First Who...Then What Chapter 3

2 Key Points:

Get the right people on the team before you decide to take the team anywhere

Determine the degree of sheer rigor needed in people decisions in order to take a company from good to great.

First Who…Then What

It is critical to have the right people on board before you decide where the company is headed.

It is critical to have the right people on the team and the wrong people off of the team before you start taking the team in any direction.

3 Simple Truths:

If you start with “who” you have easily adapt to change.

If you have the right people on your team they will not need to be tightly managed, and they will be self motivated.

If you have the wrong people, even if you find the right direction to take your company, you still will not have a great company.


EX. Wells Fargo

CEO Dick Cooley began building a great team long before they were needed.

As a visionary Cooley saw that change was coming but wasn’t sure what kind.

So he built his team of with a lot of talent so in the future they could use that talent to better the company in ways competitors could not.

“If I’m not smart enough to see the changes that are coming, they will. And they’ll be flexible enough to deal with them.”

Fannie Mae

CEO Maxwell inherited the position of CEO during a tough time in their history.

He first decided to get the right people on board.

He interviewed all the officers and said if your not going to be on board with this challenging ride, I am asking you to leave.

14 out of 26 executives left

“Genius with a Thousand Helpers” Model

The company is a platform for the talents of an extraordinary individual.

There is a genius leader, which drives the company’s success, and then there are workers would implement their ideas.

Problem is when the “genius leaves” the workers are lost.


Studies found that there was no pattern linking compensation of executives to making a company go from good to great.

This could be attributed to the fact that if you have the right people in the right position they will do their best in their position not because of the pay they will receive but because they can’t imagine doing anything less than their best.

Good to Great Companies are not ruthless cultures, they are rigorous cultures.

Ruthless: hacking and cutting, especially in difficult times or wantonly firing people without and thoughtful consideration.

Rigorous: consistently applying exacting standards at all times and at all levels, especially in upper management.

3 Steps to be Rigorous rather than Ruthless

Step 1

1. When in doubt, don’t hire –keep looking.

Packard’s Law: No company can grow revenues consistently faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement that growth and still become a great company. If your growth rate in revenues consistently outpaces your growth rate in people, you simply will not build a great company.

Step 2

2. When you know you need to make a people change, act.

The best people need to be guided and led, but not tightly managed.

It is not fair to yourself, your team, or the individual to keep them on the team if they are hurting everyone else.

You must act right away.

Step 3

3. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities not your biggest problems.

Marlboro leader Joe Cullman took his number one executive George Weissman and put him from running 99% of the company to running 1% of the company. He got switched from running domestic operations to international operations.

Under this direction Marlboro became the best selling cigarette in the world 3 years before U.S.


Created with images by Hillyne - "employees team corporate" • StartupStockPhotos - "startup business people" • geralt - "businessmen manager office" • nile - "book fair fair gang" • pmbbun - "teamwork co-workers office" • Mr Moss - "Daily Update - 104/365" • ralphbijker - "motion gears -team force" • Unsplash - "business work mockup" • WDnetStudio - "laptop in the office work desk work"

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