How The Best Labs Manage Talent…

June 7, 2011

As I look back at my career and other successful software executives careers that I have been associated with, a common thread is and always will be the ability to attract and manage top talent when it comes to the people who work for them and with them. People are the only strategic asset a company has. I wrote a blog earlier about this that you can check out here.

When OpenView invests venture capital in an expansion stage software company we are not investing that capital in the company but in the people and management teams that make up the company. In fact the strength of the management team is a major determinate in whether we invest growth capital or not.

Hence when I was reading the McKinsey Quarterly and come across an article titled “How the best labs manage talent” I decided to share it with you because the formula is the same whether you are talking about talent in an R&D lab, development, marketing, sales, customer service, finance or any other organization including the management team in an early or expansion stage software company.

Many people emphasize how important it is for founders and or CEO’s to hire top talent including people who are smarter than you and with expertise in operational areas that compliment you. But once you hire them if you do not stay engaged and manage that talent, over time they will leave. You lose your investment in the team and their institutional knowledge of the company. Your strategic asset… your people are gone.

The article lists 5 practices that correlated to high performance in R&D Labs. These are listed below in order of correlation;

  1. Talented Teams
  2. Clear strategies and roles
  3. Environment that promotes collaboration
  4. Effective project and portfolio management
  5. Effective problem solving approach

It goes on to discuss that managing talent was the area that had the greatest potential for improvement over the other 4 areas of correlation.

I would maintain that this is the case across every operational organization in every company and especially starting at the management team level within your company.

Well managed talented teams always outperform talented teams. If you are looking to build a great company remember, it is not just about hiring top talent… it is also about managing that talent once they have joined your team.

All the best!


Venture Partner

<strong>George Roberts</strong> is a Venture Partner at OpenView. He enjoys partnering with companies and helping them achieve their goals through strategy, focus and operational execution. From 1990 to 2003, George spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation, most recently having served as Executive Vice President of North American Sales. While at Oracle, George was responsible for over $1 billion in revenue and more than 2,000 employees, reporting directly to the company’s CEO and Chairman, Larry Ellison.