Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 7 – the jobs and careers context 6

This is my 7th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-6.)

I began to focus upon the issues of applying to specific first-choice and best-for-you possible new job opportunities in Part 4 of this series, and continued that narrative line through Part 5 and Part 6 as well.

That progression of three closely linked installments discussed and analyzed the first initial screening phase of this type of job search process, and it carried that discussion through to a point where you as a job candidate, have successfully made it through a first round, increasing automated initial screening and filtering process that is designed to weed out inappropriate and irrelevant applicants wholesale. Once selected there for further consideration, your application has been added to a much smaller applicant pool of at least seemingly viable candidates as drawn from the initial flood of applications received. Now, and as a candidate that has made that initial cut, you would be reviewed and considered by human agents: first by Human Resource screeners and certainly for larger organizations, and then directly by a hiring manager and whatever other stakeholders and de facto gatekeepers who they would personally seek to bring into this process too.

My goal here is to at least begin to discuss and analyze the first human reviewer and gatekeeper step in this progression that you would face. And to more fully consider the possible complexities here, I presume that this phase in a business’ job candidate search does in fact begin with Human Resources and their due diligence processes, and with your having to successfully navigate that part of this overall process.

I begin this by stating your basic goal here and for successfully passing this hurdle. Long-term and overall, your goal might be to land a new job and under terms that would at least ideally best meet your needs going forward, and in ways that would explicitly help you to promote your own career. But for here and now, this is all about you’re being selected as a top candidate who would get to meet with the hiring manager who “owns” this job candidate search.

Let’s start addressing all of that with the basics, as to what you are facing right now:

• The primary goal of the more preliminary screening that leads up to your first encounter with a representative of Human Resources, is to cull out and eliminate from consideration as many presumed inappropriate job applicants as possible, reducing the flood of online and largely generic and spam applications to a more reasonable and manageable few that are deemed appropriate and relevant. I have already discussed that in the immediately preceding installments to this one.
• But passing that hurdle and making that first round cut does not change the basic candidate filtering goal that you face. It simply means that this is being carried out by people now and directly so. The first HR professional who you come in contact with, and through an in-person or phone interview is going to be a lower level member of their team who you have to assume does not know anything about the type of work that you do – unless you happen to be applying for a job with Human Resources. And they are tasked with the job of screening for possible candidates on the basis of company fit – not specific job fit, as fit and I add compatibility are organizationally defined there.

This means you’re needing good communications skills and with listening skills holding paramount importance in that. This means you’re having and displaying good negotiating skills, and with a goal of in effect making this screener into an ally. And that means you’re striving to demonstrate and from what you say and how you say it: your questions included, that you would fit in and be easy to work with.

When you meet with a hiring manager, your primary goal might be to demonstrate your more technical skills and experience strengths, and both from the questions that you ask and the insight those questions might demonstrate, and from how you answer questions asked of you. And when you meet with other stakeholders who the hiring manager would have you meet too, your goal might be one of showing how you would apply your skills and experience at this new job, and in ways that would help them and make their work and their lives at work easier. This, of course means you’re showing your interpersonal skills as well as your more technical ones too, of course. But while an interview with a member of Human Resources might include your answering some task and work-specific questions, the primary reason they would ask these is still one of establishing overall fit.

• How clearly and concisely can your discuss relevant issues from what you do professionally, with others who you are working with but who do not have your particular skills or expertise?
• Can you limit the jargon and discuss the core issues of relevance and interest to the people who you work with, and in ways that they will understand and that will help them – and help you as you work together with them?
• How effectively can you contribute to an overall effort through the questions that you ask, that would help you to keep your contributions focused on what is needed, and beneficial to an overall goals-driven team effort? Do you ask good, clarifying questions and follow up on what you are told in response to them?
• How patient can you be, for that matter when working with others?

And this brings me to the issues of the corporate culture in place there, and how well you know and understand it, and how effectively and quickly you can pick up on the nuances of what you are hearing, so you can mirror back more effectively to sound compatible for working there.

This is very important, and it is a place where a candidate who makes it through the initial automated screening round can get into real trouble and without even realizing that – until that is, they stop hearing from this business, which is common if a candidate does not make this first human-screening cut – or if they get a form letter thanking them for their application and notifying them that their resume would be held for future job opening consideration.

I would cite an interviewing story from my own direct experience here, to take this posting and its narrative out of the abstract, and it is one that I have cited before, for the lessons it offers. And in this, I was not interviewing the job candidate I have in mind here, from a primarily good fit for working here perspective, as initial HR job candidate screeners usually focus on. I was interviewing them from more of a hiring manager perspective and with more of a focus on what they would do professionally if hired and how well they would do that. But readily apparent company and corporate culture fit, and more importantly for me, team fit issues killed their application and eliminated them from consideration.

