This week Alex d'Arbeloff passed away .  There are 9 of us here at HubSpot who graduated from MIT where Alex was a graduate, a lecturer, and a member of the MIT Corporation.  Alex was best known as the founder/ceo of Teradyne, a great company based here in Boston in the semi-conductor testing industry.

 

I was fortunate to have Alex as a professor in one class.  There was one lesson particular lesson he taught that my co-founder and I often quote at HubSpot.  " Put your new employees on old projects...put your great, existing employees on new projects. "  His point was that in a growing company, you always have far more projects than people to execute on them and that it was most tempting to take your new hires and put them on the new projects while letting your existing employees keep cranking on the existing projects.  His feeling was that the new employees did not understand the culture, the vision, the systems, and the processes well enough to build a new project/process right.  He thought these new employees should be put on existing projects/processes where they could learn and increment while your existing stars should be put on net new projects with breakthrough possibilities.  This has benefit of challenging your stars with interesting work, ensures that new projects are in line with strategy/systems/etc and ensures that all employees are roughly on the same page.

 

There are two tradeoffs with Alex's advice.  The first is that a lot of new high potential hires want to work on new projects and are not anxious to join on an existing team/process that's well defined.  The second is the obvious productivity hit you take on the existing project.  

 

Were any of you impacted by Alex/Teradyne?  Do any of you follow this idea of putting new on old and old on new with great or poor results?  Do any of you follow the new on new and old on old with great or poor results?


Originally published Jul 13, 2008 2:51:00 AM, updated March 21 2013