Do You Have the Right People in the Right Places?

Sometimes It’s All About The Right People

You may have the absolute best technology, you may have the most modern tools, you may have an awesome process in place, but do you have the right people?

When I first learned about Agile development, I thought it was a great idea – involve the customer, rapid iterations, etc. I fact, I liked it so much I wrote an article on why it’s not just great for software development, it’s also great for managing your life. In fact, I bet we’d all feel a lot more fulfilled if we applied agile principles to the way we live.

But I digress.

One of the most interesting aspects to me was the seemingly harsh stand that it took on the people side. The originators of Agile were not afraid to talk about removing members from an agile team if they were dragging the project down unnecessarily.  It was good to finally see someone “going there” and talking about how, in a lot of cases, the reasons projects fail is that you have the wrong people involved. If you are all about getting a project completed on-time and under budget, then sometimes you need to make some hard choices and change the team.

This is not to say anything negative about the people who were removed, they were just not the right fit for the right project. In a short cycle, lean product development cycle, you don’t have the luxury (or should you ever, in any case) to have less than the most effective team members on your team.

In my opinion, much of the technology required to create incredible, new, disruptive, and massively useful products is out there today. Sure, there are still many technologies which have yet to be invented, but many huge advances which are available to us right now are being held back by people who simply won’t take the risk to at least attempt, or even experiment.

You can attempt to convince, cajole, argue, and trick them into new thinking, but sometimes, if you really want to innovate, to disrupt, you may need to pull a page out of the Agile development textbook and replace those members of the team completely. I’m not talking about replacing them with more agreeable people – but with those of more open mind – those open to taking risks, trying new things, and experimenting. Those who are not (or less) afraid to take that change. You don’t need to fire anyone, just reallocate them to other areas which don’t need innovative thinking, of which there are many in any typical organization.

Even though I personally feel that every human has the capability to learn and change, be creative and innovative, some may simply not wish to. If you are expecting those people to come up with disruptive, forward thinking ideas, you may be disappointed.

In fact, one of the main tenets of our invention framework includes the identification of the right people for your team. It’s a key step in the development of a core continuous innovation cycle within your organization.

So how do you make your company more innovative? Hire more innovators. More entrepreneurial? Hire more entrepreneurial folks. Hire people from startups, people who have that open mind, that ability and even that desire to take risks.

Some of your people will become more innovative and entrepreneurial if you give them the ability and the architecture to do that. The rest, however, may never change. In that case, you know what to do.