Disrupting the Status Quo

What has the transition to a private company been like?
What I found interesting was people didn’t want me to do things because that’s the way corporations do them. I could take the principles, but I had to let it take its own path here. And so I love the fact that I don’t have to do things by rote. I had to make it our own.

Would you give an example?
I have had corporate town halls for years, and after I talked with one of my colleagues he shared with me that it could have been any company’s name on the door. What we needed was something that was cooler, quirkier, something that was a little bit challenging. That moment really solidified for me this notion of not taking things for granted, but to make it fit our culture, to make it fit our unique gathering of talent, and make it work for my new company. If you’re not willing to listen and hear, you can sometimes miss those little things that help employees understand that you are part of their world—instead of making them part of mine.

How has your role here evolved?
When I first came to Intellectual Ventures, the leadership team and I talked about the fact that we needed to have a stronger sense of our operation cadence. So I established a management operating system and things were starting to run smoothly. In this more entrepreneurial environment I have brought a good level of mastery to the COO part of my job. I’m now leaning more heavily on the president side of my job. I can step away from the day-to-day things and think broadly about some of the more strategic challenges and be that guidepost and strong piece of steel that goes down the back of the organization, versus being the glue.

That seems like a delicate balance. How do you figure it out?
For me it starts with how I set my personal goals for the operation. What the organization needed most when I started was the operational cadence to drive results and ensure that we were delivering on our commitments to our investors. Now that we have a real strength having gone through two calendar years, what does the organization need to take us to the next level? The pace is very fast. Agility is important.

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