Getting People Off the Bus

Audio Transcript

At dinner last night, we had a great debate. At one end of the table was a member of your chapter who is very much of the “When you have the wrong person on the bus, they will be gone tomorrow” camp. At the other end of the continuum was an “I take a lot longer to get to that point” camp. There was this great sort of diversion about, “Well, what’s the right way to do that? I mean, should you basically, like, bang—people off the bus? Or should this be more of a gradual process? How should this be addressed?” 

Thinking about the research, I realized there is a spectrum even in the research. So, you have David Maxwell at Fannie Mae—he walks in, and within the first three months, twenty-two of the top twenty-six people at Fannie Mae were gone. Bang! He was at this end of the continuum.  

In the cases of, say, a Walgreens or some of the other companies in our study, it was a more gradual process. It took time. You could actually see the right people on the bus, right people in the right seats, kind of unfolding over the course of years, perhaps. You would look at it five, seven years later, and it’s a great busload—people in the right seats. It’s like, wow, they got to the same place David did, but it took them longer to do it. 

The key thing that they shared in common wasn’t the speed, because some were fast and some were slow. What they shared in common were two things.  The first is that when they knew they had to make a people change, they would act. Acting might be immediately off the bus, or it might be a series of steps in preparation. But they would act. 

The second—the real thing we came to see—is they spent a huge amount of their time and their energy and their agony on the who question.

Copyright © 2017 Jim Collins, All rights reserved.