Team of Athletes
December 6, 2022
Hunters and Farmers
What are serial CXOs and why does Innventure have them?

A few decades ago, we discovered a fascinating book entitled Attention Deficit Disorder – A Different Perception written by Thom Hartmann.  The subtitle of the book is “A Hunter in a Farmer’s World”.  The thesis of the book is that there is a normal distribution of individuals with genetic predispositions. Check out the graphic below.  

On the left tail of the distribution are people from agrarian societies with strong “farmer” genes.  These individuals are bred to be patient and nurturing as they plant seeds, nurture the plants, and eventually harvest the crops.  People with these characteristics are excellent at processes & systems and tend to self-select into fields that reward these skills.

People on the right tail of the distribution have strong “hunter” genes and as such, can have a singular focus and won’t give up until they have attained their goal.  They also tend to be risk tolerant as hunting often resulted in injury or even death.  Individuals with these skills self-select into fields such as sales and entrepreneurship.

While this book was focused on education with the idea that “hunters” are labeled as having ADD or ADHD (as it is now known), and schools are designed for “farmers”, we adapted this idea to company building.  In the early days of creating a NewCo, the core team should have a weighting toward the hunter end of the distribution since there is a lot of uncertainty, which is more aligned with the hunter tendencies. As the company evolves and matures, the blend of talent will begin to include farmers that can introduce structure and discipline into the organization.  The blend of talent walks a fine balance since too many processes imposed early on can stifle the evolution of the company and ultimately slow down (costing both time and money) or even kill the company. However, if you don’t include the skills embodied in the farmers at the right time, you are unlikely to be able to scale the company.

At Innventure, we have a pool of talent that is optimum for the early stages of company development.  We call these individuals serial CXOs.  When the company gets to critical mass, we “fire” these individuals and recruit a team of professionals with the appropriate farmer skills to scale the business to its full potential.  The serial CXOs then jump back into another new Innventure Company.

As you will note, there are rare instances in history where entrepreneurs are able to lead organizations from startup to multi-billion-dollar enterprises.  Most entrepreneurs eventually get fired by their investors somewhere along the way.  Innventure fires its own entrepreneurs at the appropriate time and recycles the individuals back into new companies where their skills are put to their best use. It’s yet another component of our model that has evolved from lessons learned over the years.

Bill Haskell

Chief Executive Officer
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