I spent a significant amount of time doing operational work the first two months of this year. I’ve been providing digital strategy for client projects and augmenting our project manager. It’s an issue because my goal has always been to be a business owner and not an owner operator. The challenge of the situation is that, like many owner operators, I fill several gaps in capability in the business. The gaps I bridge are high risk areas where skill and care are required. Because of this, hiring someone isn’t as clear as if I were replacing an existing employee.

In considering this challenge, I asked one of my friends for advice. Specifically, I asked who he would hire next?

He said that when he considers these situations he tries to think as if there were no costs involved. If he could walk into a store with an infinite number and type of employees and pick whoever he wanted, like a product off the rack, who would it be? A full time x to do this, a part time y to take care of that, and etc.

It’s good advice.

In your business there are roles. These are things like project manager or digital strategist.

However, roles are just categories of work. They’re bundles of functional capability. E.g. a project manager can coordinate work, track progress, and facilitate communication. The role is PM, the functions are many.

My friend’s tactic is the first step in breaking down the problem and teasing apart the functions.

For my business, we need people who can:

  • Connect a project’s goals to an organization’s goals in the sales process.
  • Make recommendations to improve a project’s scope to meet those goals in the sales process.
  • Run a sales meeting.
  • Derive insight from analytics at the front of project.
  • And etc.

Getting down to functional needs and their intensity identifies the pieces to the puzzle. Once you know where those pieces are, you can begin to see what the next phase of your team should look like.

Featured image is a British printed puzzle from 1874, “The Dockyard With the Ship in All Its Stages.” Used under public domain.