I had three at least preliminarily top candidates, and certainly judging from their resumes and cover letters as they outlined their professional skills and experience, and judging from what their references had said of them in brief phone conversations. Two of them appeared to have acceptable skills sets and levels of on the job experience using them, and the third had what looked to be a stellar skills and experience set. But when I talked with them, and heard what they had to say, and saw when and how they asked questions, I quickly realized that the two acceptable skills set candidates were open and personable and that they listened. I quickly realized that they would be easy and comfortable to work with. But the stellar skills set candidate did not fit that pattern at all. It pretty quickly became overtly apparent that they would be miserable to work with. Their technical skills were great, but they came across as arrogant and they did not ask good questions or really listen all that effectively to others either. They were certain that they knew more than anyone else in any room that they were in and always, and they simply did not fit in at all. And everyone who met with them as a stakeholder who they would have to be able to work with there, ended up feeling the same way.

We ended up selecting one of the other two and moved on – and never even considered the possibility of hiring this stellar candidate for anything else there.

I offer two lessons from that experience, noting that that decision reached was not all that unusual from the perspective of what other hiring managers and their businesses would arrive at if faced with this type of situation:

• When a first cut human screener from HR focuses on fit and related issues in their evaluation and review processes, they are in fact screening according to what can be very important criteria, and certainly for anyone already working there who would have to be able to work with the new hire selected out of this hiring process.
• And even if a candidate passes this hurdle and is passed on to the hiring manager for this position, the issues raised there remain important for them too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will start out assuming that you as a job hire candidate have been approved by this HR screener, and that you are now one of the perhaps half a dozen or so candidates who have been passed on to the hiring manager for review and consideration. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And I particularly recommend your at least briefly reviewing a specific job search best practices series that I developed here on the basis of both my own job search experience and from working with others going through that: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search isn’t Working, as can be found at Page 1 of my above-noted Guide as its postings 56-72.

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Rethinking national security in a post-2016 US presidential election context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 9

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 17, 2018

This is my 9th installment to a new series on cyber risk and cyber conflict in a still emerging 21st century interactive online context, and in a ubiquitously social media connected context and when faced with a rapidly interconnecting internet of things among other disruptively new online innovations (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 354 and loosely following for Parts 1-8.)

I raised a briefly stated set of points of consideration in Part 8, that I then went on to explore there, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative:

• The underlying assumptions that a potential cyber-weapon developer (and user) holds, shape their motivating rationale for developing (and perhaps actively deploying and using) these capabilities.
• The motivating rationales that are developed and promulgated out of that, both determine and prioritize how and where any new such weapons capabilities would be test used, and both in-house if you will, and in outwardly facing but operationally limited live fire tests.
• And any such outwardly facing and outwardly directed tests that do take place, can be used to map out and analyze both adversarial capability for the (here nation state) players who hold these resources, and map out the types of scenarios they would be most likely to use them in if they were to more widely deploy them in a more open-ended and large scale conflict.

And I begin this posting by adding a complicating wrinkle to that progression of causally linked points of observation, and of concern.

I have recurringly written in this blog about how it is possible for a nation, or an extra-national group or organization, or even a lone individual to develop and deploy malware, and even when that holds potential for causing the scale and degree of harm as to qualify as true cyber-weapons. And as part of this, I have recurringly written of how a cyber-attack can be launched and even with a great deal of impact on those under attack, in ways that can largely mask the source of this action – or at least raise questions of plausible deniability for them and even for extended period of time.

That possibility cannot apply in a more conventional military or related weapons development and use context. And I cite the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as briefly discussed here in Part 8 as a working example of that. Japanese armed forces might have been able to mask the fact that such an attack was contemplated, or even that it was impending and even immediately so, leading up to that Sunday morning in Hawaii. But there could be no hiding of what was done, or how, or by whom once this attack was actually launched. Sources of cyber-attacks can be hidden and through a wide range of misdirecting means that might even implicate an uninvolved party as the apparent source. See, for example of this, my early posting: Stuxnet and the Democratization of Warfare, as written before it was fully established that two specific nations: the United States and Israel were behind the development and use of this weapon. (And for further details related to that event and a discussion of issues raised by it, see the series that that posting belongs to as can be found at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time as postings 58 and following, for its Parts 1-15.)

How does this developing narrative line connect into my above-repeated critical issues bullet points? The term “slippery slope” is all too often used as an attempted band aide over shoddy and gap-ridden thinking but it really does apply here and in this context:

• Anonymity of attack source, or at least the presumption of that and its likelihood can reduce the apparent risk of live-fire testing cyber-weapon capabilities and particularly against outside, foreign-based targets. And it can lesson any concerns-based pressure to limit the potential scale and impact of such tests. So even if a cyber-weapon developing agency: here national in nature, overtly seeks to “just test” at least as a matter of expressed policy and intent, this apparent and presumable fig leaf cover of security can increase the chances that they at least back into a much larger scale, and even open warfare situation – and then find themselves having to deal with the consequences.

