Friday, September 22, 2006

Right People are the Resouces to Take Companies Forward

Enterprises, associates and employees

We keep hearing this – people are our biggest asset. It is clich├ęd. I don’t think people mean or meant it so much as it was propogated. Maybe people were trying to believe in it, internalize it by saying and hearing this more and more.

Nevertheless, I have had the experience of experiencing this first hand. Enterprises are made of two kinds of people – associates and employees. There is a lot of difference in the two.

Starting an enterprise has taught be many more things than I had learnt before, not the least of which was about myself. Biggest learning about an enterprise was the need for quality people. Enterprises are not about capital, ideas, plans, other resources. It is all about having the right people. The capacity of the organisation or enterprise is purely based on the people we have. I could have a great idea, kicked up with exciting innovations, I could find people ready to fund (this is easy to find these days), could draw a great business plan, but if I do not have the right people nothing will take off. In fact I have dealt with failed plans for lack of people to run with me to carry it forward. Some of my ideas have remained just that for the same reason.

I come to believe that getting the right people is the starting point for an enterprise. If you have the right people you can accomplish what you want. If you do not have them, you cannot achieve the best of plans. Today I am wiser in that sense. No point is crying and getting frustrated that I am not able to progress. I have to calibrate my plans and aspirations based on the people around me and people I can find.

Get me a business plan and to know whether it is going to work or not, I will ask who are the people who are going to carry out the plan, what are their capabilities – not necessarily “have done it before” experience. If you think you have the right people, rest is not necessary. You can be sure it will take off. If you do not have the right people, you can skip the plan totally. It will not take off. Period.

Now the biggest issue is finding these “good”, “right” people. People who share a common spirit and attitude to a cause, but an uncommon and not common approaches and capabilities. These people can then be able to put their different mental make-ups to create, execute, operate, run, manage the enterprise.

These people are what I call associates. Because they need to get associated to the cause.

Getting these people are the biggest challenge. These cannot be hired or recruited. They have to get associated. Hiring or recruiting is a professional process where skills are deployed for a task. Association is an engagement where the heart and the soul are in it for a cause. Tasks come to an end. Causes do not. Hiring/deployment is an impersonal process. Association is a personal process. Hiring is about tasks, association is about relationships.

Yes, associates cannot be many. But the few will make all the difference. The rest, apart from the few are employees, employed to perform tasks. Not everyone in an enterprise can be associates. But without a certain critical mass of association organisations cannot take off. If there are enough number of associates, you can always hire for tasks. But hiring for tasks without enough associates will not take off.

Did you say enterprise? Ok, where are your associates?

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