Getting the Right People on the Drone


What does the unveiling of Amazon Prime Air have to do with Jim Collins and hiring the right people? Everything. Building the right team is as important to your success as building the right products.

“Leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

– Jim Collins, Good to Great

What if that bus was a drone? More on that later.

In a recent article from the team at Netrush, we touched on the importance of recruiting the right people to perform specialized roles within our business. Competition for talent has increased in this currently tightening high-skills labor market. Business owners need to load up on people who not only possess the skills to do their job well, but the right attitude to see large and innovative projects through from start to finish.

At the end of 2013, when the concept of Amazon Prime Air was first unveiled, people weren’t sure how to respond.

Is it legal? Safe? Is it a hoax?

Nobody could say for sure.

Nearly 3 years later, Prime Air is not viewed as an if. The technology is ready, demand for instantaneous delivery is here, and Jeremy Clarkson has already starred in the commercial.

It’s happening.

It was a bold move for Jeff Bezos and the team at Amazon to showcase Prime Air so far ahead of deployment, but he wasn’t worried about naysayers.

“It will work, it will happen, and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said to Charlie Rose with a smile during an interview for 60 Minutes.

Bezos knew that the need for faster delivery would demand an innovative solution like drone delivery. He also knew that if Amazon wasn’t actively spearheading this innovation, someone else would beat them to it.

What’s your drone?

To stay competitive, it’s essential to properly equip your business with the right teams who can identify opportunities and take advantage of them. Keeping up momentum on day-to-day fundamentals is also necessary. Success may be found in hiring for disruption but also hiring for sustainability.

Who’s on your drone?

At the same time, Amazon is not a typical retailer. Retailers educate consumers and handle packaging. Amazon does none of that for you.  You’re the one who has to facilitate that piece. People aren’t used to that. Who do you need to to be on board to make this transformation? Your retail partners? Yes. All of your channels? Yes. Your employees? Definitely.

1. Who are you associated with?

Leading brands associate with organizations and individuals that share their core values and vision.

If you are a leading manufacturer then you are obsessed with knowing about your supply chain and where your product comes from. You are (hopefully) even more obsessed with knowing and establishing trust with your retailers and other business partners in your value chain all the way to your end customers.

In that value chain, your employees are who you associate with the most.

2. Focus on today and tomorrow

While the landscape changes, you need to be thinking ahead of change rather than reacting to it. Thinking ahead requires seeing what’s ahead. Having the right people on the drone will help you see a little further and not simply react to change. In the best circumstance your team is shaping that change.

Cultivating a team that shares your vision, passion, and work ethic is an important part of  what’s needed to provide value today.  Getting the right individuals to be forward thinking helps secure value for customers tomorrow.

3. Expect the unexpected

Every business is racing against time, technology, and each other. At this exact moment, the drone is a perfect metaphor for the changing landscape that e-commerce inhabits.

People generally don’t get out of their comfort zones in a hurry. Change and disruption are enemies of convenience. This applies to business owners as much as it does to the type of customers who thought that Prime Air was a joke.

However,  wanting change and being confronted with it are two different things. Your teams should be operating under the assumption that change is always happening. Discomfort means you are on the drone and navigating uneasy currents, not watching from the ground, and you’re addressing challenges head-on.

4. Increase your odds of success

A team tackling a project is better than the full responsibility being lumped on one person. Good leaders are part of what’s needed, but all good leaders know that they need to be surrounded by people who can do specific tasks better than they do. At the same time, make sure the people contributing are committed.

You don’t find new or interesting solutions with three people who think the same way teamed together. Diversity can untangle complexity.

[I]f you have the right people on your bus, you don’t need to worry about motivating them. The right people are self-motivated: Nothing beats being part of a team that is expected to produce great results.

Leading organizations care about who they associate with on an organizational level. From suppliers to retailers, service providers, and especially their own employees, every link in the chain is important, because they want to deliver the best results.

Change will happen. It’s happening now. Getting the right people on the drone is your assurance of quality for today and what’s to come tomorrow, and all the tomorrow’s after that.