I was having a conversation with a friend last night about how screwed up her workplace is. I'll keep her anonymous for that very reason... But the reason that her company isn't going to make it, in my opinion, is because there's no balance to the management team.
It takes three very different sets of skills, and honestly three very different personalities, to make a company succeed. Basically, you've got a Visionary, a Manager, and a Technician. Or Future, Past and Present...
The Visionary is typically the President or the CEO of the company and has the idea of where the company should go. The Manager, often the CFO or just plain old office manager, is concerned that the bills are paid, the taxes are filed and that the company isn't in trouble with the law. The Technician may be the COO or possibly just a working partner -- this is your classic technician who manages the projects and the people getting the day to day work done.
The problem is when there's no balance with these three people, and there usually isn't. The Visionary scares the crap out of the Manager while the Visionary feels hamstrung by the Manager. The Technician just wants everyone to get out of the way so they can get some work done.
I've had far too many clients over the years run by Visionaries with no Manager or Technician. These are the companies I've started calling "Fantasy Businesses" -- every time a real world problem comes up, like budgets or deliverables, the Visionary makes up a new scenario that makes it okay that time, and money, are slipping away until they are so far away from their original business model you can't even recognize it.
But then, there are companies where the Manager is in complete control -- they're easy to work with, but you never actually get to solve the real problems of the company. They generally believe "it's right because we've always done it this way" so all they do is become a better blacksmith, in a world without horseshoes.
And probably the worst is the Technician running the company -- decisions are based on the project, and the projects become the company which basically means you're letting your clients run your company, kind of like the fox and the henhouse, the client's interests are not your interests, and eventually you go bankrupt.
However, if you have all three of these folks working together, balancing out their weaknesses with each other's strengths, you get a company that's moving forward, taking care of business and producing work -- and you'd be amazed at how rare that is.
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