First Who, Then What

This article is included in the Spring 2015 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

As we look back on nearly 25 years of DPR, it is fun to reflect on all the factors that have contributed to the company’s growth and accomplishments. More than any one thing it has been about putting the “who” decisions before the “what” decisions.

The phrase, “first who, then what,” was introduced by Jim Collins in his book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Other’s Don’t. A student and teacher of leadership and what makes great companies tick, Jim has invested a quarter century into this topic and his concept is based on lengthy research on why certain companies outperformed others with like circumstances over time.

His research uncovered a timeless gem in the circa 1937 Hewlett-Packard founding notes produced by Bill Hewlett and David Packard—two friends who wanted to build a company together: The Hewlett-Packard Company believes that the best results come when you get the right people, trust them, give the freedom to find the best path to achieve objectives, and let them share in the rewards their success makes possible.” It went on to say “the question of what to manufacture has been postponed…”

We share this mindset.

Our growth driver has always been our people and their aspirations. We never set out to build a company based on volume. We set out to build a great company based on our people and their passion for performance, for taking care of customers and for building technical projects. We knew we could do that if we hired, inspired, developed and grew the best people in our industry.

Over the years, we have also worked very hard to make sure that we are keeping our “right whos” challenged with the right opportunities. For example, we have routinely put people emerging in their careers in very significant roles and given them great responsibility. The opportunities given are often related to an individual’s passion to win over a new customer or build a new market. Some external to our organization may have looked at that as bold; we think it more accurately reflects our confidence in the people we choose to work for DPR.

Those individuals who are willing and capable will continue to have numerous opportunities to choose from as we expand our national footprint and continue leadership transitions. Our leadership pipeline is extremely strong and primed with identified individuals who are battle tested for our next 25 years of opportunities and challenges.

The DPR “whos” are ready, for what-ever the future will bring…