This constant fear I’ve been feeling, is it insanity or just the ambition? Is it not knowing enough, or knowing too much?
Being an entrepreneurial sort, particularly in the web-startup realm gives you an understanding that computer technology provides opportunities in specialisation as well as integration. Through the benefit of the Internet, peripheral knowledge and skills don’t necessarily need to be mastered in order to be good at a particular niche. For example in order to become really good at handling customers I merely need a great CRM system, as opposed to a great way of tracking customers and knowing intimately what each of them are doing, the CRM integrates with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook feeds of individuals and companies allowing me to instantly know their latest thoughts and developments.
That being said however, you can’t cheat the last 10%. The difference between a good salesman and the best salesman will never be an IT system, you won’t be able to Google your way to that sort of success. However you will be able to read and learn about that 10%. Most would say that there is most definitely an art to that last 10% and for the most part really great management regardless of the amount of reading or number of MBA type qualifications on the walls, and letters following a surname you just can’t teach that 10%, it has to be earned and experienced, and I would argue some are merely born with it, but most are not.
Numbers, sales, marketing and other disciplines all exist as manifestations of the same commerce medium and the capability of simultaneously analysing numbers and composing an organisational chart and other ‘speciality type’ tasks will influence the sale and marketing of an organisation. However some argue that it is now possible for one central software title to take on all functions required in producing a highly successful and profitable business; accounting, marketing, production, pre-sales, post-sales, IT, engineering, design… bringing together all varieties of disciplines and consequently streamlining and fast tracking the production of a new or existing enterprise.
Integration of previously isolated disciplines will certainly improvise some aspects of a business, the idea of a central realtime dashboard cause some senior management teams to drool, in fact the number of senior staff I have spoken to who get glassy-eyed and simply nod in an up and down fashion once various acronyms and key words are spoken to them is sometime sad. But this advance, could cause a dramatic quantum leap for the business into the future, it’s like seeing a shortcut open up before you. But what if it’s reversing the knowledge base of our most senior directors and management teams. What if the inability to understand the workings of your production line, and only view the outputs will cause the business to head backwards, particularly in time of stress.
It was thought in the mid-80’s when computers really started to take a grip on commerce that we would see the technology be focused towards particular niches in their traditional markets, it would no longer be necessary to market towards the lowest common denominator, and whilst drilling down into sectors and numbers is totally plausible on these gargantuan CRM, and ERP system the chances of truly distilling knowledge from huge data banks I think it can only be conceived as useful when we can comprehend it appropriately. I know, I’ve helped implement various SAP and Oracle type installations, and handed the keys over to managers who are less than worthy of the quality of data they spit out.
So what separates a good manager and a great manager? A good entrepreneur and great entrepreneur? In my mind it is perception and understanding. Being handed all the numbers on a platter make cause even the best to act differently. In other words the more we move forward, the more need there is to look back. The basic principles of great business will always remain.
Personal experience has shown me that for all the degrees, and fancy resumes of the elite of listed companies nothing will beat old fashion gut instinct and traditional fundamentals to find the true path to success. We shouldn’t be building great businessmen, we should merely be building a great business, man. Titles are nothing.