Subject Matter Experts Running the Ship

There is a belief that the people with a passion for what they do shouldn’t necessarily be the ones running the business.  On the face of it, there’s actually a point to be made about how you can’t just be a good researcher (or electrician, or painter or baker) if you don’t have a business bone in your body and expect commercial success to occur naturally.  Sometime being the best at your craft doesn’t translate into being able to turn it into a successful business.  But is the reverse also true?  Often times it is.

If you just put MBAs or other professional managers without deep subject matter expertise in charge of the company and/or brand, you’re likely to end up with an uninspiring business that fails to take any meaningful risks or be passionate about the right things.  You can’t sell anything genuinely innovative if your worldview is limited to what they teach in business school.  The best brands, the ones we admire and talk about, are driven by people at the top who intimately know how things should be and who have an intense love for what it is they do.  They are about more than the bottom line and can and do embrace risk, innovation and inspiration.

This isn’t to say that experts and MBAs can’t work together. It is to say that businesses and brands are about more than the dollars and cents, they are about the human beings behind them. Remembering that can be damn hard work.


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