Think of this as a matter of cyber-weapon capability, by its very nature, setting up what can amount to the opposite of the long-presumed threat-reducing result of nuclear deterrence. The more damaging the potential and even certain outcome of anyone launching nuclear weapons against an enemy, the more likely it becomes that all would be annihilated. And the more advanced and capable the nuclear weapons are that are developed, the greater the perceived and shared fear that they generate and for all, and the greater the impetus that this creates to prevent that from happening. Here in contrast, the more advanced and sophisticated the cyber-weapons that are developed become, the greater the risk that they will be used and certainly in “limited and controllable” live fire tests, that become increasingly likely to get out of control and with all of the escalation of conflict that that could lead to.

Where are we now in all of this? I write this posting at a time of escalating rhetoric and escalating genuine crisis behind that, over Russia’s repeated use of cyber-weapon capabilities and in ways that most would see as having crossed any conceivable “test-only” line – not that being tested upon by cyber-weapons would ever seem acceptable to a receiving target nation.

And with this, I lay out the basic problem, here focusing on the national and international context but with an awareness that these same issues play out in their smaller categorical scales too, from business and other non-national organization-targeted attack and threat of it, to identity theft and other related individual-targeting use of malware.

• Russia’s use of troll armies and other non-national resources and approaches in their attacks on foreign elections and referendums, blurs the line between scales and types of involved parties to this too, and on both attacker and attacked sides, to further complicate the progression of causally based concern raised in the first three bullet points as repeated at the top of this posting.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will at least begin to address the issues of how better to respond to all of this, and reactively where that is necessary and proactively where that can be possible. And my goal in this is ambitious as my intent here is to at least touch upon all involved levels of conflict and its potential, and from that of the individual to that of the nation state and of national alliances. And in the course of discussing issues that arise from all of this, I will of necessity reconsider a point of issue that has informed most all that I have written in this blog regarding cyber-security and the challenges that it faces: the impact of change and of disruptive change in all of this, where any solutions and approaches arrived at, of necessity have to be dynamically updatable and as part of their basic definitions.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its Page 2 continuation. And you can also find this and related material at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

Intentional management 48: elaborating on the basic model for adding people and their management into the equation 9

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 15, 2018

This is my 48th installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-47.)

I offered a to-address list of topics points in Part 47 that I repeat here for purposes of smoother continuity of discussion, as my goal for this posting is to at least begin to delve into their details, at least insofar as I would address them for purposes of this series and this portion of it. With that in mind and to put what follows in a starting context, I offered the following points as part of a discussion of more fixed and stable, consistently viewed and performed business processes and recurring tasks, and more flexibly mutable ones, and how these two categorical types coexist:

1. What happens to standardized processes and procedures in all of this?
2. And who gets to decide, and particularly on a specific-context by specific-context basis, what should be and in fact is standardized for this?
3. The issues raised in that question become both more pressing and more complex as a business becomes more complex and widely geographically spread out.
4. Now, and with that in mind, how can a business and its senior leadership maintain overall organizational consistency while allowing for necessary flexibility and opportunity to at least locally prototype test out new alternatives to what might be more standard and routine?
5. And this brings me to the next to-address point that I acknowledged as coming up in this series towards the top of Part 46: ad hoc and special exception practices, and the emergence of the “ad hoc standardized” and its consequences.

And I begin doing all of this by noting that I have at least selectively discussed all of the items on this list in earlier postings and series, and as many as multiple times for all of them. That noted, I also add that they all raise issues and significant details that I have yet to touch upon in this blog so they come up again here too.

I stated in Part 47 that I would make note of specific numbered topics points as I discuss them, but that I would also discuss these issues collectively and for how they fit together here too. And I will do that. I tend to take a more detail by detail analytical perspective in this blog, examining and discussing individual puzzle pieces that I bring into a narrative, as such. And I have primarily done that for these issues. My goal here, in contrast is to consider the overall puzzle that they fit into and that they collectively create too.

I said that I would primarily focus on the first four of those points here in this posting and I begin doing so by noting a detail that should be obvious but that is easy to overlook and certainly in businesses that are not overtly being challenged and reshaped by change, and from within and from their outside – and with this as a core, overtly stated part of their basic business model.

• All of this takes place in time and even over extensive periods of it. And effective responses to all of those first four points and the questions that they raise are of necessity mutable as needs and circumstances change. All four of those points come together, to collectively address a single dynamic process and in fact a system of them that is time-dependent and that is shaped by the change that time and timing bring.

This can be obvious to people who work at a readily change-driven business that functions in a highly competitive industry, and that faces and seeks to effective engage with a change and New demanding marketplace and customer base: a context that I have addressed repeatedly in this blog and particularly when discussing innovation and its drivers. But even there, newer employees who have not gone through change and disruptive change in particular there, can easily come to tacitly assume that the work flow and the business dynamics and the context that they happen to have seen there are different. I write here of employees and managers who have carried out back-end and other within-business activities that do not seem to be directly affected by product or market demand change and who have not seen significant change during their tenure there. And I write here of how these hands-on employees and managers with their day-to-day focus can easily at least tacitly come to presume that what they do there has always been the effective norm there.

