Written by Craig Beddis
10 min read
Right People, Right Role, Right Time: Creating and Leveraging a Company’s Genius Zone
Building a company is hard.
There’s a lot of glorification of the grind of early founders on podcasts, blogs, Twitter, and beyond but – and I tell you this from personal experience – a lot happens away from the bright lights of a conference leading to long days, sleepless nights, and a ‘helluva’ lot more work than you can cram into the typical 9-5.
Many well-funded promising companies with high ambitions coupled with a new piece of technology, or a novel approach to an existing problem, fall by the wayside as quickly as they appear. Issues like poor product, no market need, no viable business model and ultimately a lack of funding get pointed out as the main reasons start-up’s typically fail - but sometimes the underlying issue simply comes down to bad execution due to poor use of the company’s key asset - people.
Empowering People To Build Massively Scalable Applications
At Hadean, we’ve built the world’s first cloud-first operating system, HadeanOS. With HadeanOS, we have completely redesigned the technology stack from the ground up based on first principles. Allowing software engineers to write, ship and scale their applications at any size without worrying about clunky layers of middleware, high rates of failure or expensive resource constraints. Quite simply; HadeanOS enables developers to bring their most ambitious applications to life.
We believe we are in a golden age of deep tech with the UK at the forefront. The development of Cloud, 5G, Edge Computing and Hadean’s very own Cloud-First OS are all helping pave the way for what many analysts are describing as a new era of compute - The 4th Platform.
Today, we are facing some of the greatest challenges that humanity has ever known.
Hadean was founded to unlock the current computational bottlenecks and empower the world’s brightest minds by giving them access to their own ‘Supercomputer’ via HadeanOS. Simply put we wanted to free people from the technology limitations they face today and empower them to be in their own ‘Genius Zone’ to create new opportunities and solve some of the hardest problems we face in the world today.
To prove and demonstrate how easy and powerful building on Hadean can be, we built Aether Engine, our distributed simulation engine, on top of HadeanOS. Even in these early stages, Aether Engine is finding footholds far and wide across tech.
The Francis Crick Institute is using Aether Engine to simulate large and complex models of protein-protein interactions, researching novel binding sites for tackling diseases like cancer while world-famous gaming studio CCP Games has announced it will work with us on EVE: Aether Wars, a world record 10,000-player experience powered by Aether Engine.
Creating And Scaling A Company-Wide Genius Zone
However our technology is only one part of the story as to why we have been able to do game changing things like 10,000 players in a single game. Behind the brilliant Hadean tech we have a team of geniuses that collectively create one big Hadean brain. In an age of Artificial Intelligence and Deeptech it’s easy to forget the human factors needed to create this technology:
The right people in the right roles…. at the right time
Taken and adapted from Raising Venture Capital for the Serious Entrepreneur
However, an often-overlooked aspect of getting the best out of people, is to ensure you have the right people in the right roles…at the right time. In his game changing book ‘Good to Great’ Jim Collins talked about getting the right people in the right roles (right people in the right seats on the bus as he describes it), however in ‘start-up land’ there is an often neglected adjustment that needs to be made; You need the right people in the right roles… but must recognise that will change as a company moves through the different company lifecycle stages (Seed, Series A, B, C, D, etc.).
The early stage of a company it is all about innovation and speed as you build a product and search for product market fit. So, you need people who are ‘hard wired’ and suited to the bold, brave and sometimes chaotic speed of change that comes with this early stage of start-up life. Later as you look to ship product against a validated business model you need more process and structure that is needed for an organisation (and product) to truly scale.
So, you need people ‘hard-wired’ more towards detail, analytical and systematic thinking or the wheels will come off and your start-up will grind to a halt. This phase is often referred to as ‘engineering hell’ as a great minimum viable product never makes it to great product, or, and more importantly, a viable scalable business model.
Identifying The Genius Zone In Yourself And Others
I believe everyone has a ‘Genius Zone’ and it’s my duty as the CEO to ensure everyone is self-aware enough so they know what and where their personal genius zone is.
Secondly, they need to learn to be able to see, understand and find value in the genius zone of others. To find value in the difference in others, particularly those people who see things differently to you, means you will grow faster by leveraging their skills and vice versa them from you – rather than finding fault in their differences and ‘perceived’ weaknesses.
