Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Thinking through business and marketplace ecosystems and related constructs 3

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on September 21, 2021

This is my third installment to a series on business and marketplace ecosystems, that seeks to go beyond simply applying that term as a loosely considered metaphor. See Part 1 and Part 2. And I argue a case here that the understandings and even the basic dynamics of ecosystems, and of niches and niche space and more, as initially conceived and developed in a biological ecosystems context, apply directly and with just as much relevance to a business and economics context too.

I began discussing the complex issues of niches and niche spaces, and of keystone species in Part 2 as part of that. And I briefly cited biodiversity and its mechanisms and consequences in a biological sense, and business model diversity in a business systems sense in passing while doing so, and certainly when invoking insular biogeography (also called island biogeography) as that area of study might be brought to bear on these two seemingly disparate contexts.

My goal here is to continue that Part 2 discussion of this set of issues. And I begin doing so from a specifically island biogeography perspective and by citing the key findings that first brought that field of understanding and enquiry into being. If you carry out a taxonomic census of all of the species on a series of islands of varying sizes and you look to the total numbers of species to be found where, a correlation starts to emerge and a strong positive one, according to which the larger an island, the more distinct species it can and does support.

• Each of the species on any given island has its own particular niche that it survives and even thrives in, that helps to make it competitive and effectively so in its overall local ecosystem and in its overall environment. And the larger the island, the more complex and diverse an array of distinct niches, and the larger and more diverse a local niche space it can sustain.

This was seen as a revelation of sorts when it was first observed and verified through replicated studies and in a wide range of island contexts and types of them. It is not obvious, after all, precisely how many species are in place in any given viable ecosystem unless you take the time and the real effort to actually identify and count them. But their business systems counterpart is simply seen as an obvious truism and one not particularly worthy of note:

• Small towns as measured by their self-identifying communities tend to have only a few local businesses. Larger towns develop and maintain larger local business sectors and more diverse ones at that. And this continues up to the complex and wide ranging diversity of large city urban settings.
• With increasing scale, what is essentially same-niche business-to-business competition arises. But at least as tellingly and at least as importantly, more finely defined niche businesses: more specialty businesses start to appear too and to thrive there.
• So businesses and business sectors follow a same pattern as found in biological ecosystems in this.

I wrote that with a pre-internet marketplace context in mind, but the basic pattern that I write of here still applies for the most part in an actively and even all but ubiquitously engaging internet context as well and certainly for businesses that provide what large proportions of any given community would see as essentials that would not travel.

Who is going to get a haircut online, or buy gas for their (pre-electric) car online? And for many of us, if we buy groceries or fill a prescription for a medication, we will still go to a local grocery store or pharmacy and even if in the case of the later, we fill long-term recurring prescriptions through a mail order pharmacy and online. (And no, I did not forget online grocery shopping there and certainly as we go through a pandemic.) But this acknowledged, how has online shopping changed our world and the phenomena and patterns of them that I write of here, and certainly in a business-to-consumer context?

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment. And in anticipation of that, this means I will pick upon and continue my example from Part 2 where I briefly noted its impact on niche diversity and by extension, niche space complexity and size.

I will also offer a few further thoughts on biological systems there too. And in anticipation of that, I pose a pair of somewhat deceptive questions:

• Overall and when considered across a wide and even inclusive range of local niche spaces, is there room for more distinct species when there are a multitude of seemingly independent “islands,” each with their own local niche space, or when there is a single vast if varied niche space and a single “continent” if you will?
• What does this mean in a business systems and a business ecosystem context?
• And in a biological systems context, is human driven globalization starting to empirically test out and answer that first question too?

I will address these, and a few related issues, and from both a biological systems and from a business systems perspective in discussion to come.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 6, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4 and Page 5 of that directory.

China, the United States and the world, and the challenge of an emerging global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – 184

Posted in macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on September 20, 2021

This is my 208th posting to specifically address the COVID-19 pandemic that we now face and that by now has found its way into essentially every nation on Earth, and into every facet of our lives. And it is also the 184th installment to this specific series on that.

As usual, I begin this installment with newer updates to a set of basic epidemiological findings, sharing more recent globally sourced data as offered by the World Health Organization as to the current overall state of this pandemic:

• September 18 at 01:38 GMT: 228,374,681 reported cases with 18,741,856 currently active, 209,632,825 now closed, and with 100,496 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,692,279 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)
• September 19 at 01:11 GMT: 228,906,498 reported cases with 18,710,469 currently active, 210,196,029 now closed, and with 99,868 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,699,135 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)
• September 20 at 01:32 GMT: 229,283,470 reported cases with 18,675,054 currently active, 210,608,416 now closed, and with 99,142 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,705,379 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)

When can it be said that a pandemic has begun and unequivocally as such? That is actually a relatively straightforward question as a disease outbreak arises and to a level of severity above an area’s more normative epidemiologically tracked, public health baseline normal, and as it spreads from there. It begins as a local outbreak. If it spreads sufficiently while remaining significantly severe for its level of occurrence and impact, and certainly when compared to normally expected overall morbidity and mortality patterns, it is declared to be an epidemic. And if it spreads from there to achieve anything like a global reach it becomes and is declared to be a pandemic.

That, of course, assumes that the public health reporting and the data that drives it can be and actually is available. But while this might be true in a have nation context, it is much less likely to be for most of the have-not nations of the world. So the relatively straightforward of this becomes less so in practice. And that can lead to a combination of numbers based determinations where that is possible and more immediately visible immediate outcomes and consequences where that is the only source of metrics available.

I have at least occasionally touched on earlier, and by that I mean pre-1918 influenza pandemics in the course of writing to this blog, and I do so again here in this context, citing the Black Death as it tore through Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia in the mid-14th century. People knew that it had arrived when they saw others around them sickening and dying in large numbers in their homes and in the streets.

There are still impoverished have-not nations that lack sufficient basic infrastructure to do better, or differently than that in tracking the start of a disease outbreak in their midst. When Ebola has broken out in African nations and it has done so repeatedly now, it is still blood oozing, dying people who individually and collectively say that this has started again. And in many places it is still that individual and collective message that has said when COVID-19 has arrived as it went from local outbreak to epidemic to pandemic and at the speed of modern air travel.

But even there, it is still relatively easy to know when a pandemic has started and certainly when it has arrived at a new place. Knowing when a pandemic ends is a lot less certain, as I have discussed here in Part 182 and in Part 183.