Even these businesses that live or die on the basis of change and on how they respond to it, and in how effectively they can proactively lead in it, have people who can take stable and even constant for granted, and certainly when considering the details that they have not seen changed – and even if they acknowledge overall change as a more abstracted generalization and as a consideration for other parts of their business. What they do and how they do it in their own day-to-day work there, must be more stable and consistent and certainly insofar as they work on and are professionally immersed in within-business supportive services, processes and tasks and not with the flow of new products and services offered per se, where ongoing change would be more overtly obvious.

Some of the back-end and within-business work flow that I just noted in the above paragraphs would of necessity in fact remain largely stable and fixed. And I cite ongoing accounting and related business process infrastructure as a quintessential example there, with its need for adherence to standardized and stable generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and related operational forms, with their stable and consistent calculations and reporting requirements. But apparent consistency and stability can disappear and even suddenly in most any area of a business, and not just in their immediately market-facing functions, as that enterprise faces need for flexibility and agility as a basic risk management consideration.

The presumption of ongoing and even open ended constancy and stability as addressed above, becomes a lot more overt and wide-spread in a business when it functions in a stable, and even perhaps seemingly moribund industry and when its products or services are consistently stable and consistent: appealing to a widely defined market audience regardless of their acceptance of or resistance to the new and innovative. But change and even a need for disruptively and fundamental change can happen even then, and with all of the potential challenges inherent in the first four points of the above list coming to the fore for those businesses too. See my earlier series: Leveraging Information Technology to Revitalize Mature Industries and Marketplaces (as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 467 and following) for a brief discussion of how this need can arise and be addressed.

• Think of Points 1 and 3 of the above topics list as raising and identifying a complex mix of emerging challenges and opportunities, at least categorically, and with Points 2 and 4 directed towards how they would be responded to, or proactively addressed where that can become possible.

And this brings me to Point 5 of the above list:

• Ad hoc and special exception practices, and the emergence of the “ad hoc standardized” and its consequences

I have touched upon this complex of issues a number of times in this blog and will return to it again in the next installment of this series. And in anticipation of what is to come there, I will discuss this point in terms of the framework offered by Points 1-4. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 9

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 13, 2018

This is my 9th installment to a brief series on coordinating information sharing and communications needs, and information access filtering and gate keeping requirements (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 275 and loosely following for Parts 1-8.)

I touched upon two sets of issues in Part 8 that I at least began discussing and connecting together there, at least for purposes of this series:

• The issue of full time in-house employment and employees, and how they are included in communications flows in a business through risk management based vetting mechanisms, and particularly where that means the sharing and use of confidential and sensitive in-house business intelligence,
• And the issue of outsider gig and explicitly temporary employees who might stay on for longer periods of time and who might do at least ostensibly similar work to that of their in-house employee colleagues while there, but who remain outsiders while there and who could leave at any time and with that fact particularly important as they at least potentially enter into those same business-critical communications flows while there.
• And a game theory approach to understanding the dynamics of these relationships, and particularly as a shift towards a more gig employment economy has impacted upon business communications and information sharing in organizations, as the expectations of reliable long-term employee tenure at a business drops, and as the expectation of anything like loyalty towards, or a sense of personal commitment to an employer by an increasingly outsider workforce dissipates.
• In game theory terms, this can be seen as representing a shift from at least a strong possibility of at least most if not all stakeholder participants in a business pursuing what can be viewed as sharable win-win strategies, to a much more confrontation system of more fundamentally win-lose strategies where few if any such participants there see themselves as having a long-term personal stake in the business that they work for, except perhaps the owners themselves of that business.

I begin this posting with the last of those bullet points, that I primarily raised in Part 8 in a concluding note offered in anticipation of this one. And I begin this line of discussion from where I left off there. While businesses with primarily stable long-term in-house employees on staff can develop stable win-win game theory systems where all parties involved seek to contribute to the creation of mutually shared value, this becomes an unstable impossibility in a more strictly insider versus outside gig employee context and certainly in a more entirely gig and outside employee only context.

Win-win is not, and cannot be guaranteed and regardless of in-house employee status, as union versus employer conflicts demonstrate. But to build from and expand upon a line from the end of Part 8:

• A shift towards a largely or even primarily temp worker and gig worker only, personnel policy ends that, and win-lose conflict between a hiring business and its employees becomes all but inevitable. And so, I add, is an increased sense of anomie and of isolation as far as interpersonal involvement is concerned at work.
• To be as clear and specific as possible there, when conflict and disagreement, or congruence and agreement arise in a long-term and full time employment context and with that as the norm as a business, individual stakeholders who share similar goals and priorities and who face similar workplace contexts, can and do come together around those points of shared context as at least informally defined groups, or at the very least through acknowledged membership of same-needs and same-goals defined demographics. But in a more strictly gig economy where essentially everyone involved can come to see themselves as outsiders who hold no stake in anything at an employing business, beyond a shared desire to secure a next paycheck there before moving on, everyone there is more inclined to see themselves in isolation and not as a member in any real sense of any more organized or coherently defined group there.
• And the individuals who join into and work in these contexts, plan, act, respond and evaluate accordingly.

