81) Flickr – retain passion through hiring


 wēi danger

Flickr started as an online role-playing game called Game Neverending.  The game featured a navigable map, real-time interaction with other users, instant messaging and was playable in-browser, breaking new ground in web application development. However, one part of the game, a tool to share photos and save them to a page while playing, turned out to be the most popular part of the experience – leading the company to switch focus and become a photo-sharing site.  As co-founder Caterina Fake told USA Today in 2006, “Had we sat down and said, ‘Let’s start a photo application,’ we would have failed. We would have done all this research and done all the wrong things.”

It’s not uncommon for great businesses to be built from unsuccessful endeavours – Fabulis relaunched as FAB when their daily deals got traction. However, when ‘pivoting’ like this often the founders stops designing for themselves and move away from their area of passion.  With this in mind surely Flickr would struggle to truly empathise with its community and stay motivated?

 jī opportunity

Flickr’s solution was simple and smart: it ensured its employees were as passionate about the product as the community’s most die-hard fans by hiring directly from within the early community.  For example, for its international rollout it posted a call on the Flickr blog for community managers and got more than 700 responses.

We have adopted this approach with OpenIDEO – having hired two of our most prolific users who regularly appeared on our community leaderboards

TL;DR / How About…

Hiring your most passionate users to truly drive empathy for your customer?