by Elana Varon

The Boss You Want

Apr 01, 20072 mins
IT Leadership

If you haven’t seen the interview with Bill Campbell, the chairman and former CEO of Intuit, in the latest issue of McKinsey Quarterly, it’s worth a read.

In it, Campbell speaks candidly about what he thinks makes a company successful at innovation.

The full story requires a subscription, but here’s a link to the abstract. The key point for IT executives:

“Engineers should have the ability to say, This is what we want to do, and all the product managers in the world aren’t going to talk us out of this.”

He goes on to describe a meeting in which a product manager demanded some specific new features be added to Intuit’s banking products. Campbell’s response was to tell the product manager that he would boot him if he told the engineers what to do. Instead, he said, “tell the engineers what problem the consumer has. And then the engineers are going to provide you with a way better solution than you’ll ever get by telling them to put some dopey feature in there.”

Another refreshing note: Campbell admits he doesn’t have particularly good product ideas himself.

Anyone else have a CEO who is that self-aware? How do you make the most of it?