Patrick McKenzie+ Your Authors @patio11 I work for the Internet, at @stripe, mostly on accelerating startups. Opinions here are my own. Sep. 10, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

I think there is some value in telling folks that particular comments may not be addressed to them, in particular in large settings where the comments will feel 101 level, but there are much better ways to do it than this sentence.

Some suggestions:

“For the benefit of the folks who just joined...”

“This will be a recap for some of you...”

“To quickly review...”

A better strategy is to inculcate a culture of senior ICs and leaders asking the questions everyone knows they would know the answer to, explicitly for new folks.

e.g. Back during one Japan team meeting we got a sales update which would have been opaque to tens of percent of the team, so I said “For the benefit of those of us without a sales background, can you explain what the NAL is and how we came up with it?”

Note that if growing quickly you will have to repeat yourself in large fora *an awful lot*.

The craziest implication of math I never appreciated: if an org is growing at 2X per year, on the day you join, half of peers have less than a year in. A year later, same. 2 years...

This will include saying things that will sound *deeply* self evident to much of the team, and it’s important to balance their need for novelty (and feeling progression) against the goal of comprehensibility and belonging for the newer folks.

(There’s also a huge amount of value for creating ongoing crossfunctional “So you want to learn about Marketing” or “The 30 minute refresher on how our business works held quarterly.”)

I’ll note that good leaders are like good teachers in being willing and able to answer questions at any level of abstraction even if it’s “deeply below their pay grade”, plus some sense of classroom management to move things to appropriate forums if they’re not in one.

Also, another facet of this:

Many employees will self-deprecate with “I know this is a stupid question but...”

I have macroed a teacher-y response: “There are no stupid questions; a firm understanding of this helps both you and other people with related questions.”

(This is a rare circumstance in which I will directly contradict someone, because I think that habit in particular is good to correct, as it is both in their immediate and long-term interests and prevents a “Asking a q => is stupid” culture from flourishing.)

(Note that this very very much applies to engineering and safety cultures because a lot of the “stupid questions” you really worry about at the margin are “Stupid question: should that system be saying ‘CRITICAL ERROR’ and flashing red lights at 2 AM?”)

You can follow @patio11.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.

Follow Threader