How to Ensure You Have the Right People in the Right Roles

Right person in the right seat. This metaphor from Jim Collins’ now famous book "Good to Great” talks about your company as a bus and you as the bus driver. The bus is at a standstill and you need to get it moving in the right direction. This metaphor begs two key questions – “How do you know if a person is the right person to have on the bus?” and more importantly, in the self-driving bus of 2018, “How do I know I even have the right seats on my bus?”

Collins gives us five questions to ponder on the “right person” inquiry:

1.    Does the person share your organization’s core values – or at least have a predisposition in that direction?

2.    Does this person “get it” so they don’t need constant management?

3.    Does this person have exceptional ability – the potential to be one of the best in his or her field?

4.    Does this person understand the difference between having a job and holding a responsibility?  You want folks who think three steps ahead, feel a sense of responsibility – and if they see a hole, they fix it.

5.    Knowing everything you now know about this person, would you hire them again?

There is an additional, very important question – “Does the person love what they do? Do they have the passion and enthusiasm to stay focused and weather the challenges of change?”

Do we have the right seats?

The problem with Collins’ metaphor is that the bus itself is changing faster than the seats. Today’s fluid, interactive teams require flexible seating as well as flexible people. In many cases, people occupy several seats on a series of mini-buses and we can’t afford to have them buckled in to just one seat. We need to experiment with new, more multi-functional seats.

Do we even have the right bus anymore? Does the metaphor of a bus still work? One obvious challenge is that the bus can change a great deal in a relatively short period of time.

It can get bigger, for example, or it may be added to a bigger fleet or it may transform into a hovercraft! As Doc says to Marty in Back to the Future – “Roads? Where we are going we don’t need roads!”