Most people who own or manage a business are good at what they do (plumbing, medicine, building, etc). Unfortunately being good at what you do is not by itself sufficient to be good at managing a business. You can make the most beautiful product in the world, or provide the most fantastic service possible but unless you can market it you are unlikely to succeed. Similarly, even if you are a good marketer and you provide a great product or service you may still be in trouble unless you can understand the financial implications of your decisions.

Ernesto Sirolli coined the term “Trinity of Management” to explain why it is necessary for businesses to do all three “beautifully”. In fact, he went further and said that for anyone to be really good at any of them they had to be passionate about them. Perhaps most importantly he believed that while some of us can be passionate (and therefore good) at two of them, it is rare for someone to be passionate about all three. He suggested that most people have a dominant passion as a producer, marketer or financial manager.

Sirolli made another interesting point. He suggested that with regard to these managerial areas, most of us have a dominant passion – something that we are really good at, and when times are good we perform this well and may be able to do the others adequately. However he suggested that when times get tough and a person feels stressed they will revert to “type” to the exclusion of the others. This means that things can very quickly go from bad to worse.

This theory reflects a very human tendency to seek comfort in familiarity when times are tough. Sirolli gives the example of a “producer” being in charge of a business. When times are difficult and this person is feeling stressed they will want to “lock themselves into their workshop” to the exclusion of other aspects of the business. Meanwhile the underlying problem could be that marketing is not working or that pricing and cashflow need attention. If this is the case the business doesn’t need to focus on its product, it needs a better marketing process or improved cash management.

Sirolli provides similar examples of what happens when a marketer or financial manager is in charge of the business and things start to go wrong. I have seen his theory play out on a number of occasions and I think it is correct. Under stress most people will tend to play to their strengths and eventually avoid their weaknesses and when this happens instead of doing one thing well they risk doing all three badly.

I have asked many business owners where their passion lies and how well they would score themselves out of ten on each category. A fairly typical response for Producer, Marketer and Finance is 8/5/2 respectively. Every business owner I have questioned has classified themselves as a Producer and almost every one of them has ranked financial management as their weakest area. This is both interesting and worrying because ASIC statistics consistently indicate that poor financial management is a dominant cause of company failure.

So what can you do about this? Developing a good balance of skills and knowledge in your business is a good start. You personally will not be passionate about all three areas but you can make sure you surround yourself by a team that is. Why not score your business against each of the three management attributes above and if one of them is lacking start doing something to improve your business capacity in this area. Think about building a team around you that will give you a balance of passion in these three areas and help you get to where you want to be.

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