right people right place right time

So.impatience rubix

This post is about having a successful business. And more specifically … solving the Rubix cube alignment where success looks … well … perfectly aligned. Here are some thoughts.


Even being an entrepreneur means more than “me, myself & I” kickin’ some business butt. It means you have surround yourself with other people to be successful. I say that to eliminate ‘one people’ business successes.


There are a lot of great ideas out there in the world and there are a lot of great talented people out there in the world and there are a lot of great businesses out there in the world … yet … in the end there are only a few really successful businesses out there in the world <in the scheme of things>.


By successful I mean at the top of the industry. The best. They tend to be bigger. So. I am not talking about those smaller companies (who say they want to be just a small company) and are doing well profitably.

Anyway. With that last thought (the third one).

Throughout my career I have probably met or worked with a dozen small companies who could have kicked the crap out of anyone they competed against  … any size competitor (by ‘kicked the crap’ I mean they were very very good at what they did). And, yet, they never left their smallness <despite a desire for bigger and better things>.

Something kept them from getting to the next level.

So. Here’s the deal.

You can read books on how to become good to great.

You can have consultants come in to say “here is how to focus your organization” or “this is how to make yourself great like whatever company is hot at the time.”

You can do and try all these things … and more power to you.

But its gonna be a waste of time.people puzzle

Great successful companies typically have the right group of people together at the right place and the right time.

Simple <and as tough> as that. Trying to recreate all those ‘rights’ is tough. And sometimes that grouping of people is purely serendipitous.


Sure the opportunity needs to exist in the marketplace (that’s kind of a “duh”).

And a good cultural company environment to have a successful environment is good (but there truly is no formula for a successful environment … because there have been as many successful business dictatorships as there have been business ‘cult’ environments).

<side note: consultants and books do not want to tell you that>

So. The right group of people.

Ah. There is where great companies arise from. That random mix & matching of typically a small group of people who really don’t need to be told what to do or how to do it or whatever. They just go ‘do’. It’s like making sure you have all the right people ingredient involved to insure the business baked good rises (and tastes good).   Ok. Bad metaphor <but now I am hungry>.

Let’s call the optimal mix “the visionary,” “the practical,” “the thinker,” “the doer” and possibly “the hunter/gatherer” (but if you have a great “the visionary” people naturally gather around the campfire naturally to hear the story they have to tell).

I believe more companies seeking to grow would be better off evaluating their leadership team mix than assessing what they could be “doing better.”

Ok. What I mean by that. I have seen far too many companies bring in consultants for the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong. Their intent is good and they want to “fix” whatever it is you want them to fix but in many cases they are ignoring the “right group” aspect. And, to be honest, I imagine most good consultants actually see the lack of leadership synergy … or an off kilter mix … but they assume the leadership team is the leadership team … and moves on to process & direction.

Do I believe consultants are bad for a company? Well. In general I think companies who have their shit together don’t need them but if you are a successful company bringing in a consultant as a third party non invested observer to suggest some enhancements? Sure. That’s ok.

If you are bringing in a consultant to fix something? Not so much a good idea (because a right group should be able to fix it themselves).

If you are bringing in a consultant to help you “define success”? Another bad idea. If your management team cannot figure out what their desired direction is or what they believe ‘success’ is it is probably from lack of alignment more than not having any ideas (and no consultant can truly create a happy alignment … because that is “forced alignment” … and that never works … it has to come naturally).

Look. Organizations with the right group of people who figure things out as a team, and are aligned on where the organization wants to go, will figure out how to get there all by themselves. Mostly because as a “borg” group of active individuals they will be smart enough to have the ideas and chemistry strong enough to align on what to do.

Again. Consultants can force alignment but that simply shoves the real issue to the backburner only to be faced again some other time (and inevitably at a worse time then when you ignored it). That last part is a Murphy’s Law I believe.

So. If you have a good idea for a business and want it to be successful, start by putting together the right group. And if you step into an organization and want to re-direct it or transform it <or renovate it> in any way, same thing, start with putting together the right group.

(I am chuckling)

Now. Those were easy words to type.

Actionwise it can sometimes be a very very tough thing to do. Two partners who are really good together hesitate to bring in a third and a fourth. An existing group with a new leader can’t always be thrown out and started anew. But, I guess that is my point. Getting the right group together, that sometimes wacky multi faceted group that somehow aligns on the important things, is tough. Really tough. And sometimes you just have to get lucky.

I have been at a couple of companies that got close. Probably one person away. But sometimes that last piece of the puzzle is the toughest.

I have seen companies who have that group. And they are fun to watch and even more fun to work with.

But, bottom line, when it works its magical. And that is always worth pursuing.

But … I imagine the real point of this is to say that you can have the best hiring practices, and the best vision … and a kick-ass idea or product … and still it comes down to a little bit of luck, or fate, or whatever you want to call it. You have to be a little fortunate that the right people, at the right time <personally & business> show up at the right place. Sometimes successful business is serendipity.

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Written by Bruce