When hiring we focus on 3 things: DNA, Knowledge and Skill. You can teach knowledge and skill, but the DNA aspect is harder to shape and change and tends to be ‘hard wired’ into most people. We are all biochemically and pathologically ‘hard wired’ a certain way, some people are more left brain (logical, detail and process oriented) and others more right brain (visual, creative, spontaneous). We also have the ‘scripts’ that are baked into us from family and the surroundings that helped shape us and our paradigms of how see things in our formative years.
As a result, we all tend to see the world as we are not as it is. Over time we also notice we have things that seem to come naturally to us that we find easy and seem to always excel at, and we all have things that we always seem to struggle with that seem to come easy to others! Now to be clear, this doesn’t mean you cannot improve in some areas, and some scripts can absolutely be changed. However, certain brain types that mean we are naturally better at some things than others.
Leveraging Cognitive Diversity
There is a lot of talk and rightly so about the need for more diversity in technology. At Hadean we have a vast mix of people from a wide variety of backgrounds in race, sex and colour, all with very different points of view that has helped us shape and create a wonderful culture that we are very proud of.
At Hadean we work also work hard to design teams and departments that include people who have different styles of problem-solving and offer unique perspectives because they think differently. We call this cognitive diversity.
Getting the best parts of the best brains has enabled us to solve many hard problems and create incredible solutions as we build our company and our product. It has also helped us create a great culture where people find value in the differences in others.
Adapt To Grow
Another key people factor is the ability of people to put the good of Hadean before their own personal ambition; To do what Hadean NEEDS you to do, not what you WANT to do.
This is hard and it requires people to believe and buy into the principle that as Hadean grows they will grow too. This means we are able to adapt as we grow and shift into a role that leverages people’s ‘Genius Zone’ so they can be most effective in supporting our company’s growth. It’s not about the title, it’s all about personal growth enabling company growth and vice versa in parallel.
The question for us is always, where can you as an individual be your absolute best at this next company lifecycle stage? So that we as a collective (company) can be our best to navigate at speed through the next phase. So, the key skill is getting people to recognise their need to adapt and accept that what got us from Seed to Series A will probably not get us from A to B and beyond.
We’ve moved people upwards, sideways, backwards and sometimes unfortunately outwards (sometimes some people are better suited to previous lifecycle stage, it’s best for the individual and for us as a company they move on), as we’ve moved towards creating our Company Genius Zone for the Lifecycle Stage we are navigating. Achieving this is integral to attaining our future vision because, even with all the money and the best tech, it doesn’t mean we will succeed. Far from it.
To help with this, something we’ve found crucial at Hadean is to have Cultural Architects who are driving and shaping the organisation’s culture. These individuals aren’t designated formally and can be at any level within a business, evolving naturally and consistently demonstrating the DNA, knowledge and skill needed they are key to shaping the positive values of the organisation.
You can’t find these people listed by role on the organisation chart. However, you will notice them, they are the people who really care, the people who other people naturally gravitate to for help. They don’t seek praise as they don’t need it. BUT they are the heart and soul or your company. Find them and cherish them and encourage others to follow them.
Whilst integral, leaders, shouldn’t focus their efforts solely on these architects, but instead use them to inspire others, further refining the shape, development and growth of the organisation. Over the long-run, the organisation becomes self-correcting with the team illustrating the values of the business little-to-no intervention from leadership.
We recently held a Quarterly Business Review, in which we covered many of the milestones we have achieved as a team. I shared this quote by one of my early mentors Jay Abraham, reinstating the commitment we are making to one-another and to ourselves as we strive for success:
“I have a very simple philosophy on life. You shouldn’t steal from yourself. If you’re going to commit your life to an enterprise, wealth creation, the security and the financial well-being of your family… and if other people – your colleagues, your team, your employees, your customers – are going to commit their lives to you, you owe it to yourself and everyone else to get the highest and best results.You should never accept a fraction of the yield when with the same effort or less, the same people or fewer, the same time or less, the same capital or less, the same opportunity cost or less, can deliver so much more to you currently, and perpetually.”
We are still learning and by no means have this perfected – but we are getting there and, when we do, we’ll have the right people in the right role, at the right time.
At Hadean, we want our technology to enable everyone to be in their Genius Zone to build life changing solutions. Internally, we also want the people building our technology to do the same.
See the video below to watch the talk I gave on this very topic during Web Summit 2019:
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