The War for Talent

davidmaister.com > Passion, People and Principles > The War For Talent

The linked blog post is about the war for consulting/professional services talent, but the framework reminds me of Lean and is something that could apply to any company.

David Maister links to some Bob Sutton (of “The No A**holes Rule” fame) some rules for finding talent, the first two remind me of Lean:

Superstars are overrated.

Great systems are more important than great people.

That’s what Toyota has said many times. Toyota does more with good people and great systems than most companies do with lousy systems and superstars. Companies with bad systems have to hire superstars who can be heroes and can work around those lousy systems.

Maister adds his own list:

  1. In hiring, never let the pursuit of volume get in the way of maintaining the highest possible standards.
  2. People want the opportunity to learn and grow: you must actively work to provide a variety of stretching, challenging experiences.
  3. Standards of people supervision and management are as important as standards of product or service quality: they should be monitored and enforced in the same way.
  4. Firms that try to win by hiring pre-existing, already-formed talent will never do as well as firms that are skilled in building talented people.
  5. Talent is over-rated: character and energy count for more.

#1: Toyota has the fortune of being very selective with new plants and new employees.

#2: Developing talent and growing people is another key tenet of the Toyota Production System

#3: Having standard work for supervisors and managers is another key TPS concept, having defined standards and a system for HOW to manage is something that is missing in many industries, where a key individual contributor (or fresh college grad) is throw into a supervision role with a “good luck.”

#4: Building talented people, developing the talent you hired, another key TPS people principle.

#5: Building on the selectiveness of #1, Toyota is able to hire for teamwork skills and other soft skills — showing up on time, being able to make suggestions, working with others, etc.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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