Strategy & Marketing

What’s Your Organization’s Priority?

Powerful question: Is your organization run by the best ideas, or an organizational chart? Leadership is important, but as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs put it: “You [the organization] have to be run by the best ideas, not hierarchy. Otherwise, good people don’t stay.”  It’s one of the biggest reasons teacher’s unions (and other unions as well) are in trouble across the country. They’re based on seniority, not competence.

I remember when I first came to Hollywood back in the 70’s. At that time, independent production wasn’t happening like it is today, and entertainment unions still had a lock on everything. I desperately tried to get into the film editor’s union, the lighting union, anything that would get me on a film set. But it didn’t take long to discover that they weren’t interested in talent; they were interested in seniority.

Sadly I still see that thinking in businesses, nonprofits, churches, and ministries. Loyalty is good. But never confuse loyalty with actual competence. Don’t base promotions, perks, or raises just on seniority. Reward the team members with the best ideas – not those who’ve been around the longest.

…or your best people won’t be around long. 

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  1. Leaders sometimes feel that they must choose hierarchy in order to prevent anarchy. However, as you have pointed out, idea-archy is another (and much more effective) option.

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