Why A players hire A players and B players hire C players?

A players hire A players and B players hire C players
A players hire A players and B players hire C players

So Steve Jobs had this quote and I wanted to think about why that may be. Here is my quick attempt… Enjoy and please leave comments.

First we have to define a few things…

Process is a living object that successfully evolves in response to reality. Of course it needs brains and courage to follow the process since it involves embracing the inherent randomness and shattering your ego repeatedly on way to connection.

Procedure is the crystallization of the process (that has been successful in the past). Procedure is dead but remains useful until conditions change subtantially. So there is a lot of benefit from just blindly following the procedure and being known as an “expert.”

Hack is the shortcut way of the procedure. It is for lazy people who want to just do enough to not get caught and get results 80% of the times. A hack can be incredibly useful to initially explore something or understand the value and limitations of various mechanisms. However, it guarantees failure at critical times.

Individual rationality solutions:

A players are interested in the process and hence hire other A players so that they can help them develop the process even better. It is mutually beneficial.

B players don’t have the ability/courage to evolve but they appreciate the benefits of the process. So they crystallize it and follow the procedure since they cannot be dynamic. Now they are afraid of the procedure not being followed and hence want to control the person doing it. They know if they hire an A player, he/she will want to change things and they cannot reason/give reasons/evolve with the person and it threatens their position as the expert. So of course they hire the C player.

The C player merrily does the hack, doesn’t understand why the A player works so hard. Achieves most of the result of the A player in the short run and thinks everyone to be stupid who works that hard. His boss B comes across as a nag and he doesn’t care much for that either.

Group Dynamics:

Below a certain threshold of A players, the process begins to die and hence all A players leave or if they come in and realize they are A players, they don’t get the freedom and hence leave. So then management tries to keep the morale of the C players by nagging less and being nice to them. So you end up with a pool of B players who are annoyed at not having the procedure followed, a pool of C players who are given free beer and kudos to deal with the nagging. Results in a toxic environment. Now management knows they don’t have superstars and hence they don’t pay any of these people very much. And things seem to keep chugging along. For a while. But you are dead as a group!

Other names for these players:
A players are the ones who want to touch something bigger than themselves and are prepared to sacrifice (their ego) for that bigger thing. These are people who do/want to do fundamental things and the ones who come up with the philosophy.

B players want a comfortable living and to be known as an expert (social recognition) and are conscientious and don’t want to destroy the high opinion of themselves. They are also called priests.

C players are the slackers who want to have a good time but are forced to have a job. They are the put upon and figure out how to get around.

C player CEOs

Now some C players who are psychopaths are much better than B players at managing since their only concern is themselves and they are good at dealing with the group since they specialize in emotional manipulation and have no higher agency that constrains them. So with luck some of these guys can make CEOs :).. To be clear, not all CEOs are C players


What makes someone an A player or a B player or a C player?

I think A players want to go towards connection and are driven by the need for awareness.

B players are anxious and want the reward (of the process) without the risk (the dealing with the unknown- the randomness of reality).

C players are greedy or fearful by turns and want reward/survival without doing too much.