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Cadres Decide Everything!

About a month or so ago I've glanced through a very interesting article in the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine that talked about SAS, the world's largest privately held software company, and its success in keeping employee turnover rate down to 2.6 percent (in 2010). Compare this to the info-tech industry's average of 22 percent and you will see a monumental scale of this achievement. I find it interesting that SAS doesn't make a big fuss out of the results of its sound retention strategy by flashing it across the website or having it enshrined within corporate motto (like so many IT consulting companies do). Instead, SAS keeps focusing on its core strengths of business intelligence and analytics, but with a clear understanding that every business is, first and foremost, a human endeavor (at least for now); and from that point of view - human capital is priceless.

The bottom line - SAS may sound dusty (conceived in 1966, incorporated in 1976) and may not bring to mind cool and trendy associations (like Facebook, Twitter, Google, or Apple do), but people sure do like working there. And as far as SAS human capital strategy goes, this is not an overnight success - the company has been on the "100 Best Companies To Work For" list for some time now, most recently (in 2010) as #1.

Why keeping your workforce happy and retaining smart, dedicated, able people is so important? (now more than ever) Well, the answer should be quite intuitive, but take a look at another Businessweek article that talks about the "Talent Poaching Epidemic". I am certain, you will get a drift.

Still not sure? Want to know more about the future trends? Well, I would let people who are much more in-tune with this subject provide answers. Here are a few quotes from the book I've recently read "Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative" by Ken Robinson:

"The labor markets of the 21st century are changing beyond all recognition"
"The most important resources of all companies are now the ideas and creative capacities of the workforce"
"Organizations are fighting a war for talent, according to recent studies by Andersen Consulting and the Institute of Management"
"In the United States, the revenues of headhunting firms have grown twice as fast as GDP during the past five years" 
"We ask where can we find talented people but we ignore the talents of people that surround us"
"The problem with the short-term [human capital] model is that it does nothing to prevent the exodus of the rest - those whose talents are undeveloped. It assumes a world with an unlimited supply of talent, talent that does not mind working in businesses where development is not deemed a priority. Fighting the talent war with the outside world is covering up our failure in terms of people development" - Javier Bajer (The Talent Foundation)
"Organizations that make the most of their people find that their people make the most of them"
So, the more I think about it the more old Stalin's dictum holds true - Кадры решают все | Cadres Decide Everything. And they do!

To clarify - Stalin did treat cadres, i.e. people, as replaceable cogs in a State apparatus, killing them by the thousands; he might have been inspired by another Russian saying (supposedly, regarding many people who perished during the construction of St. Petersburg) - а народу в России как песку, немерено | and the people in Russia as the sand, immeasurable.


  1. Glad to see you're still writing, Andrew! Keep up the good work!


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