Off the Map is a corporation that consists of three major "silos/divisions". We have three physical studio locations. Our HQ location has 9-10 resident tattooers and 100+ guests a year. We have world class partners at the two other locations. Our professional development events are some of the most respected in the world, as they are the largest quality concentration of education for tattooers that exists. Lastly, though first, we power technology for tattooers, with 175 active websites, and a few mobile apps.
Currently we are seeking a General Manager for the studio(s) and possibly a COO. Clearly management skills are separate from industry knowledge, but tattooing is a very particular high stakes art/business with nearly all the leverage in the hands of the artists. They won't be happy if I bring in a manager who doesn't know about tattooing. We have a large network and know most of the majors studios and the pool for expert managers with knowledge of tattooing is slim to say the least.
I have heard you can pick up a good COO from one industry and plop them into another, and I can understand how organization health is not (necessarily) industry specific, and navigating finding someone who is sharp at their job and truly wants to understand the nuances of Tattooing isn't easy. Still it makes me very uneasy to think about hiring someone who doesn't understand this fickle and dramatically evolving art.
So I suppose the essence of the question is, if a business is in the tippy top tier of quality and knowledge about an industry, how wise is it to bring in an executive that has little to know knowledge of the industry when the clients/team are nearly all experts...?