“…the greatest shortage in our society is an instinct to produce. To create solutions and hustle them out the door. To touch the humanity inside and connect to the humans in the marketplace.”
Seth Godin, in his book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”
Let’s say that the best in the business, what Seth Godin calls Linchpins, cost 20% more than other lesser mortals but based on the Pareto principle, deliver 80% of an organisation’s solutions.
Now let’s say that by some freak of nature you manage to build a team of nothing but linchpins. The solutions don’t just hustle out the door, they hurtle out the door, creating something remarkable.
Would you compensate above average for all of the individuals? Do the increased individual wages equate to a larger overall wage bill or less because less people would assumedly be required?
Before Berkshire Hathaway merged with General Re there were around 150 people in the GenRe investment team. After the merger there was just one – Warren Buffett. To my knowledge, there is no Warren Buffett in the OSS industry, one capable of replacing 150 competent specialists and delivering more, so this is perhaps an unfair example. But it does raise an interesting question – “is it worth spending more to get the best OSS exponents in the hope of developing something remarkable?”
To be honest, I’ve never seen an organisation that consists of such a high proportion of superstars so I acknowledge that the question is too idealistic. But I have seen organisations that hire for average (or below) and deliver average (or below) and wonder if that approach is a waste of the organisation’s resources and opportunities?