These fundamentally distinct and distinctive patterns of belonging or not, and of having a sense of belonging or not, impact upon and shape communications and information sharing and in all directions: from employer to employee, employee back to employer, and between employees too. And trust and its issues enter into this narrative here too. And I begin addressing all of this with that last qualifier as just added to this narrative: trust.

There are several ways to address that source of at least potential challenge, both of which apply to each of the more generically stated contexts that I have at least alluded to in this line of discussion leading up to here:

• From the perspective of the individual stakeholder, and by extension from the perspective of specific stakeholder groups, such as union members who work at a given employing business, and
• From the perspective of that business as a whole, as a dynamically balanced and changing system of interpersonal, individual-to-group, and group-to-group relationships and interactions.

And I begin addressing all of that from a risk management perspective and by noting that risk management is all about measuring and establishing known or at least predictable levels of reliability, predictability and yes: trust as they can be assessed, worked towards and achieved. And operationally, it is about developing processes and systems that enable this and in ways that reduce risk and reinforce trustworthiness.

(For those readers who question my use of the word trust in this type of business setting, I share a point of observation that one of my grandfathers shared with me when I was a child, as a source of practical wisdom that he had found useful in his life and in his professional life. “You can trust a man according to what they do in the dark.” The true measure of a person, and certainly for their trustworthiness and reliability, is in how they behave “in the dark” when only they will know what they have done, and if they have in some way cut corners or otherwise cheated and violated trust. Absent omnipresent cameras and microphones which would bring more problems than positive solutions with them, most businesses have to function on trust and most of the time and for most specific tasks performed, and they would only know for sure that their trust was violated if a negative threshold of impact were to be crossed so as to force their awareness on what had happened and how, and by whom. But most of the time, and for most businesses and for most employees, hands-on or managerial, the need to be able to trust is and remains vital.)

That aside noted, the basic game strategies in place among stakeholders involved in a business, and at all organizational levels in it:

• Are fundamentally driven by risk and trust assessments,
• And as predictive assessments as to the actions that would be taken by others, and their consequences as would arise from those decisions and actions taken.

And I will proceed from here to at least begin to tie this developing line of reasoning back to the issues of communications in a business with an explicit focus on gig and other short-term and outsider employees, and certainly under circumstances in which they have become the hiring and terms of employment norm at a business. And I will at least begin that line of discussion in my next series installment, citing the more traditional stable place of employment context that the gig economy and its patterns of employment are developing from, and coming to supplement if not replace, as a source of contrasting reference points.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. And also see Social Networking and Business 2 and that directory’s Page 1 for related material.

Business planning from the back of a napkin to a formal and detailed presentation 23

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 11, 2018

This is my 23rd posting to a series on tactical and strategic planning under real world constraints, and executing in the face of real world challenges that are caused by business systems friction and the systems turbulence that it creates (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 578 and loosely following for Parts 1-22.)

I began addressing a set of topic points in Part 19 of this series, that I continue working my way through here in this installment too:

1. More systematically discuss how business operations would differ for businesses that follow one or the other of two distinctively different business models,
2. How the specific product offering decision-making processes that I have been making note of here would inform the business models pursued by both of these business types, and their overall strategies and operations and their views and understandings of change: linear and predictable, and disruptively transitional in nature.
3. And I added that I would discuss how their market facing requirements and approaches as addressed here, would shape the dynamics of any agreement or disagreement among involved stakeholders as to where their business is now and where it should be going, and how.

To be more specific in that, I delved into the issues of Point 1 of that list over the course of writing Part 19 through Part 21, and I began addressing Point 2 of it in Part 22. I continue its narrative here, with a more detailed consideration of a point of distinction that I offered and began discussing in Part 21:

• Between what is formally expected and included in a business’ official business plan and in its formally structured strategy and operational systems as specified there: their idealized business plan,
• And in what it actually does day-to-day and across longer timeframes: their realized business plan.

I have at least briefly touched upon this point of distinction in other contexts in this blog, primarily from the perspective of how managers and hands-on non-managerial employees can and do develop work-arounds that can become standard actual practice with time, to address gaps, inconsistencies and other problems in the formally offered and expected business systems in place. My goal here is to more fully and widely consider this idealized versus realized distinction. And I at least begin to do so in terms of the cutting edge manufacturer that I have been discussing here as one of my two working model business scenarios: first identified in Part 19 of this posting progression as the e-Maverick Group.

This is a business that certainly sees itself as offering cutting edge New, and it does that. But New and what constitutes cutting edge change with time. And when a business functions and competes in as rapidly changing and evolving industry as this business-to-business software development company does, it finds itself facing a challenge that arises from its very success there, that can with time come to challenge in realization, a new and cutting edge only self-image, and self-understanding on the part of owners, managers and employees.

