Tag Archives: people & change

Steve Jobs: Apple is organized like a start-up

If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them take decisions and you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. Otherwise, great people won’t stay.


Attributes of successful people

From The Truth About Henry Ford by Sarah T. Bu...

I was recently challenged by a colleague to identify the attributes of successful people. Of course, any company defines a core set of values and assesses performance against those but I lifted-up the challenge to rather come up with a more general mindset related to people’s success.

I stepped back a little bit and observed that we are used to put a spotlight on success but how many times one failed before being successful? How do we treat failure?

It’s my opinion that “the carrot and the stick” only works if you want to achieve mediocrity. If you identify a person above that level, you should consider forgetting about the stick because the carrot itself is motivating enough to try again and try harder. Moreover, maybe you should give space and be open minded to let things go on unmarked paths or give a chance to fail again for the success that person will achieve is by far more valuable.

History gives us precious lessons if we take the time to see it open minded. Here are some examples that we may need to look at as to wide-up our views on how to treat success and failure:

  • “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
  • Henry Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars. However, he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded his successful company.
  • Bill Gates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
  • Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.
  • Teachers told Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
  • Abraham Lincoln‘s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (that’s  as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses and he was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
  • Charlie Chaplin was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.
  • Beethoven was incredibly awkward on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was hopeless at it and would never succeed with the violin or in composing. Beethoven kept plugging along, however, and composed some of the best-loved symphonies of all time–five of them while he was completely deaf.

If Bill Gates would have started his business at another company, he would have been fired (or at least punished in some painful way) for failure instead of being encouraged to try again and succeed. While Beethoven was not in the right place with the violin (he should have composed instead of playing it), Ford just needed to learn how to do something nobody else did before him. Moreover, what company would’ve let Edison fail 1,000 times before making the light bulb that changed the world?

To sum up, I think that most of the attributes may not necessarily be people owned but rather an organisational challenge to have:

1. the right people

2. in the right place

3. at the right time…

Besides that, the other organisational challenge is to have the right knowledge available for those people at the right time since re-inventing the wheel is not an option nowadays. So, why not shift the view a little bit?

“Nobody is irreplaceable” – two sides of the same story

I was recently thinking of all kinds of strategies and best practices on how to make an organisation work regardless if a person (any person) suddenly leaves the company. A saying however was stuck in my mind: “nobody is irreplaceable”.

I realised how true this was and how much syncretism it involvs:

  1. Nobody is irreplaceable. This merely means that if you think you are irreplaceable you must be nobody.
  2. On the other hand, it doesn’t say that no soul is irreplaceable; it just states that no “body” is irreplaceable. As simple as this.

What else is there left out?

The world in 2020: 79% of CEOs said they would be changing their strategies for managing talent as a result of the downturn

Fanning the flame of Talent
Image by Ian Sane via Flickr

A recent PwC report – Talent Mobility 2020 shows that in the next 10 years companies will have a greater need to deploy their talent around the world, and as a consequence, international assignment levels and overall mobility will increase significantly. Having access to the best talent continues to be a challenge for CEOs and business leaders – with 97% of CEOs in PwC’s annual global CEO survey saying that having the right talent is the most critical factor for their business growth. In addition, 79% of CEOs said they would be changing their strategies for managing talent as a result of the downturn – and 55% said they would look to change their approach to global mobility including international secondments. In the wake of a foreseeable upturn, the winners and losers of the next decade will be defined by those who are able to attract, retain, and deploy their key talent globally. The sentiments outlined above are well aligned with PwC’s key findings:

Assignee levels have increased by 25% over the last decade; PwC predicts a further 50% growth in assignments by 2020. There will be more assignees, more business travel, more virtual tools, and especially more quick, short-term, and commuter assignments.

The growing importance of emerging markets will create a significant shift in mobility patterns, as skilled employees from emerging markets increasingly operate across their home continent and beyond, creating greater diversity in the global talent pool.

Mobility strategies will need to become more sophisticated and complex as organizations meet growing deployment demands, while simultaneously managing the very different needs and expectations of three generations of workers.

Governments and regulators will accept the economic benefits of talent mobility to stimulate economic growth. This acceptance will lead to greater collaboration between governments and businesses, and within the business community, to remove some of the barriers to mobility around the world.

The millennial generation will view overseas assignments as a rite of passage, an outlook that will change the way workers and organizations approach overseas opportunities in the future.

Organizations will adopt “destination pay and local plus” remuneration methodologies as compensation levels across some skill sets and industries will begin to harmonise across the globe.

Technology will play a key role in global working arrangements and help to support compliance obligations; however technology will not erode the need to have people deployed “on the ground”.

The nature of overseas assignments has changed significantly since the 1970s. Businesses, like the population, seam to continue adjusting their operations, nature and geographic location of the workforce, as well as their fundamental structure and roles.

How an organisation responds to these rapid changes will be critical. Business and mobilisation strategies will need to progress quickly to keep ahead of both changes in the organisation’s geographic landscape, and the further increases in assignee numbers that will result. The winners of 2020 will be those companies that adjust their strategies now.

For details see PwC’s report