Dipple column: Getting away from a technician’s addiction
Instead of working on their businesses, most owners are trapped working in their businesses, slaving away and grinding it out.
Instead of working on tomorrow, they are preoccupied with today and end up majoring in minor things.
They worry about office supplies instead of office processes, focus on accounting details instead of holding employees accountable and are preoccupied with the company’s vision plan instead of planning the company’s vision.
They do the wrong type of work really well and end up chasing their tails.
Are you trapped in the body and mind of a doer instead of a leader?
Be honest. Do you fall into the routine of doing the work an employee or technician should do instead of what an owner or leader does? Do you neglect such areas as strategic planning, establishing priorities, organizational design, business system development, profit improvement, team development and employee accountability?
Odds are, you were probably a successful technician who caught the entrepreneurial bug and bought, inherited or started a business related to your skills. Now you are too comfortable with and good at handling such details.
Such expertise, unfortunately, has a strong tendency to suck you into the nooks and crannies of the business. The technical day-to-day guts of the business are addictive and tough to escape. Sadly, a technician’s mindset and mode of operation are insufficient for running a business. These technical assets can be liabilities and traps for an owner trying to be proactive and strategic.
For example, maybe you were a gifted house painter who thought, “I can start a painting business on my own.”
Then you probably functioned in a technical capacity and never grew your leadership capacity or the business systems. You worried about selling and performing painting jobs. You probably didn’t worry about how to design and build a painting business with you as CEO. Rather, you dove in, got busy being busy, and started functioning as a painter, chief salesperson, estimator, bookkeeper, materials supplier, quality control supervisor, etc.
Consequently, you function as a jack-of-all-trades who happens to own a painting company. Instead of focusing on the business, you focus on the technical work of painting. You probably spend far too much time painting or micromanaging other painters than planning your company’s future. Because of your technical comfort zone, you are trapped doing the work, not setting the strategy as a leader.
Here are a few more examples: Being a good computer programmer and running a successful programming business are two different worlds. Writing code is technical, but that doesn’t mean you know how to design, build and manage a business that does the work of programming. Programming code has not prepared you for the key functions of a business ó selling, marketing, client service, finance, leadership, business systems, people management, etc. Technical experience is insufficient background for running a business.
Similarly, if your background is selling, finance or production, your bias will get you buried in the selling, financial and production details.
You must escape your technical conditioning.
Hire others to handle such matters, if necessary.
Business ownership is all about strategic leadership, not technical doer-ship.
Few owners understand and appreciate such critical distinctions. Owners mistake a technician’s orientation for that of an entrepreneur’s. They mistake busy-being-busy activity for accomplishment and confuse hard work for intelligent work.
Working and thinking like an employee instead of an owner is wrong.
Don’t forget that running a business takes strategic, entrepreneurial and visionary skills. And it requires strong leadership.
It is true that “we lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.”
One final thought: “For things to change, you’ve got to change. Otherwise, nothing much will change.”
Contact Mark S. Dipple at firstname.lastname@example.org.