yellow VW bus

Right Bus?

If the “Bus” is your current professional position, are you on the “Right Bus”?

First Who, Then What—get the right people on the bus—is a concept developed in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about who and then about what. When facing chaos and uncertainty, you cannot possibly predict what’s coming around the corner. Your best “strategy” is to have a busload of people who can adapt to and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.

As a skilled professional you are the right person for a lot of busses. Many leaders want you to be part of their team. Why? Because you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to help the bus expeditiously get where it is going.

Think of your professional career as a series of bus rides, whether you stay with one organization for 40 years or change every 3-4 years. What would be the impact on your life if each career step (bus ride) aligned with your purpose?

Ever been in a position you have mastered and are no longer challenged by? In this position are you on the right bus or the wrong bus?

How about a position where you meet all the skill and background criteria, you’re challenged and making a difference every day? The commute and frequent travel have you missing important events with your middle and high school age children. In this position are you on the right bus or the wrong bus?

Love the work, the people, and the flexibility of the position. Work from home as needed. Don’t travel much and am able to impact the direction of the organization. You can see a path to continue your professional growth and potentially change to other areas of the company. In this position are you on the right bus or the wrong bus?

Love the work, love the people, not aligned with the leadership. Are you on the right bus, the wrong bus or is it time to change buses?

Great mission, super people, not happy with the earning potential, great learning opportunity to meet future goals. In this position are you on the right bus or the wrong bus?

Take Control of Your Career Progression – Inspect a Lot of Busses

Every client I work with who is looking to progress their career has the same question. How do I find organizations that align with my personal purpose? First, define your purpose then inspect a lot of busses.

What does a bus inspection look like?

It is strategic networking. Personally, interacting with individuals to explore your interest in different organizations. This is not asking for a job interview or applying for one. This starts as simply expanding your network and building an understanding of organizations you are curious about.

The goal is to get a look inside the bus. How many seats are available? Who is in them? Can people change seats? Who is driving? Where is the bus going? Can you provide input on its direction? Big or small bus? Can I work with this group? Do they want to work with me? New or old technology on the bus? Big gas tank or small? How are the riders on the bus measured?


Convert the above into questions about specific organizations and start scheduling informational meetings. This methodology will assist you to deliberately determine your next career step to fulfill your professional purpose.