10-1000x performance increases tend to change the way that you think about building products
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
There’s a famous story that when Drew Houston was working on Dropbox, everyone he showed it to said ‘There are hundreds of these!’ and he always said ‘yes, but which one do you use?’
In a Corporation, the employee alignment is to the Corporations brand, not to the product (i.e. Google, not Gmail; Facebook, not Instagram). The product is a tool to advance the employees career, not a passion, mission or economic game changer. Being promoted has more impact on the individuals economic success than the product growth. The decision which product to work on stems from the odds of getting promoted and thus we began onboarding people with the wrong state of mind - seeing Waze as a stepping stone and not as a calling.
About being really difficult to fire: There are people who are great for a stage of the company and later, do not have the right skills as the company grows. It is not their fault, it is reality. But not being able to replace them with people that do have the right skills means that people are constantly trying to “offload” an employee on a different team rather than fire them - something that is not conducive with fast moving and changing needs.
On Political Correctness: I value transparency and feel that people should bring themselves to work but that also means a certain tolerance of people not saying something exactly as you would like them to or believing something you don’t. That tolerance is gone at Google and “words” > “content” is the new Silicon Valley mantra of political correctness. You can say terrible things as long as your pronouns are correct or can say super important things but use one wrong word and it’s off to HR for you…