Team Meritocracy? Team Diversity? ~ Can the former be achieved if the latter is a constraint?

There is a well know aphorism – because it represents a sad but true reality – that “First rate people tend to hire only other first rate people whereas, second rate tend towards hiring third rate and on down the line”. First rate people know who they are without either arrogance or fear: Not afraid that someone else might challenge them in their work or position, humble in their attitude towards team-mates and others and always keen to help and support where help and support is appropriate whereas, as you go down the line, you find that the second rate and, more and more so with those one would rate lower, tend to be more concerned about their position in the game and with whatever they can take from the game than they are about their contribution to the game. By “rate” I’m referring to overall performance capability and team integration characteristics, not just academic and skill based qualifications.

“Lessons Learned: Why diversity matters (the meritocracy business)”

First let me acknowledge that the above subtitle has been taken directly from the title of a blog posted originally in February 2010 by Eric Ries ~ @ericries the guru (along with Steve Blank @sgblank) of #lean in web start-ups ~ that came back into focus recently; an event that was the stimulus to write this blog and which led to the choice of wording for the primary title for this blog. More about this below.

In the course of this edition of the MISSIcom blog, and in the context of the title and sub-title, I want to discuss with you some of the related issues underlying such key staffing considerations as I perceive them: Recruiting and Maintaining the best and the brightest; what are the factors to be considered in the effort to achieve a Meritocratic team comprised of an appropriately Diverse group of recruits? Is the goal of building a meritocratic team even capable of achievement if diversity has also to be achieved or are these actually mutually exclusive objectives? What do we mean by meritocracy and what do we mean by diversity?

In regard to recruiting processes, this discussion is not just about being, or even about attempting to be, politically correct in our choices of candidates or even about functioning appropriately under the directives of Affirmative Action nor is it about discrimination or avoiding discrimination per se albeit that we are naturally obliged ethically and morally as well as legally to bear such issues in mind when making recruiting choices. This is about how, in reality as individual human beings charged with responsibility for putting together a team, we most often tend to go about achieving what we individually consider to be a well balanced team of the best, brightest, appropriately most capable staff for most effectively achieving the objectives we have at hand while knowingly functioning within the bounds of these various constraints. Continue reading “Team Meritocracy? Team Diversity? ~ Can the former be achieved if the latter is a constraint?”