Juniors and Seniors
Junior people have to remember it's their job to save the senior person's time, even if it takes ten junior minutes to save one senior minute.
Is there a good writeup of the job of "chief of staff": someone who decides what decisions to bring from juniors to the boss, and how to state them? It's a bit like how a solicitor interprets clients for barristers.
Every meeting should end with a survey of the participants asking if they felt the meeting was a waste of time or not.
If no agenda/goal, send a reply asking for the agenda (claiming so that I can be prepared, really just want to force the organizer to write it out).
Every meeting should begin with the rule: "No agenda, no attenda."
Meetings are events where minutes are kept and hours are lost.
Good time is when the attendees of the meeting are interacting in a genuine way such that the decisions and solutions being generated might surpass what any one individual could have done by themselves. And that time is not necessarily free of conflict. In fact, we want conflict in meetings. What we don’t want is personal conflict, but we want conflict around ideas. So if you have a group going to battle with incredible passion around ideas — that is a fantastic meeting.
Shreyas Doshi @shreyas Why do some newly-hired executives & senior managers at your startup (or bigco) fail spectacularly?
A thread of archetypes -The One-hit Wonder -The Tailwind Catcher -The Hand-in-Glove Fit -The Smooth Operator -The Me-First Optimizer -The Interview Genius -The Pedigreed Royal
At times, companies small & large hire senior managers or executives with much fanfare. After months (or years) of searching for & courting The One, the deal is closed. As a CEO or executive, you’re feeling excited, hopeful, & if you’re being honest, a little proud of yourself. Company-wide email announcements are sent to create hope & optimism with the troops: “... they've managed 1000s of people, have 25 hobbies, 7 dogs, ...” It might even be a PR event, with the obligatory Techcrunch or Recode interview. And yet too many of these don’t work out. While there perhaps as many reasons for this phenomenon as there are flavors of ice cream, here’s one of the leading reasons: the leader is fundamentally flawed & your company was unable to detect this in your hiring process. You might have known in your gut, but failed to act. And while one could write a whole book on this & related topics, here’s a crash course that should improve your chances of detecting a potential mis-hire. If you are a rank & file team member, this should help you understand why fancy executive Bob was DOA.
The One-hit Wonder Has had one spectacular success that made them famous (Valley-famous, not NYTimes-famous) or rich. Everything else has been meh. Detecting: Probe deeply into "past successes". Ask why they think X, Y, Z were successes (often spun that way but are really not).
The Tailwind Catcher Has had many successes but they’re due to “right place right time” factors not skill e.g. aligning with growing verticals/companies. Detecting: Mainly evaluating role-specific skills (future), less of “tell me about a time when X, Y, Z..” questions (past).
The Hand-in-Glove Fit Seems perfect because they spike on 1 or 2 skills that your org uniquely values. But otherwise they have glaring role-specific gaps. Detecting: Catch yourself “falling in love” (hard, I know), don’t over-weigh the advice to “hire for crests not troughs”.
The Smooth Operator Is very impressive mainly due to charisma, has been successful in many places (since charisma works like a charm), comes across as "very executive-y”. Detecting: Test for core “technical” skills required for the job, look for signs of over-confidence.
The Me-First Optimizer Actually very competent, capable of doing a spectacular job, just one glaring flaw: extremely self-centered, will sacrifice team, company, etc. for self. Detecting: Gives self too much credit when talking about past successes, backchannel references.
The Interview Genius Knows all the theory of the job, interviews like a boss (top 5%). Has very few past successes. Often suffers from inability to take action. Detecting: In-person job-relevant exercises (don’t do take-home). Unlike The Smooth Operator, references will be meh.
The Pedigreed Royal This is W2 Royalty. Superb background: Ivy League, White House, Volunteer Work, Big 5, etc. Can be quite competent, just will miss the high expectations Detecting: Might not be a bad hire, just keep expectations in check, don’t fill up your C-suite with them
The Opportunity Cost of Time
I've seen really bad vaccination appointment software in Indiana. They ask for lots of form info, then tell you they have no appointments, or the servers jam up, for lack of a simple circuitbreaker. How many dollars of time has this eaten up?
Also, most locations have no "next available time" feature; they require you to come back each 3 days or week, again wasting customer time and making it harder for the vaccinator company too. Why?
This is similar to the waste-of-company-time problem when a company allows HR or someone to use time-consuming procedures or even emails to read with no thought for total dollars of time lost. "Opportunity cost" is maybe the most valuable concept in economics.