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Acting on the urgings of Jonathan Holmes during his final episode of ABC1’s Media Watch, I decided to make a commitment to pay for quality journalism by subscribing to Business Review Weekly. 

The most recent cover story features US business author Jim Collins, who is most famous for his  books Good to Great (2001) and Built to Last (2004).

Collins is heading to Australia next month to headline the Australian Business Congress and the BRW snagged an interview with Collins to discuss how companies become great and maintain that greatness through turbulent and challenging global economic times.

I was particularly fascinated by this revelation:

Collins says his research has highlighted two of the things that stand at the centre of the mythology of a great entrepreneur – vision and innovation – aren’t nearly as important as many believe. 

‘Innovation doesn’t distinguish great companies. Innovation without discipline will lead to disaster. Innovation plus discipline leads to the exceptional’.

 Instead Collins says great companies are started by people who have an ‘almost pathological need to confront brutal facts. Then in a very realistic way, they’ll be able to figure out what
actually works’
(my bold)

Once they’ve decided what works the disciplined thinker starts to concentrate.

This completely aligns with my experience in working for, and with, many recruitment agency owners. Those owners who are the most successful in the long term are those, without exception, who are passionate about making decisions based on data, not their feelings.

This is not to suggest that any of those owners are robot-like, unfeeling tsars; far from it. This group of people use their instincts, fashioned over many years, to lead them towards the best decision but they search out the facts to ensure their decision is supported by evidence.

Here are three examples of where greater use of disciplined thinking would be benefical

Action of a Brutal Fact Finder
PSA panel submissions
Before submission, analyses the chances of being selected based on previous work with the company, likely recruitment volumes and the likely price point required to be selected.
The submission to success ratio is high and almost all PSAs prove to be profitable.
Recruiting recruiters
Before hiring process commences it is crystal
clear about the two or three competencies that candidates
require in order to be successful at the job being recruited
A more efficient recruitment process and much greater chance that the person hired will be successful.
Working on jobs
Before any job is accepted, the likelihood of that job being filled within a profitable time frame is
estimated (based on past results).
A clear decision about which jobs to accept and which jobs to decline and a much higher filled job ratio.

A recent example of what I would regard as brutal fact finding was published by industry news service Shortlist last week when it reported that Xpand (owned by ASX-listed Rubicor Group) had made a strategic decision to no longer pursue big, low-margin PSA business and, would instead only pursue those accounts where Xpand could add value and the client was interested in this partnership approach

Xpand group managing director Ian Tyler has clearly ‘confronted the brutal facts’ about the profitability of many of the current PSAs that the Rubicor-owned IT recruitment companies participate in and has announced where his business will now concentrate its efforts.


What would your desk, division or company gain if you had an almost pathological need to confront brutal facts’?

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