20 September 2011

On getting stuff done in companies

Interesting Hacker News comment that struck a chord with me today. On the topic of how to hire people who get stuff done, one insightful reader commented that it could just as easily be the organization that stops people who have a track record of getting stuff done, but just seem to stop in their new position:

I had this experience working at Google. I had a horrible time getting anything done there. Now I spent a bit of time evaluating that since it had never been the case in my career, up to that point, where I was unable to move the ball forward and I really wanted to understand that. The short answer was that Google had developed a number of people who spent much, if not all, of their time preventing change. It took me a while to figure out what motivated someone to be anti-change.

The fear was risk and safety. Folks moved around a lot and so you had people in charge of systems they didn't build, didn't understand all the moving parts of, and were apt to get a poor rating if they broke. When dealing with people in that situation one could either educate them and bring them along, or steam roll over them. Education takes time, and during that time the 'teacher' doesn't get anything done. This favors steamrolling evolutionarily :-)

So you can hire someone who gets stuff done, but if getting stuff done in your organization requires them to be an asshole, and they aren't up for that, well they aren't going to be nearly as successful as you would like them to be.

The other risk is of course the people who 'get a lot done' but don't need to. Which is to say they can rewrite your CRM system and push it out to the world in a week but only by writing it from scratch.

Couldn't have put this better myself. The link to the comment and the entire discussion.

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