Food for Thought #1: Self-Management, Dropbox, Optimizely

Our first edition!

Leo Widrich (via Buffer): What We Got Wrong About Self-Management

What We Got Wrong About Self-Management

When Buffer moved to self-management, we assumed that meant a flat organization. Now we're embracing hierarchy. Here's what we've learned along the way.

We eventually started to discuss whether this is the right setup for us. We concluded that it wasn’t, yet we were uncertain about how to move forward still.

We started to have this big knot in our brains. We had talked so much about being self-managed, about transcending the traditional management paradigm, and yet now we were realizing that there was still hierarchy?

Frankly, sitting with this question for some time was a great test, as it brought up many emotions around doubt in discussions between Joel and myself. I now believe that, for us, seeking a flat structure was a misperception of what self-management means.

(via First Round Capital): How Dropbox Sources, Scales and Ships Its Best Product Ideas

To source ideas effectively and grow them into products, Dropbox uses a hybrid product development approach. The method strikes a balance between a bottom-up approach, in which engineers autonomously pursue new product development, and a top-down approach, wherein an engineering or product leader initiates all new product roadmaps. A company doesn’t just institute a hybrid method; it arrives at equilibrium over time by drawing the best from both a bottom-up and top-down approach.

(via Y Combinator): YC Startup School Radio: How Optimizely Knew It Was On To Something Big

In Episode 3 of YC Startup School Radio, our host Aaron Harris sat down with Optimizely co-founder Pete Koomen and Lawn Love founder Jeremy Yamaguchi. You can listen to the full hour-long episode…

Pete Koomen: I’m sure there are plenty of sayings about good ideas, and how sometimes, it’s the most obvious one right in front of your nose that ended up being the best… But it wasn’t until we’d realized that: A, we really weren’t as great as we thought we were; and B, that the stuff was really tough, that we went searching around for a problem that we could really prove to ourselves that someone would pay for. So that was really big.

(via Andreessen Horowitz): How Innovation Ecosystems Grow Around the Globe. With Brad Feld.

Why do so many-government led efforts to build the next “Silicon Valley” in one geography or another fail? Is it misguided to even try? But then what does make such innovation clusters work?

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