In the early 1980s, the Ford Motor Company was not enjoying its previously heady success. It was losing money – $3.3 billion over three years – to its cheaper and more efficient Japanese competitors, like Toyota. In 1983 they set about trying to stem the slide and restore the fortunes of the 80 year old prestigious motor company. The first step made by the management team at the time was to clarify exactly what it was that Ford Motor Company stood for. They began redefining the mission, values and guiding principles (a document that later become known as MVGP) – a great start.
However, during this process of purpose definition they discovered something that had been overlooked for some time by the organisation in it’s period of decline, something which had been at the heart of Henry Ford’s original, founding vision. Don Peterson, the former CEO, recalls that during this period of reframing, “there was a great deal of talk about the sequence of the three Ps – people, products and profits. It was decided that people should absolutely come first.”
Getting the right people “on the bus”, as Jim Collins puts it, is vitally important to the success of your organisation. Without the right people, inspired and released to work in their sweet spot, your organisation is not going to be all that it can be. Often, even a slight change in the composition of your team can make a radical difference in its ability to perform. Whether good or bad, people will impact your organisation’s ability to execute its mission and it’s imperative to get the right people.
The second thing Steve Jobs did on his return to Apple, after setting a new vision, mentioned in the previous chapter, was to change his management team and bring in people who got his vision and shared his passion. Within a few weeks of taking over Jobs managed to force the resignation of most of Apple’s board members. He put Jonathan Ive in charge of design and he brought in Tim Cook, Compaq’s self-styled “Attila the Hun of inventory,” to run manufacturing. He understood that if he wanted to turn Apple round and build the company he envisioned, then he needed the right people to do it.
“Any strategy, no matter how smart, is dead on arrival unless a company brings it to life with people – the right people.” – Jack Welch
But, if it’s important to have the right people, who exactly are the right people?
“There are many things that will catch my eye, but there are only a few things that will catch my heart.” – Tim Redmond
When choosing the right people you need to hire people who believe in what you are trying to build. People who share your passion and are willing to put their shoulder to the plough of your mission and vision. People who buy into what you are trying to build and get as excited as you do about it. Firstly, people with that level of enthusiasm for the mission will do the job with a similar passion and focus that you would yourself and secondly they will need far less management and intervention in the process!
When someone comes in and cuts across that culture, the atmosphere gets strained.
Your culture is the system of shared values, behaviours and beliefs about what’s important and appropriate in your organisation (See Culture Truth #1). Whether you’ve deliberately created it or it has organically grown by default, inviting someone into this environment who does not share the same cultural values and beliefs will cause friction, in the same way as a rude dinner guest in your house. Just as one bad apple spoils the batch, so one person who does not choose to accept and live by an organisation’s values can undermine the entire culture and atmosphere, unsettling the rest of your team (See Culture Truth #2).
Along with catching the vision, the people you let into your organisation need to share the values too. You need to be sure that they are not only happy behaving as you would want them to behave, but they do it automatically. It’s part of who they are. They implicitly share your cultural values.
“You can train someone for skill, but it’s far more difficult to change someone’s heart and passion!”
Have you ever hired someone who didn’t fit? Have you ever had to let someone go because of a clash of cultures?