Let’s consider that phenomenon from the perspective of client businesses that purchase e-Maverick Group software offerings, and either outright or perhaps more importantly here, through ongoing licensing agreements. These clients make what for them, are substantial investments in their futures by purchasing access to what they see as a cutting edge competitive advantage opportunity, by gaining access to productivity software capabilities that can help them to be more effectively competitive in their fields and in their marketplaces. And they do so knowing that this software provider and its competitors will keep coming out with updates and improvements in what they offer, and with that including a predictable flow of major next generation versions as well as an ongoing flow of same/current technology generation patches and improvements. And this can mean security-related fixes and updates as well as more functionality and usability oriented ones: updates and changes that any using business would require as a basic part of their ongoing risk management efforts.

But this does not mean businesses replacing and in effect throwing away the now and as of today old, just because some next generation New version of what they have has just hit the market. This means these client businesses needing and demanding ongoing support, and for at least some contractually agreed to period of time that would patch and update their purchased or licensed software additions and both to limit their direct out of pocket update or replace costs, and to limit the collateral expenses that can and will arrive when they do need to integrate what might be a significantly different software package into their existing information technology framework, and with any additional user training costs added into that too.

So as an e-Maverick Group advances in what it offers, technology generation by technology generation for its software, it can find itself significantly including what amounts to an at least informally organized, but nevertheless very real legacy systems support division too.

Licensing agreements can in fact simplify this (at least in principle) for the software providing company and certainly if it is a part of their license agreements with their client businesses that they automatically get switched to the next Newest and Greatest, and within some specified short period of time after it is first brought to market. But while this might limit or even effectively eliminate their legacy support costs and the added organizational complexity that that would require for them, this “generosity” might be viewed very differently by their clients – and certainly if significantly new means significantly different user interfaces and other learning curve challenges too, that their clients’ employees would have to struggle through while still meeting all of their ongoing performance goals. And that says nothing about how next generation software, as opposed to more minor within-generation updates, often includes changes that would be more behind the scenes to end users, but that a client’s IT department would have to deal with for their consequences.

My point here is simple, at least in broad brush stroke outline. The more rapidly and effectively a business such as the e-Maverick Group can innovate and bring the fruits of that to market, in order to remain competitively effective in their rapidly advancing industry, the more they have to simultaneously develop and function as a legacy systems supportive business too, in order to keep the interest and support of their current clients for what they have bought use of from this software flow, until they are ready to buy New again. And then this cycle will repeat for them, and for the e-Maverick Group as it seeks to continue to retain them as active clients.

Licensing agreements and their associated monthly or quarterly fees, to follow up on that scenario, would cover the expense of this to this providing business, and probably profitably so and regardless of how they offered updates or new software editions through them. But that is not the issue here. I have been writing of a business here that fundamentally defines itself in cutting edge, New and emerging terms and as just that, and in their market facing messaging and in their internally facing corporate culture and its messaging too. And their basic business model and its strategic and operation implementations might be based upon that and driven by that image. But in practice, they have areas of their business, and even very significant ones for the levels of revenue they generate, that follow a very different basic pattern – even while giving lip service to the New-only concept and its brand defining message.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment where I will consider the issues of mapping out and understanding where idealized and realized might differ here, and how and with what impact, short-term and longer. And I will at least begin to address the issues of reconciling all of this, and integrating the functionally best of both current idealized and current realized into a new overall accepted and understood realized business model with its strategic and operational systems that become the new expected and idealized too. And as part of that, I will challenge some of the basic assumptions that do arise in businesses, and their consequences, that I sought to capture in my choice of “idealized” as a label here. And then, as noted above, I will finally turn to consider Point 3 from my above-repeated to-address list.

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

Rethinking exit and entrance strategies 26: keeping an effective innovative focus while approaching and going through significant business transitions 16

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 9, 2018

This is my 26th 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 continuation, postings 559 and loosely following for Parts 1-25.)

I began Part 25 of this with a briefly stated to-address list of topics points, which I repeat here as reorganized into bullet point format:

• Realized and possible scheduling conflicts, and breakdowns as can arise from them, and how they can arise, and how their occurrence can be at least managed and limited, as a risk management effort (with this all at least broadly and categorically discussed in Part 22, Part 23 and Part 24. And I continued that line of discussion in Part 25 too, where I focused in the issues of business process and business systems level stressors, as arise in, and as are in turn caused by the types of scheduling and resource utilization break downs under consideration here.
• And fall-backs and building for a capacity to “fail gracefully”: here in a scheduling and work coordination context, when need for that becomes necessary – as it inevitably does for any business for at least some of its work processes and tasks if it persists long enough.

My goal for this posting is to at least begin a more detailed discussion of the second of those two bullet pointed topics areas, doing so in terms of my responses to the first of them, as developed over the immediately preceding four postings to this series. And I add that I will also do so with a specific focus on an area of consideration that I raised but did not adequately explore in those four earlier postings, even as I cited it in my first to-address bullet point as offered above: risk management analysis and its execution.

I begin with the obvious, or at least with what should be the obvious: unexpected problems and challenges happen. And these can and with time will arise. Some of this will occur for reasons and to degrees of impact that in retrospect at least, might have been at least limited and somewhat controlled for by the business that faces them, and by their managers and hands-on employees. But these challenges can also arise from outside sources, and from sources that might be at least somewhat predictable for their likelihood but not for when they might arise. Or they might arise without any realistic possibility of prior planning and preparation for them on anyone’s part, as truly disruptively novel events.

