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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Published by gavinjohnston67

Take an ex-chef who’s now a full-fledge anthropologist and set him free to conduct qualitative research, ethnography, brand positioning, strategy and sociolinguistics studies and you have Gavin. He is committed to understand design and business problems by looking at them through an anthropological lens. He believes deeply in turning research findings into actionable results that provide solid business strategies and design ideas. It's not an insight until you do something with it. With over 18 years of experience in strategy, research, and communications, he has done research worldwide for a diverse set of clients within retail, legal, banking, automotive, telecommunications, health care and consumer products industries.

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