An idea that comes up quite often in job analysis is that you should structure your organisation around the work that needs to be performed, rather than the people you have. On the surface, that’s a sound idea. You never know when you’ll end up with a vacancy, and you want that vacancy filled with the right person, doing the right work. Some people also think it helps to distinguish what needs to be done from what’s actually getting done now.

Is it really that simple though? From the start, the idea of designing work and structures without reference to your people is crazy. Treating people as transient resource with limited value causes you to deprive yourself of one of the most priceless resources around. If you design a job based around the task requirements, the result will be a well defined but generic role. Probably one that’s not well suited to the occupant.

Instead, design positions so that they maximise the specific talents showcased by your people. Don’t pigeonhole those people with exceptional skills into a generically designed job. If you’re worried about the next person who’ll be in the role, you’re borrowing trouble. Perhaps one day you will hire somebody new, and that’s an exceptional opportunity to design the job around them.