I focused in those postings on where we are now and on how we track and understand pandemics now, and in actual fact – not in idealized have-nation “could be” terms. Then at the end of Part 183 I said that I would turn here to the issues and challenges of doing better. And in anticipation of that, this doing better would mean identifying local disease breaks with epidemic potential, before they can expand to that scale and certainly before they can reach pandemic scale. There, faster identification and response might not be sufficient in and of itself to prevent spread, but it very well might mean a very significant decrease in the scale of impact as a new disease outbreak does spread, and with fewer becoming ill and fewer dying from such a disease as a result. And doing better in this would help to identify more fully and effectively where an epidemic, or a pandemic has actually locally come under control, so resources can be more effectively reallocated and focused where they are more pressingly needed. And ultimately this would help identify when a last so-affected area has been brought into recovery and the pandemic has actually ended.

I have already identified the core element of the How of this, and in this series as a whole and at the end of Part 183 itself, when I said that I would turn to this topic here: doing this better and with my offering at least a few thoughts in the direction of an at least partial solution to this overall challenge. And that core element is information, and as it could be collected and gathered in, organized and brought together for analysis and processed knowledge development, shared and globally so, and made use of as a basis for both tactical and strategic planning and their execution.

• Look to the best of what our current have nations can do and are doing as a starting point for what we need to develop as a global system that all nations can turn to.
• But as our current experience in the United States shows, simply developing and compiling epidemiological data is not and cannot be enough, If any part of the process flow that I briefly outlined in the last sentence before these bullet points is broken or missing, the whole construct fails. And in the United States and I add in Brazil and India and many other nations, partisan politics and their strident divisiveness have made effective and even just meaningful tactical and strategic planning and their execution impossible and for many at-risk communities and peoples.

Let me put that in a more specific focus. Consider both Donald Trump’s America and Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil and India with its Narendra Modi, and how they have sought to suborn information gathering and dissemination from their public health agencies, in an effort to politicize them to their own personal wills. Public health systems with the information gathering capabilities that they have now, do not always work and even in democracies let alone in more authoritarian governments and even when significant amounts of essential information are being gathered in.

• Can we all rely on national governments currently in place to suddenly seamlessly come together in the name of shared common interest and need, in order to address the issues and challenges of what can only be considered as representing globally faced threats?
• Our ongoing experience should be enough to answer that, and for how we have failed to even begin to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic, or the challenges of global pollution or global warming.
• Where do our current divisive nationalistic policies and practices fail us in this? Look for problems that cross our political borders and boundaries and both within nations (as for example in the United States with its red and blue states) and internationally. Find such a problem and you have identified an example for how we cannot come together and even globally as needed, to address our shared problems and challenges.

What do we have in place now that might serve as an at least embryonic stage role model for how we could do better, and both within our individual nations and collectively, in addressing these increasingly global problems? This is a series about the COVID-19 pandemic that we are now going through – and that is now going through us too. So keeping to that point of focus in all of this, consider the World Health Organization as it is now as a clearing house for information, and for organizing action that might be based upon that information. And consider how a United Nations based agency such as that might be reframed and reorganized so as to be able to more effectively fulfill its basic mission of globally facing public health.

As a final point of detail here, and offering this as data from a have nation with internal barriers to effective public health and even with epidemiological data widely collected, the most recent data that I have to share here regarding COVID-19 for the United States, as of this writing is:

• September 20 at 01:32 GMT: 42,900,906 reported cases with 9,705,031 currently active, 33,195,875 now closed, and with 24,328 active in serious or critical condition (0.3 %), and 691,880 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)

In the long run and certainly looking back at this pandemic from after it has ended, those total case numbers and their global counterparts and their resultant mortality counts will haunt us and justifiably so. And these are just preliminary counts from well before this all actually ends. All of these numbers will get a lot worse.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment and with that set to go live in a few days. Meanwhile, you can find this and my earlier COVID-19 related postings to this series at Macroeconomics and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation, as postings 365 and following.

Rethinking exit and entrance strategies 45: keeping an effective innovative focus while approaching and going through significant business transitions 35

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on September 19, 2021

This is my 45th installment to a series that offers a general discussion of business transitions, where an organization exits one developmental stage or period of relative strategic and operational stability, to enter a fundamentally different next one (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4, Page 5 and Page 6 continuations, postings 559 and loosely following for Parts 1-44.)

I have been discussing change: gradual and evolutionary, and disruptively revolutionary and reorienting in this series. And I have been orienting and organizing an ongoing discussion of more general and even abstractly stated issues here, in terms of two specific case study examples:

• ClarkBuilt Inc. is a business that has reached a point in its development, as previously discussed here, where its owning founders have to make some fundamental decisions as to what type of business they have now, and what type they will have moving forward: as a manufacturer and just that, or as a design shop that monetizes and gains profits as such from its brand and name recognition, or as some combination of those two options.
• And Palabraum Inc. is a business that has reached a point in its development where its owners and executive managers have come to see a need to bring New back into what they do, and into what they offer to a marketplace that has come to see their product lines as staid at worst, and as retro at best.

I focused on Palabraum and its issues, and on the options enabling, and foreclosing decisions that its leader owners have to make now, in Part 44. And I turn here to my ClarkBuilt case study for how it would correspondingly address its issues as its owner founders seek to address the need for change that they now face too.

Let’s assume that the leadership of this business at least seriously considers the possibly of ClarkBuilt becoming a design shop for other manufacturers for its “low end” products, as noted above … and with its retaining in-house production of its “high end” products and with its continuing to design and develop, manufacture, market and sell them according to the basic approach that they have traditionally pursued for all of their offerings up to now. But if they did pursue that next business development step, how and where more precisely would they draw a line between low and high for this?

I ended Part 44 with that question, and with this added anticipatory comment:

• This type of decision cannot and be arrived at once and for all as a fixed continuingly pertinent and viable strategic conclusion; it would have to be a dynamic one, least this business fall into its own counterpart to the challenge that Palabraum in effect backed into, as discussed here in earlier installments.

This is where the comments that I made in Part 44 in a Palabraum context regarding tipping points and what becomes de facto disruptive change, apply here too. Palabraum in effect backed into that type of challenge by waiting until its product offerings were well past being new and cutting edge, even as its owners continued to presume otherwise. ClarkBuilt has in effect, followed that same path, watching their market share erode while effectively ignoring that, or its developing consequences. So ClarkBuilt, like Palabraum is facing both the increased uncertainties and the increased at least here-and-now risks of the disruptive, and also the need for a more rapid and conclusive response that disruptive brings with it too. They have to act in the face of increased uncertainties, at a pace that will help them staunch the at least potential for red ink that will be realized if the balance point between low end where they are losing market share shifts to a tipping point where remaining sales opportunity there, plus market strength for their high end products are not enough.

