1. Do people love work at your place?
2. Do people at your place feel their careers and the business is developing?
3. Are they trained to take both to the next level?
4. Are the paths for that clear to all?
5. Do the employment contracts align with those paths?
6. Is there credible evidence for your answers to these questions?
These question are focused on people. My personal experience points to people as the top priority. As further evidence let's see what two great inventors working with teams have said.
The first up is Steve Jobs in a quote from Fortune magazine, 9 November 1998.
"Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it."
Study the Apple organisation chart, as beautifully redesigned by Fortune in 2011, and you'll learn more about how Jobs led and worked with his team. A copy of that chart appears at the end of this post.
The second inventor provides a longer statement. This time about creating intellectual property in China.
I'm quoting from a statement on a public forum post made this week by John Westlake. He's a talented audio engineer who has won awards for a string of hifi products, such as the Audiolab 8200CDQ. The product is owned by a Chinese conglomorate, International Audio Group (headquartered in Shenzhen). He's worked and been in an out of manufacturing facilities in China for the last 17 years. He suffers from dyslexia so excuse his grammar.
"Though my eyes, China works like this:-
You have a massive growing nation who while very proud, are limited and heldback by there own lack of engineering prowless. So when faced with the "problem" of developing or "recreating" a product without a true understanding or skill, are forced to fall back upon there own human senses - for most people the primary sense is vision. So you endup with a product that "looks" like the original, but misses the critical DNA of the original that is not apparent "visually"...
Long and short of it - left to there own devices, while it might look like the original it would sound crap, feel crap, and be even more unreliable then the originals....
The root problem in China is that it does not recognise or value IP - but rather cheaps-out and does not recognise that you need "experts" not some mass random headcounts to create "great" products."
The proposition then is that people create intellectual property. In the U.S., China and Australia workforce size, level of revenue for R&D or anything else, or quality of manufacturing facilities don't necessarily make great intellectual property. The path clears as you prioritise how you work with people.
Apple's Organisation Chart (as visualised by Fortune)