It’s All About People

Lately, I find myself saying a specific phrase more and more often. If we are deciding whether to take on a new project or start a complex effort, it always seems to come back to this:

“Yes, if we can find the right person to do it.”

I’m starting to believe more and more that the key to scaling and growing is less about the magical process or flowcharts or rubrics or software development frameworks and more just about hiring the right people and empowering them.

I’ve said this anecdote before, but let’s think about it. If you have the very best process, the wrong people will still screw it up. If you have no process (or worse, a flawed process) the right people will still be successful.

Thus, it is more about the people than the processes.

A while back, I talked about whether it’s better to either enable people with tools or, to give them a clear path to walk. But with the wrong people, it doesn’t matter. The wrong people will either not know how to use the tools or use them wrongly. Or they will wander off the path. In contrast, the right people will be successful in either case because they will either keep to the path or use the tools properly. (Or even better, they will stay on the path but know when to step off and use their tools.)

There is a lot of emphasis in the business world to replace people with processes and algorithms. This approach does not succeed with specific tasks, especially craftsmanship or creative-type work (software development is one). The current state of technology does not allow automating those tasks away from people. Time will tell whether we can eventually advance technology to that state or not.

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