Saturday, March 19, 2005

What Joe Kraus has learned....

Three good points on management from Joe Kraus, co-founder and CEO of JOTSPOT and co-creator of Excite, in this month's FastLane:

1. "Very early on, the founders of startups make an important choice. Do they want success or control? Neither is bad so long as the choice is explicit. I've picked success. And success implies giving up control--hiring people who are much better than you, or being willing to be the janitor if that's what's required." I completely agree--hire good people, and get out of their way.

2. "Never compromise on hiring. Every time I've compromised, I've come to regret it. You have to be tough, even if that means not hiring people who could turn out to be great, because of the damage one person who isn't great can do." One thing I've decided to do next time I interview is to ensure that the potential team member not only understands metaphors, but can apply them and create new ones. Although I can't say it's a magic bullet, I will say that I think that people who have trouble thinking with metaphors have problems with systems thinking and understanding multiple perspectives--two requirements for people who work in the Web world developing, creating, and repackaging content for public library patrons.....

3. "Nothing demotivates people like the equal treatment of unequals. When you hire a bozo and treat him the same as the rock star, it deflates the rock star." I'm no rock star, but this really hit home. It's probably a sign of being a bit too externally motivated and a bit of a praise junkie, but the few times that I've been in situations where incompetent people were tolerated and the rest of us had to pick up the slack, I high-tailed it out of there fast. It's not just a matter of incompetent people being tolerated--it's also simply no fun to work with people who suck at what they do. On the other hand, it's oh so fun to work with people who are engaged and keep me on my toes. Friendly competition is a good thing.


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