In Leaders, Strategy

“If you surround yourself with the smartest people you can find, people will think you’re a lot smarter than you are.  Only insecure people think this works the other way.” – Noah Callahan-Bever

One of the most exciting things that can happen for an organization is growth.  People get excited about almost everything that comes with growing, from the opportunity to serve more people to the opportunity to make more money.  Growth can help make your vision a reality.

One of the most depressing things that can happen is when an organization has an opportunity to grow but can’t because it doesn’t have the people in place to handle it.  Unfortunately, this happens more than it should.  I’ve seen a lot of corporate visions & strategic plans & the like that look fantastic, and then most of it falls into place and growth opportunities emerge – and then they disappear because the organization couldn’t take advantage of it.

It’s fun to talk about increasing sales, expanding product lines, expanding geographic areas, etc.  What’s less fun is coming to terms with what that means in terms of people.  Our friend Russell Cummings uses a 3-step process for aligning strategy with people, and like most good tools it’s both powerful and simple.

Step 1 – Create an organizational chart showing where you are NOW.  You don’t need to list every single position, just the key ones (but make sure you get all the key ones).  This shouldn’t be very hard; you may already have something like this.

Step 2 – Create an organizational chart showing WHERE you want to be.  Think about your long-term growth strategy.  What kind of people do you need to have to make that a reality?  For example, if part of your long-term growth strategy involves adding a new geographic territory, then there probably better be somebody in charge of selling in that territory.  So your WHERE organizational better have a spot for that on it.  Make sense?  Think about what you’ll need when you arrive at WHERE you want to be.

Step 3 – Here’s the hard part.  List all the key positions on the WHERE chart and who fills those spots today.  Then list who will fill it in the future.  If you aren’t sure, put a question mark.  Come up with 1 or 2 possibilities internally – who are our up and comers?  When you’ve listed it all out, take a look at your question mark.  Your job – come up with a plan to fill in all the spaces.  If we need an expert in a certain area and we have no candidates, guess what?  You have work to do.

The idea is to put together a plan for how our people will match our strategy.  It’s not complicated, but it is work.  Work that will go a long way towards determining whether your future looks the way you want it – or if you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.


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