JUDGING PEOPLE

[From a comment on Fred Wilson’s blog, lightly edited:]

Sometimes I envy VCs for the chance they get to refine their judgment about people. To invest or not? Hit or miss? What a neat quadrant!

I have always trusted my instincts about individuals — being unafraid to trust where trust felt due, lending a bike to a near stranger, hitching a ride with a complete stranger, etc — and the few times I’ve been burned, it was usually because love was involved.

That said, I’ve been bothered by another thought, namely, that I may be setting the bar too high and missing a lot of good people or opportunities. In other words, to borrow from information retrieval, that my false negative or miss rate is actually quite high, unbeknownst to me. Maybe I am too conservative. Maybe my judgment isn’t so great after all.

Unlike VCs, I don’t get to see this as explicitly, in the form of competitors making a fortune off my passes. But then again, who knows whether the investments they pass on would have been as successful with them? Chemistry matters.

In the context of this post [about keeping or firing people], I suppose the question is more: to hire or not to hire / to fire or not to fire.

Perhaps VCs and employers can refine this process / their judgment by tracking such decisions (if they aren’t doing so already).

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