How do I know I have all the right seats, Professor Collins?

Jim Collins, the management guru, tells us that his research of the most successful companies over long periods consistently points to get the “Who” correct before the “What” and then getting people into the right seats. The “Who” first approach is abundantly supported with core values and purpose leading the way.

This makes sense to me.

However, I have yet to find any solid research on how to determine what the right seats are. I asked Mr. Collins and his team for their research on the matter. I was told to buy his next book. I likely will but almost twenty years without solid research on a foundational topic seems like a big miss to me. While we wait, here is my opinion on how to determine the right seats.

  1. Having assembled your team by attracting and hiring for those who align with your compelling vision and values, figure out/confirm the key problem(s) worth solving for your core customers.
  2. Once you have identified/confirmed the problem along with the functional, emotional, and social needs of your core customer (most profitable, appreciative, and loved), figure out the best way to solve it. I look to Jobs to be Done (JTBD) as the best method, so far, for this.  Please find a shortcut to get you started here if you have a good set of customers already. Also, this book by Bob Moesta, one of the JTBD originators, is the seminal treatise on the topic. A must read!
  3. The best way to solve it should lead you to the key functions within the organization necessary to make it happen.
  4. Once the key functions are identified, determine the key output each function must produce to contribute to success along with the key input.  Some call these leading (input) and lagging (output) indicators.  Please see “Key Process Flow Map – Example” below.
  5. Once the key input and outputs are determined, break the key function into key sub-functions with corresponding key inputs and outputs for each. See “Key Process Flow Map – Phase II -Example” below
  6. Do step 5. until you determine all the key sub-functions necessary.  This may be several levels deep depending on how complex your organization is. Please see “Key Process Flow Map – Phase III -Example” below as a three-layer example.
  7. When complete, these should provide you with a list of many, if not all, of the key seats you need to fill.  The seats in “Key Process Flow Map – Example” are the most critical as all others flow from these.  Please note the interconnectedness of the functions.

I have some evidence from my own work and work of dozens of my colleagues but no studies or science to back this up so please let me know where this can be improved or if you have access to research that can help the reader and leader. 

I strongly believe that getting this right can go a long way to determine the right seats for your company. Let’s see if Mr.Collins agrees in December.

Please note that my book Further, Faster goes into more detail on this topic (link below).

Be exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach, Foundations in NeuroLeadership certified, Predictive Index Certified Partner

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer up to 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

Please click here to order or download for free a copy of my book Further, Faster – The Vital Few Steps that Take the Guesswork out of Growth.

Published by Bill Flynn

Gazelles Member Advisor and early stage startup specialist with a proven track record with 16 Boston-based startups (9 to date with 5 successful outcomes, advisor to 7 others); SMB to Fortune 500 companies. 20+ years of Senior Sales, Marketing and GM experience in industries including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Core Competencies: Player/Coach, Metrics-driven, Execution-based philosophy, Life-long learner

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