Competing Ideals

DISCLAIMER: I have absolutely no evidence other than my own personal observations to back the following claims. Please disregard at will.

The biggest productivity killer in the modern startup are Competing Ideals© — where a singleemployee/founder/what-the-fuck-ever has multiple projects that are in direct competition with each other. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following.

* Product – There are really three main functions of a Product organization: ideas, execution, and optimization. Each of these compete with the stakeholder for your direct attention, and in such a way that excelling at any one will completely trainwreck the others. Greenfield ideas should not be limited necessarily by the current state of execution, otherwise you innovate half-assedly. Execution should not be worried about coming up with the next big idea..they’re much too worried about getting the current product out the door. Execution also shouldn’t worry about optimizing, otherwise they’ll never be able to truly move on to the next big thing. Optimization cares only about the current product, and how to make it better (more monetizable, easier to use, etc.)

* HR/Recruiting – While these two fields are often tied together, having either of HR doing recruiting, or recruiting doing HR, will end in disaster. HR should be dedicated to the current employees, and how to make their lives/benefits/sexual harassment lawsuits more efficient and enjoyable. Recruiting should be doing just that, and worrying about the state of current affairs keeps them away from job fairs, interviews, hard drugs, resume searching, casual sex, cold calling passive candidates and whatever the hell else young people do.

* Engineering – Your most senior coders should be designing/coding/implementing/neckbearding the projects that will make the company the most money. As a trade for getting to work on the fun stuff, they get to train less senior coders to maintain existing and/or less money-intensive projects. As those coders get better and more in tune with the company/language/product/free kombucha, they get to work on the higher priority projects and help hire the new less seniors. 

This is a completely nonsensical and rambling post, but I stand by it 100% nonetheless. Forward it on to 10 of your closest friends, and riches will be bestowed upon you. If you neglect your responsibilities, fire will rain down from the sky and frogs will inhabit your rivers. The end.


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