According to Jim Collins, if you want to elevate your organization from being good to being great, it’s important to engage people. More specifically, the right people. They are the greatest asset. He likens organizations to buses and offers three strategies to raise the bar.
1. Get the right people on the bus. Hire well.
2. Escort the others off the bus. They will be better on another route.
3. Help everyone into their rightful seat on the bus by plugging people into roles where they thrive.
When I began at lululemon in 2004, the company was a baby. Chip was at the helm of his privately-owned company. It was the tiniest of tiny buses. When I left in 2011, lululemon was more like a fleet of charter buses blazing down an open interstate. There were so many people, so many exceptional human beings, incredibly motivated and inspiring. It was a bumpy ride for certain but the camaraderie on board made it all worthwhile. I know many people reading this will agree with me.
When I was busy working there, many people on the outside asked what it was like to work for lululemon. “It’s…interesting. It’s not for everybody,” I would tell them, “but if you can let go of your ego, you’ll grow immensely because people will invest in you and you in turn can invest in others. You will learn rapidly if you apply yourself. Ignore the occasional fluffy bits and you’ll thrive. Oh! And on the whole, the people are incredible. Treasure the people.” Every single time I was tempted to quit for whatever reason, it became very clear that I needed to stay, solely for the people.
When I eventually stepped off the lululemon bus for maternity leave, the people on board were amazing. I fondly refer to them as the Class of 2011.
I made a mistake yesterday and set a precedent I cannot uphold. I singled out an individual who impacted me on the job. This was especially stupid of me because my role was so cross-functional and I interacted with dozens of people on a regular basis. I cannot write each and every worthy person a little thank you. If I did, I would be tied to my computer for days.
I would also run the risk of this shout-out sounding like a long-winded acceptance speech or some sappy yearbook love letter scribbled on an empty page. Plus, knowing my feeble memory, I would forget people. So if you are reading this and you were busy hustling on the lululemon bus in 2011, chances are you’re someone I am speaking about. Thank you for showing up at work the way you did. You still inspire me.
In the words of my long lost desk buddy, Lesia, namaste (insert profanity here.)