It sounds simple. Of course people matter, but too often we find ourselves focusing on systems, processes, controls, and technical skills. In the midst of our daily challenges we often lose sight of the fact that organizations consist of people, not systems or processes. So what causes us to lose our focus on people? It has its roots in the theory of Scientific Management.
This theory is based on the premise that people are the problem and systems are the solution. Economists and psychologists told us for years that people always act in their own self-interest. By attacking a problem with detailed analysis such as time and motion studies and devising a rigid unyielding procedure for each and every task you would produce predictable and stable results. This would prohibit people from acting in their own interest instead of the organization’s. This may have worked in the manufacturing factories of yesterday, but not in the knowledge based economy of today.
Research has proven that people act in the best interest of the group, when they perceive that they are a member of the group. In fact, people will act against their own self-interest when it is for the benefit of the group. This is why people matter.
Your competition can reverse engineer your products, duplicate your processes, and leap over your technology. What they can’t do is replicate your unique culture. Culture is your only sustainable competitive advantage. People create, sustain, and destroy culture. This is why you must have a relentless focus on your people.