Focus on building a stellar team, not hiring stellar individuals

There is an important management axiom articulated by Jim Collins in “Good to Great“, when hiring, don’t seek to fill an “empty position” in your organization, seek to hire an exceptional individual (“get them on the bus”).

Example: don’t seek to hire a “Software developer with specific skills x, y & z, with exactly n years of experience, with specific certifications a, b, & c, in order to fill a role in your team vacated by someone with those exact qualities. Seek to hire the best developer you can find, regardless of specifics, and morph your team to include the new skills and experiences. In other words, don’t try to find a replica of the past employee, flex to fit the new employee.

One important aspect of this, which is often overlooked, is “cultural fit”. How that individual jives with the existing team. This is an issue of personality, character, personal preferences and habits, and extracurricular experience.

Avichal Garg nails this idea in his great post “Focus on Building 10x teams, not 10x developers“. Check it out. “In software, the superstar is the team, not the individual.”

This is an important corollary to the advice of the Developernomics” post. The goldmine is not in an individual software developer, though that will get you farther than most other investments, the goldmine is in a killer team.

(HT: Ben Hutton, a member of my 10x team…)