems that lead to success. Getting the right people really is critically important.