Build up talent density

At most companies, policies and control processes are put in place to deal with employees who exhibit sloppy, unprofessional, or irresponsible behaviour. But if you avoid or move out these people, you don’t need the rules. If you build an organization made up of high performers, you can eliminate most controls. The denser the talent, the greater the freedom you can offer.

Increase candor

Talented employees have an enormous amount to learn from one another.

But the normal polite human protocols often prevent employees from providing the feedback necessary to take performance to another level. When talented staff members get into the feedback habit, they all get better at what they do while becoming implicitly accountable to one another, further reducing the need for traditional controls.

Reduce controls

Start by ripping pages from the employee handbook. Travel policies, expense policies, vacation policies – these can all go. Later, as talent becomes increasingly denser and feedback more frequent and candid, you can remove approval processes throughout the organization, teaching your managers principles like, “Lead with context, not control,” and coaching your employees using such guidelines as, “Don’t seek to please your boss.”


  • Build up talent density by creating a workforce of high performers
  • Introduce candor by encouraging loads of feedback
  • Remove controls such as vacation, travel, and expense policies


  • Strengthen talent density by paying top of market
  • Increase candor by emphasizing organizational transparency
  • Release more controls such as decision-making approvals


  • Max-up talent density by implementing the Keeper Test
  • Max-up candor by creating circles of feedback
  • Eliminate most controls by leading with context not control

Leave a Comment