If you work in a big company, name-dropping the boss can sometimes provide a shortcut for getting something done.
It’s not an uncommon idea, but Jack Dorsey, the CEO of payments startup Square, really doesn’t want his employees doing it.
Dorsey just published an email that he sent to Square employees in 2012. In it, he scolds them for using his name to push ideas, saying that the tactic diminishes that employee’s authority and diminishes the idea’s merit.
“We want more passionate debates about bold and crazy ideas rethinking what we’ve taken for granted rather than discussions that end in ‘John wants this, this is how we’re supposed to do it,'” Dorsey writes. “The former will keep us agile and innovative, the latter will make us irrelevant.”
Why would Dorsey publish this email now?
Could be that he’s seeing the same issues in the company today and wants to push his employees to knock it off. Or maybe he’s trying to foreshadow some “bold and crazy ideas” soon to come out of the company.
All in all, it hasn’t been an easy quarter for Square. The Wall Street Journal wrote a big piece highlighting the company’s widening losses and dwindling cash, reporting that it had been in talks with Apple, eBay, and Google, trying to sell. Square completely denied any acquisition talks, but this week, it killed its ambitious app, Square Wallet, in favour of a food-ordering app similar to GrubHub’s.
Here’s the full email, which Dorsey sent on September 5, 2012:
I’ve noticed a funny thing in the company. There’s been a high occurrence of folks using names, mine for instance, to push through an idea. “Jack really wants this to happen, Jack thinks this is an amazing idea, Jack said, etc.” This is obviously counter to the meritocracy/marketplace of ideas we want to build. Using someone else’s name to sell an idea does two things:
1. It diminishes your authority.
2. It diminishes the idea’s merit.
Simply: if you have to use someone else’s name or authority to get a point across, there is little merit to the point (you might not believe it yourself). If you believe in something to be correct, focus on showing your work to prove it. Authority derives naturally from merit, not the other way around.
We want more passionate debates about bold and crazy ideas rethinking what we’ve taken for granted rather than discussions that end in “John wants this, this is how we’re supposed to do it.” The former will keep us agile and innovative, the latter will make us irrelevant.
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