People Are Our Most Important Asset

Lee Litchlyter, CEO of GISi, talks about a new pipeline concept that focuses on the development and growth of people and their value to the company. 

Mar 6th, 2011

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00:01What an amazing day.

00:03You know, listening to the power of GIS and how its changing the world, it's completely renewed my passion for the business we're in.

00:07But what business are we in?

00:10I think most of us here in the room would say we're in the spatial business...

00:13...or perhaps the solution business, but really we're in the people business...

00:19...because without people, that vision that Jack talked about this morning, well, we couldn't achieve it.

00:27So who has said this line, people are our most important asset.

00:32I know I have. I'm guilty of that. But what's it really mean?

00:36Sure, it feels good when we say it.

00:39But there's a problem with that statement. A pretty big one, in fact.

00:43See, true tangible assets, things like raw materials and factories, they don't think on their own, and obviously people do.

00:51So even if you're the most perfect company in the world, your most important asset may just get up and walk out the door.

00:59So what's the solution? What's the insightful idea?

01:03Well, I recently read the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, who is the CEO of Zappos...

01:09...and he got me thinking about a new type of asset, a pipeline of people.

01:15And adopting this pipeline concept has completely changed how we think about our business.

01:19Now we're all familiar with a sales pipeline and some of the attributes.

01:25We fill the funnel by our marketing activities.

01:28We want to create depth and diversity throughout the whole sales process.

01:32We invest appropriately to maximize our business benefit...

01:36...and we adapt our sales approach based on where things are at in the sales funnel.

01:40A people pipeline is very similar.

01:44You fill your pipeline by trying to attract and retain people.

01:47You create bench strength and build depth and diversity throughout your organization.

01:52You develop appropriately to get the best out of your individuals.

01:56And you adapt your training strategies based on the type of people you have.

02:01So we've been starting to implement this at GIS, Inc., I'd would like to tell you an example of how that is working for us.

02:07We implemented an innovative new benefits program that we call Personal Choice.

02:13This benefits program has allowed us to add 40 percent new benefits while holding our costs steady.

02:20Now our CFO loves it, as you can imagine, but our employees do, too, because they get tremendous flexibility in their benefits,...

02:27...and this is allowing us to attract and retain new talent.

02:32For the reasons that Nick just outlined, we're strongly endorsing certifications like Esri's new program.

02:37We give people the time and the money to go out and get their certifications, and this is building depth and diversity for us.

02:45This next one is one that our employees really love.

02:48We created an R&D program.

02:50Every month, we pick an employee and we give them a couple of weeks to go out and play with whatever technology they want to...

02:56...and while this is primarily an investment in individuals, it's also returning significant benefit to our business.

03:04And we change how we train, depending on your role.

03:06For example, our leadership team as been doing book reviews.

03:10Now, every quarter, we pick out a business book, we read it, and we discuss the ideas in it.

03:14And we've been doing this for five years.

03:16And it's really helped all of us to become better leaders.

03:20So I think you get the idea. That's just a couple examples of how we're adopting this pipeline concept at GIS, Inc.

03:26And if you adopt it, you'll find that you'll manage differently and you'll invest differently...

03:31...and you'll develop a far more valuable asset for your company.

Copyright 2014 Esri
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