This weekend, I watched Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview, and though I'd read some of the transcript before, it was good to be able to sit back and listen to him give the interview.
We look up to Steve for his vision and the ability he had to execute that vision. He made some great points in this interview, and I wanted to highlight one in particular: Apple only hires "A" People. He made a point to distinguish this group from the groups that Apple does not hire: B and C people.
It provoked me to think about what exactly makes an "A" person, and what qualities Neoteric considers important when selecting "A" people. The following is my observation of what Steve said—whether directly or indirectly—and what I've seen succeed in myself and my coworkers here.
"A" People vs. "C" and "B" People
Steve made it clear that at least these qualities reside in "A" People:
- They are here for the work, not the rewards
- They want to build the best product, and don't settle for less
- They have expanded their cultural horizons
- They inject their broadened experience into the product
- They will argue with each other over the right way to deliver the best
B and C people, as you can imagine, either don't possess these qualities, or they just don't have enough of them, or maybe they don't have them to a high enough degree. They may even carry opposite traits, such as caring more about the rewards, or cutting corners in the quality to save on budget and deadlines.
They may shy away from a debate, not wanting to rock the boat, afraid of what happens when they say no to a superior or even a peer. A quiet office is a symptom of stagnant sickness, whereas regular, vocal arguments about the right things signify vitality.
So, what makes an "A" person at Neoteric?
Neoteric's A People can be described above, along with some defining qualities that I've observed:
- Openness and willingness to learn new technologies and techniques of implementation
- Listen to constructive criticism and respond by improving the product
- Never fully satisfied with their work, constantly seeking opportunities for improvement
- Take the time to learn about each others' respective talents, wanting to understand how others contribute
- Speak honestly and upfront about budgets, estimates, and ability to execute on feature sets
The nurturing environment
These are the qualities that we value and nurture here. We are given the resources we ask for to assist in our learning, and we are sent to relevant and engaging conferences. We share our interests outside of work, we spend quality time together, we take care of each other, we argue passionately with each other over the quality of our work and the product, and we respect each others' contribution to the production floor. We are encouraged to talk out our differences, and to bring up our concerns with the team.
We set aside time every Monday morning to discuss last week's pain points. We use this time to celebrate our wins, as well. We have open-ended reviews that the entire team can participate in, such as financial goals for each quarter, mockup iterations, and project architectural decisions.
To sum it up, an "A" Person is open-minded, self-critical, widely-cultured, seeks improvement and feedback, is compassionate, and is brutally honest. And most importantly, they are given the environment in which to grow and refine these qualities.