The bozo explosion

A players hire A+ players.Actually, Steve believed that A players hire A players—that is people who are as good as they are. I refined this slightly—my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called “the bozo explosion” to happen in your organization.”
Guy Kawasaki
in a blog entitled,”What l learnt from Steve Jobs.”

I’ve seen the bozo explosion first-hand. An amazing company with a world-beating technology was maimed, strangled and finally withered away a decade later due to the bozo explosion shortly after it went IPO.

The IPO brought in a great deal of cash, which was used to fund too many bozos for the company to recover. There was an influx of high-salary bozos who had no interest in the company or the industry and then bought in more bozos as their direct reports. It took over a year and a downsize to remove most of them but the damage was already done. Most of the A listers survived the cull though.

If the IPO had funded genuine talent, I have few doubts that the company would still be thriving now.

There aren’t many A listers in OSS globally, so they’re a valuable commodity that need to be retained and developed, naturally. A listers do tend to beget A listers whilst bozos beget bozos so the value of A listers is more than just themselves.

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3 thoughts on “The bozo explosion

  1. Having worked for a few companies in my time I can say it’s not uncommon – as the person who gets hired is usually the person who has the best network and/or is a master at self presentation – not necessarily the one with best skills for the organisation. There’s also something to be said for mentoring and developing talent – being able to enable more people to become an A-lister. There’s something really pleasing about seeing someone stretch themselves and become more then they thought they could.

  2. You hit the nail on the head there Catherine! Development and mentoring are an essential part of building a great OSS team (and keeping the bozos out).

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