The Bus

In Jim Collins' "Good to Great" he touched on great leaders taking steps to ensure that the wrong people were off the bus and that the right people were in the right seats on the bus.

In his follow up, "How the Mighty Fall", Collins explores how once-great companies disappear into oblivion and how some manage to turn their decline around.  Once again, the first step that leaders take in trying to resurrect a company involves the concept of 'the bus'.  Here's how you know whether the right people are on the bus:

  • The right people fit with the company's core values.

    • You don't figure out how to get people to share your values ... you HIRE them based on your shared values.

  • The right people don't need to be tightly managed.

    • The right people are self-motivated and self-disciplined.

  • The right people understand that they don't have 'jobs'; they have responsibilities

    • These people can articulate that "I am ultimately responsible for ...".

  • The right people fulfill their commitments.

    • They take commitments seriously and thus are careful not to over-commit.

  • The right people are passionate about the company and their work.

    • Nothing great happens without passion.

  • The right people display 'window' and 'mirror' maturity

    • When things go well they point out the window to others, when thinks don't go well they point to the mirror.

My experience has shown me that having the right people on the bus is the most critical part of creating and maintaining a successful software development organization.  Keeping the wrong people on the bus has enormous risks associated with and it is always more cost effective to remove people from the bus as soon as possible rather than keep them around for perceived short term gains.