Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You Gotta Stand Up For What You Believe In

Built To Last and Good To Great left me with a lot of ideas to digest, but I'd like to touch on two of them. In Good To Great, part of the Hedgehog Concept involves the journey in finding the "core" that you believe in. In Built To Last, half of the foundation for building a visionary company is "Preserving the Core."

How do you find the core? It has to be something you're passionate about. Philip Morris is passionate about offering products and defending your choice to use those products. You may not agree with that stance, and if that's the case, working at Philip Morris is probably not a good idea. Nordstrom's is passionate about customer service - almost fanatically so. If you aren't, you won't fit in.

These companies spent a while looking for their core values. Once they found them - they were passionate about keeping them, and developing a company where the values would flourish, by hiring (and keeping) individuals who shared those values.

This is of the utmost importance. At the point where you're looking for employment in your life, your core set of values is probably established. It becomes harder to change these as you grow older. Don't be afraid of what you truly believe in. If you're passionate about something, find and surround yourself with others who share these values. By the same token, a company should actively seek to hire individuals that identify with it's core values.

For software companies - I think there is a key difference between core values and core competencies. I feel far too many recruiters and jobs focus on technical skills that can be acquired by any good developer in a few weeks. Focus on the values the developer holds. Are they disciplined? Are they enthusiastic? These are more important, as these traits will drive them to always be learning the technical skills they need to help them succeed (and your business, as well).

Disclaimer: There is still a core level of technical competency that any developer needs. I think it's hard to really quantify it, but anyone working as a developer definitely needs technical skills. They are, after all, what allows us to do our jobs. I just don't feel that measuring someone solely by their laundry list of buzzwords on their resume is a good indicator of their true worth.

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