Monday, May 07, 2012

The pearls of the company | People

More and more great companies mention people as their greatest assets behind the company great success. The right people. The talent within. Can we become one of them?

The saturation of a management system...
A decade ago the business secret recipe of the business giant was the "special magic" adopted by the company. In automotive industry giant we heard the super efficient Toyota Production System, with a lot of magic word like Jidoka, Kaizen, Andon, and others Japanese word excluding Ozawa. In the western manufacturing giant we heard about Six Sigma, with the practice of taking advanced statistical class and belting system from White, Green to Black Belt (I don't mean to be cynical, I am also a Black Belt :D). There were a lot more of it like TQM, TPM, Lean System, BPRe, etc.

But as the those best practices management tools now become common knowledge, taught in every business school, and delivered world wide by consultant companies, these system nowadays has became generic, saturated, not much space to do a leap frog improvement. When you are holding a sword fighting against bare hand people, the sword is your cutting edge. But what if everyone now hold the same swords?

I just notice lately, the recent business book no longer talks about this mambo jambo. Off course there is still updates of these management system, these skill sets and tool sets or rewrapping/reassortment of these knowledge. For example, I like the whole concepts of Jim Collins book: the Good to Great series are simple but very true; The Execution Premium by Kaplan, a sequel of the Balance Score Card system is also worth to read. Or the Marketing 3.0 by our marketing guru, Hermawan Kartajaya. For those company who have not come to that stage (or even never heard that) adopting the best practice platform is always a good as a starter leap.

I just read lately the business book are no longer focusing to the updates of  management platform. But, to the people behind it, the spirit behind it, those right people, the talents...

The people behind the swords...
More and more books redefined the story of the great success of the company in people perspective. The Talent Master: Why Smart Leaders put People before Numbers (Bill Conaty, Ram Charan) emphasize that not only the Six Sigma boosted the GE performance but also the "right people" who hold the swords. The book also describe how right/wrong people defines the journey of many companies. In an extreme, the book said talent is the leading indicator of a business is up and down, a success or a failure. "Talent" is the new redefined word for human asset, the company greatest intangible assets.

In the Good to Great by Jim Collins, the first thing in the morning for the company who leap from Good to Great (magnificent company stock values growth versus market growth) are not the business strategy, but the leaders (The Level 5 Leaders), then the right people on the right bus, and the culture within. The business strategy come after the people, not the other way around. It also shows how the wrong people create wrong culture, leading to company crash.

Also in Toyota, the latest book emphasize Toyota Production System is merely tools, the cutting edge come from the people behind it, and the system to create the great people continuously (Toyota Talent, Jeffrey Liker, David Meier, 2009). And without the right people, without the right culture, TPS will only create chaos in the manufacturing process. Many european and US based manufacturing company tried to imitate TPS, but fail because they cant imitate the person/the culture.

From the first chicken who teaches..

For those company who always able to create the great people, we sometime say it is because the culture. The question is: Is the culture create good people, or good people creates good culture? No matter how we argues we will always go back to square one: Chicken vs Eggs. I my self believe that God created chicken, not egg first. Why? because egg cannot learn and egg cannot teach. Even egg finally hatch, who will teach the hatched chicken to live? I believe at first good people created the great culture, and the great culture later creates the great people.

We see it in most of the giants, how the leader shape the culture of the company: Honda in Honda Motor Corp, Jack Welch in GE, Steve Jobs in Apple, Toyoda n Toyota, William Soeryajaya in Astra, to name few. In the Good to Great book, companies who become great mostly have the same pattern of "quantum leap" moment. And it was all started by a level 5 leaders. This level 5 leaders are the source of the company values, the enabler of the culture, the living sample to shape the future, the Inspirational.

So the culture of a company is not a result of evolution -that it happens because random interaction  of the people- but deliberately designed by the great leaders. It meant to be like that, it was visioned, and deliberately and systematically implemented. It was created from the beginning, in the end of mind of the leaders. They are the first chicken who teaches the hatch ling how to live as a great chicken. They are...the source of the culture itself.

And finding the rare talents...
So right people are first. Those great talents, will lead the company through any initiatives that the company would like to go. Those talents are resonances of company aspiration. What defines a person is talents or not? GE use 4E1P (Energy, Energize, Execution, Edge, Passion), some company use 3C (Character, Competence, Chemistry), some others use their own HR matrix.

And as the concept of Talent become world wide accepted, this rare chicken are now treasured at most. Big company spent thousands of dollar hiring a great leaders that can hatch another great chicken. Talent Development Program become hot topic in HR practice. If they can not develop them self then hijacking is the most favorable option.

The bad side is this talents are now realize that company value them as gems. Talents become greed, salary jumper and tends to be not long timer. Some of them lost the virtue of passion and genuineness and will work to the highest offer.

How much is your price then, talents?...
How to become a considered talent? I don't even know if my company regards me as talent or not :p But from several training and books, it is said that a talents is either gifted or trained. Again, born leaders vs trained leaders controversy, nature vs nurture. But if you are not inherited those great traits from your parents, then one thing for sure you must go to train your self more than those who had.

Somebody just born as pearl, they are just beautiful and valuable as is with not much improvement needed. But the most beautiful diamond come from the highest pressure and temperature underneath the earth. To become a shiny one, it must deal with painful heat, stress and drills.

So, unless you considered yourself as black coal which only serve as burner feed, go find and drill the gems within yourself. It's painful, but in the future it will worth the price..

P.S: That's why I go back to school again now ;-)


  1. How much is my price, then? Visiting you, Jom. visit me back :D

  2. just looking for a cozy place to work with, that's all.
    btw, which pictures bro?