Scott Goodson joined Pinterest as its head of core experience only a few weeks ago, but he says that he’s stunned by how much he and his teams have already managed to get done.
He’s also amazed by the the ways that those teams get work done.
Goodson has a long history in the tech world. Prior to joining to Pinterest, he spent more than three years at Facebook, first working to develop its news app, Paper, and then as an engineering manager at Instagram. Before that, he worked at Apple for four years, where he was one of the first ten engineers to work on OS 1.0 for the iPhone.
Teams at Pinterest operate contrary to other teams he’s been part of in the past.
“I found Pinterest to be a very different sort of culture than I’m used to,” he told Business Insider. “One of the most unique things is that the company really values interdisciplinary work across the different functional areas of the team. The notion of empathy is deeply understood here. At other companies there’s a bit more of a competitive or even ruthless perspective, so it was really refreshing to see the level of cooperation here.”
That spirit of cooperation manifests itself in the way that designers and engineers work together.
At Pinterest, collaboration happens much earlier in any given project, Goodson says. In the past, he’s been part of teams where designers don’t share their work with engineers at an early stage, partially because they’re defensive of engineers tearing apart their work with criticisms that aren’t core to what they’re trying to demonstrate. He’s noticed that a lack of empathy between designers and engineers can essentially lead to the two groups siloing themselves off from each other.
“In addition to the human tensions and the stress that that causes, it means that the design is less flexible and less easily changed to adapt to other requirements or corner-cases that could have been pointed out at an early stage,” Goodson says. “But Pinterest is really developing the product and the design together, and experimenting, instead of having designers output a specification for engineering to go build in isolation. And that’s happening at a greater scale than what I’ve seen at a lof of places.”
He says that in his new role he’ll be focused on making sure that Pinterest can “live up to all the possibilities that we see for it.” Pinterest’s goal is to help people enable their own creativity, and he says that a big challenge is figuring out what that means for different people at different stages of their lives. His teams need to figure out how to build the app and desktop experience so all of those different use cases are better and more intuitive.
Even though he says it was hard to leave an innovative company like Instagram, Goodson felt like the move made sense because he strongly believes in Pinterest’s vision.
“It’s not about projecting outwards to other people and trying to create an image for yourself, it’s about actually trying to better understand yourself and develop your own capabilities,” he says. “And that problem space, which has so many different subtleties and interesting elements to it, is something that Pinterest seems to be the leader in. So that was a huge part of my decision.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Pinterest employees bucking the norm. Company cofounder Evan Sharp recently told Business Insider that Pinterest only tries to hire people who are “nice.”
“There’s definitely a stereotype of a successful startup that it’s often this aggressive, type A place and that’s just not necessarily true,” Sharp said. “You can have geniuses that are nice or geniuses that are really egotistical. But they’re both geniuses. So, we really want to work with the geniuses that are nice to each other and have a common level of respect.”
Goodson joins Pinterest at an interesting time. The 6-year-old startup is fresh off a $US553 million round of funding, and it just took a big leap towards proving its whopping $US11 billion valuation by introducing a new “buy” button.
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