Finding and Engaging Talent (Part 1) – A Lesson from Starwars

Finding and engaging talent is often the single biggest challenge facing business trying to grow today. This article follows on from our first article in this series on what can we learn from Starwars for our business. Here we will dive deeper into the People side of the business, using some learnings from Emperor Palpatine and his rise to power to help demonstrate what senior management need to think about to get the best people around them to continue to scale their business.

Jim Collins in his best selling book Good to Great talks about the importance of “Getting the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats, doing the right things right”. Lets break that down and explain what he means.

Getting the right people on the bus: What Jim Collins is talking about here is hiring people that have a cultural fit to the company. The image above may scare the majority of us but there is no doubting that each of the sith lords connected with Emporer Palpatine at a value level. The vast majority of us would not touch them with a barge pole if they realy existed but that’s ok, when you have a strong set of values they will repel way more people than they attract, but the ones they do attract will be great for the business. Do you have a compelling set of core values?

Sittiing in the right seats: Once you have found the culturally fitting people you then need to decide where they sit or which role in the business are they best suited to, where does their skill set and experience truly help the company. Of course the first thing you need to think about is what functions (eg. sales, marketing, head of the company, operations) within my business do I need a dedicated person to own and be accountable for, who can do that function better than me? Going back to Emperor Palpatine, he used Darth Maul’s skills to hunt down and kill the Jedi (he believed he could rule the galaxy, Emperor Palpatine played on that ambition) and Count Dooku was used to create unrest within the Republic and create a clone army which was ultimately used to ereadicate the Jedi. The key in business is to undestand what drives your employees and then use that drive to advance the business.

Doing the right things: With everyone sitting in the right seats or functions within your business what does success look like for each of those? How do we know the person sitting in that particular seat is having a successful day? Every function in the business should have a small number of accountabilities (where the buck stops) identifed so the person sitting in that seat knows where their focus needs to be. The culmination of those accountabilities cover all the key aspects of each function, if every function achieves it’s 4-5 key accountabilities then the entire company will succeed. If Count Dooku hadn’t played one senator off another to build unrest within the Republic or hadn’t managed to build his clone army or Darth Vader hadn’t managed to coordinate the Empires strangle hold through the Galaxy Emperor Palpatine would never have been able to make himself Emperor. Do you know what success looks like for each function of your business, can you identify the 4-5 key accountabilities for each of those functions so that your employees know where their focus lies.

To find out what doing the right things right means and what the importance of a virtual bench means to securing talent as and when you need it check out part 2 of this article.