“If you have the right people, then the problem of how to motivate and how to manage people properly goes away” -Jim Collins.
When David Maxwell became CEO of the struggling company, Fannie Mae, in 1981, the first step he took was to get the right people on the Fannie Mae management team. (Example from the book ‘Good To Great’ by Jim Collins)
When Kimberley-Clark sold the mills to get rid of the paper business, Darwin Smith made it clear that the company would keep its best people even though they had little or no consumer experience.
Walter Bruckart, Vice President, Circuit City said, “There are five factors that led to the transition of a company from mediocrity to excellence. One would be people. Two would be people. Three would be people. Four would be people. And five would be people. A huge part of our company’s transition can be attributed to our discipline in picking the right people” (From the book ‘Good To Great’ by Jim Collins).
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; We hire smart people so that they can tell us what to do” — Steve Jobs.
Ed Catmull, the CEO, Pixar, says that the fundamental problem in business is not finding good ideas but finding the good people. Most people believe the opposite was true.
In 1996, Disney asked Pixar to make a sequel to ‘Toy Story’ movie. Unfortunately, the original ‘Toy Story’ team was busy directing ‘A Bug’s Life’ movie. So, Ed Catmull formed a new creative team to make the sequel.
Regrettably, the ‘Toy Story 2’ movie did not go as expected. The story did not pan out well. After ten months of toil, Ed Catmull replaced the new team with the original ‘Toy Story’ team.
The old team realised that they had to start the project from scratch. Unfortunately, they had only eight months to finish the movie. A challenge they had never tried.
On one weekend, they redeveloped the whole movie plot. They worked hard continuously, often spending nights in the office.
Finally, the team finished the movie within the time & everyone was happy with the output.
The movie enjoyed greater success than the original Toy Story movie. The critics considered the movie as one of few sequel films superior to the original.
Ed Catmull points out that the original core concept(The Idea) of ‘Toy Story 2’ was the same for both the teams but the people made the difference.
“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up; if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something that works” — Ed Catmull.
Reference: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull.
“Building the muscle to hire great people is a huge competitive advantage.” -Patty McCord.
A founder alone cannot build a great company without the help of a colleague(s) who share their interests and who can bring different strengths to the company.
At the beginning of Netflix, founders Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings hired people who shared their dreams of building a consumer-oriented company, who were passionate about their work and who enjoyed working on solving a user problem. Their early recruits were mostly from their network.
Randolph and Hastings especially hired people who had a better understanding of consumer behaviour in the field of movies.
- Mitch Lowe(One of the earlier hires) had spent thousands of hours observing consumers. He ran a ten store rental chain and built websites for video rental stores before joining the Netflix team.
- Eric Meyer(the designer of the first Netflix website) was passionate about his work.
- Ted Sarandos(Netflix’s chief content officer) who helped turn Netflix into an entertainment powerhouse was a college dropout. He had in-depth knowledge about movies as he had worked in video stores for years before joining the Netflix.
The managers at Netflix are deeply involved in every step of the hiring process so that the team-building goals are met. They constantly ask themselves, “Are we limited by the team we have not being the team we should have?”.
Hastings, in one of the interviews, “We didn’t set out to try to say -What’s theoretically most efficient culture?. Over time, we realised that we valued most..more than even money or success was working with really talented people more productively. The joy of Excellence was incredible. Excellent people and talent density. We are likely to win”.
Reference: Netflixed by Gina Keating.
Note: The above content is part of the following book(Available on Amazon)-