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More Core

06, 2005) - Caricatured, the core group is a back-slapping collection of good old boys focused on securing their interests from their involvement in the firm. On a slightly more human set of terms, it's a tightly knit group of people (still usually men) who find themselves at the center of power as the result of breeding, education, performance, luck or sheer talent. The core group emerges as a way of insulating decision making from the vast ambiguities, enormous opportunities, limited resources and sheer noise associated with running an organization. It is an elitist approach that is universal because no legitimate alternative exists.

The core group is usually composed of interlocking pieces and personalities that blur the distinctions between job descriptions. It sets the limits of the organization's potential by its very limits. New ideas are hard to throw across the line that separates the core from the rest of the organization (creating the need for operations like McKinsey). The Recruiters who help grow or find replacements for the core team are a very special kind of Recruiter.

Fit is everything. Talent is secondary and technical skill is a lagging third.

While the military has a well established process for identifying, developing and replacing its leadership, the commercial world's variations range from the inane to the extraordinary. Since business organizations rarely reach the age of 50, most firms have extremely limited experience with really solving the problem. Industrial psychologists often claim magical wisdom in the arena but are more effective with broad swaths of low level employees. The monstrous headhunting firms have, in their ranks, a few effective team building recruiters and an army of inexperienced foot soldiers. Most companies are lucky to have a single gatekeeper. Government agencies have new core groups installed with the change of each administration (no wonder things move slowly).

If you're a recruiter with ambitions that are larger than money, this is the area that should receive your focus. Take a good look at Kleiner's book for a wakeup call.

John Sumser

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