I intentionally posit that in more dire terms, as my intention here is to focus on mandatory change here, and not simply on the optional. How and where, more precisely, would the leaders of this company draw a line between low and high for this? I would argue that I just gave away the basic answer to that question in the above paragraph, where I briefly described their current and developing business situation.

• Look at this in terms of market share and in terms of profits and loss. And let’s divide the overall ClarkBuilt product portfolio into three general categories: lowest end, high end and a gray area middle ground.
• At least as a simplifying conceptualization here, let’s assume that the lowest end, most basic products offered that other businesses are already producing direct counterparts to now, and to lower price points than would be sustainable for ClarkBuilt, are now effectively unprofitable for Clarkbuilt to continue to manufacture at all. They would be written off, at least baring innovative improvements to specific entries there, coming from ClarkBuilt’s design shop – changing the game for them and moving them out of this basic lowest category. ClarkBuilt would walk away from these products as entries in their portfolio.
• They would retain and continue designing and manufacturing their high end products and product lines that they do not face such competition from, continuing to advance their designs so as to retain their hold on their market.
• And this brings me to that gray area middle ground, and that at the very least is where they’re becoming a design shop for other manufacturers might make the most sense.
• They would, at least according to this scenario, want to actively avoid creating new direct competition for their high end product lines, so they would not consider an in-house design shop and outsourced production model there.
• Retaining and even seeking to expand this edge for themselves, through continued cutting edge design and development would in fact serve as a powerful took for they’re presenting themselves as a value creating design resource for others.
• And that marketable option would become value creating for businesses that want to produce newer and better than the lowest end for these product types, and where the expense of maintaining their own in-house design shops would make that option less viable for them.
• This gray area is where ClarkBuilt might be making something of a profit on its own from its own manufacturing efforts, but where they could do sustainably better and certainly long-term by bringing in revenue from design purchasing client businesses, while offering them a low enough price point for this work so as to make these arrangements profitable for them too.
• Initial analyses of this type generally look at only a business such as ClarkBuilt for how it faces these types of contexts and scenarios, or only looking at their potential client businesses for this. But realistically, and certainly long-term realistically, gray area here is all about developing and arriving at sustainable win-win business scenarios.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series where I will at least briefly delve into some of the issues of finding the right cost/benefits and risk/benefits balance points there, so as to make this all work and sustainably so.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 6, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4 and Page 5 of that directory.

Telecommuting reconsidered as a new normal 12

Posted in outsourcing and globalization by Timothy Platt on September 18, 2021

This is my 12th posting to a series that has its roots in this blog going back to its beginning, and certainly in my thinking. More concretely and as a matter of written record, this has its roots here, going back at least as far as late 2012 when I thought through and then wrote and posted a short series on a possible business model that would take online and remote working to its logical conclusion, with the possibilities of an essentially entirely online and remote workplace business: a true telecompany. See Outsourcing and Globalization, postings 48 and following for my series: Telecommuting and the Marketplace Transition to the Telecompany. And you can find this series at that same directory page starting with its posting 70.

• Businesses are information driven. And effectively holding, processing, using and safeguarding business intelligence and the raw data that its processed knowledge is based on, is vital to the success of essentially any business, and even to its very survival. This is a 21st century truism.

I focused in Part 10 and again in Part 11 on information security in this context, and primarily at the level of safeguarding individual computers and their contents. And I expanded that line of discussion and particularly in Part 11 to at least briefly discuss how the successful exploitation of the security vulnerabilities of any one connected-in computer can create immediate realized risk and threat to all other nodes in a business’ information technology system with its constellation of individual user computers, servers and routers and more. For “more” there, consider backup storage devices such as flash drives that might not be plugged into a computer except for when they are being updated for their content, that can serve as veritable booby traps, ready to explode when used again, if they have malware code hidden on them.

Consideration of this complex of issues and challenges immediately and obviously leads to consideration of and discussion of overall information management policy as that might be promulgated and made known, and enforced in a business. And I have recurringly addressed that set of issues in general, and in terms that would apply to most any business model in writing to this blog, and from early on in it.

There is essentially always going to be more to add to such a discussion, and that is why I have returned to it and repeatedly so. But that acknowledged, I am going to take a somewhat different approach to this here, as I turn from focusing on individual nodes and their potential impact as touched upon in Parts 10 and 11, to consider operationalized systems, as I will here.

So let’s assume that a business has an actively engaged, security aware Information Technology service or department in place, and that they actively, and as proactively as possible seek to stay as up to date as possible in identifying and remediating software and related vulnerabilities. They gather in and distribute any and all software patches that are developed that would apply to their systems and the computers that enter into them. They have set up all of those computers (business owned and personally owned) to download and install them automatically and in the background so that individual users cannot bypass or override this without real intention and effort. And they work with Marketing and Communications to craft and disseminate effective workplace and information security messages, sharing them in ways that verify if those messages are opened or not and by whom. This would become a red flag issue for a remote worker who never seems to open anything from Information Technology that has the words “important security update” in its subject line.

Does this provide absolute security? Of course not. New zero-day vulnerabilities happen and they will continue to, as noted in Part 11. Third party software patches can be slower in development and release than prudence would dictate. And to quote from a sign that a somewhat cynical lab technician put up on the wall where I did my doctoral studies, “it is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so clever.”

I wrote above, of IT professionals setting up essentially automatically updating software security systems so that they would work … unless individual users put in real intention and effort to suborn them. Add to that, malware that has code in it designed to shut down computer security on infected computers that might be an enticing click away, as a source of possible security breaches. (As an aside perhaps, but to highlight the arms race nature of all of this, it is also possible for a networked computer security system to interrogate a computer to verify that its security software is active and when such a computer and its user try logging in or at any other time in a login or open session. And if this messaging is encrypted and it can only work if that software really is working, it is unlikely that malware that is generically coded will pass that test.)

I have only offered a few of the possibilities here, as to how information security systems can be built and safeguarded, and breached. But setting that aside, let’s assume that a system is in place that is as secure and reliable as is realistically possible, reducing the likelihood of breach and resulting harm to an essentially irreducible minimum. Now how does this fit into a business’ overall operational systems? That, from a business’ perspective, is where usability enters in, where that is measured in terms of smooth continuity of work flow.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, starting with the issues of possible delays and their impact on task completion and related dependencies and particularly in a distributed workforce context as applies in a telecompany or other telecommuting context. And in anticipation of that, I note here that one of the goals of an effective information management system is that its security controls and threat facing barriers be transparent to the user. This needs discussion and certainly when it is moved from abstract slogan level discussion into real world day-to-day implementation.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Outsourcing and Globalization.

