Companies change. Products evolve. Approaches get thrown out the window. The centrifugal force alone of that kind of rapid development is enough to throw anyone off center. Throughout my experience, one guiding rule on team building in fast-moving companies has emerged: hire people, not skills.
It can be tempting when you’re first growing to hire someone specifically to fill a gap in your company’s skillset. If you hire someone for skills alone, however, they may lose balance as the company grows, when those skills are no longer as central or get placed into a different context. Each time I have built a team, personal traits – not professional skills – have been what propelled the company forward.
So, what traits matter? The answer is going to vary by company and founder, but I look for the following:
Cultural Fit (45%)
Fit is arguably the most important of any qualification. Start-ups can be very hard, and they become impossible if you don’t love the people around you. Getting the culture right is critical. No matter how stellar a candidate’s skills are, if they don’t fit well with your team, it won’t work out for anyone involved. Be careful here though: fit should not signal conformity. You do not need 12 identical personalities. You need a mix of people with differing perspectives but shared values. You need at team that is cohesive because of its differences.
Scrappiness and Drive (35%)
At Performable, we include scrappiness in the job description. We seek out people who have toppled challenges with very limited resources. This is not just about being lean. It is about the character of the team. The four most powerful words coming from a new hire are: “I’ll figure it out.” Find someone who you can trust to say that and follow through on it, and you’ve found a true asset.
This kind of drive is different than traditional ambition. Ambitious people will succeed at any task laid before them. They will personally excel, quickly rising from manager to director to vice president. A scrappy person who is driven does not rely on titles or defined responsibilities. He or she will push the company forward even when no one’s looking. Driven people move through the responsibilities on their lists, but also keep a constant eye on how the company as a whole can do things smarter and better.
Intelligence and Experience (15% and 5%, respectively)
Intelligence and experience are valuable, but a scrappy person who fits well on the team can learn fast. In a start-up, jobs are always changing. So when you think about intelligence and experience, make sure you are thinking about it in terms of a genuine hunger to learn and level of life-experience that enables the candidate to easily adapt and evolve.
Discovering these traits in candidates may come down to a gut feeling for many, but some of it can be illuminated by carefully posed questions and by getting a candidate outside of the typical interview set-up. Whenever possible change the setting, meet candidates outside of the office, at events or out for coffee. Get them talking rather than answering. Find out what it is that makes them tick.
I hate bringing up this brand always as an example but they do a lot of things right.
The short lesson from this article about Apple’s retail experience is that if you want people to have a consistently good experience with your store, you must CONTROL everything. No element of your store’s experience should be left up to a random element of choice as decided by an hourly employee.
A 2007 employee training manual lays out the A-P-P-L-E “steps of service” with an acronym of the company name: “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” “Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs,” “Present a solution for the customer to take home today,” “Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns,” and “End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.” It is reportedly still in use today.
Freedom comes on the other side of control. Question is, how are we controlling the experience in our stores?
A place to learn how to make bikes. You keep the skills, your first bike goes to someone who really needs it.
The Bicycle Academy is a new enterprise providing people with the skills and facilities to design and make their own bikes.
Frame building will be taught by the legendary Brian Curtis as evening classes or short weekday courses. As part of the learning process each student will make a frame designed specifically for use in Africa. Once graduated students will be able to use The Bicycle Academy workshop to hone their skills and build their own frames. (Sponsored via peoplefund.it)
Markets, consumer behavior and how businesses connect with customers are all directly impacted by technology.
The increasingly important role of technology, combined with global economic unrest, means a company’s brand is more important today than it has ever been. Consumers, in search of certainty, rely heavily on a brand’s symbolism and significance
Digital Darwinism is the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than some companies’ ability to adapt.
Babson College cited a rather humbling statistic; “Over 40% of the companies that were at the top of the Fortune 500 in 2000 were no longer there in 2010.”
24/7 Wall St. published its annual list of “Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 2012.” The publication predicts the demise of some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Sony Pictures, American Apparel and Nokia.
“For me, marketing is about values. This is a very noisy world and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. So, we have to be very clear what we want them to know about us.” (Steve Jobs)
The company then looked inward in an attempt to answer the questions: Who is Apple; What does it stand for and where does the brand fit in the world.
“What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done,” said Jobs during the company meeting,” Apple’s core value is that we believe people with passion can change the world…for the better. Those people, crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that actually do.…Here’s to the crazy ones.”
McDonald’s is adapting to a new era, creating an experience marked by muted colors, wooden tables and faux leather chairs. And, that’s just the beginning. McDonald’s is pouring $1 billion into redesigning the consumer experience.
Everything begins with embracing a culture of innovation and adaptation — a culture that recognizes the impact of disruptive technology and how consumer preference and affinity is evolving.
If a organizations cannot recognize opportunities to further compete for attention and relevance, it cannot, by default, create meaningful connections, a desirable brand or drive shareable experiences. The brand, as a result, will lost preference in the face of consumer choice, which may one day lead to its succumbing to digital Darwinism.
Nike has always been at the forefront of cutting edge philosophies in the world of design, execution and marketing. One of the most innovative in recent memory was the establishing of Nike Digital Sport in 2010, whose aim was to develop devices and technologies that allowed users to track their personal statistics in any sport in which they participated. For those interested in Nike’s marketing philosophies, head over to Fortune to read the fascinating article in its entirety.
What do you think about this video? “Incentivising senior employees very differently. Saw this incredibly interesting video recently. Was impressed not only by its surprising conclusions, but by its original way of presenting information. It’s certainly intriguing. I suspect that my senior people at Virgin will hope I don’t watch this video too often! What do you think about it? (via his blog)
It is a pretty cool video on management. And I agree that this original way of presenting information by RSA is very convincing. There are many more animated videos on their website or youtube channel. Great content and intriguing to watch. Thanks Richard for posting and thanks RSA for being a powerful and inspiring platform.
In 2011 three young women swept the top prizes of the first Google Science Fair. At TEDxWomen Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose and Naomi Shah described their extraordinary projects– and their route to a passion for science.