The Success Equation | Harvard Business Review
Written By: Nilofer Merchant
Human stuff — the soft stuff — is rarely valued. We talk about it, sure. But we don’t change it. We don’t reinvent it. We give lip service to it but, when times are tough, we focus on the hard stuff.
We manage numbers because it’s easier. We say we value people but we focus on the things we can track, we can inventory, we can show, and we can log in and out of. We focus on stuff that matters, surely, but we are doing the thing of managing the measurable, rather than the meaningful.
In a recent post, called “People are Not Cogs,” I argued that we still think performance or people, when we ought to think performance through people. Management experts, marketplace results, and thorough research all proves that people are central to what we produce today and how well we can produce results.
But we continue to talk about people like cogs and numbers and inputs and outputs. The cost of that is that we’re missing how to harness the power of people in our businesses. We need to recognize the need for both performance-based decision-making and people-based decision making. The former creates efficiencies and propels markets; the latter drives creativity and innovation. Both are important to the health of an organization, and to growth, and to viability. Yet given the current focus on performance-based data, how might we bridge the gap?
Maybe, as a start, we ought to describe peopley stuff in more economic language, by putting it in some context that will help our CFO and engineering friends better understand how things relate to one another.
Here is a proposal for a bridge-the-gap model:
S(uccess) = P(urpose)T(alent)C(ulture)
Or: S = (PT)C
Let’s talk about each one in turn.