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To the Next President: Hire Good People
For too many years now, Gresham’s Law (bad money drives out the good) has applied to the Dartmouth administration. A critical mass of weak people with even weaker values has created a culture where PR and outright lying take the place of innovation and responsiveness to the needs of students and faculty. The new President faces a high task: rebuild Dartmouth’s administrative culture around the remaining good people; bring in strong new administrators; and ask people who have trouble adapting to the new norms to seek employment elsewhere.
To my mind, there is no more important responsibility confronting our next President. If accomplished, our leader can leave a legacy that will be as important to Dartmouth as Steve Jobs’ demanding personnel policies were to Apple — which he described in a 1995 interview:
Now, in my life I observed something very early on at Apple, which… I didn’t know how to explain it then but I’ve thought a lot about it since: if you… with most things in life… the dynamic range between average and the best is at most 2 to 1. Like, if you go to New York City and you get an average taxi cab driver versus the best taxi cab driver, you’re probably going to get to your destination with the best taxi cab driver maybe 30 percent faster. You know, in an automobile, what’s the difference between the average and the best? Maybe, I don’t know, 20 percent. The best CD player and an average CD player, I don’t know, 20 percent. So 2 to 1 is a big dynamic range in most of life.
In software, and it used to be the case in hardware too, the difference between average and the best is 50 to 1, maybe 100 to 1. OK? Very few things in life are like this. But, what I was lucky enough to spend my life in, is like this. And so, I built a lot of my success off finding these truly gifted people, and not settling for B and C players, but really going for the A players.
And I found something. I found that when you get enough A players together, when you go through the incredible work to find, you know, five of these A players, they really like working with each other because they never had a chance to do that before. And they don’t want to work with B and C players and so it becomes self-policing and they only want to hire more A players.
And so you build up these pockets of A players and it propagates. And thats what the Mac team was like, they were all A players, and they we’re all extraordinarily talented people.
Our next President should talk to AD Harry Sheehy and the best Dartmouth coaches in order to shape a personnel management policy based on successful athletics. Don’t hire anyone who does not have a winning record. And if that person is not successful at the College, cut them from the team. Too many student families pay out their life savings to allow their children to be in Hanover. It is only fair that the administration be staffed by the highest quality, hardest working people that we can find. This policy should apply at all levels of the administration.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…