Note: This course was produced by Big Think. We are pleased to host this content in our library.
Skill Level Intermediate
(relaxing music) - In the early stages of Khan Academy, the passion and the ability to just execute directly were super important because I, my background was in software. I didn't have to kind of get other people or get funding to start building prototypes. And I've just, sometimes I get obsessed with things and that's what allowed me to create just a ton of content and give it a critical scale so that it could be useful. It has a critical breadth. As Khan Academy then grew and became, more people knew about it, I think it was important and this is, I attribute a lot to just reading science fiction books and thinking on larger scales and you know, the next four years, or 10 years, or even my lifetime is well, what could this be? If we're really allowed to dream, what could this be? It feels like we're at an inflection point in history and when you're at these inflection points, there's new opportunities and there's new problems. But it's often the case that you can take advantage of the new opportunities, the technological opportunities to solve the new problems. And I had this lens of well, maybe this Khan Academy thing, instead of it just being a one off collection of videos or one off software app that I tried to do as a venture backed business, maybe this could be the next Stanford, the next Harvard, this new type of institution that people haven't visualized quite yet, but it could help empower millions or billions of students for the next 500 years. And as soon as you start thinking on those scales, you go after a bigger problem and you phrase things differently, and frankly, you inspire more people, more amazing people are going to want to be part of that audacious goal. And I think because Khan Academy didn't aspire to just be a business, so to speak. We have been able to attract some of the very best talent around the planet for this mission. And so I think that's kind of the you know, execute, build something, make it real, but articulate a big, bold vision, but one that people can believe that is possible because of the traction that you've just had, and then leverage those pieces to get just the best people around you that you can. And I think if you, if you're able to pull that off, then you're off to the races. (gentle music) What we look for are people who crave autonomy and who want to be given a direction but then who crave being able to run and having free space to run in that direction and who crave having managers and say, okay this is your direction. This is how you're going to be measured, but you own it. We're able to attract those people. And if you have the right processes in the organization in place, they're going to thrive. In terms of the organization itself, to just view it as something that you're constantly iterating and experimenting on. And I'm actually most proud of our organization when we try a new way of doing things and we're able to shift. And even sometimes the new way of doing things is not as good as the old one, but if we have an organization where people are like, "Hey, you know we looked at this new way of doing things. "It wasn't good as good as the old way." And a lot of organizations would then say, "Okay we're going to double down on the old way," but to have an organization that says, "Okay, well that was a good trial. "Let's try another permutation." That's kind of the aspiration that I have for our organization, 'cause if we're able to do that, then I have more conviction that we're going to be able to be a multi-generational organization that truly keeps up with the time, so to speak. (gentle music) What I try to do is constantly stay out of my comfort zone. I'm viewing myself more and more of a architect of the organization, rather than someone who just solves one off problems on HR, one-off problems around you know, the dev team, or the programs team, or this partnership, or that negotiation. I mean, that's part of the job, but I should be able to step back as frequently as possible and say, "Well, how is my organization? "How is our organization able to respond to change? "How are we at leveraging the ideas from the team "and surfacing them, as opposed to being top-down? "How good do I feel if God forbid I were to get hit "by a bus now that this organization "is going to keep innovating "and keep being at the cutting edge?" And so that's the direction that I think is you know, the next century's going to demand. Not CEOs, or executive directors, or managers as okay, this is the great idea that I built you know, the lucid dream that I just had. And then let me just tell everyone what to do, which was a very much an industrial revolution model but much more let's architect an organization, a set of processes, so good ideas naturally get surfaced, they get prioritized, and they get executed on in a very nimble way. And they're able to test. And the organization is able to pivot in a very natural way. (gentle music)