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Rich Friedeman
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I had to go back and read Suster's post to be sure I could see where you were coming from. To be honest, this post reinforces to me that you've never hired anyone. You're absolutely right that you want to hire the best you can, and that you will miss out on some very skilled people by using Suster's filter. There's a lot more to an employee than engineering talent. Ultimately, you don't care about their talent, you care about what they produce. Highly talented engineers, when productive, will clearly produce more than less talented ones, but "when productive" is an important qualifier. Talent isn't the whole equation. The farther you get into a project, the more work on someone's part and time is involved in bringing a new person up to speed. Lean startups (and frankly, most organizations) can't afford to do frequent on-boardings. A new person's productivity is basically zero on day 1. It may ramp up quickly, but quickly can still easily be 2-4 weeks of lowered productivity -- longer if you're in a frenzy of effort and have no time to fully orient them. Combine that with looking at when people quit. It's almost never a good time, but the likelihood goes up when the going is getting tough -- you've had a problem, or a deadline is approaching, or have to do a major retooling due to competitive pressures. In short, when things get even more stressful. That's when you need someone you know isn't looking for escape routes from day one. It's all well and good to say you want to hire the best people and make your workplace so awesome that they always want to stay. It's a nice goal, but as a staff plan, it's on the Bill and Ted level of "Be excellent to each other": Appealing, but rarely that easy. Work will often suck not because the jobs are bad or the company you're building is bad, but because it's work. If it's nothing but fun, someone else is already doing it for free. Someone with a track record of endless short-time work indicates that they're probably less likely to put up with that and tough it out. It doesn't mean they're not really talented, and it doesn't mean they're not good, interesting, and worthwhile people. But they're not a great choice as an employee. In the end, staff churn (on large or small teams) is very expensive in terms of opportunity cost and often real cost. This is really what Suster wants to avoid. He may not say it in the most appealing way, but he's a lot more right than wrong.