Monday, January 24, 2011

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: Developing organizational excellence

I have been engaged with many organizations, in many industries, in many cultures, in many countries, with many different kinds of people.  I guess you could say I have lived in the world’s organizational scatter diagram.  There have been the good, the bad and the ugly to quote an old Clint Eastwood movie.  Every once in a while there has been one where everything and everyone has aligned to deliver true excellence.

Digging a little deeper and analyzing the scatter diagram there have also been a number of findings that stick out about these great performers.  One of the “Aha moments” discovered as a part of many long airline flight navel gazing sessions is that “A company is only really the people.”  There are a couple of corollaries to this; the first being “The best processes with the wrong people equals disaster.”  And yet when faced with a struggling organization, disappointing results and frequent errors many leaders insist on writing more procedures and policies that spell out what must be done to cover the many mistakes that just keep on occurring.  The mountain of paperwork grows and the problems continue.

Enter the second corollary; “Weak processes with the best people equals success.”  Our chances at success truly depend on the people we employee.  And here comes the third corollary, a quote from Walter Meisner who developed Citi Bank into a world financial power; “If you have the wrong person in the right job no matter how hard you manage them they will fail.  Conversely if you have the right person in the right job no matter how poorly you manage them they will succeed.”

A key to success then becomes hiring and retaining the right people for the jobs at hand and then supporting and empowering them to do the very best they can.  Sure they will undoubtedly launch some procedures to follow, but that’s secondary to developing a successful organization.  Whether it is in safety or any other function it is all about the people.

The Doc

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