& Bozo Explosions
What I saw with Woz was somebody who was 50 times better than the average engineer. He could have meetings in his head. The Mac team was an attempt to build a whole team like that, A players. People said that they wouldn’t get along, they’d hate working with each other. But I realized that A players like to work with A players, they just didn’t like working with C players. At Pixar, it was a whole company of A players. When I got back to Apple, that’s what I decided to try to do.
– Steve Jobs
“Weeds create weeds, so don’t plant weeds in your garden.”
This is true yet unhelpful.
Weeding is a problem of surface area and incentives.
Dousing fields in Agent Orange is counterproductive. Herbicide kills indiscriminately; undesirable plants adapt.
Tending to your best plants will not make weeds unwelcome. Petunias and weeds are incentivized/repelled by the same factors. Plants like water, plants hate pests, plants like healthy soil, and so on.
Frontal wars with weeds guarantee loss. Create an environment that effortlessly supports your vision:
- embrace native plants (they tend to have a competitive advantage)
- don’t meddle with natural senescence cycles (weeds expand into vacuums)
- strategically plant ground-cover/clover
Listen to the land. Where do your beloved plants thrive? Can you offer them similar experiences?
A “bozo” is a derisive term used by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to describe an incompetent employee who could damage a competent company. Jobs recommended hiring “A” players and avoiding “B” players as they would bring in “C” players to make themselves look better, leading to a “bozo explosion”.
– “Bozo” from Apple Fandom
To make all players feel welcome, create a good workplace. Provide solid salary, benefits, community, etc.
Don’t douse your workplace in Agent Orange. Hostile environments repel all, but “A players” abandon ship first – they have better places to be.
To make “weeds” unwelcome, increase your commitment to quality without adding extra workload. Anybody who can maintain high-standards efficiently should be welcome on your team.
Unfit work environments are unfair for everybody. Carefully curate your garden. Publish extreme expectations and fire quickly with generous severence.
Nobody is born a bozo. Weeds are mere whims of gardeners’ expectations. Most people can be useful with good incentives.
The best incentives are effortless:
- give autonomy generously and demand personal responsibility
- foster friendships and provide emotional support
- commit to excellence and draw out potential
To curate stellar teams, give ample autonomy and maintain high-standards. Talent thrives with smart incentives and concrete objectives.