Here is a segment, titled, “Not Necessarily the Best Players – But the Right Ones,” from Chapter 5 of Gold Medal Strategies:
Among all the spoken lines and quotes that popular media and art has rendered and produced concerning the 1980 men’s U.S. Olympic hockey team, perhaps the dialogue that most intrigues managers and coaches, and which they find most useful, is a conversation in the movie Miracle that takes place between U.S. team assistant coach Craig Patrick (played by Noah Emmerich) and head coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell).
It is early in the team tryouts in Colorado Springs and Patrick is looking over a roster of the names of the final 26 players (which eventually will be cut to 20), and with a tone of surprise he says to Herb, “You’re missing some of the best players.” And Herb responds, “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.”
I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.
What does that mean? It means not building a team of all-stars— but an all-star team.
It means finding and training (as I will later explain, recruiting is an ongoing process) the people who offer your team the best chance for success. It means finding and bringing on board the people who fit with the culture of your group.
Day in and day out, in companies and in groups, there are very smart and able people who fail, who are fired, who are facing a dead-end at a company, or who figure out that they just aren’t right for the place. What is interesting is that while one person at a company is on the way out, there is a person in the next office or over the divider in the next cubicle who, while not as smart or even as hardworking, is thriving in the enterprise.
One person is right for the culture—another isn’t.
I often deliver a version of this message to audiences—especially if I am speaking to a group of people in a company that is undertaking a bold mission, or if it is a group that has been recently created from the merging of two companies: “You can be the brightest and most focused and hardest working person in the room, yet if you are not bought into the agenda or the mission of this organization, then you are not the type of person this organization needs to succeed.”
It isn’t a matter of who is best—but who is right for the job.
The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team was a collection of people who were right for the job.
It is an example of picking the right players.