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Jim Hodgson


Some people attribute the quote to Donald Rumsfeld. I first heard it in the book REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson, but it might also have been first posited by a leadership expert named John Bishop.

Whoever said it first, it goes like this:

A’s hire A’s and B’s hire C’s

At first glance, it sounds like HR got ahold of the Pythagorean Theorem, went nuts, chopped off the exponentials, and moved everything around, but there’s actually a lot of information about life in there. Let’s break it down.

What the quote means is that very skilled people–let’s call them craftsmen–are, thanks to being secure in their own skills, not afraid to hire people more talented than they are, whereas less talented people, realizing that they’re not working at the fullest bloom their own potential, tend to hire people who are even less capable than themselves so that they will, by contrast, seem more skilled.

The first part of the equation details a craftsman’s attitude toward hiring, but it also encapsulates the whole of the Highgroove philosophy. The second part exemplifies exactly the sort of sludge Highgroove does its best to avoid.

Now let’s talk about beer.

Journeyman to Master

Let’s say you want to become a master brewer. How would you go about it? There are books to read, classes to take, and seminars to attend. All these are necessary, but we think a person needs these things plus one more special ingredient: time paired with a mentor.

“Mentorship is how you go from journeyman to master,” said Jonathan Wallace, Highgroove developer and technologist. “We tend to hire A-capable people and then help them reach their fullest potential, because people who are already masters are usually not looking for a job.”

If you want to become a master brewer, you should read the books, take the classes, attend the seminars, but we think you should also find someone who is super qualified and try to get some of their time. That’s why we pair the A-capable people we bring on board with our veterans. Being around craftsmanship brings out the craftsman in everyone.

And that’s also why we keep craft beer in the fridge.

Why drink craft beer at all?

The easiest answer is “because it tastes better,” but that doesn’t really address the question. After all, a beer can be highly formed by the best brewers in the world and still not be your thing. Myself, I don’t care for the darker beers even though I respect the craftsmanship it takes to brew them.

Therein lies a much more true response. A craftsman has the skills to make something of undeniable quality, and that quality will be recognizable even by someone whose tastes aren’t suited. Some people might not be interested in Ruby on Rails applications, but we strive to ensure that our work is of that undeniable, singular quality anyone can see.

Photo: hans s


Jim Hodgson

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