Friday, October 30, 2009

Greatest Importance for Success

Lewis and Clark knew management. One important management principle shows up in the correspondence between Lewis and Clark as far back as 1803. American readers will remember that Lewis and Clark, with a group of frontiersmen, set out to find a water passage from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. The timing of the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1806) seems as though President Jefferson was telling the men, “We just bought a huge chunk of land. Now go see what we just purchased.” In reality, Thomas Jefferson had pursued several ideas for western exploration years before the purchase was made.

In preparation for the trip, Lewis and Clark exchanged a series of letters regarding expedition objectives, needs, and timeframes. In one such letter, Clark shares "a judicious choice of our party is of the greatest importance to the success of this vast enterprise." Lewis responded in agreement.

Selection of staff is of “greatest importance?” Do you hold such beliefs? If you do agree with Clark, do you act on those beliefs? I have oftentimes been encouraged to make a job offer to a candidate after a single interview. Ideally, I would like to meet the candidate on two or three occasions. If I must spend the next few years working with a person, I want to make sure I know that person before he or she is invited in the door.

If your experience has been like mine, your most frustrating problems are related to people? When I think of my best projects, it is always the projects where I was able to work with good people.

How important is selecting the right people? Were Lewis and Clark off course on this one?

1 comment:

  1. Most frustrating problem on a project? Its a toss-up between staff and scope definition. Poor staff can drag any project down, while good staff can buoy up project even with multiple problems.

    On the other hand, scope creep and a poor definition of 'victory' will inevitably suck the life out of a project.