China, the United States and the world, and the challenge of an emerging global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – 183

Posted in macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on September 17, 2021

This is my 207th posting to specifically address the COVID-19 pandemic that we now face and that by now has found its way into essentially every nation on Earth, and into every facet of our lives. And it is also the 183rd installment to this specific series on that.

As usual, I begin this installment with newer updates to a set of basic epidemiological findings, sharing more recent globally sourced data as offered by the World Health Organization as to the current overall state of this pandemic:

• September 16 at 01:54 GMT: 227,220,753 reported cases with 18,640,272 currently active, 208,580,481 now closed, and with 101,830 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,672,322 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)
• September 17 at 01:25 GMT: 227,800,684 reported cases with 18,671,809 currently active, 209,128,875 now closed, and with 100,970 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,683,348 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)

I began explicitly addressing the issues of how and when pandemics end, and of how and when that is declared to have happened – and by whom, in Part 182. And my primary goal for this posting is to continue that line of discussion, and in more general terms and with a more specific focus on our current COVID-19 pandemic as well. And I begin this by picking up on a point of detail that I mentioned in Part 182 that I see as being pivotally important here: President Biden’s declaration that he wanted to declare the Fourth of July, 2021 to be COVID-19 Independence Day. See this briefing room piece from the White House, as dated July 5:

Remarks by President Biden Celebrating Independence Day and Independence from COVID-⁠19.

The United States saw its national day of independence arrive at a time when the numbers of new COVID cases and of deaths from it were down, and trending still further down as well. But that represented overall national totals, glossing over the very real hot spots for this disease that continued on and certainly in politically red states. And that was where the nation was at a time when a third of those eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations nationally were adamantly opposed to receiving them, and as many and even most of those resistors were opposed to the use of masks or social distancing too.

• Biden knew this; he knew that the lull in COVID-19 numbers that the United States was experiencing might not last and that this pandemic might surge there again. But he still felt compelled to speak of COVID independence, then. Why?

There are a number of possible answers to that question, but one of them that I see as particularly important, and accurate, is that he was addressing a growing sense of national fatigue in the face of ongoing pandemic crisis and loss. Things had seemingly eased up, at least for then. He saw the nation as needing words of hope. Yes, further developments have most definitely shown them to have been premature but then and there, approaching America’s national day of independence, he saw need and pressing need for him to offer those words of hope … then.

When does a pandemic end? More accurately and certainly in this context, when is a pandemic declared to be over? One answer is fatigue. National leaders tend to declare a pandemic over when it looks to have been brought under control within their own national borders. And they tend to do this in response to growing public fatigue from all of the stress of facing a pandemic with all of its dangers and uncertainties and with all of the long-term numbness, as punctuated by fear that such a disease event generates.

I also touched on the issues of data driven determinations in Part 182 where I cited the possibility of a pandemic being declared over on the basis of the epidemiological numbers. Then, the question becomes one of what trend lines and tipping point values for new cases and for new deaths, and for hospitalizations and for intensive care hospitalizations would qualify as indicating an end to a pandemic per se.

• Note that I just offered that, strictly and entirely in terms of developed world nations where the actual epidemiological numbers for a disease such as COVID-19 can be known, where severe and critically ill cases can be identified and counted in that, and where intensive care medical support can be available and for essentially all who need it – assuming that their hospitals are not overwhelmed.

To put this bluntly and even crudely – but accurately when considering some of the actual developing-world national experience of COVID-19 that has been openly reported upon:

• In many parts of the world, the truest measure of this pandemic ending might be when people are not openly dying from it in the streets, where their cases and the losses that their deaths represent cannot be hidden or glossed over so easily and certainly in their own communities.

How else could a pandemic ending be determined when no one in such a nation does, or can know anything like the true epidemiological status of this disease there and when many and even most people cannot gain access to the hospitals that could offer advanced care and that might report in on their cases to a central authority?

• What is an epidemic, or more broadly and even globally speaking a pandemic? It is the occurrence of more cases of, and often of more deaths from some specific disease than expected,
• In a given area for an epidemic or globally for a pandemic,
• With that appearing over an identifiable period of time.
• And by extension, an epidemic or a pandemic would end when its numbers drop to a point where case numbers (and deaths) become effectively submerged in the morbidity and mortality case flows and totals that would be expected, absent such a healthcare crisis: when that outbreak lessens in severity until it effectively disappears into the statistical background noise of routine epidemiological reporting.

That is an at least relatively clearly defined statistically based definition that is gowned in scientific sounding empirical terms. But when it is impossible to reliably gather in the actual data that would be needed to make such a determination, what is its practical value? And even when those numbers are available, what do they say in and of themselves, and on their own when, as in the case of the United States in early July, 2021, a nation’s public has a veritable Sword of Damocles hanging over their head from all of those vaccine and protective measures refusers? And now add in the steady march of new mutated variants of COVID-19 where the delta strain that we all face now was already getting started then. So even if the terms of a pandemic ending, as laid out in the above bullet point were valid, and even if we knew and were making use of the data that is explicitly called for in it, that would still not be enough. Wider contextual information and insight has to be taken into account here too.

And with that, I return to the issues of developed and have nations, and of developing have-not nations. And I point to the public health predicament that we have already been seeing play out in the United States as a real world example writ small, of what is all too likely to come globally.

• The United States looked to be on the verge of beating COVID-19 within its borders, and certainly on the basis of the data that the US CDC was gathering in as nationally considered. But a vast subpopulation within that nation continued to serve as both a reservoir of this disease and a reservoir of susceptibility to it as well. So COVID-19 the pandemic, roared back across the nation as a whole and certainly when the delta variant really took hold there.
• Think through the logic of that on a global scale, where the reservoirs of disease and of susceptibility to it are not resistors to vaccinations. They are people who desperately seek to get vaccinated and who would actively seek out medical care if they become ill with this disease – but who are left out from that from where they live and from how their nations are marginalized.
• I have said that as bad as the delta variant is, that is not what worries me. What really worries me is that next and even worse new variant that will arise in this vast pool of the infected and the susceptible. And the inequalities of access to vaccinations and to healthcare that lead to these vast risk pools, create the exact same type of risk for the developed world nations and for the world as a whole, that the politically conservative red states in the United States have proven to be for all of the states of the United States now as our current reality there.

Add this to the context that I wrote of above, in understanding where we are with this pandemic now, and as we might come to consider it as ending. As long as there are vast pools of the unprotected and vulnerable out there, anywhere, all people everywhere are at continued pandemic risk from this disease.

