You're Not a Leader, You're an Editor

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I've mentioned this before on this blog, but we continue to face mounting complexity due to our increasing connectedness, and this complexity can lead to paralysis. It is interesting to see how different people are managing these changes to drive their careers - a great example comes from Square and Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey interestingly positions his job as an editor. Further to this, he believes that every CEO or leader in a company is (or needs to) embody this editor persona. Without it, you will fail to present a single cohesive story to the world.

Think about the history of the traditional print editor. Their role was to pick content out and weave it into a coherent story. You would try and remove "bad" content - remembering that this may include good ideas that don't necessarily fit into your master story.

The CEO as Chief Editor

Dorsey outlines the three key areas he needs to act as editor at Square, but is careful to point out that these priorities can be customised and applied to anyones role accordingly. They are:

1. Recruiting

2. Internal & External Vision

3. Money in the Bank

Watch the video below, with quotes to follow.

"There are a thousand things that we could be doing, but there is only one or two that are important. And all of these ideas and all of these stories from our users, from engineers, from support people, from designers, are going to constantly flood what we should be doing. And we need to choose the one or two that are really going to drive and sustain the network and the service and the product.
As an editor (I'm effectively just the chief editor of the company), I'm constantly taking all of these inputs and deciding on that one or that intersection of a few that make sense for what we are doing. 
And there is three access points that I pay attention to in particular. Number one is the team. We have to bring the best people in - edit the best people in - so we have a good cast of characters, and edit away any negative elements. And a lot of this is just our timing is off, and our relationship just doesn't match. 
Number two is internal and external communication. Internal communication is just the co-ordination around what we are doing, and why we are doing it, and what our goals are, and why the goals are like that. That's it. If you have that sort of high level this is where we are going, this is the vision, this is the next 30 days, three months, and six months and a year maybe, it makes it very easy to set the priorities and for all the edges of the company to set their own priorities to do the right thing.
And the external communication is the product. The product is the story we are telling the world. And we want to put everything into this. We don't want it to be about a person, we want it to be how people are using it, and how people are fitting it into their lives, and what they are doing with it. That's the strongest story we have.
Number three is editing the money in the bank story. And this comes in two ways. It comes through investment, and taking money from investors (…) Or through revenue. 
So my three priorities and focus areas are in that order, and that's what I'm constantly editing as a CEO. It makes managing a growing company and a fast paced movement very, very easy. Because there basically is one thing you have to do. 
You have to make every single detail perfect. And you have to limit the number of details. That's it.
Every detail perfect. Limit the number of details.
If you can do that well, no matter where you are in the org structure, no matter where you are in the company or organiZation, you are going to succeed, because you are paying attention to the smallest things, and if you pay attention to the smallest things while knowing what's important, then everything else takes care of itself."


There is a very powerful lesson here. You may have thousands of really good ideas for your product or communications from multiple sources, but applying them all could result in a confusing mess. By editing everything down, you will ensure you are all aligned in the org, you have a clean product experience, a compelling story, and most importantly a strategy that puts the customer first. All good steps to giving yourself a greater chance for success.  

This post continues my series on Mental Models.