Speak Frankly, but Don’t Go ‘Over the Net’
By ADAM BRYANT
Published: September 17, 2011
This interview with
Andrew M. Thompson
, co-founder and C.E.O. of Proteus, a biomedical
company based in Redwood City, Calif., was conducted and condensed by
Andrew M. Thompson, co-founder and C.E.O. of Proteus, a biomedical company, says people shouldn't try to concoct
motivations for another's behavior. "It's like in tennis or volleyball, and you have to stay on your side of the net," he says.
Can you talk about how to create an innovative culture?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for 22 years in Silicon Valley, so that essentially creates a life
that’s defined by doing things that are innovative and different. When you build a company
or organization that’s going to take on those kinds of challenges, I think there are two things
that are really important.
One is that you reward innovative and new things in ways that are very obvious and are very
visible — it’s the culture of what you talk about, what you celebrate, what you reward, what
you make visible. For example, in this company, which is very heavily driven by intellectual
property, if you file a patent or have your name on a patent, we give you a little foam brain.
But then, more important, right in our front lobby, there are shelves of big glass jars and
everyone’s name in the company is on one of them — they’re like an apothecary jar. And
that’s where your brains go. And so we have this huge wall that’s full of brains.
There’s no money in it. We don’t pay people to file patents because we’re an innovative
company. That’s part of your job. But we recognize it and we make it extremely visible.