Right Things or Things Right?

“Should my employees do things right or do the right things?” Jim, a bit agitated, posed this question as he talked about his imminent rapid expansion. You see, Jim is the founder/owner of a single successful and unique fast casual restaurant. He is about to open three new units all at once, not originally planned that way.

Jim had never worked in hospitality before this venture and relied on surrounding himself with talented people – the most talented he could find. They seemed to be the right people in the right jobs at the right time.

But now he was worried. He was managing his present restaurant but he had never clearly articulated the organization needed for this future company.

He had reason to be concerned. 

In his book “Mission Impossible”, Ken Blanchard noted that “Before you can identify the kinds of people you need in your organization, you must determine the core skills your organization requires if it is to implement your agreed-upon strategy and reach its stipulated goals.”

“A core competence represents the sum of learning across individual skill sets and individual organizational units.  Thus, a core competence is very unlikely to reside in its entirety in a single individual or small team.” (“Competing for the Future” by Gary Hamel & C.K. Prahalad)

Some examples of core competencies include Honda’s skill in engines giving it an advantage in the automobile, motorcycle and lawn mower business—or Canon’s skill in optics and imaging which enabled it to enter the copier and camera market. 

Jim couldn’t rely on always having “Aces in their Places” as his only blueprint for success. 


Jim could develop a list of five required core skills unique to his company that meet the following criteria:

  • An integration of a variety of individual skills and technologies
  • Something competitors cannot easily imitate
  • An attribute unique to the organization
  • Ability to make a sizable contribution to customer-perceived value 

With this effort, Jim can build capabilities; find the right people to put them in to action and create the world-class organization he needs for the future. 

The answer to the question – talented people doing the right things! 

Debra Koenig, President, B2A


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