What about the Business Guy?

This is a followup to my previous post – "It's the Tech Guy Obviously!" – which was written in response to Ann Bernard's "Tech Guy vs Biz Dev Guy". As she is my partner in WhyGoSolo, lots of disclaimers apply. An yes, all the pronouns here are male… oh well.

In my first post, I dinged the BizDev Guy pretty hard because – to be blunt – he's ignorant of the technical issues. Which, in my opinion, are the biggest and most fundamental at the beginning. As I noted last time:

The Tech Guy might incorporate as the wrong business structure, he might have a terrible UI, he might not have any market research to support his project. All of those things are easily fixable and since he has a prototype, it's simple to figure those pieces out.

The Biz Dev Guy is the flip side. He'll spend the time, dollars, and effort filling in all those pieces and build out a beautiful report and business plan. But at no point has he figured out if the app is feasible.

But here's where the Biz Dev Guy can make an even bigger mistake:

Is he looking for a Technologist/CTO or a Project Manager?

A Project Manager takes the requirements, the tasks, the resources (people, equipment, cash) and fleshes out timelines, milestones, etc balanaced against the business needs and risks. This is a vital exercise and needs to happen regularly and consistently. The key aspect is that a PM works within a relatively known set of circumstances and simply executes. He may participate in creating the requirements, but mostly as a faciliator as opposed to a stakeholder.

A Technologist/CTO is quite a bit different. Yes, quite often his role covers the Project Manager, but it goes a few steps further. He evaluates people, tools, and technologies and gives the assessments and pros/cons of each. He might get into the front-line management of the project, but must act more as a navigator in choosing and charting the overall course of the organization.

If the Biz Dev Guy is capable of making the technical/architecture/etc decisions, he's looking for a Project Manager. This allows him to make the decisions and allow the PM to execute his grand vision.

If the Biz Dev Guy is not capable of those decisions, he needs a CTO and a PM. Those could be the same person, but not always.

And here's where the Biz Dev Guy's mistake is hidden…

If the Biz Dev Guy *thinks* he's capable of making those decisions but actually isn't, that's when the trouble ensues. Almost every Biz Dev Guy will come from a big organization where they did it "the one way". And they'll carry along those concepts and attempt to make those decisions without even thinking about it…

It doesn't matter if the it's Waterfall vs Agile, Java vs .Net, outsourcing vs hiring, etc… they'll want to carry on what they "know is right" and make decisions based on that.