Leaders Wanted

Oct 18, 2002
George Anderson

By George Anderson

In their book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Crown Business), Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan write, “If you don’t get the people process right, you will never fulfill the potential of your business. The people process is more important than either the strategic planning and decision-making or operations management processes. After all, it’s the people in an organization who make judgments about how markets are changing, create strategies based on those judgments and translate strategies into operational realities.”

An excerpt of Messrs. Bossidy and Charan’s book found on the CIO.com web site provides insights into, what the authors call, the four building blocks of the people process. These are:

  1. Linking people to strategy and operations.

  2. Developing the leadership pipeline through continuous improvement, succession depth and reducing retention risk.

  3. Deciding how to handle nonperformers on staff.

  4. Transforming the mission and operations of human resources.

The first building block calls for organizations to have “the right kind and number of people to execute” the company’s strategy and meet predefined goals.

Number two, developing a leadership pipeline, means actively assessing and grooming employees to decide what they need to do to take on a larger role. “The dialogue resulting from this assessment will reveal the adequacy of the leadership pipeline in terms of quality and quantity. Nothing is more important to your competitive advantage.”

The third building block is both difficult and necessary. “Some managers have been promoted beyond their capabilities and need to be put in lesser jobs. Others just have to be moved out. The final test of a people process is how well it distinguishes between these two, and how well leaders handle the painful actions they have to take.”

The final block in the people process, transforming human resources, calls for the department to be integrated into strategy and operations. The authors write that, “In this new role, HR becomes recruitment-oriented and a more powerful force within the organization than it was in its typical staff function.”

Moderator’s Comment: What do you think companies need
to do to get the people process right?

We neglected to include, Execution: The Discipline
of Getting Things Done
, in our list of the top business books, RW,
10/2/02, The Book on Innovation
. That was an oversight we’d like to correct.
The directness and practical nature of Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan’s work makes
Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, a manual for modern
day management.

For another discussion on Larry Bossidy’s views, check
out RW 9/12/02, A Manual for Getting Things
Anderson – Moderator

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