Thursday, May 5, 2011

The 50/50 Rule

It's been a long time since I posted some philosophical bullshit, but don't think you're getting off the hook that easily.

I have a thing about the use of the words "rule" or "axiom" or "law".  From a mathematical viewpoint, those imply a certain organic aspect.  That if they are truly framework terms, they must (read MUST) apply under all conditions or they are crap.  Saying that something is a "rule" means it is valid and viable at all times, under all circumstances, and within all reason.  So I have a rule that I call the "50/50" rule.  So far it has held up very well and not been proven false or faulty under any conditions.  So far.  What is it?

The 50/50 rule boils down to 50 percent given, and 50 percent applied.  In other words, most things in life that qualify as being an "opportunity" actually consist of 50 percent existing conditions combined with 50 percent leveraging.

A person's succes in life is 50/50.  50 percent what they're born with plus 50 percent what they do with it.

A business' success if 50 percent what they have and 50 percent what they do with it.

I thought of this today at work.  I have a habit of pausing to take in the surroundings and try to consider things I normally overlook.  It can be visual, auditory, or just gut feeling.  But today it was about: what is it about the office that makes it a great place to be?

It's a combination of two things, which are EXTREMELY rare to find in one place:

  • People who are fun to be around
  • People who want to accomplish "new things"

Sounds basic enough.  This isn't really the 50/50 though.  This is actually 25+25 that adds up to the 50 percent of what they have.  Management and workload are what make up the other 50 percent.

You can hire cool, talented people.  But if the management sucks they will soon leave.  If the workload sucks, they will soon leave.  The potential is wasted.  Likewise, you can have great management, a fantastically innovative business idea and all the money and resources in the world.  But if you can't hire the right people to glue it all together, it will also soon fall apart.

After years of shuffling between disperate business cultures and office environments, I have found just how incredibly rare it is to find both of these in one place.  We have a group of people that are sharp, funny and work well together, combined with a management layer that understands not only their value, but what challenges and interests them day to day.  That means they are able to look ahead and chart a path that guides the workload to the workers in a way that is challenging but not dumb or boring.  They also allow them a ton of latitude to come up with their own solutions, as long as they can quantify and prove them at game time.

50 percent great talent, plus 50 percent great management.  Rare indeed.  And the most interesting part of this is that most of the people involved (not all, but most) don't have a lot of outside, comparative experience to gage just how rare it really is.  It's kind of like a girl that's really hot but really doesn't believe she is hot.  I know - that's even more rare.  But you get the idea.  I have to soak this up while I'm able to.  I try to learn from every experience.

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