What will happen if a new variant – pick your Greek letter identifier for it, arises that has within it antigenic shift mutations that render it impervious to any possible protection by any of the vaccines now in use against COVID-19? What would happen if our entire global vaccination program was reset back to day zero again from such a development and its spread? And if such a variant were to arise, it would spread like wildfire and globally so, with so many vulnerable to it but unaware of that and for a crucial period of time. Yes, new vaccines would be developed and quickly, but what would the cost be while we all waited for that, and in public health and economic and all other terms as well?

Yes, that worst case possibility is, and has to be considered as a crucial element to any consideration as to when this pandemic will end too. And it brings me to one further, final point of detail that I will offer here:

• I have said and repeatedly so and since very early in this series that a pathogen: the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19 but that it is us: people who made it a pandemic. And it is our decisions and actions that have helped to keep it an active pandemic too.
• Regardless of how an end of a pandemic is defined and regardless of why that definition and its fulfillment criteria would be selected, it is up to us to decide by our decisions and actions, or our lack thereof, when this will be fulfilled with an end to COVID-19 as a pandemic too.

And with that added to my own analysis and discussion of these issues, I offer these references for further reading and for alternative takes on this crucially important topic:

How Does a Pandemic End? as offered by Avera.
When will the COVID-19 pandemic end? as offered by McKinsey & Company.
The Covid Endgame: Is the pandemic over already? Or are there years to go?: a news story from the Washington Post.
Methods to Determine the End of an Infectious Disease Epidemic: A Short Review as offered by the US National Institutes of Health.

And I add this reference link as an ongoing source of updated information on what variants of the SARS-CoV-2 have arisen and spread, and to a degree where they become overtly visible as sources of risk:

The WHO COVID-19 Initiative: tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants.

I am going to continue this overall discussion in a few days in a next series installment. In anticipation of that, I add here that I have been focusing on this as a problem in Part 182 and again here. I will offer some thoughts in the direction of a possible at-least partial solution to it in upcoming discussion. And I will focus there on information and its development and sharing, and on what could be done with it moving forward.

Meanwhile, you can find this and my earlier COVID-19 related postings to this series at Macroeconomics and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation, as postings 365 and following.

Management and strategy by prototype – 8: bringing this into a business process context 5

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on September 16, 2021

This is the 8th installment to a series that I began writing and offering here, early in this blog. And it is one that I have returned to more recently, to more fully develop. See Business Strategy and Operations, postings 124 and 126 for Parts 1 and 2, and Business Strategy and Operations – 5 and its Page 6 continuation, posting 938 and loosely following for Parts 3-7.

I began a progression of postings in this series that focuses on the finances and economics of prototyping in Part 6, that I continued in Part 7 where I offered a product and service system supportive prototyping example. And at the end of that discussion thread, I said that I would continue here with a second such example: this time focusing on more entirely internal to the business issues and challenges.

I offered a software development centered example in Part 7 and will do so here too, as far as what New would be built and added in is concerned, in prototype developing and validating a new business process update with its supportive tools. But my goal here is to focus a lot more on the new business processes themselves that such a technological update would be developed and implemented for, and that they would be built in terms of.

I primarily focused on the technological update side to my Part 7 example, but as a point of reminder here from how I have addressed that type of possibility in earlier postings and series, you can never reliably, effectively, completely address a business problem simply by throwing tech at it. Context can be everything, or at least it can come very close to being that. So I begin this example with a basic problem that New might be needed for, and then turn to consider technical and other solution elements for addressing it:

• You own and run a large business-to-consumer enterprise with multiple storefront locations. And your business gathers in and makes use of customer-sourced and customer-related data and more processed information that comes to it from multiple types of sources.
• This includes direct from customer sources with that including data shared by them through your web site and data gathered by your support staff as they fill out intranet-based online forms when working with customers who reach out and connect via their phones or via online chat (I will address that last point of detail further on in this narrative.)
• This also includes data sources from third party information providers such as sales lead providers for the more big-ticket end of your product offerings. And this is where a need for new and improved at your business enters this developing narrative.
• You need to be able to smoothly, consistently, seamlessly connect all of these input flows into a single overarching readily minable database system, that will also capture and include current inventory data and data on what new inventory is scheduled to arrive from where and when, and more.
• Basically, you want everyone on your Sales staff, and other essential stakeholders as well, as required, to be able to see and work in the context of as complete and as multidirectional an understanding of this business and markets and its supply chains as possible so they can meet the needs of their customers as efficiently and as smoothly as possible, and with all possible sales options for those individual customers both visible and accessible as possible, and real-time and all of the time. But many of the sources of this data are built around proprietary software and they do not connect with each other.
• So you and your (at least relatively large Information Technology department) decide to build and prototype test a new in-house developed, proprietary middleware solution here, as the IT professionals assigned to look for already available solutions to this challenge could not find a sufficiently satisfactory off the shelf solution to meet their and your needs. Quite simply, while it would cost to build this new capability in-house, it would cost more and as an ongoing aggravating expense to have to settle for what is already available for licensed use.
• After discussing the possibilities and options here, you and your technical managers decide to use a more standard CORBA solution to this, using a standard interface definition language approach to map objects representing those data sources to a commonly held interface using Java as a readily familiar coding language. A goal here is to be and to stay standard and familiar for all of the basic parts of what would go into your business’ overall solution to this problem and both to make it easier to build and maintain its new software, and to foreclose as many opportunities for unexpected surprises as possible.

The business issue that would lead to and even compel this, is one of creating more real-time connectivity for the people who would sell and to their benefit and the business’ and to the benefit of your customers too. And as a key part of that, any effective solution here would reduce computer systems-to-human and then to next (otherwise disconnected) computer systems issues to a minimum. That can mean tremendously reducing data errors entering into this flow, as well as increasing speed there, as already need to be addressed as problem areas with your online chat systems that need more direct connectivity to your databases now.

This type of reduction in data error can be the most important benefit of all from this type of development and improvement effort. (I have definitely seen systems where employees have to write down or type in customer and other information that should be coming in already digitized, with them carrying out that step while trying to accurate capture that data in the first place. And that can and does arise from both legacy technology and legacy and equally outmoded business processes and practices – which generally go hand in hand.)

I have laid out the basic problem and an initial outline of its resolution here. I am going to continue this example in a next series installment where I will address the business issues and the decision making of prototyping it here. And as part of that, I will raise and discuss the issues of scope creep, and both as a matter of functionality decisions: technological and business process in nature, and as a source of financial considerations.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 6, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4 and Page 5 of that directory.

China, the United States and the world, and the challenge of an emerging global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – 182

Posted in macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on September 15, 2021

This is my 206th posting to specifically address the COVID-19 pandemic that we now face and that by now has found its way into essentially every nation on Earth, and into every facet of our lives. And it is also the 182nd installment to this specific series on that.