I often find myself writing in this blog about resilience and agility in a business. Ultimately, this is all about actively cultivating a Plan B mentality in your planning and execution, with alternatives and their possibilities allowed for and supported in case the more routine and automatically pursued Plan A that is intended, breaks down or becomes irrelevant from sudden change in circumstance. Fragile, or if you will brittle businesses, and there are way too many of them, are enterprises that at the very least maintain gaps and blind spots in their capacity to find and switch to a Plan B and that do not realize this, and even recurringly as they find themselves attempting a more reactive recovery from “sudden” problems and challenges faced, and with little real chance of quickly, at least reverting to a more proactive approach again.

Failing gracefully, as noted in my above bullet point, is all about knowing where and when to, and how to fall back from a more routine Plan A approach to a Plan B alternative. And this applies whether that Plan B has been explicitly thought through in advance and in detail as addressing a more predictable and knowable possible point of failure and breakdown, or whether this means being prepared to bring the right stakeholders together on the fly, to arrive at a mutually agreeable, at least preliminary Plan B remediation for what has arisen as the unexpected and even the unpredictably unexpected.

This is where an explicit consideration of risk management enters this narrative, and that will be my topic of discussion in my next installment to this series. In anticipation of that, I am going to explicitly use my business systems resource usage and availability model, as addressed and outlined in recent series installments leading up to here, in that installment. And as a core element to its line of discussion, I will take that planning and business modeling approach out of the abstract with some real world scenarios, and with at least briefly framed analyses of business process alternatives that would be called for in them. There, risk management analysis is all about alternatives and finding the most further-risk reducing and least costly ways around, or if necessary through challenges faced. And I will go on from there, to reconsider exit and entrance strategies per se again, this time from the perspective of this developing narrative.

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

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century – 5

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 8, 2018

This is my 32nd installment to what has become an ongoing series of postings in which I seek to address politics in the United States as it has become, starting with the nominations process leading up to the 2016 presidential elections. See my series: Donald Trump and the Stress Testing of the American System of Government, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2, posting 244 and loosely following.

This can also be considered to represent my 59th installment to an ongoing series that I have been offering here concerning Xi Jinping and his still emerging and expanding leadership role in China. See China and Its Transition Imperatives, as it can be found at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, as postings 154 and loosely following. I began writing about Xi in this series after his elevation to a position of supreme leadership in the Communist Party of China and of China’s government and military.

I primarily focused on Xi Jinping in the two most recent installments to this posting progression: Part 3 and Part 4, as I did in its Part 1. I turn here to focus more on Trump again, and his side of this comparative discussion, as I did in Part 2.

I wrote in Parts 3 and 4 of Xi Jinping’s all but apotheosis within his nation’s ruling Communist Party in China and over his government, military and essentially all else there. And my goal here is to at least briefly make note of and discuss an equally profound but very differently directioned change in status and stature that Donald Trump is heading into. And I begin by posing an at least seemingly simple question: what is an anti-apotheosis? What would most definitively and genuinely qualify as the true antithesis of an apotheosis?

Different people conceive of that in different ways with some, for example assuming that if an apotheosis is an elevation to godhood or its equivalent, then its anti-counterpart should be an elevation to satanic stature. I would argue that a better way to approach this would be to flip around and reverse essentially all of the defining terms and conditions that would be presumed to hold true for an apotheosis: elevation per se definitely included there.

• Xi has worked very hard and very systematically to achieve his current shift in status and stature in his country’s power structures. And he has achieved this as the cumulative result of careful planning and ruthlessly systematic execution.
• Trump never realistically (or even unrealistically) believed that he would actually be elected president of the United States until he was. And he has floundered in office since his election, drowning in his flighty attention deficit disorder and in his blindered narcissism. He never actually plans out anything before acting, and when he does say or do something: however spur of the moment or unconsidered, he is owned by it and stuck with it and regardless of the consequences that emerge from it. The absolutely unacceptable alternative to that would be that he, Donald Trump, might have to admit that he might have been wrong on something – that he might have made a mistake, however small.
• Xi would arguably and I add correctly claim that he has achieved an elevation in power and position, and while facing forward towards his particular transitional change.
• Trump, as I will at least briefly discuss by way of selective example here, is descending from where he was and in what is an essentially entirely out of control manner. He continues along a path of progressively more and more diminished stature and authority, that his election as president of the United States should have conferred upon him. And he has been backing into essentially everything that he does and into everything that arises as consequence to that. He continues along that blind path every single day and without any realistic likelihood of change to that in the offering.
• Xi’s has been and remains a calculated elevation upward; Trump’s has been a slow but seemingly inexorable drift downward.
• And as a possible point of similarity that I would raise in the midst of all of this difference, I would leave both godhood and satan-hood out of all of this discussion and for both of these men and for both of their countries. Ultimately they are both just power hungry mortals whose egos will always proclaim that they deserve more and better than they could possibly achieve or merit. And will just continue along, each on their on their particular path and regardless of the consequences that might result from that. They will both continue on in their efforts to achieve their mirage-like, quicksilver goals. And that is in fact what I write of in this series conjoining progression of shared postings.

