Each year as we head into football season, I look forward to watching my team of choice, the Green Bay Packers. Having been a long-time fan, I’ve lived through the ups and downs for years – and am relishing their long streak of great performances.
The background on this big performance shift has a lot to do with a strategy shift that is important not only in sports, but also in business. In fact, the current successful run corresponds to a change in “back office” leadership to Ted Thompson in 2005, who has championed a strategic shift toward draft and grow. While many teams work to align their talent needs with proven players through free agent trades, Ted has always focused on finding raw talent and bringing it along through mentoring and coaching.
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To make this system work, he needed a coach that could put together a coaching staff that was good at development. One of his first calls was to bring in Mike McCarthy in 2006, who at the time was considered a long shot for a head-coaching role due to his background coaching at small schools like Fort Hayes State and playing at Baker University. In addition to being a student of the game, Mike’s hands-on approach, working shoulder to shoulder with younger players, was a great match for where the franchise wanted to go. As he has matured, he has found that balance of risk-taking and patience that is key to bringing young talent along.
In high-performing organizations, researchers such as Jim Collins have found that having a tenured anchored leader who brings top talent into a system and culture, creates strong and enduring performance. In this case it means recognizing there are two major jobs to be done here: selecting coachable talent and deploying that talent to best effect.
I have worked with many firms over the past few years, some of which have been built via multiple acquisitions of mature firms. The firms that have been built layer by layer by a good senior team have a long-term performance advantage in three ways.
The Three Major Advantages
- It eliminates the winner’s curse (the shortfall in performance many firms experience when buying the “best of breed business” or getting the “number one” draft pick). You always pay a premium for successful businesses and talented thought leaders. It only makes sense that once the value is apparent in their approach and ability, the market will drive up their price. This in itself is not bad, but undervalues the system that allowed the firm or individual to do well. When that firm or individual is moved to the new organization, there is no room in the price to allow for the customization that allows them to thrive.
- You get to grow a high-performance culture. When great teams grow together, a very cohesive culture is formed that provides resilience and sets a deep pattern of expectation for new talent. This creates layers of high performance and experience that provides for deep resilience and bench strength. When you get a reputation for talent development, you actually can pay at median market and still receive great talent in your mentorship program. When the enterprise goals are set in front of personal agendas, it allows talent to make a commitment beyond the paycheck and know it’s valued.
- It sets the stage for stars to emerge. Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are now the envy of the league in their skill positions, and each of them paid their dues on the way to becoming the stars they are now. In organic organizations, the key leaders have been tempered in the challenges and the history of the firm and become superstars in their own right. A great example of this is the Four Seasons hotel chain, which has made internal talent development into a global force.
Getting the Right Project, Right Team and Right Plan in place is crucial to successful organic growth, and anything short of excellence in any one of these categories is going to cost you real time and money. If you are interested in getting on the most efficient path to growth, let’s talk. Please feel free to call me directly at 847-651-1014.
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