As usual, I begin this installment with newer updates to a set of basic epidemiological findings, sharing more recent globally sourced data as offered by the World Health Organization as to the current overall state of this pandemic:

• September 12 at 01:40 GMT: 225,069,671 reported cases with 18,828,903 currently active, 206,240,768 now closed, and with 103,437 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,637,637 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)
• September 13 at 01:25 GMT: 225,448,249 reported cases with 18,795,554 currently active, 206,652,695 now closed, and with 103,221 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,643,628 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)
• September 14 at 02:01 GMT: 226,060,169 reported cases with 18,729,286 currently active, 207,330,883 now closed, and with 102,482 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,651,756 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)
• September 15 at 01:32 GMT: 226,617,807 reported cases with 18,645,286 currently active, 207,972,521 now closed, and with 102,302 active in serious or critical condition (0.5 %), and 4,661,540 closed cases reported as deaths (2 %)

And as of September 15 at 01:32 GMT, the United States has seen 42,287,993 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 682,338 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

I said at the end of Part 181 that I would turn here to at least begin a discussion of what it means for a pandemic to end, and for it to be declared over as such. And I will do so, beginning with a point of detail that is both obvious and tremendously impactful. Different people with their differing agendas and priorities can and do see these issues in very different ways, and they decide and act on them accordingly.

I have repeatedly discussed then President Wilson’s approach to the influenza pandemic that raged in the United States and globally, during his time in office and as he sought to fight an all out, absolute war against Germany and the Axis Powers in the Great War: the War to End All Wars … World War I. When his administration actively and even vehemently enforced their Sedition Act of 1918 as a tool for suppressing news coverage of this pandemic in the United States, it is difficult to argue a case for him having taken this disease outbreak or its spread as representing anything like an existential threat. It is difficult to argue the case that he saw this as a true pandemic at all. And that is certainly true when you consider how he actively promoted huge public rallies and parades and bond drives for raising monies in support of his war effort.

The United States and I add the developed, if damaged nations of Europe all declared that pandemic over, as soon as their own morbidity and mortality counts dropped below a point where illness and death from the flu would stand out as excess illness and death when compared statistically with what would be expected as based on pre-pandemic epidemiological findings. That, at least, is the rationalized after the fact explanation as to how this decision was reached. A more accurate explanation would more likely be that these nations declared this pandemic over when its active case numbers and new death counts dropped to a point where it could be ignored as background clutter in the face of the demands for post-war recovery. That certainly applies for these European nations. And both there and in the United States, it was declared over when any remaining active embers of it were confined to smaller and more out of the way communities too, that central governments could overlook for this.

• The developed world in general declared the Great Influenza Pandemic over and officially so in 1920 – when it continued on in the less considered developing world and its nations, and certainly in hot spots in those nations for years after that.

And in a fundamental sense that pandemic never ended as it segued from pandemic to endemic, and to permanently recurring annually spiking endemic at that. Let’s consider the numbers there, and for the United States as a public health documenting nation so we have some real data to work with. According to the US CDC, approximately 36,000 Americans have died of the flu every year over the past decade. See Frequently Asked Questions about Estimated Flu Burden. Our healthcare systems and our medical knowledge and capabilities in the United States have improved and tremendously so over the last hundred years, so survival rates should have improved for this over that period. But for simplicity, let’s assume 100 years of endemic flu with an average annual mortality from it of that 36,000 count. That means 3.6 million lives lost and just in the United States alone, from endemic influenza. So if as an acute pandemic phase event, the United States lost its officially acknowledged 650,000 lives from this, then that nation has lost over 5.5 times as many lives from endemic flu since then and with that disparity increasing in scale every single year, and with that pattern sure to continue.

Obviously, the pandemic versus endemic distinction that I make here is not based on scale of impact alone. The key point of difference that I write of here is to be found in a word that I just used in that last paragraph: acute. On average, after all of the data from the influenza pandemic years is brought together and considered, it turns out that over 215,000 Americans died of the flu each year of the pandemic itself. So by comparison, it is argued that a “mere” 36,000 lives lost per year is more of a background or baseline number. But even there, I come back to the issues of perceptions and agendas and priorities – and even where ill will and bad intentions do not enter into any of that.

• So when did the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 actually end, and by extension when and how can we finally say that our current COVID-19 pandemic has ended as such too?
• Can we do better now, with our more complete and accurate data collection, in parsing out the stages of a pandemic and for determining when it has actually ended as a pandemic per se?

The influenza pandemic of 1918 became with time the ongoing endemic influenza that we still know and deal with today. COVID-19 is a global pandemic now and it will continue on and long-term as a post-pandemic disease presence too: as an ongoing endemic disease too. How will be know when that transition has happened and who is to decide?

I am going to offer some thoughts in response to these questions and certainly as far as our current pandemic is concerned, in the next installment to this series. But before I get to that, and as context for that line of discussion to come, I end this posting with a brief update on where we are in our current COVID-19 culture war in the United States as I write this, where that has direct bearing on the perceived status of this disease there, right now. And I will add at least a brief update as to how these same issues are playing out in other nations as I write this.

I wrote in Part 181, of President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, as promulgated through executive order, and I add with that laid out in more detail in this White House document: Path out of the Pandemic: President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan.

Politically partisan response to this long anticipated development was both prepared for and swift for its delivery. And I offer three news story references as representing early benchmarks for that, with:

• On September 10, 2021: Biden’s Sweeping Vaccine Mandates Infuriate Republican Governors, which I quote from with:
• “President Biden’s orders pushing millions of workers to get vaccinated were aimed at turning the tide on a pandemic that has killed 650,000 Americans. But on Friday, the mandates immediately deepened the nation’s political divisions over coronavirus vaccinations and government power.”
• And: “Several Republican governors vowed to go to court to challenge the constitutionality of the rules that affect two-thirds of American workers, setting the stage for one of the nation’s most consequential legal battles over public health since Republicans sued to overturn the Affordable Care Act.”
• Then on September 11, 2021: Vaccine Resisters Seek Religious Exemptions. But What Counts as Religious? which I quote from with:
• “Major denominations are essentially unanimous in their support of the vaccines against Covid-19, but individuals who object are citing their personal faith for support.”
• And consider this from September 12, 2021: G.O.P. Seethes at Biden Mandate, Even in States Requiring Other Vaccines, which I quote from with:
• “Resistance to vaccine mandates, once a fringe position, has entered the Republican mainstream. But the governors fighting President Biden’s Covid-19 requirements impose mandates of their own.” And:
• “Like other Republican governors around the country, Tate Reeves of Mississippi reacted angrily to the coronavirus vaccine mandates President Biden imposed on private businesses. Declaring the move ‘terrifying,’ he wrote on Twitter: ‘This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.’ There is a deep inconsistency in that argument. Mississippi has some of the strictest vaccine mandates in the nation, which have not drawn opposition from most of its elected officials. Not only does it require children to be vaccinated against measles, mumps and seven other diseases to attend school, but it goes a step further than most states by barring parents from claiming ‘religious, philosophical or conscientious’ exemptions.”

