Add value, don't put the cart before the horse

“Don’t put the cart before the horse”. This English idiom which means don’t do things out of the proper order, is appropriate for this blog. We often hear that talent comes first. However, when it comes to getting the right people in the most important roles in the organization, we may need to rethink this. McKinsey’s article, Linking Talent to Value by Mike Barriere, Miriam Owens and Sarah Pobereskin explains this different perspective. Their research shows that, “Getting the best people into the most important roles does not happen by chance; it requires a disciplined look at where the organization really creates value and how top talent contributes.”

  1. First identify and clarify critical roles.

“The ability to achieve true role clarity is closely tied to overall organizational performance and health, according to McKinsey research. In the pursuit of such clarity, it is critical to think first about roles rather than people. The initial goal is assessment of where the greatest potential value is and what skills will be necessary to realize that value—not identification of the top performers. This approach allows leaders to think more strategically about matching talent and value rather than merely focusing on an individual’s capabilities.”

  1. Once the clarity of roles is achieved, then we must match the right talent to these roles.

As in the words of business guru, Jim Collins, “You need to get the right people on the bus, get the wrong ones off and get the right people into the right seats.”

Yes, talent is important, but don’t put the cart before the horse.