Seth Godin on Passion vs. Expertise


Toaster, originally uploaded by Always Changing Clothing.

Seth Godin’s latest post talks about what to look for when picking people for different jobs. He poses the question of what is more important: expertise or passion? In the end, Godin leans more towards choosing people more for their expertise over their passion. It’s not that he downplays the importance of people buying into mission. What Godin is trying to say is that, for most jobs, it is far easier to hire someone who is skilled in the area you are looking for and then sell them on mission rather than the other way around. Of course, getting people who have both is ideal! The example Godin uses is fan-based companies or websites. Many times these organizations hire great fans to run the website or organization and then use that as an excuse to have mediocre product.

I couldn’t help but think about how this plays out in church. We are big on mission, vision and values of our churches. We spend a lot of time getting people to buy into them, we put them on banners, print them in our bulletins and on our websites, we even pride ourselves when people can quote them back to us. Because we are volunteer-dependent organizations, we then recruit these “passionate” people  and put them where our “need is greatest” with no regard to their skills and expertise. We then leave them to figure things out on their own.

How much more effective would it be to find people’s skills, talents and abilities and then match those with jobs that fit? I know that we all talk about doing that, but do we really do it? Do we recruit that way?

I can already hear the questions, “What do we do when we can’t find people who don’t have the skills we need?” There’s always outsourcing projects. Or you can get people the skills they need; invest in getting them educated or encourage them to get the training they need.

There is a world of difference between something staying “good enough” because the people working on it are passionate about the cause and something starting off mediocre and steadily improving as skills are gathered and honed because those who are passionate about the cause are also passionate about the quality of work that goes into making the cause work.


3 thoughts on “Seth Godin on Passion vs. Expertise

  1. Desiree says:

    Yeah, I think a lot of people are passionate about the idea of something but then they realize the work that really goes into it. You have to have the passion to go with it. I think you are right about finding places where people will thrive. Also I think it’s good to have a team of people with different strengths.

    I was part of a good team in Missionettes for about a year or two. It was Kristi, Priscilla, and I. Kristi did the teaching and object lessons. I did the crafts, store, and bulletin boards and Priscilla did the games, memory verses, and record keeping. It worked very well and it allowed us to do about 20 girls every Wednesday. We put in our expertise and kept our passion because we didn’t get burnt out. We enjoyed being a team. Usually when I feel burnt out is when I am in charge of all of one thing. I like teams because it helps people stay encouraged and connected.

  2. henryjz says:

    Desiree you make a really good point about teams. That is something that I try to remember as I recruit people as well because no one person is able to do it all.

  3. Desiree says:

    I also think teams are a good way for people to gain experience as well as fill in gaps. Also it helps to give well rounded perspective so one person can have experience while someone else may have more passion. (Of course, they all need to have some degree of passion)

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