Walter B. Wriston '41

Smith, Nancy


On Creating a Team


The object is to hire and motivate and train an extraordinarily competent group of men and women. And it doesn't make any difference whether it's a university faculty or Citibank or the government of the United States. There isn't any other game in town than people.

Most people operate at about 20 percent of rated capacity. If you can construct a system that allows them to go to 80 percent of capacity, you're way ahead of the game. We were successful as a team in bringing in hundreds and hundreds of able men and women from all the countries of the world, giving them thousands of hours of training, hands-on management. We supplied a velocity of experience which is unmatched in the world. We pay more commercial credits in an hour than some banks will see in five years, and this tends to produce rather extraordinary people.

If there is one guy at the top who thinks he knows everything, and he is wrong and people are afraid to tell him, then you're in deep, deep trouble.

You can create an open environment which is real and not only on paper, one where people feel free to wander in and say, "That is the dumbest idea I ever heard and for the following reasons you shouldn't do it." We maintain that type of decentralized organization and people did in fact do it, with regularity. And a lot of times they were right.

  • This document was created from the article, "Walter B. Wriston '41," written by Nancy Smith for the Fall 1985 edition of the "Wesleyan: The Wesleyan University Alumnus." The original article is located in MS134.003.025.00007.
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