I use the hyper-competitive world of sports as an example. Many great coaches have never been great players, and many great players have never become great coaches. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali didn't become a legendary boxing coach. Neither did basketball legend, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan.
Similarly, legendary football coach Vince Lombardi never was a legendary player. I think it was at the 1984 Olympic Games when the US diving team won numerous medals under the direction of a coach who couldn't even swim.
Or look at music. Legendary orchestra conductors like Leonard Bernstein, Herbert Von Karajan or Sir Georg Solti never were legendary musicians. They were reasonable pianists because piano is mandatory in conductor school but that's all.
This illusion that only functional experts fit into a business that performs that specific function is retarded. A group of Harvard MBA's aren't necessarily able to form a world-class management consulting firm. A group of Yale lawyers don't necessarily become a world-class law firm. And a group of top-drawer doctors from John Hopkins don't necessarily add up to a world-class medical clinic.
Like-minded people who are educated alike, think alike, eat alike and even fart alike don't offer much innovation, which comes outside the "box" not from inside. Where is the innovation there? Where is diversity?
Consider that the aeroplane was invented by bicycle mechanics and the telephone exchange was invented by an undertaker.
Being a former engineer, I understand scientific and engineering principles which IT companies' futures are built upon. As a former manager in of engineering, I understand how IT companies operate. As a former buyer of million-plus IT and other technology solutions, I sat through hundreds of sales presentations, read hundreds of proposals and attended hundreds of trade shows. So, I have first-hand experience of how technology buyers assess opportunities and make decisions. Anything you specifically do in your company is derived from these key principles.
Just look at some business legends out there. One of my teachers, Michael Gerber (The E-Myth Revisited, The E-Myth Mastery) started out as a carpenter, poet, encyclopaedia salesman, saxophone player and many others. Yet, it was him who started what we call the small business revolution and wrote a book Inc. 500 CEOs regard as the most important business book ever written.
Advertising legend David Ogilvy started out as a apprentice chef, farmer, appliance salesman and secret agent. Then based on this experience he founded one of the best advertising agencies in the history of advertising, Ogilvy and Mather.
Lou Gerstner, the guy who saved IBM from almost certain death, didn't know anything about the computer industry. He knew business. And that was what all the IBM computer experts didn't know.
Rajat Gupta, the worldwide managing director of one of the world's foremost consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, says this about the unique benefits of people with multi-disciplinary perspectives...
"Some of our best people are those who studied literature or the classics, and who later received business training. These people tend to understand the array of forces at work in organizations, and they approach decisions in a very well-rounded way."
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