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Good People Are Not Good At Everything

By: Steve Johnson

2/25/2008 - 21 Comments

I remember graduating from college and talking my way through those first interviews. Every interviewer seems to be asking the same questions.

Do you get along with everyone? Can you multitask? Are you well-rounded or involved in lots of different things?

The real answer to all of these questions is NO. I remember getting turned down from one interviewer because I was ‘too’ knowledgeable about the job at hand. I thought to myself, ‘this is crazy, what do I have to do, dumb down my insight and talk about my well-roundedness?’ I never did understand this trend of thinking. Now, years later, I found an explaination. Productive people are only good at a few things. Peter F. Drucker, in his book The Effective Executive, explains this concept. Peter explains that if you try to place a person into a job to avoid weakness, you will end up at best with mediocrity, and likely with incompetence.

“Strong people always have strong weaknesses too.”  If a person is “concerned with what a person cannot do rather than with what he/she can do, and therefore tries to avoid weakness rather than make strength effective is a weak person themselves. There is no such thing as a ‘good person’. Good for what is the question.”

I’m happy to say that the management team that I currently work for understand this concept. They hire people that can deliver, and hire different people to deliver different things. Together, we can deliver more goods to the market than our competitors.

Competition does not allow a business to be mediocre; it has to make common people achieve uncommon tasks. The global economy is pushing hard on American businesses and eliminating methods by which businesses used to be able to compete. For example, natural resources (like wood and metal) can now be shipped to anywhere in the world within days, allowing labor to be outsourced to the lowest bidder.  And the Internet allows office workers to live anywhere in the world, yet stay connected during office hours in real-time with computer networks and email.

So, what can America still compete with? Knowledge. Our greatest asset to sell to the world is our advanced system of discovering new knowledge and our ability to put that knowledge to work to design new products that offer more benefits at lower costs than previous methods.

The industries in America with the greatest potential for growth are health care, biotechnology, nanotechnology and renewable energy. But in the end, every business needs to be able to hire people that can produce and then push those people to produce uncommon results. It all startes with hiring good people.

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