Reply To: E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

  • Beth

    March 9, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I read this book because of YOU, Beverlee. It’s been invaluable to me and I’m so glad you’re here helping us move the ideas into the reality of our businesses.

    Like James, one of my big ‘A-ha’s was seeing the distinction among entrepreneur, technician and manager – and realizing in a bit more depth just how the roles work (or don’t work) together.

    When I decided to leave biotech in the late 90s, it was in no small part because as the small company I worked for grew these roles were becoming separate departments – and the transition was a train-wreck. Morale plummetted and a lot of us in the ‘technician’ role bailed for other companies or careers. The phrase ‘they don’t pay me enough to put up with all the bullshit around here’ was not uncommon. In the lab we used less colourful language (mostly), but my attempts to explain to my manager that while the company didn’t have a lot of money, it did have a great culture (I’d left Imperial Oil and had taken a pay cut to work for this company) and they did have control over the ‘bullshit’ part of the equation. My boss – our Research Director – was no match for what the R&D staff regularly called ‘those assholes down the hall in marketing’. There was a lot of bullying of research staff from the blustering marketing director and the head of manufacturing that wasn’t addressed.

    I think this is a good example of what Gerber was getting at, and the absolute importance of creating a cohesive company culture that includes systems. When I left biotech and went into education, my practicum supervising teacher told me that in his classrooms (high school science) he didn’t have ‘rules’, but instead had ‘procedures’. Having clear procedures removed the need for a lot of rules. It meant that he was the role model for the procedures – he demonstrated ‘how we do things around here’ and was consistent.

    It’s not the people, it’s more often the systems that are in place that need attention. While Tony was ill, I had some work as a consultant for our local FN Band, and I found that a big part of finding the solution to issues was in asking the employees about what was going on and what could be tweaked. There were some big issues that were handled by making some small tweaks in process. Management was talking about ‘respect’ in general terms without listening/looking for procedures that could be changed so that people actually felt more respected.

    The difficult bit seems to be translating our guiding values into discrete actions that fit with our values. HOW we do things needs to reflect WHY we’re doing them. It can be very difficult to keep this in mind as we scramble to get our business running.