Avoid people whose skills complement yours! Consider the “cell division” approach instead.
Early hiring, yet another area where startups often reverse Muggle business logic. Conventional hiring wisdom says to add people who excel at important skills you lack. “I’m great at product and engineering. We need sales, though, so let’s hire a fantastic salesperson!”
It’s understandable. Founders start out doing everything. As you run out of time in your day, it’s natural to want relief. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring on a person who excels at the things you find unfamiliar? So you hire someone to do that new job — sales, marketing, community management, something. Magic!
We’ve exchanged command and control for coax and manipulate
You thought things were political before?
The irony of fostering autonomous and self-organizing teams is that it eventually negates the need for traditional management. This is a common pattern observed during re-orgs and “transformations”. Being savvy career-wise, management tries to adapt and in the process becomes even more spooky and political. It’s like parents transitioning from command and control to helicopter parenting. In some cases it is downright Orwellian.
Economic growth is about value added. In manufacturing it was adding value as a transformation process from raw materials to goods. Economic growth today is still about value added but the transformation process is often very different. The industrial process was a linear, sequential chain of predictable acts. The problem to be solved was known and the solution to the problem was clearly defined. In creative work, the transformation process is a non-linear, complex movement of thought from unclear problems to developing solutions. Work is exploration when defining problems as well as for creating solutions.
The worlds of mass manufacturing and contextual, problem-based work require very different thinking and skills. In the learning-intensive world we live in, it is not about reductionist job roles and narrow, clear responsibilities any more. Everybody needs to take part in the common movement of thought.
I remember how that nagging feeling just underneath the surface of my thoughts turned into a full blown problem. At first it was just some white noise in the back of my head that followed me from meeting to meeting. Then the issue graduated into conscious thought. “I really need to figure that out,” I would think but then do nothing about it. Finally, it began keeping me up at night, invading my thoughts during family time, and generally occupying every available space in my mind. It was now a problem I could no longer ignore.
I spent some time in the problem space, exploring options and tinkering with possible solutions. I talked to a few of my peers on the management team. It turns out they had been seeing the same issues and feeling the same way. We got together and compared notes, riffed on ideas, and came up with an action plan. It was going to be a big change for our company, but it was a good plan and we were actually getting kind of excited about it. My anxiety had turned to optimism. I might have even felt a little bit of, ahem, pride.
One day, I was having my weekly 1:1 meeting with my boss, Andrew Bosworth. We were going through the regular updates about my team, things going on at Facebook more generally, yada yada. Then he asked me a somewhat startling question….
“So, Margaret, what’s going off the rails on your team?”
Recently, organizations large and small have radically rethought company design by embracing human-favorable policies including establishing livable wages, developing creative equity plans, offering paid parental leave policies, and even pulling out of an entire state in protest of discrimination. In addition to sending a strong signal that people come first, these organizations are also making an economic argument to investors that these policies pay dividends in reduced turnover and improved business outcome.
Sandwiched between individual contributors and line managers on one hand and executives on the other hand, middle managers get satisfaction neither from tangible creation, nor from setting strategic direction. Instead, their role is to translate executive vision into an executable plan, hire/manage a team and set the processes and culture to ensure delivery.
In large corporations, middle management is the black hole where sizable input (brain power, time, $, energy) results in questionable output. It’s the place where careers stall and many former rising stars fizzle out. It’s also the layer — like our midriff — that has a tendency to expand stealthily, if kept unchecked.
It’s 2016. Nobody can reasonably expect to have a ‘job for life’, or even work within the same organization for more than a few years. As a result, you’re likely to dip into the jobs marketplace more often than your parents and grandparents did. That means it’s increasingly important to be able to prove:
who you are
what you know
who you know
what you can do
Unfortunately, hiring is still largely based on submitting a statement of skills and experience we call a ‘Curriculum Vitae’ (or résumé) along with a covering letter. This may lead to an interview and, if you like each other, the job is yours. We have safeguards in place at every step to ensure people don’t discriminate on age, gender, or postal code. Despite this, almost every part of the current process is woefully out-of-date. I’ve plenty to say about all of this, but will save most of it for another time.
Business gurus love buzzwords. One of the buzzwords that’s got a lot of attention in the past few years is “design,” or more specifically, “design thinking.”
Even as an admirer of the principles behind design thinking, I expected the hype to peak in the late ’00s. But instead of fading it’s actually finding a wider audience and pushing deeper into more industries and organizations. Harvard Business Review put it on the cover last September.