Alan Kay on Xerox’s culture back when it was killing it:
A few principles:
1. Visions not goals
2. Fund people not projects — the scientists find the problems not the funders. So, for many reasons, you have to have the best researchers.
3. Problem Finding — not just Problem Solving
4. Milestones not deadlines
5. It’s “baseball” not “golf” — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not failure but the overhead for getting hits.
Doesn’t that sound so healthy and reasonable? Of course, it didn’t last: profit needs and fear can easily trump ingenuity, hard work, teamwork, and progress.
We don’t really fund scientists in the public sector; we fund projects. And outside of politically expedient “moonshots,” we’ve curbed our visions in favor of concrete achievable goals with deadlines.
Really great lesson. I especially like the baseball vs. golf comparison.