What a fascinating idea. I suppose if you don't know whether you're going the right direction you might as well try to get there as fast a possible.
I worked for a while with a bunch of former video game developers at a non-game company. They got an amazing amount of work done, but they also just did what they wanted without discussing it. They just assumed that everybody would naturally agree with them so they didn't see any problem with sending a note to the rest of the team that said, "We've changed the signature of most of the UI method calls. The build now has 5,000 errors. Please make changes to your code."
What he means, I think, is that at an early stage startup the cost of coordination is very high. When you have 5 people working together you almost want a hive mind. If part of everyone's mutual understanding includes how, when, and why to change course then the cost of potentially sticking with the wrong thing for too long is far outweighed by the cost of coordination.
Your example is the opposite of what I take him to mean, viz., in a small team where everyone understands how to operate independently and has a deep, mutual understanding then nobody's going to introduce a breaking change that leaves the other 4 people flat footed at a critical time.
I feel a build should actually compile before committing changes. If you make a change that create 5000 build errors, you better get to fixing 'em or revert that change.
Also the premise is "everybody smart they knew". Changing method signature for no reason is not that smart. :)
If I'm trying to build a rocket to go to Mars, give me the best people, not the people that would look best in a university recruiting photograph.
The more diverse the backgrounds and thought patterns are of people on a team, the more likely they'll think of and consider solutions and paths that might not have been considered otherwise -- or see pitfalls in them.
If you're building a rocket to go to Mars, you absolutely want as much diversity in your engineering backgrounds as possible (assuming everyone already meets the engineering requirements in the first place).
It seems I spend a great deal of my time trying to communicate things I already know with people of "diverse" thinking styles.
Don't worry about people being robotic clones of each other. It almost never happens. There is diversity enough without seeking out more blatant diversity.
I don't know. How would you test that hypothesis?
My unfounded speculation is that, like genetic diversity helps produce a healthy and robust organism, so does diversity of perspective make an organization more fit to respond to a variety of conditions.
That may or may not be of value, depending on the goals of the organization.
The whole paragraph from the lecture just struck me as a nerds revenge/jealously since here was a guy who was as smart as them and a jock. What could they possible lean on then to think themselves superior!?
Weren't Levchin and Thiel both just out of school themselves? Who else would they really know?
So much for the guys who invented the silicon transistor, the microprocessor. the Macintosh team must have been small fries.
Generally we take a hammer and beat the messy chaos of reality until it resembles the monomyth.
What an amazing coincidence!
I think the point is that he hired people he knew.
Also, the last Stanford graduating class was a fifth legacy students. http://www.stanforddaily.com/2009/12/02/legacies-a-fifth-of-...
- Ability to leverage talent to speedy outcomes is the competitive advantage of startups. Lean heavily on this.
- Startups habitually underestimate their ability to attract top talent. Don’t submit to this line of thinking, or at minimum work to prove your hypothesis of impossibility.
- One should be ruthless in early shaping of company culture. Certain things are absolutely necessary to get right -- this is one.
- The things that scare away second tier talent can actually attract top tier people. Like focusing product development on your ideal user, one should focus hiring energies on ideal hires.
Point by point:
Easy to leverage people you went to uni with
Easy to attract top talent, if you went to uni with it
Ruthless? If you mean selecting from a single know talent pool, sure.
You'll probably scare away 2nd tier talent, if you a already populated with your mates from a top uni.
OK, those are bitter and twisted replies, but being British, I know all about closed shop universities and mates giving mates jobs. Old School Tie we call it. Have a look at our government....
Let's stop looking for crazy tricks. Generally, there aren't any.
Some stuff is simple, some stuff is complicated.