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Hiring to Overcome Risks

You want to identify the key risks in what you’re trying to do, then you hire for those risks.Vinod Khosla, founder, Khosla Ventures*

In standard approaches to hiring, teams focus on what it will take to accomplish their goals and be successful. However, in situations that require high innovation, these goals might need to change very quickly over time. In his essay “Gene Pool Engineering,” Vinod Khosla writes “It is easy to hire to boost a team’s strengths without addressing a team’s weaknesses. Fundamentally we believe that a team can be ‘precisely engineered’… to manage the risks and to take advantage of opportunities to create disruption without running afoul of key requirements of the industry.” Khosla argues that in these situations, a team should hire based on both opportunities and risks. The steps he recommends (which we reproduce here) are:

  1. Identifying the five biggest risks a team is facing.

  2. Defining the skill-sets necessary to address those risks.

  3. Locating the “centers of excellence” where those skill-sets might exist.

  4. Finding and hiring the top experts in those “centers of excellence.”

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