Deciding on Core Competencies

Often I find myself at a crossroads between generalist and specialist activities. I work with customers who are specialists in their field, yet try to be all encompassing when it comes to every facet of their business.
Why attempt to be proficient in everything, when you likely only get paid to be great at 1 or 2 things?
Why risk your business when you aren’t competent in in key areas that support your business but aren’t core to your business?

Why not realize the risk, and focus on doing what you do best?
Me, I’m an IT geek who works primarily from home. Although my home is key to my business, I wouldn’t think twice about hiring someone to look after my furnace or electrical infrastructure. I embrace my limitations. I focus on what I know best. I’m wise enough to realize that electrical engineering is not one of my core competencies. It’s not worth the risk to me to try and be a jack of all trades. I’d rather be the master of one.

I could also take on the raw coding and hosting of my various and diverse websites. Heck, anyone with a laptop could take this on. But it’s no longer one of my core competencies. There are WAY better organizations who do this for a living, and do it MUCH better than I. All I need to do is be smart enough to realize that someone can do it better, cheaper, easier than I can.

How about getting a hair cut? Sure, all you need is a pair of scissors and (maybe) a mirror. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who cuts their own hair any more. It’s much smarter to have a specialist take care of that….Intellgence wins out again.

Then how is it that firms who have a kick ass business continue to think that they need to be masters of all aspects? Why not hand over management of infrastructure to someone who specializes in that? Why take the risk of trying to do everything yourself? Outsourcing has become popular, since smart organizations are realizing the same things I’ve been realizing. Be the best at what you are the best at. Don’t end up doing a half assed job, if you don’t have to.

Why force your company to manage the unsexy aspects of your infrastructure, like mail servers or data centres, if you don’t absolutely have to? Why risk the importance of these components to people who aren’t experts in their field for managing these components? Why?

If your core business is in providing an awesome online application that garners you multiple millions of dollars a year, and is an integral part of your company’s revenue, why also assume that you’ve got to take on the responsibility of the application’s infrastucture. Using that logic, you then should also feel compelled to be responsible for all ancilliary components that help make that application awesome, right down to making the furniture for the employees who coded the application. Of course, furniture isn’t part of the core business competency, then, by extension, why should data centre infrastructure be assumed to be part of the core business competency either?

In a new era of change, driving efficiencies and strengthening core competencies, companies have to soon realize that they need to indeed become master of their domains, or risk becoming master of nothing.

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