It’s been a while since I wanted to write a couple of things about why good companies are failing under the weight of wrong managers.
I have been working for American companies for more than 10 years now, and the interactions with managers is an everyday task. There is information that needs to get across, and it is critical to be clear and concise. The question is, how do you tell someone a piece of information when he/she has no clue about what you are talking about or his knowledge of the subject is at best limited? What precautions do you need in place to verify that he understands the implications of the information he gets? How you warrant the integrity of the information while he passes it to the next level? Where does your responsibility end? A more interesting question is how the hell that guy became manager when he is not qualified to run a high-profile team of scientists and engineers?
The answer to all these questions is simple. Other managers, equally unqualified, decided that he was ready to move on in the food chain of the company. Usually, in relatively small startups in the United States, an idea quickly becomes a business model, and if it seems viable, it will also attract some funding. The money will start moving things faster than it should be, and when you need help, the 1st people you turn on are those friends. Friends will always be there to help and lend a hand. Some of them know how to code, others how to design shit, and maybe how to run a couple of things. Now while the company is growing in numbers and volume, you started to trust your friends that brought you to this point. And there is where the mistake is made. When a company approaches the critical point, you need to hire scientists, engineers, technicians, etc. But who is going to oversee them? Your friends! Friends that brought maybe other friends of them, and you equally trust them, will become managers, directors, and C-level officials. And if the company’s product is a science-based result, those friends that wrote a couple of things at the beginning, and run some first errands, will have to interact with the scientists and engineers. There is a point of failure. Exactly there.
It happens before. It will happen again. It’s not about “if.” It’s about “when.”