Monday, June 27, 2011

The Lake Wobegon Company

A bad day at the ball park. 
Where does one find major league tallent?
One of the joys of being on Twitter, is that you stumble upon all sorts of interesting ideas.  Some of the most news worthy items comes from the Harvard Business Review.  This week two though provoking blogs were posted by Bill Taylor discussing talent inflation in the technology business.  In short CEO’s in SiliconValley will pay big bucks for the correct engineering talent. 
As Mark Zuckerberg said in the article snip:
"Someone who is exceptional in their role is not just a little better than someone who is pretty good," he argued when asked why he was willing to pay $47 million to acquire FriendFeed, a price that translated to about $4 million per employee. "They are 100 times better."
In other words, dad’s teach your kids SQL because they have a good chance to make as much money as a Major League closer. 

I am deeply conflicted about this.  I do not have Zuckerberg’s money.  I also am starting out from a very different place than he did.  As I grow my company, I need to hire good people because if I don’t it is going to affect the quality of my customer service and product.  So how do I find top performers without having to break the bank?  I don’t know the answer to that question but I do have clues. 
I will lean on my college’s Delta Mu Delta honor fraternity for business students.  When I was inducted as a graduate student I met a lot of sharp people who want to succeed.  I could use them.  They may not be the rock stars that Zuckerberg is chasing but they could grow into that role.  Also, I will be auditioning developers and leaning on my network of recruiters to help me find the right talent.  Again, I may not get rock stars but if I have a diverse team of programmers who work well together and are just as committed as I am, I think we can take over the world. 
Talent does matter but let us not get crazy.  My Chicago Cubs have spent lots of money over the last ten years and it still hasn’t broken there ugly tradition of losing.  I would rather have some misfits and malcontents with talent and something to prove that a roster of all stars any day.  I suppose that means I want a Lake Wobegonecompany where the weather is always nice and everyone is above average. 
I understand this is not realistic but one can always dream.