The Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician
No, The Technician isn’t the only problem. The problem is more complicated than that.
The problem is that everybody who goes into business is actually three-people-in-one: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician.
And the problem is compounded by the fact that whole each of these personalities wants to be the boss, none of them wants to have a boss.
So they start a business together in order to get rid of the boss. And the conflicts begin.
To show you how the problem manifests itself in all of us, let’s examine the way our various internal personalities interact. Let’s take a look at the two personalities we are all familiar with: The Fat Guy and The Skinny Guy.
Have you ever decided to go on a diet?
You’re sitting in front of a television set one Saturday afternoon, watching an athletic competition, awed by the athlete’s’ stamina and dexterity.
You’re eating a sandwich, your second since you sat down to watch the event two hours before.
You’re feeling sluggish in the face of all the action on the screen when, suddenly, somebody wakes up in you and says, “What are you doing? Look at yourself, You’re Fat! You’re out of shape Do something about it!”
It has happened to us all. Somebody wakes up inside us with a totally different picture of who we should be and what we should be doing. In this case, let’s call him The Skinny Guy.
Who’s The Skinny Guy? He’s the one who uses words like discipline, exercise, organization. The Skinny Guy is intolerant, self-righteous, a stickler for detail, a compulsive tyrant.
The Skinny Guy abhors fat people. Can’t stand sitting around. He needs to be on the move. He lives for action.
The Skinny Guy has just taken over. Watch out—things are about to change.
Before you know it, you’re cleaning all the fattening foods out of the refrigerator. You’re buying a new pair of running shoes, barbells, and sweats. Things are going to be different around here. You have a new lease on life. You plan your new physical regimen: up at five, run three miles, cold shower at six, a breakfast of wheat toast, black coffee, and half a grapefruit; then, ride your bicycle to work, home by seven, run another two miles, to bed at ten—the world’s already a different place!
And you actually pull it off! By Monday night, you’ve lost two pounds. You go to sleep dreaming of winning the Boston Marathon. Why not? The way things are going, it’s only a matter of time.
Tuesday night you get on the scale. Another pound gone! You’re incredible. You’re gorgeous. You’re a lean machine.
On Wednesday, you really pour it on. You work out an extra hour in the morning, an extra half-hour at night.
You can’t wait to get on the scale. You strip down to your bare skin, shivering in the bathroom, filled with expectation of what your scale is going to tell you. You step lightly onto it and look down. What you see is … nothing. You haven’t lost an ounce. You’re exactly the same as you were on Tuesday.
Dejection creeps in. you begin to feel a slight twinge of resentment. “After all that work? After all that sweat and effort? And then—nothing? It isn’t fair.” But you shrug it off. After all, tomorrow is another day. You go to bed, vowing to work harder on Thursday. But somehow something has changed.
You don’t know what’s changed until Thursday morning.
It’s raining. The room is cold. Something feels different. What is it? For a minute or two you can’t quite put your finger on it. And then you get it: somebody else is in your body. It’s the Fat Guy! He’s back!
And he doesn’t want to run.
As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even want to get out of bed. It’s cold outside. “Run? Are you kidding me?” The Fat Guy doesn’t want anything to do with it. The only exercise he might be interested in is eating!
And all of a sudden you find yourself in front of the refrigerator—inside the refrigerator—all over the kitchen!
Food is now you major interest.
The Marathon is gone; the lean machine is gone; the sweats and barbells and running shoes are gone.
The Fat Guy is back. He’s running the show again. It happens to all of us, time and time again. Because we’ve been deluded into thinking we’re really one person.
And so when The Skinny Guy decides to change things we actually believe that it’s I who’s making that decision.
And when The Fat Guy wakes up and changes it all back again, we think it’s I who’s making that decision too.
But it isn’t I. it’s we.
The Skinny Guy and The Fat Guy are two totally different personalities, with different needs, different interests, and different lifestyle.
That’s why they don’t like each other. They each want totally different thing.
The problem is that when you are The Skinny Guy, you’re totally consumed by his needs, his interests, and his lifestyle.
And then something happens—the scale disappoints you, the weather turns cold, somebody offers you a ham sandwich.
At that moment, The Fat Guy, who’s been waiting in the wings all this time, grabs your attention. Grabs control.
You’re him again.
In other words, when you’re The Skinny Guy you’re always making promises for The Fat Guy to keep.
And when you’re The Fat Guy, you’re always making promises for The Skinny Guy to keep.
Is it any wonder we’ve such a tough time keeping our commitments to ourselves?
It’s not that we are indecisive or unreliable; it’s that each and every one of us is a whole set of different personalities, each with his own interests and way of doing things. Asking anyone of them to defer to any of the others is inviting a battle or even a full-scale war.
Anyone who has ever experienced the conflict between The Fat Guy and The Skinny Guy (and haven’t we all?) knows what I mean. You can’t be both; one of them has to close. And they both know it.
Well, that’s the kind of war going on inside the owner of every small business.
But it’s the three-way battle between The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician.
Unfortunately, it’s a battle no one can win. Understand the differences between them will quickly explain why.
The entrepreneurial personality turns the most trivial condition into an exceptional opportunity. The Entrepreneur is the visionary in us— The dreamer, the energy behind every human activity, the imagination that sparks the fire of the future, and the catalyst for change.
The Entrepreneur lives in the future, never in the past, rarely in the present. He’s happiest when left free to construct images of “what-if” and “if-when.”
In science, the entrepreneurial personality works in the most abstract and least pragmatic areas of particle physics, pure mathematics, and theoretical astronomy. In art, it thrives in the rarefied arena of the avant-garde. In business, The Entrepreneur is the innovator, the grand strategist, the creator of new methods for penetrating or creating new markets, the world-bending giant—like Sears Roebuck, Henry Ford, Tom Watson of IBM, and Ray Kroc of McDonald’s.
