For those who don’t know, Masters of Scale is, “an original podcast hosted by LinkedIn Co-Founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman showing how companies grow from zero to a gazillion. The series unfolds like a music-infused detective story as Hoffman tests his theories with famous founders. Masters of Scale is the first American media program to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for guests.”
[That last part isn’t expecially relevant to this post, but I felt that it was important to include, and kudos to the team for committing to that balance.]
I started listening to Masters of Scale at the strong recommendation of Dave Caputo; I’ve listened to a few episodes so far, and I have mixed feelings…which I explain below.
Let me first say that I definitely find Masters of Scale to be enjoyable and interesting.
However, here’s my concern: there’s a very real risk that Hoffman is overblowing the significance of particular anecdotes and experiences.
In each episode’s introduction, Hoffman says, “I’m going to test one of my theories about…”
In each episode’s introduction, Hoffman says, “I’m going to test one of my theories about…”; from there, through interviews with various business leaders and by relaying his own tales, he presents experiences and anecdotes that support his initial assertion.
OK, fine so far, and the stories are great and illustrative…but he said he was going to test his theory.
And here’s my beef: he never does.
He keeps saying, “I have a theory”, but he never actually puts his theory/theories to the test; instead, he’s pulling primarily singular examples that confirm his thoughts, without doing much to explore anything that might refute his premise.
The only exception I’ve heard so far – recall my disclaimer that I’m only a handful in – is in The Money Episode, where Hoffman’s position is that you should take as much funding as you can get, and then right at the end he acknowledges for about eight seconds that some folks think you should accept only as much funding as you need.
Anyway, all of that isn’t to say that Masters of Scale isn’t useful or entertaining, as I think it checks both those boxes…I simply worry that people in general, and potential leaders in particular, will be fooled into thinking there’s only one way to handle each of the many different scenarios they’ll encounter in business.
As someone who wants to learn and build a powerful arsenal of tools – and who subscribes strongly to the unpredictability of the real world – I’d prefer Hoffman genuinely explore different approaches, rather than only tell one side of the story.