This book about how entrepreneurs can build a successful and scalable business has lots of insight for a science team leader.
Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited, has been an eye-opener for me.
At first sight, it has nothing to do with a science group. Gerber talks about new small business owners, and how they screw up and fail within the first few years of their endeavor. And then about what they can do to succeed with their business.
The key idea of the book is that the job of a business owner is very different from the job of a specialist. But before becoming their own boss, most small business owners are specialists, and then attempt to build their own business based on their expertise. They then make the mistake of doing the same as they did before – being a specialist – instead of becoming the head of their new business.
Why does that matter to a scientist?
You’ve probably realized now why the book is relevant to a science leader: we basically go the same path. First, we are specialists. Then, we become group leaders – boss of our very own “small business”. The big mistake we can make is to not fill that leading role, and instead try to continue being a specialist.
The two points I find most important in Gerber’s book are, first, that you have to build a vision about what you actually want your business to be. The second point is that you have to systematically remove yourself from the everyday work of your business. Of course, you don’t disappear, but your planning and actions have to follow this ultimate goal: to be free of the operative work, so that you can shape the business.
I’ve written more on the idea of removing yourself and porting Gerber’s ideas from a small business to a science lab in a blog post, Remove yourself: how to be free for leading without losing control. Suffice it to say, although the book reads a bit cheesy, it provides lots of food for thought.
If you’ve read the book, post your comments below!
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