Project Practitioners > The People Within: Part 2 of 3

The People Within: Part 2 of 3

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes

As I begin my journey into the ownership of a small business, one book that was recommended to me was “The E Myth: Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber. The following is a description:

“An instant classic, this revised and updated edition of the phenomenal bestseller dispel the myths about starting your own business. Small business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.

Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed—and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business.

The E-Myth Revisited will help you grow your business in a productive, assured way.”

In reading “The E Myth: Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber, he explains every small business owner has three people within them. The entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician make up the trinity of a small business owner.
This does not only apply to small business owners but also owners of a job. The trouble people who start a business have breaking free is the ownership of a job rather than a business. They fall too far into the technician side of the business and let the other areas take care of themselves.

In this three-part series, I want to take a deeper look into the three aspects of a small business owner and how it relates to a project manager within an organization.

Let’s discuss the areas of a manager:


The entrepreneur is the dreamer. The manager is the one who reels those visions in and tries to make them a reality. To the manager, nothing makes sense like a well-oiled machine on a scheduled plan towards a specific goal. Any other thoughts are wasteful and taking up time that could be spent on the goal.

The manager has to constrain the other inner voices. Without constraint, ideas run wild, and the technician in us starts to act without a plan. The manager takes the idea, interprets the meaning and message, then distributes it to the proper channel. Outsourcing work may be best. The entrepreneur wants to grow internally and the technician wants to self-perform all tasks.

The manager is the voice of reason. Chaos ensues without the instruction of the manager. Think of your teams. Likely, everyone has talent and skills. Without direction, that ship is rudderless and directionless. The manager provides the guidance to apply that skill and knowledge appropriately.

Lives in the Past

What happened, and how can it be done better? A manager takes a look at what was done, how it was done, and what changes can be made to create a better process/product/service. The production numbers from the previous day are collected. How do you interpret the numbers and get them to increase?

Is the schedule an issue? Does a crew need to be shifted from a site? What project from the past is similar to this one? How can those lessons be applied currently? All of these manager questions come from previous experience. To a manager, the past can predict future results.

Experience plays a large role for the manager. Plans, schedules, and budgets of yesteryear come back to drive the current project. Relationships from the past help or hinder the current situation. A manager’s ability to recall information helps drive the task or project forward.

Challenges are Problems
Managers see challenges as one more item to add to the to-do list. They are not opportunities to stand out or accomplish great feats. They are annoying. The fewer challenges, the easier time a manager has.

The ability of a manager to automate those responses to challenges can limit the impact of each issue. Create a flowchart for responses. If-then statements help to combat the problems faced by managers. While they are opportunities to showcase your skills and abilities, challenges become daunting if solutions are difficult to come by.

The manager must have an answer to the issue. Put this person here. Install that piece of equipment there. Send this email to that person. Make that phone call to this supplier.

For most reading this, this role of the manager is the one we play most often, if not exclusively. The technician phase, which is next, is likely one already completed or never experienced. The entrepreneur phase is one business owners tend to take up once they branch out on their own. If you still work for an organization as a project manager or consultant, the manager role is predominant.

Orderly and pragmatic are two words synonymous with management. Take the emotions out and implement discipline. The past drives those as being necessary. Through experience, you start to figure out what works and what does not. Templates are often used for order and direction. Because challenges are seen as problems, there needs to be a system in place to handle those. Automation of decision making creates an easier time with challenges.

The third and final aspect of our internal voices is the technician. Some of you may have worked your way up to management through the field. Starting as a laborer and entering management much later after experience in the discipline. That technician side never goes away. Sometimes, it feels easier just to do it yourself. Next week, we discuss the technician in us all.

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