You’ve been asked to find the right people for a totally new, high-risk, high-reward project. How do you decide who’s the right fit?
Scott Forstall, a VP at Apple Corp., faced that very same human-resources problem when he was ordered to assemble a group to develop the now-popular iPhone. Here’s how Forstall approached the challenge, according to an interview with the New York Times.
- He recruited and interviewed established top performers from within the company – people who had achieved success in their own fields and were at comfortable top rungs in those fields.
- The interview consisted of just one question preceded by a statement: “We’re looking for people who want to work on a totally new project, but I can’t tell you what the project is about. All I can tell you is that it’s going to involve a long struggle and probably lots of mistakes. But it could end up in something we’ll remember the rest of our lives. Are you interested?”
All expressed some interest, but the responses boiled down to two types:
- Some recruits said, “Let me think about it,” meaning they had to weigh the risk of giving up a comfortable position for the unknown – and possible failure.
- The others straight-away said, “Sign me up. When do we start?”
Which did Forstall choose? Those in the 2nd category. Why?
They exhibited what’s known in psychology circles as the “growth mindset.” They find learning and doing new things to be irresistible. The people who hesitated were good performers but were wary of the unknown or stretching themselves to another level. Chances are, they wouldn’t be the best people to lead the project to success.
And the rest is recruiting history.