Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

“I invest in people, not ideas. If you can find good people, if they’re wrong about the product, they’ll make a switch, so what good is it to understand the product that they’re talking about in the first place?” -Arthur Rock

People are our greatest asset.

It wasn't always that way. There was a time when technology was our greatest asset. When the industrial revolution was at it's height, what really mattered was your technology, factories, and scarcity. These days, our connected and creative economy has given way to a shift in value. Great organizations need great people. Organizations and teams will grow in direct proportion to the growth of their people. Thus, investing in them is of critical importance.

Organizations will grow in direct proportion to the growth of their people.

Here's an intriguing stat for you: according to the ASTD, US organizations spend upwards of $130 billion per year on developing their people. Just for reference, that is about the annual GDP of New Zealand! That may seem like a lot, and it is, but it’s not off base. Organizations spend well over double that amount every year on advertising in the US. Here are four specific reasons this matters:

INCREASED PRODUCT QUALITY: Investing in the growth of your people means increased knowledge, experience, and engagement. This leads to all kinds of benefits for your products, especially if you are in the business of intellectual capital. New creativity, more efficient engineering, more effective results, and a better understanding of the customer can all easily be results of investing in your people.

INCREASED BRAND SUPPORT: If you want your brand to be synonymous with quality, great customer support, and ingenuity, then invest in your people and their development. Growing your people will do wonders for your brand. Maybe even more than that $300+ billion a year we spend on advertising. You could spend money trying to convince people you’re organization is the best, or you could simply make it the best by hiring, growing, and keeping the best people around.

INCREASED COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: Competitive advantages today will increasingly be found in the achievements of your people as opposed to systems and processes. Informed and savvy consumers will not purchase exclusively upon our now mundane "advantages" like price or "feature count". While process and procedure are still important, they won’t win the day for you exclusively like they may have in the past. Your competitive advantage will only increase as you increase the knowledge and skill set of your people.

Your competitive advantage will only increase as you increase the knowledge and skill set of your people.

INCREASED ENGAGEMENT: Studies will show that investing in your people will significantly increase engagement and decrease voluntary turnover. In times when managers are continually asked to do more with less, swinging investment of time and money into your people will pay you returns. It will require some level of patience, but the increased engagement from your employees will significantly support the bottom line. Studies show that engaged employees are safer, more customer friendly, easier to manage, and stick around longer.


6 Tips to Leading Teams Well

Unfinished Doesn't Count