I leave it to you, the reader to decide if this is hypocritical or not, or if it looks to be a perhaps purblind attempt at promoting political career aspirations on the part of some. But when the smoke of culture war lifts as it will as this pandemic ends, and when we all look back at what was and was not done and by whom, what will we all collectively see? When we see the numbers of lives lost and where this all happened, what will we conclude?

I find myself thinking back to American history as I write this and to the way that the once powerful Whig Party died, and with the Republican Party emerging from its ashes. Basically, the Whig Party died through an act of suicide as carried out by its leadership and as enthusiastically supported by its more diehard extremist members. Look at the limb that a still Trump-led, ultra-conservative Republican Party has climbed out on now, as it so ardently puts itself on the wrong side of history in all of its response to the pandemic that we are all now facing.

• The Republican Party is out on that limb, high up, and it is actively and relentlessly sawing that branch off. And it began this before Trump himself arrived on the scene as the face of its now cult of personality.

I wrote of this shift in fortunes as coming, in October, 2016 with: Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and Lessons from the Whig Party. And I have returned to that set of issues on occasion here in this blog since then, as what is now entirely his party has continued to saw away at that limb. These issues that I write of here, and the challenges that they pose to reason and to ethics and morality, and to common sense and to the evidence before our eyes and every day, will not change. That is why I now expect over one million Americans will have died of COVID-19 before this has ended as a pandemic, and with so many more to follow after that with COVID-19, the endemic disease taking its toll. And all of this will help to shape both how this pandemic ends as such, and how and why it is declared over as such.

I said early on in this posting that I would add a brief update note on how this is at least being situationally carried out in other countries too, and even for the worst of what I have written of here in an American context. So I end this posting with a brief update from India.

As India’s Lethal Covid Wave Neared, Politics Overrode Science, which I quote from with:
• “The country’s top science agency tailored its findings to fit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s optimistic narrative despite a looming crisis, researchers say.”

Trump tried that approach in the United States during his time as president. And he and his allies and followers branded anything that did not fit their vision and their agenda as fake news when they could not block what they saw as inconvenient challenge outright. We are all paying the price for that and we will continue to pay it from time and opportunity lost. And that will continue through to the end of COVID-19, the pandemic and well into COVID-19 the ongoing endemic disease too.

I am going to continue this discussion in the next installment of this series, where I will further address the issues and challenges of knowing when a pandemic is over. Meanwhile, you can find this and my earlier COVID-19 related postings to this series at Macroeconomics and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation, as postings 365 and following.

Platt Perspective at twelve years

Posted in blogs and marketing by Timothy Platt on September 14, 2021

I have, with this posting, now written 3268 separate entries to this blog, most all of which are of at least short essay length. And I am well past reaching a benchmark that I did not imagine when first starting this endeavor in 2009: the “triple Scheherazade” number of 3003 postings as I would identify it: a total of stories if you will that is now three times the number of them that Scheherazade is said to have shared, one per night in the Tales of the Arabian Nights. And I am now planning in terms of reaching the quadruple Scheherazade number of 4004 such postings too.

I said that I did not expect to reach that 3003 mark when I started this in 2009, let alone the 4004 mark for it and I did not. I began this blog with an open ended goal of continuing writing to it as long as I saw meaning and value in doing so, and with nothing like a numerical endpoint in mind as part of that consideration. And I continue to take the same approach to this now, too.

That addresses scale but it does not say anything about content here. So I add that I did not start this blog with expectations as to specifically what I would write of here either, except in very general terms. Some of what I have discussed here in fact, and even a significant part of it has been relatively predictable in detail as I have planned out and set goals for the various series that I offer here, and for progressions of them. But there is and there always will be the unexpected too, and the disruptively novel and the unpredictable of that. And with time, those types of circumstances can be expected to arise, even if their details and their specific timing cannot be.

In this regard, I have devoted roughly a third of all of the postings that I have offered here in the past year and more of this blog, to a pandemic disease: COVID-19 – the epitome of the disruptively novel and unpredictable as an individual developing event – even as anyone who has studied the history of pandemics per se would have realized that a next pandemic would come – eventually. Then, of course, eventually suddenly became now as it always does – eventually.

What will come in year 13 for this still unfolding endeavor? I have to expect that to include the more routinely predictable, and with that now including a lot more postings on and concerning our current COVID-19 pandemic. What else will come in the next 12 months? Let’s find out together, and I will write of at least some of that.

Timothy Platt, Ph.D.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 77– the business context 26

This is my 77th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with a focus on the employee-to-employee and employee-to-business side of that as found in more individual jobs and careers contexts. See Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-51 for that side to this overall narrative. And in that context, I have also been discussing the business side of negotiating here. See that same directory Page 4, and its postings 535 and following for Parts 52-76.

I have been discussing the issues of a new full time in-house employee’s first day on a new job here in this series, as considered from their new supervisor’s perspective since Part 73. And as part of that, I began discussing the first formal meeting that a new hire has with their now-supervisor in Part 76, with a focus in that posting on building an effective foundation for mutually beneficial communications and negotiations, as needed, moving forward.

Then, to bring this initial orienting note up to date, I said at the end of Part 76 that I would “start discussing this complex of issues in more specific detail and with a case study example” here. And I said that in the context of a new hire who finds them self working with a new to them type of business: a type of business that is significantly different for its industry or business sector, or for its corporate culture or some combination thereof, and in ways that are fundamentally new to them. And I add here, in anticipation of what is to follow, that while a change in industry worked in might be obvious for its impact here, a change in corporate culture faced in such change might not be – even as that can be the most impactful.

• When a prospective new hire goes for an interview with a prospective new employer, their entire experience there is highly choreographed and both by the department or service that they would work with and as a part of, and by that business’ Personnel or Human Resources as well, and even by their legal counsel.
• Everyone who they meet with in this, meets with them with their own specific focused work-related agenda in mind, and they focus for the most part on its details in their conversations with new hire candidates.
• So a job candidate might walk away from these meetings with a hiring manager and with other stakeholders as needed, with a fairly clear idea as to what they would do there if hired and with an idea of who they would work with in doing that, and certainly at first. But they are probably going to leave those meetings a lot less informed as to what the corporate culture is like there, and what it is like to actually work there, and certainly on anything like an interpersonal level.

