Evernote Uses A Meeting Hack From Nuclear Submarines To Develop Talent

Phil LibinEric Piermont / GettyEvernote CEO Phil Libin.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin has said that he wants his company to be a “100 year startup” — an innovative company that people love that lasts for a century

You can see it in the way Libin relentlessly experiments with management, like with a program called Evernote Officer Training

As he told the New York Times, the idea came from a friend who served on a nuclear submarine. 

“In order to be an officer on one of these subs, you have to know how to do everyone else’s job,” he explained. “Those skills are repeatedly trained and taught. And I remember thinking, ‘That’s really cool.'”

So he brought the idea topside.

At Evernote, employees can volunteer to enter Officer Training. If they do, then they’re randomly assigned to meetings outside their department — and expected to contribute. 

“They’re there to absorb what we’re talking about,” Libin said. “They’re not just spectators. They ask questions; they talk.”

No employee gets more than two extra meetings a week.

While it seems minor, the effects could be potentially profound.
Network science research indicates that the quality and quantity of relationships you have in an organisation — up and down hierarchies, across departments — is one of the best predictors of innovation. 

So with Officer Training, Evernote has created a structure for cultivating those relationships, making the company more susceptible to great ideas in the future. 

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