Jack Dorsey and his fellow Twitter cofounders were put into a position they weren’t prepared for when the site took off around 2008.
Egos and competing visions became overwhelming, and each of the cofounders eventually left the company for different reasons, as Nick Bilton illustrates in his book “Hatching Twitter.”
The experience as a first-time CEO taught Dorsey to focus on “the fundamentals,” he tells Marketplace, and to ignore the distractions that arise around the first signs of growth.
Today Dorsey is the full-time CEO of the mobile payment service Square. In the Marketplace interview, he explains that he’s learned to take a hands-off approach to management, dedicating his time to growing a self-reliant, talented team and cutting those who aren’t valuable.
He says that his role as CEO is to see that decisions are being made, not to make the decisions:
I say that if I have to make a decision, we have an organizational failure. (That’s) because I don’t have the same context as someone who is working day to day with the data, with the understanding of the customer. I can help provide context of what’s happening in the industry, what’s happening with our competition, what’s happening across the company, and we need to make decisions that are rich in that.
But the true innovation, the true invention is actually going to happen in the work not in a room…
I definitely see the organization and the people in it as the ones to make the decisions, because they have the greatest context for what needs to be done.
He adds that he is also responsible for constantly raising the bar for his company to keep his team moving forward.
His insight is complemented by an email he sent to Square employees in 2012, which asked employees to stop name-dropping him to get projects approved.
“Simply: if you have to use someone else’s name or authority to get a point across, there is little merit to the point (you might not believe it yourself),” Dorsey writes. “If you believe in something to be correct, focus on showing your work to prove it. Authority derives naturally from merit, not the other way around.”
Dorsey’s management approach is meant to keep Square as agile and lean as possible so that it can compete with mobile payment alternatives from companies like PayPal and Apple.
“I definitely want Square to have a massive impact, and I think it has the potential to be that,” he tells Marketplace. “I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that’s the case.”