The more familiar this new prospective employer is to an interviewee for its business type, as judged from their prior work experience, the less of a surprise there is likely to be in all of this for them: its corporate culture included. To take that out of the abstract, a computer programmer who is deeply experienced working with others in a high pressure software development company setting, is probably going to walk into an interview with a prospective new software development employer of the same type that they have been working with, already knowing what its basic culture is going to be like, and its employee dynamics as well. But if they take a job at a mission driven nonprofit, with a goal of writing programming code for them in their Information Technology department that would help it fulfill its mission and vision goals, they might be in for a real surprise or two when they actually start their new job there. They might find that their new colleagues there think and prioritize, and communicate differently than they would expect and even automatically from their prior workplace experience.

I have seen this happen and from both sides of the employee and manager table. I have gone through this myself too, and from both of those perspectives. And with my experience in mind and held out as a source of examples here, consider this an occupational risk for consultants who with time come to work in multiple industries and yes – in widely varying corporate cultures as well. Even the experienced can be blindsided by the unexpected here.

I said at the end of Part 76 that I would offer a case study example in this posting, and a variety of them come to mind for possible inclusion. I just hinted at one, when citing a switch to working with nonprofits from working in a high pressure, for profit software development environment. But I am going to end this posting by at least briefly outlining a very different transition: from working in nonprofits to working in automotive retail. And to keep this realistic, I acknowledge up-front that I refer here to my own first time experience working in automotive retail as a case in point example.

• I began that as someone who has purchased cars and who has dealt with dealerships and their sales staff, and sales managers as a customer. But that is a fundamentally different experience from going to work at that type of business and routinely so, day after day and week after week.
• Customers can and do see a lot. But they do not necessarily come to know the corporate culture in place at a business simply from dealing with the people who in effect live it – with them approaching that working context as a briefly engaged outsider.
• This, I add, applies to nonprofits and to working with them too. They can and do present a different face to the outside world then they do internally and among their own staff and management.

When I started working in automotive retail, and even as an information technology expert who would fix, and set up customer relations management systems for them, I learned what it means to live and breathe sales. And as an early lesson in that, stemming from my initial interview from when I was first hired there, I learned how vulnerable sales-equal-life people are to effective sales pitches, and in this case pitches arguing a case for higher salaries and overall compensation packages. And I learned something of the sometimes cost of being too successful there too.

After that pre-hire and initial hire start, my first day on that job was interesting to put it mildly. This entire work assignment proved to be an intense learning experience, and with “corporate culture discoveries” proving to be important to that, but only as a part of that.

• The most important point of detail that I would offer from this example is a cautionary one: that a short-term win can become a longer-term loss and certainly when a possible win-win with its collaboratively supportive outcome possibilities can be turned into what at least one side comes to see as zero-sum and with them on the losing end of that.
• And I add to that as a possibly ironic note, that longer-term played out the way it did, even as the work that I did hands-on and that I managed, benefited that business well into the six figures in US dollars a year from a combination of outright savings and new income stream possibilities. Perceived zero-sum and its message proved to be more compelling there, and more friction creating while I was there too.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will begin addressing the new hire probationary period per se from a supervising manager’s perspective. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. You can also find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 3, and also see that directory’s Page 1 and Page 2.

Rethinking and reframing Green as reemerging opportunity – 14

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on September 12, 2021

This is my 14th posting to a short series concerning priorities and relevancy as they arise and are shaped by circumstance, and as they are maintained or not and both within a business and for its marketplace. And more specifically, this is a posting and a series of them about reemerging opportunity in a time of change and transition. See Social Networking and Business 3, postings 470 and following for Parts 1-13.

I have been discussing Green businesses in this series, with a focus on the What and How of them. And as part of that, I have selectively discussed something of the To Whom, or the For Whom of this if you will, when I have considered Green marketing there. Then at the end of Part 13: a marketing oriented entry in this, I switched directions, stating that I would turn next, and here to consider the Who of this where that means the people who work at such a business, and whose effort makes it an ongoing reality. And to bring this initial orienting note up to date, I ended that installment by posing these questions

• Is Green enough? Putting that slightly differently:
• If a business seeks to be Green because it seeks to be part of a larger, societally important solution to a larger societally important problem, rather than being a part of that problem, then is it enough that they do the right thing as far as Green per se is concerned for what they would bring to market? What of those who carry out all of this work for them and with them?

I begin addressing those questions by bringing Green per se into a more specific focus as I explicitly point out that ultimately, Green is all about sustainability. Put in that light, I reframe my above questions by asking:

• Can a business claim to be sustainably focused and Green as such, and even if its products and services are for how they are developed and delivered, if they operate in ways that are unsustainable for their own employees?

This is as much a gig economy question as anything else, where many businesses seek to limit their own expenses by maintaining a largely gig employee staff and with all who are so classified considered outside contractor help. Such workers do not get in-house employee benefits. They have no job security, whatsoever. And they usually get minimum wages plus any tips that they might receive, as for example in the case of restaurant workers. But their combined income from this and even from holding several such jobs, all too often still leaves them at the poverty line for their overall income levels and one illness or accident away from personal and family disaster.

• Can a business claim to be Green, solely on the basis of producing and offering products and services that would fit that paradigm, and sustainably so?

The answer to that is obvious: yes.

• But if sustainability has any real meaning in a societal sense as well as an environmental sense, then it has to be a 360 degree, all around sustainability oriented enterprise and with that concern and that action and follow through pointing inward to its own community too: to the people whose collective effort makes it run.

And I end this installment and this series as a whole, at least for now, by turning back to the issues of marketing again, and by asking a simple question of you, the reader.

• If you were in the market to buy a Green product: call it X and you had two options to chose from,
• And you knew that one of the providing businesses had full time, in-house employees who were valued and who received salary and benefits to match,
• And you knew that the other only hired “outside contractor” gig workers and at minimum wage and with no benefits of any kind included,
• Which of those business’ products would you buy from?

Would you be concerned about the fairness of the gig employee business there? Would you question their integrity and whether they were actually the sustainable, community supportive Green business that they claim to be? Would you wonder about their basic quality control if they place a premium on getting more, or at least acceptable from a rock bottom least as an investment on their part?

• In an actively information sharing social media driven, interactive online context – as we all live in now, such truths will come out. And they do.

I leave this line of discussion and this series as a whole with that, and with the questions and issues and the challenges of building an all-around Green business that does as it says and at all levels and in all directions. But it is certain that I will return to these issues in future postings, even as I finish this for now.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its Page 2 and Page 3 continuation pages.

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