Archive for October, 2004

Builder vs. Maintainer

Hiring to build a new function for your business? One of our larger clients was developing a customer loyalty program. They hired a very successful manager away from the same function at a major credit card company. They were dismayed to discover the new hire was terrible at building systems from scratch! What did they miss?

When interviewing, be very careful to distinguish between:

  • “Yes, I did that job at XYZ Company.” (maintainer)
  • “Yes, I built that function for XYZ Company. Here’s who helped me, here’s how we did it (and what it cost), and here’s how it works today, without my involvement. ” (builder)


  • Can create new systems where none exist today – and love the challenge.
  • Get bored with maintaining things.
  • Are interested in putting themselves OUT of a job.
  • Could possibly be more expensive to begin with.


  • Best at optimizing existing systems, but struggles to create a new system on their own.
  • Tends to be interested in job security.
  • Often strong desire to keeping things running smoothly.
  • Often lower salary than a builder.

Can you train a maintainer to be a builder? Sometimes, but often not quickly enough. For best results, staff new developments with a proven builder, then manage costs and optimize the finished product with a maintainer.

Friday, October 29th, 2004 Business Insights, Main Page Comments Off on Builder vs. Maintainer

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