The Entrepreneur is our creative personality—always at its best dealing with the unknown, prodding the future, creating probabilities out of possibilities, engineering chaos into harmony.
Every strong entrepreneurial personality has an extraordinary need for control. Living as he does in the visionary world of the future, he needs control of people and events in the present so that he can concentrate on his dreams.
Given his need for change, The Entrepreneur creates a great deal of havoc around him, which is predictably unsettling for those he enlists in his projects.
As a result, he often finds himself rapidly outdistancing the others.
The farther ahead he is, the greater the effort required to pull his cohorts along.
This then becomes the entrepreneurial worldview: a world made up of both an overabundance of opportunities and dragging feet.
The problem is, how can he pursue the opportunities without getting mired down by the feet?
The way he usually chooses is to bully, harass, excoriate, flatter, cajole, scream and finally, when all else fails, promise whatever he must to keep the project moving.
To The Entrepreneur, most people are problems that get in the way of the dream.
The managerial personality is pragmatic. Without The Manager there would be no planning, no order, and no predictability.
The Manager is the part of us that goes to Sears and buys stacking plastic boxes, takes them back to the garage, and systematically stores all the various sized nuts, bolts, and screws in their own carefully identified drawer. He then hangs all of the tools in impeccable order on the walls—lawn tools on one wall, carpentry tools on another—and, to be absolutely certain that order is not disturbed, paints a picture of each tool on the wall where it hangs!
If The Entrepreneur lives in the future, The Manager lives in the past. Where The Entrepreneur craves control, The Manager craves order. Where The Entrepreneur thrives on change, The Manager compulsively clings to the status quo. Where The Entrepreneur invariably sees the opportunity in events, The Manager invariably sees the problems.
The Manager builds a house and then lives in it, forever. The Entrepreneur builds a house and the instant it’s done begins planning the next one. The Manager creates neat, orderly rows of things. The Entrepreneur creates the things The Manager puts in rows. The Manager is the one who runs after The Entrepreneur to clean up the mess. Without The Entrepreneur there would be no mess to clean up.
Without The Manager, there could be no business, no society. Without The Entrepreneur, there would be no innovation.
It is the tension between The Entrepreneur’s vision and The Manager’s pragmatism that creates the synthesis from which all great works are born.
The Technician is the doer. “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” is The Technician’s credo. The Technician loves to tinker. Things are to be taken apart and put back together again. Things aren’t supposed to be dreamed about, they’re supposed to be done.
If The Entrepreneur lives in the future and The Manager lives in the past, The Technician lives in the present. He loves the feeling of things and the fact that things can get done.
As long as The Technician is working, he is happy, but only on one thing at a time. He knows that two things can’t get done simultaneously; only a fool would try. So he works steadily and is happiest when he is in control of the work flow.
As a result, The Technician mistrusts those he works for, because they are always trying to get more work done than is either possible or necessary.
To The Technician, thinking is unproductive unless it’s thinking about the work that needs to be done.
As a result, he is suspicious of lofty ideas or abstractions.
Thinking isn’t work; it gets in the way of work.
The Technician isn’t interested in ideas; he’s interested in “how to do it.”
To The Technician, all ideas need to be reduced to methodology if they are to be of any value and with good person.
The Technician knows that if it weren’t for him, the world would be in more trouble than it already is. Nothing would get done, but lots of people would be thinking about it.
Put another way, while The Entrepreneur dreams, The Manager frets, and The Technician ruminate.
The Technician is a resolute individualist, standing his ground, producing today’s bread to eat at tonight’s dinner. He is the backbone of every cultural tradition, but most importantly, of ours. If The Technician didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.
Everyone gets in The Technician’s way.
The entrepreneur is always throwing a monkey wrench into his day with the creation of yet another “great new idea.”
On the other hand, The Entrepreneur is always creating new and interesting work for The Technician to do, thus establishing a potentially symbiotic relationship.
Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way.
Since most entrepreneur ideas don’t work in the real world, The Technician’s usual experience is one of frustration and annoyance at being interrupted in the course of doing what needs to be done to try something new that probably doesn’t need to be done at all.
The Manager is also a problem to The Technician because he is determined to impose order on The Technician’s work, to reduce him to a part of “the system”.
But being a rugged individualist, The Technician can’t stand being treated that way.
To The Technician, “the system” is dehumanizing, cold, antiseptic, and impersonal. It violates his individuality.
Work is what a person does. And to the degree that it’s not, work becomes something foreign.
To The Manager, however, work is a system of result in which The Technician is but a component part.
To The Manager, then, The Technician becomes a problem to be managed. To The Technician, The Manager becomes a meddler to be avoided.
To both of them, The Entrepreneur is the one who got them into trouble in the first place!
The fact of the matter is that we all have an Entrepreneur, Manager and Technician inside us. And if they were equally balance, we’d be describing an incredibly competent individual.
The Entrepreneur would be free to forge ahead into new areas of interest; The Manager would be solidifying the base of operations; and The Technician would be doing the technical work.
Each would derive satisfaction from the work he does best, serving the whole in the most productive way.
Unfortunately, our experience shows us that few people who go into business are blessed with such a balance. Instead, the typical small business owner is only 10 percent Entrepreneur, 20 percent Manager, and 70 percent Technician.
The Entrepreneur wakes up with a vision.
The Manager screams “Oh, no!”
And while the two of them are battling it out, The Technician seizes the opportunity to go into business for himself.
Not to pursue the entrepreneurial dream, however, but to finally wrest control of his work from the other two.
To The Technician it’s a dream come true. The Boss is dead. But to the business it’s a disaster, because the wrong person is at the helm. The Technician is in charges!