Frank Slootman: “no strategy is better than its execution”
“The board saw [the former CEO] taking Snowflake to the moon and believed Slootman could pilot the ship to Mars.” Frank Slootman is the CEO of Snowflake, and is one of the most well credentialled CEO’s in Silicon Valley, having taken two previous companies, Data Domain and ServiceNow to IPO. He has also written a book, called “TAPE SUCKS: Inside Data Domain, A Silicon Valley Growth Story”. If anyone is an alchemist, it is Frank Slootman. He has also written a helpful playbook, called “Amp it Up“.
What is the Frank Slootman playbook? Put simply:
“Bottom line: There is room up in organizations to boost performance by amping up the pace and intensity. Considerable slack naturally exists in organizations to perform at much higher levels. The role of leadership is to convert that lingering potential into superlative results. The opportunity is right under our noses but for some reason it does not enter the consciousness. This notion is not limited to business enterprises. We see in professional sports all the time how teams go almost overnight from losing to winning with basically the same roster, but different leadership. Call it what you want, the X factor, whatever, it is real. Anybody can dial into this, but not many do.”
- Excellence (“Steve Jobs who had just two classifications: it’s either ‘insanely great’, or it’s ‘total shit’. There is no middle ground, Steve took it away.”)
- Performance (“Stepping up the pace doesn’t just cause people to do things faster. They start doing things differently. They become more demanding of others. This is precisely what you want in an organization.”)
- Execution (“INCREASE VELOCITY: When someone would ask me if he could get back to me next week, I would reply “how about tomorrow morning”? Change people’s sense of urgency.”)
- “I have never taken people out of their positions too soon, by the time that I realised, it’s almost too late…”
- “When you win, they can’t hurt you. When you lose, they can’t help you”
- “I’ve been through these processes so many times…. When I came into Snowflake I eliminated almost the entire management team”.
- “As a young man I always thought that I could help or change or coach people, but that’s very rarely the case”
- “Board members should decide they either support or not support the CEO. Don’t be in the middle ground. Either you support the CEO, or you take them out of the role. The middle ground kills everybody”
- “Most of my mistakes are in hiring… I’m very aware that people who look stellar on paper are sometimes complete failures”.