FORBES – Jim Barksdale’s three rules about snakes

I’ll tell you about the first executive staff meeting that we had, when Jim Barksdale became the CEO of a new company called Netscape.

So, Netscape was founded in April 1994. Jim Barksdale, who had been the head of McCaw Cellular and Federal Express before that, became the CEO in early 1995. At that point, Netscape had just released its first products.

The revenue was already growing extremely fast. We were hiring people left and right, and it was just generally chaos. It was one of these companies where people were running around, doing all kinds of stuff, and it was hard to tell what was happening. And there was generally a huge amount of confusion.

Jim showed up at the first executive staff meeting and said, “OK, I want you to listen very carefully to what I have to say.” He said, “We have three rules here at this company now. Rule No. 1 is when you see a snake, kill the snake.” In other words, when you see a problem, and there’s something that needs to be fixed, just go ahead and fix it. Don’t screw around. Don’t delay. Don’t overanalyze it. Just fix the problem. And we said, “OK, Jim. We got that.”

See Rule number 2 and 3 here