April 2, 2019

Dismantling the E-myth

In his E-myth books, Michael Gerber identifies three key roles in a business:

1) the entrepreneur, who drives the vision for the business;

2) the technician, who does the work, and

3) the manager, who acts as a bridge between them, organising the work of technicians to achieve the entrepreneur’s vision.

Here’s a question.

If the vision is shared by everyone, do you need managers?

I don’t think so, but you do still need *management* – a way for technicians to know what has to happen in order to achieve the vision, and how well they are doing that, so they can work out for themselves how best to move forwards.

You do this by giving people a clear context for what the business is here to do – to make and keep promises to the people it serves. You surface and share the underlying Promise of Value, then give people clear processes to follow to Share that Promise and Keep it for whoever’s bought into it.

You do that by telling them what has to happen, in a way that’s easy to follow. Through a map that tells them all the likely routes to where they want to get to. Or as I prefer to think of it, a musical score, that tells what to play, but not how, backed up by a Promise of Vaue that’s so clear, it’s obvious what needs to be done when the map fails, or the score is silent.

Make it easy for anyone to manage the processes they run, by embodying your ‘system for making and keeping promises’ into a physical system that automates the drudgery, tracks what’s actually happening at any one time and delivers the right kind of feedback at the right time to the person actually doing the work. So they can adjust immediately if needed and log ideas for potential improvements as and when they pop up.

Not needing managers is great news for small business owners. Firstly, because I’ve only ever met one person who wanted to be a manager, secondly because managers are almost all overhead on a business.

Next question.

If the vision is explicit and shared, and technicians can manage themselves, do you then need an entrepreneur?

I don’t think so, but you do need *entrepreneurship* – a way to enable technicians to see new ways to deliver the vision profitably.

To do that you have all your people get together regularly to share feedback, and share improvement ideas. You teach them to tell when an exceptional occurrence is a sign that a variation to the process is needed, and when it means there’s an opportunity to package up your Promise in a new way for new people. You teach them how to weigh up those opportunities and put them through the system to see if they work.

Last question.

If you push everything down to the people who actually do the work, what happens to the entrepreneurs who founded it?

Your baby grows up. Independent. With your original vision still in its DNA.

And you get to do what you love best.

Start another one.

Discipline makes Daring possible

Ask me how.