Jim Collins’ book “Good To Great” rightly deserves its place on a short list of all-time business classics.  Based on extensive research, yet boiled down into timeless and practical principles, Collins’ book will continue to help leaders and companies for decades to come.  Perhaps the most memorable quote in the book is:


You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and who’s going with you.  Most people assume that great bus drivers immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.  In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances.


This is not only the most memorable quote from the book, but in some ways the most surprising finding from Good To Great – that great leaders don’t start with vision, but instead start with ensuring the right people are on the bus and in the right seat!



But How Do You Put This Principle Into Practice?


To ensure you have a bus full of the right people in the right seats you need both “Right people” and “Right seat”.  Also, there are wider contexts than just narrowly determining if someone is a ‘right person’ and in the ‘right seat’ as the two EOS® tools below will explain.




People Analyzer™: How to determine “right people”


Discover your Core Values


Right people share your Core Values – the wrong people simply do not.  Core Values are discovered during an EOS® Vision Building session.


Rate each person against Core Values


Each person is rated against each Core Value and assessed one of the following ratings:


  • “+” (plus) = most of the time that individual exhibits that Core Value
  • “+/-” (plus/minus) = sometimes they live that Core Value, & sometimes they don’t
  • “-” (minus)  = that the person most of the time does not live out that particular Core Value.


Determine “The Bar”


Teams must then determine “The Bar” – the minimum mix of Core Values each person must get while being rated using the rating levels above. For example, if you have 5 Core Values, “The Bar” likely would be 3 “+” and 2 “+/-” ratings.  We strongly recommend not allowing any “-” ratings in the “The Bar”.  Given that most organizations have never so clearly defined what makes for a right person in their culture, we recommend giving people time & coaching to change if they are below the bar.




Accountability Chart: How to determine “right seat”


“Right seats” are best clarified in the context of a company-wide Accountability Chart.  To create an accountability chart requires:


  • Literally wiping the slate clean in terms of current structure and roles
  • Begin by asking what are the major functions of the business and then the seats needed to lead each of those major functions
  • Once seats are determined, then clarify the 5 major roles for each seat




To determine if a certain person is the “Right person” for a given seat, evaluate them against


  • “Get it” – you’ve seen people who ‘get’ a role and those who don’t – so does the person ‘get’ the role or not?
  • “Want it” – are they inherently motivated to do the role?
  • “Capacity to do it” – do they have the time as well as the emotional and relational capacity to do the role?


Three “yes” answers are required for someone to be in the right seat (which becomes part of “The Bar”).




Wrong Person And/or Wrong Seat Issues Are Holding Most Organizations Back


Having facilitated dozens of these exercises to determine if the right people are in the right seats, it almost always reveals significant ways in which the organization is being held back by a combination of wrong person and/or wrong seat issues.  We recommend that after clearly explaining the Core Values and their Seat, give “Wrong People” and/or “Wrong Seat” individuals coaching and time to address those deficiencies.  If the deficiencies are not fixed, then a decision needs to be made for the greater good of the business.




So What?


Presuming Jim Collins’ contention is correct, that a bus full of Right People in the Right Seats is necessary to take your company from good to great, do you have the tools and processes in place to ensure you have 100% Right People in the Right Seats?




Next Steps

  • Visit NavigateTheJourney.com and schedule a call with Tom Barrett to discuss how implementing EOS® would allow you to get what you want from your business.



About The Author


Tom Barrett is a Nashville-based Certified EOS Implementer™ and focuses on implementing EOS® with growth minded entrepreneurial businesses helping them to Clarify, Simplify & Achieve their Vision.


« | »

Schedule a Call