People Are Not Your Most Important Asset


In the incredible book Good To Great Author Jim Collins changed the way that I look at people in our business, and in our business, the people are EVERYTHING.

Collins says “The old adage ‘People are your most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” Initially when I read this I thought to myself, “Obviously, Jim, we get that!” but after more time digesting his point and the information he elaborates on throughout the book I finally began to see what he was talking about.

It’s not just about throwing people into any role because “Desperate times call for desperate measures”, no, it means taking a calculated approach to the role you have and who is best suited to fill that role.

I feel a book such as Good To Great is one that everyone in any sort of business should read, but especially our industry. Colins challenges us to think outside the box and demand a bit more from ourselves and those around us, which always, has lasting positive impacts.

Just the above quote forces us to stop and consider our current reality, be it here in Vancouver, or Brisbane, we are faced with most employers in the hospitality sector constantly looking for any and all help within their given business. Over the past 5 years we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the number of quality, reliable, and invested staff members that would even allow for us to build a culture let alone grow a business.

While the point of putting an emphasis on the RIGHT people that Colins shares is imperative to us at the moment he also shares a paradox that I feel would help our industry deal with the challenges that we are currently facing such as staffing.

On page 13 of Good To Great Colins introduces us The Stockdale Paradox which helps to show us how to “Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith).

The Stockdale Paradox is one in which I would love to see seep into the minds of those leading our industry at the moment as I feel they imperative to it’s success. The Stockdale Paradox allows for those who utilize it to take on challenges, hardships, and “uncontrollable’s” head on with an attitude of “We will not quit”.

The name refers to Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War. Tortured over twenty times during his eight-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoner’s rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again…” While, as Colin sites, this can all be depressing and so bleak it isn’t the reality that Stockdale faced that we need to spend time lamenting on, it is the mindset that he had that allowed him to survive his reality that we call can adopt when things for us in this space seem to be challenging.

Stockdale told Colins “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Did you just read that? He wouldn’t trade that experience? What an incredible and truly rigid mindset.

What we are doing day in and day out in the restaurant industry isn’t life or death, or, maybe for you it is. Maybe the work isn’t that serious, or perhaps it really truly is. So many of us in this space risk quite literally everything to make our dreams and our passions become a reality and that risk can be very heavy and very serious. Regardless of the seriousness of your own situation what Stockdale shares with us is the ultimate Head In The Clouds & Feet On The Ground mindsets that I’ve come across and it’s one that I feel can truly move our industry and your individual business forward.

The realities that our industry is facing are daunting and for many they may be too much to handle. Recognizing your own limits are extremely valuable within this space, however The Stockdale Paradox gives us the tools to be able to approach these realities with a “won’t give up attitude” and by adopting this culture in your business you are destined to set yourself apart from the rest.

This is not about optimism. This is not about dreaming. This is about facing the facts but literally never losing faith that your situation, your business, your reality will improve.

The is a wealth of knowledge and lessons to be learned from within our industry and from outside of it and this paradox is one that has been adopted by some of the biggest names. Their ability to stay the course while everyone else is hitting the panic button (see Anticipation blog post) has allowed them to deal with what for some has been business ending realities.

To learn more about The Stockdale Paradox and how it applies to business I strongly recommending Good To Great as the next book you pick up. Using the tools he lays out in the book as well as your new paradox you will be well on your way to not only finding the right people but also improving the standards for our industry.