The Worst HR Invention Ever: Tenure

Tenure: give someone a permanent post, especially as a teacher or lecturer.

Tenure and the whole politics around it is in my opinion the worst HR invention ever. The beauty of agile organizations is that people have the freedom to experiment and drive towards innovation. That is destroyed by politics and bureaucracy because tenured people don’t have the incentive to be engaged. If a teacher is not bringing enough value on a continuous basis to students with old fashioned theories & best practices, then that teacher shouldn’t keep on teaching. No wonder that entrepreneurial talent is moving from public to commercial sector.

Some argue that tenure allows certainty and stability. I on the other hand argue that uncertainty is where I am most creative. The beauty of Sales is that there’s no certainty in hitting your number, the only thing you can control is spending time with customers call after call and meeting after meeting. When you don’t have that drive, that amazing feeling of building a business, then you take away a lot of the fun. It’s like playing top sport, every game can’t be predicted with 100% and still needs to be played. Really I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it to brainstorm with customers and helping them become more successful. With some customers you win and with other customers you lose. As an entrepreneur you need to accept the market as it is and adapt to it.

Just look at another entrepreneur Steve Jobs, who got fired from his own company.

I didn’t see it then, but getting fired from Apple turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was being replaced by being a beginner again. Less sure about everything. It freed me to enter the most creative periods of my life. During the next 5 years I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar and fell in love with an amazing woman who became my wife. Pixar became to create the first animated feature film: Toy Story and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events Apple bought NeXT and I returned to Apple and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance.

All in all, this ridiculous tenure notion allows a person to become too comfortable and eventually you will lose your mojo. It’s important to continuously innovate and adapt to the market. Teaching outdated theory & practices, not focusing on further developing talent, is what killing entrepreneurship at schools and universities!

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