How to find the next person to transform your business
Nolan Bushnell knows a thing or two about nurturing creative talent. Back in 1973, a callow young employee on his first day at Bushnell’s company walked into the CEO’s office and told him that the company was good, but could be better. This type of employee now has a name; the entrepreneur.
Now, Bushnell has written his guide to Finding the Next Steve Jobs.
The secret, Bushnell thinks, is to create a meritocracy. No expounder of the dress-smart to think-smart philosophy, Bushnell warns not to care too much about process; “Treat everybody like an adult. Let them wear what they want, come to work when they want, work hard or work easy. Where you minimise process, you maximise outcomes.”
The culture of entrepreneurship requires few expensive innovations. Culture can be created by something as simple as keeping secrets – just as everyone was kept in raptures by Apple’s surprise announcements when Jobs was at the helm. Nor do companies need to spend huge amounts to keep valuable employees. As Bushnell outlines in his book, a company where people go on to greater things can spur the remaining staff.
Nor should the most presentable staff necessarily get the plum jobs. According to Bushnell, “You don’t seek crazies and you don’t seek obnoxious, but you put up with it if they’ve got certain aspects. Every company should have an ecosystem that can keep really talented people around. Even if they’re obnoxious, even if they smell bad.”
Another trap companies often fall into is that of thinking that the products they produce have to have a ready audience. On the contrary, say Bushnell, most of the best ideas started off as toys for the rich and idle – or their kids.
Finally, don’t fear failure. Bushnell says it’s OK to talk about it; in fact, he encourages his employees to talk about what has gone wrong on a regular basis, and not to feel guilty when a plan doesn’t come together.