“Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Scott's Notes | 0 comments

“Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

SUMMARY (from book jacket):

…The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent… The silver lining is that “who” problems are easily preventable. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs, Who presents Smart and Street’s A Method for Hiring. Refined through the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken, the A Method stresses fundamental elements that anyone can implement–and it has a 90 percent success rate….

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Scott’s Notes

WHO is Serious about Hiring “A” players

The title is intended as both a statement and a question.

Who is the name of the book written Geoff Smart and Randy Street that was our most recent TGR Partners Book Club selection.  For anyone familiar with the book and the concept of “Top Grading,” Geoff works for the same consulting company, GH Smart, that was formed to help companies better evaluate the talent in their organization companies by adopting a new approach and implementing new processes.

Who moves this idea up in the “Hiring Value Chain” by describing how many companies conduct their talent acquisition efforts currently and proposing some new approaches to help them do a better job of identifying, attracting, engaging, evaluating, and adding “A” players to an organization.  They define an “A” player as “A candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve.”

AT TGR Partners, we like to say that we help companies that are serious about hiring top talent into important positions at their company.  This book provided an easy-to-remember framework to guide companies in that effort.

The components of that framework we call the “4S’s of Serious Hiring”:

–       Scorecard

–       Source

–       Select

–       Sell

For this newsletter, I will review the SCORECARD element and focus on Sourcing, Selecting, and Selling in subsequent editions.


How often does a hiring manager put together a job description for a position based on the Job Requisition Form provided by their Talent Acquisition Group with a bullet-pointed list of tasks and skills/certifications someone in the role will have…It’s probably the rule more than the exception.

Smart & Street (more “S’s”!)  suggest that Hiring Managers think about the purpose of having someone fill a role more like having a business strategy that will lead to the selection and hiring of an “A” player.

1)    What MISSION will this person have in this position?   Will this person be responsible for: Designing new products?  Establishing the architecture upon which the products will be built? Ensuring the quality development and deployment of the product?  Selling the Product?

2)    What OUTCOMES will be achieved when this person is in this role?  Be as specific as you can:  This person will identify 2 new products to be introduced to our mid-market clients.  Sales positions are great at this; there is usually a quota assigned to a new sales executive.  How can you identify metrics for other positions?  And if you can’t, should the position exist?

3)    What COMPETENCIES should the person possess?  These are both the skills and experiences the person should have.

4)    What CULTURAL COMPETENCIES (I think of this as “BEHAVIORS”) should the candidate demonstrate?  This part of the scorecard is intended to align the person in this position to the culture of both the company itself and to the function / organization with the person being hired.  We’ve all read that 2/3 or more of mergers “fail” and the most common reason given is the inability to mesh the cultures between two organizations.  Hiring someone for a position is often no different.  If people aren’t successful in a role, it’s as much for lack of cultural fit as a skill set gap.

At TGR Partners, we have adopted this model in conducting a rigorous “Intake Process” as the first step in every search project. Our clients find this to be a new and refreshing exercise that helps them start to think differently about both the role and the process.  For our part, it is a critical element that serves as an input to the next steps Who’s hiring framework:  Source, Select, and Sell.