Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Invest in the real assets – the people

People are Assets

In most organizations the word “asset” is linked to their technology IP, products or other items that end up on the balance sheet. The traditional accounting equation drives this mindset. So it’s no wonder that when organizations plan their investments they focus on improving their traditional assets and their bottom line.

In my recent article published in The Pragmatic Marketer I assert that in any company or organization, the real assets are the people. Their intellect—along with personality, skills, knowledge, character, integrity, and other things collectively referred to as “human life value”—create the true value in any organization.

When it comes to investing in the company or organization, it makes sense to invest in the real assets – the people. For most organizations, investing in people requires a change in mindset. Norman Wolfe wrote a great post called The Challenge of Investing in People. He says:

In every business, at the end of the day it is the people who produce results (I have yet to see a machine or a process produce anything without people). While it is easy to see expenditures in the “feel good stuff” as wasting resources, the real challenge lies in the difficulty to determine if the investment will produce the result. The proof is in the results, but how do I know that my investments will in the end improve results.

What examples have you seen where organizations invest in their people? What results have you observed?


Go fast or go far?

I recently read an African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, travel alone, but if you want to go far, travel together.” This applies nicely to many jobs, roles and professions. I like how it applies to product management. We can do things ourselves and get them done quickly or we can work with others (individuals or teams) and make things happen right for the long-term.

The real assets of any organization are its people. Their intellect – along with personality, skills, knowledge, character, integrity and other things collectively referred to as “human life value” – create the true value in any organization. By working to build relationships we are, in fact, building our pool of assets. When we create experiences that make team members feel valued, they will care deeply about the products and services they are helping us to develop. We are doing the things that will help us to travel far.