What If We Had Greatness Plans Instead of Development Plans?

It was early February 2000 and I was listening to the President of Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Alan MacKenzie, kick-off our National Meeting. An incredibly gifted and engaging speaker, Alan spoke for 45 minutes highlighting the success and growth the company had enjoyed during its first year and charting the path we would take in the year to come.

While I remember it being a great speech, there was one incredibly powerful statement Alan made that has resonated loudly for me from that day on, “There is greatness within everyone.”

And indeed, he was right.

As I think about the incredible people I’ve had the opportunity to work with over my career, each was truly great in at least one aspect of our business. Some were great strategists, others great communicators. There were incredible marketers, analytical gurus and unbelievably great trainers.

But the fact is, as great as they were and as much as I valued them, I rarely if ever helped these talented individuals capitalize on the truly incredible greatness they possessed – for them or for our organization.

Reward? Yes.

But capitalize? Not so much.

As I reflected on the “why” of this big miss on my part, I believe I was guilty of what other leaders might do – glossing over my people’s strengths or “areas of greatness” to a considerable extent to get to what they needed to work on, develop, or “fix”.

This is not to say we shouldn’t focus on areas where we need to continue to grow but rather should the focus of our performance discussions and plans evolve to focus on the greatness of our people, instead of the development needed?

Interestingly, as I pondered this topic the past few weeks, I had no less than five people mention to me their Development Plans. More than a few were searching for “something” to include in their plan while others were dictated their plans by their managers. It’s not surprising that each of the five discussed their Development Plan process in less than enthusiastic terms.

Thus, the question, “What if we had Greatness Plans instead of Development Plans?”

In my mind, a Greatness Plan would be much more than just a nicer naming convention for a Development Plan. I see a Greatness Plan geared towards identifying the one or two things an individual is truly great at with respects to the business followed by a true collaboration between the employee and their leader on how they can maximize that greatness – for both the individual and the organization.

One can envision organizations utilizing technology to develop a series of Greatness Training e-modules (think Best Practices sharing) where individuals within the team are essentially training one another on areas of the business where they are truly great.

Having trouble cracking a customer, addressing a customer objection, or understanding how to use data to best analyze your business? No problem – simply search the “Your Greatness Site” for your topic and watch one of your peers share their greatness on that particular topic… and learn!

Peers helping peers. Teams helping teams. Greatness driving greatness.

Greatness Plans instead of Development Plans. It will probably never happen. But then again, what could happen if your business truly harnessed the greatness that resides within each and every one of your people?

Now that my friends, is a great question to ponder!

4 thoughts to “What If We Had Greatness Plans Instead of Development Plans?

  • Avatar
    Robert McCune

    It’s a great observation Dean and very true in today’s business world. Too often there’s a hyper-focus on improving in 2-3 areas/competencies and that emphasis overshadows one leveraging his/her strengths or as you state “greatness.” As part of the Takeda family back in the early 2000s, I recall Alan’s assertion that greatness exists within every person. Couldn’t agree more!

    • Avatar
      Dean Hart

      Thanks Rob! Appreciate the kind comments!

  • Avatar
    Terriann DePasquale

    Excellent topic. Development plans tend to focus on what you would like to improve upon rather than strengthening your talents. I have also had the privilege to hear Allen as well as yourself speak, you are both motivational leaders and speakers who inspire. The Pharma industry has and continues to undergo changes to meet the demands of the Healthcare Industry, Manufacturers and their employees will need to continuously strive to adapt to the ever changing landscape. A repository of “Greatness Plans” to capture ideas and information would truly be an asset to an organization.

    • Avatar
      Dean Hart

      Thank you Terriann! I appreciate the awesome comments!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *