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Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business — and at Entrepreneur.com, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: the smartest companies don’t tell their employees how to innovate, they manage the chaos.
Eric Schmidt believes managers should foster innovation, not kill it. As Google’s former CEO and current chairman, he’s learned a lot about how to get great ideas going. He shares a host of anecdotes and tips in the latest episode of Masters of Scale, a podcast exploring counterintuitive ideas to growth hosted by Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder and Greylock partner. We’ve posted a selection here with the rest of his lessons and wisdom in this week’s podcast with Hoffman.
To grow, learn how to act fast
Move quickly. “The most important thing to do is to have quick decisions—and you’ll make some mistakes, but you need decision-making,” he says, adding that this bucks the trend of many large corporations, which move too slowly because of bureaucratic red tape. Thanks to a fast-acting culture, Google made one “historic decision” in just 10 days, according to Schmidt, helping it grow immensely as a search engine.
Let your team prove you wrong.
In this podcast, Schmidt shares how a new way of thinking helped catapult Google’s advertising model: auctions. “It was that moment that I realized that both this team was magical, but also that the scale of the search ads opportunity was immensely larger than even we had thought,” But Schmidt wasn’t always on board with this strategy. In fact, he thought it would make the company bankrupt, as he explains in this week’s episode.
Make time to be truly distracted.
The best recommendation Schmidt ever received came from a friend telling him to get into aviation. “If you’re flying planes, you won’t be able to think of anything else,” he recalls his friend telling him during a stressful time for Schmidt. Not only did it provide a distraction, but also taught him a specific technique to improve his management style.
Persistence is a dance, not a march.
“Persistence doesn’t mean marching on the same program, against the same hill, with the same sledgehammer,” Schmidt says. “Persistence means you keep trying, but you change your tactics. You modify your strategy, you think differently about how to solve the problem, and you don’t give up. “
This mantra helped shape Google’s free-time rule, where employees spend 20 percent of their time on whatever they want. It’s an approach geared to bubbling up new ideas and letting bad ones die quickly.
For more anecdotes and lessons from Sandberg’s journey to scale, check out the latest episode of this new series below. Listeners can also access the podcast on Apple, Google, Stitcher, Spotify and other streaming platforms.