After two decades in the domain of people management, if there is one thing I have understood about the domain, it is that the domain of people management is inherently paradoxical. While the above statement made by the business leader seemed like a knee-jerk reaction (and reflecting a 'not so people-friendly' philosophy), it also highlighted the underlying belief that people make all the difference (and that just by changing some of the people the company performance issues can be fixed).
Yes, in some cases, the cause of business performance issues can be traced back to particular individuals. But, in many cases the main problem might not be related to the capability level of the individual employees at all. The problem could mainly be at the strategy, structure, policies or processes level. However, it is relatively difficult/inconvenient for the business leaders to address the issues/make changes at those levels. So, there is a temptation to jump to the conclusion that it is an employee capability issue that can be fixed just by replacing the people involved.
Yes, it is highly tempting to 'throw people at problems'. This becomes even more of a concern in organizations that worship 'newness'. These organizations go through repeated cycles of trying to improve company performance by firing a large number of employees and replacing them with new employees. Even when there is no evidence to prove that the newly hired employees did any better than the employees they replaced, this gives the leaders the satisfaction that they took quick and decisive action. It can also create an illusion of progress, by wrongly equating 'change' with 'progress'.
Sometimes, these people changes can trigger a chain reaction. There is often explicit or implicit pressure on the newly hired leaders to demonstrate their commitment to the change agenda by replacing the team members they have inherited. 'Infusing new talent from outside' appears to be much more progressive and decisive as compared to just 'recycling the existing talent'. This can snowball into large number of people changes with the associated disruption/ripple effects (and an absolute bonanza for recruitment consultants)!