Adam Grant: Hire for Culture Fit or Add? | Summary and Q&A

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February 16, 2017
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Stanford eCorner
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Adam Grant: Hire for Culture Fit or Add?

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Summary

This video highlights the importance of hiring for culture fit and discusses three different approaches that founders often take when hiring: skills first, stars first, or culture fit first. The speaker presents research that shows firms prioritizing culture fit are significantly less likely to fail and more likely to IPO. However, as companies grow, hiring for culture fit can hinder growth and innovation by promoting groupthink and limiting diversity of thought. The speaker suggests that instead of hiring based on culture fit, companies should hire for cultural contribution, seeking individuals who can enrich and stretch the existing culture.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the three different approaches that founders often take when hiring?

Some founders prioritize skills, focusing on whether candidates can fulfill the job requirements. Others prioritize stars, seeking individuals with high learning agility and raw intelligence. The third approach is culture fit, where founders prioritize candidates who align with the company's values.

Q: According to the research mentioned in the video, what is the impact of prioritizing culture fit in hiring?

The research shows that firms prioritizing culture fit have significantly lower failure rates and are more likely to go public. This is because when employees align with the company's values and mission, they are motivated and committed to contributing to its success.

Q: Why do companies that hire for culture fit experience slower growth rates after going public?

Hiring for culture fit can lead to groupthink and a lack of diversity of thought. As companies grow, they need to be able to adapt to external disruptions and changing markets. Hiring individuals who think the same way can hinder innovation and limit the ability to respond to new challenges.

Q: How does IDEO address the issue of hiring for culture fit?

IDEO, a renowned design firm, tackles the problem by shifting their hiring focus from culture fit to cultural contribution. Instead of hiring individuals who already align with their existing culture, they identify what is missing and seek individuals who can enrich and stretch the culture. They have hired anthropologists and storytellers to bring diverse perspectives and skills to their team.

Q: How does IDEO ensure diversity in their hiring process?

IDEO recognizes the danger of falling into the same trap of hiring for a specific skill or background that they believe is uniquely great. They constantly reassess their cultural needs and identify what else may be missing. This helps them avoid narrowing their hiring criteria and promotes diversity in their team composition.

Q: What is the speaker's suggestion for combating the culture fit problem in hiring?

Instead of hiring solely for culture fit, the speaker suggests that companies should focus on hiring for cultural contribution. This means seeking individuals who can bring new perspectives, skills, and experiences that will enrich and stretch the existing culture.

Q: How does hiring for cultural contribution differ from hiring for culture fit?

Hiring for cultural contribution means actively seeking individuals who can contribute new ideas, skills, and perspectives to the existing culture. It prioritizes diversity and avoiding groupthink, rather than focusing on finding candidates who already align with the current culture.

Q: Why is cultural contribution important for companies as they grow?

As companies grow, they need to adapt to external disruptions and changing markets. Hiring individuals who can contribute new ideas, skills, and perspectives allows for innovation and promotes adaptability. Without diversity of thought, companies may struggle to stay relevant and competitive.

Q: What dangers can arise from hiring for culture fit?

Hiring for culture fit can lead to groupthink, where everyone thinks and acts the same way. This can hinder innovation and limit the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. It also tends to weed out diversity of thought, which is crucial for overcoming challenges and identifying new opportunities.

Q: How can a company identify what is missing from their culture and hiring needs?

To identify what is missing from their culture, companies can analyze their current team composition and evaluate any gaps in skills, perspectives, or experiences. They can also assess their unique challenges and identify the specific talents and backgrounds that would be beneficial in addressing those challenges.

Takeaways

The video emphasizes the importance of hiring for culture fit but also highlights the potential dangers of solely prioritizing it. While culture fit can be valuable in the early stages of a company, it can hinder growth and innovation as the company expands. The speaker suggests that companies should shift their focus to hiring for cultural contribution, actively seeking individuals who can enrich and stretch the existing culture. By embracing diversity of thought and skills, companies can adapt to external disruptions, promote innovation, and stay competitive in a rapidly changing world.

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