But to bring this installment in that into focus, it is mostly a posting about Donald Trump and his United States presidency. So I turn here to address that phenomenon, and to briefly update his particular status and stature transition as it is currently unfolding as of the time of this writing, as promised above. And I begin that with some thoughts concerning his inner circle and his most powerfully placed staff and administrative team. Leaders lead, and one of the truest measures of that can be found in in who they bring into their inner circles to help them carry out their overall plans and designs. One of the truest measures of their leadership ability is in who agrees to, and even seeks out opportunity to be led by them in fulfilling their guiding vision and mission. Who is in Trump’s inner circle, and how and why? And what has been happening and both within and around that team, as its members seek to fulfill their duties as members of it?

Let’s begin at the beginning, in addressing those questions and their answers. Donald Trump ran for office, and from his initial run for the Republican nomination on, as a self-proclaimed expert at and in fact genius at business and at leadership. And one of his ongoing refrains once nominated to be the Republican candidate for president, was that he would bring in the very best people – “tremendous people” into his administration. He would bring in the greatest experts and leaders in all of the key areas of expertise that a presidential administration would need. He would bring in genius doers – just like him. And he continues to proclaim that, and to boast that that is what he has been doing.

Arguably Donald Trump has in fact brought people into his administration and its inner circle who are a lot like himself. But his only litmus test as to their capability or qualifications has been that they show absolute personal fealty and loyalty to him and that they never, ever question or in any way contradict or challenge anything that he says, and even just as an off the cuff, spontaneous late night tweet.

It might be argued, at least outside of his immediate circle, that this could limit his actually securing the support of, or the participation of the very best at anything in his White House staff or as senior appointees in office. But however one would view that presumption, it is hard to deny that the Trump administration has been roiled by turnover and from among the highest ranks of the Trump team, and from cabinet officers and similarly powerfully placed appointees on down.

The Trump administration has always been chaotic, and his chief spokespersons have even admitted that, generally in the context of proclaiming that president Trump thrives on chaos. Setting aside the fact that effective leadership generally involves setting a clear path forward and in a way that would bring others to follow in its fulfillment, Donald Trump thrives on chaos. And that is fortunate indeed, and especially considering how many significantly important government positions that a president and his office would be expected appoint people to, have yet to see even just a single possible candidate for those important jobs. But let’s focus on the positions that he has filled and that he has sought to fill, and on what has happened there.

As a telling in the news reference that highlights this side to the Trump administration, I would cite:

No Chaos in White House, Trump Says, ‘Only Great Energy’.

President Trump’s administration and at less than a year and a half now, has already set a new standard for the scale of the flood of turnovers that have taken place among his senior White House staff and from among his senior appointed officials. And that scale of uniqueness continues when considering how many of those key people have left under a cloud of accusations of malfeasance and impropriety, and how many have been forced out simply because they might have disagreed with the president and challenged him to reconsider on at least some issues.

Sadly enough, the above cited news analysis piece was not based on sarcasm as coming from the politically motivated; it was based on a self-supporting and self-justifying statement coming from president Trump himself in support of and defense of his approach to office. And he offered this self-evaluation as a defense of his self-presumed effectiveness in office!

There is a biblical admonition about not building your house upon sand (Matthew 7:24-27.) Judging from his inability to attract even just as good as the simply mediocre into his inner circle staff and leadership team, I would argue that president Trump has forsaken building on nice firm beach sand, down by the surf, for building upon quicksand. And that is the foundation that he has built his presidency upon, and that he would approach any attempted transition to greatness from.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment, where I will consider how and why so many of the key figures in the Trump administration have left. And I will also discuss the Mueller investigations in that context, and the question of how the Republican and Democratic parties have fared in recent special elections in this country too, where they have in fact been de facto referendums on the Trump administration and at least as much as they have been state and local elections.

Meanwhile, I am certain to continue adding new installments to both China and Its Transition Imperatives, as can be found at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation (as postings 154 and loosely following), and to Donald Trump and the Stress Testing of the American System of Government, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2 (posting 244 and loosely following). And some of that, like this posting and others of the set discussed here, will belong to both of those series.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 6 – the jobs and careers context 5

This is my 6th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-5.)

I wrote Part 2 and Part 3 of this series with a focus on the earliest stages of a job search and particularly for those who have not carried out that type of exercise for a long time, who see need for more fundamental change in what type of work they would do and even in their overall career path, or both. And I offered Part 4 and Part 5 with a goal of bringing the next step of an overall job search campaign process into this narrative. And in that, I focused on background and preparation issues that enter into consideration when getting ready to reach out to, and apply for a specific position with a top choice for you, hiring company.

To be more specific there, I wrote in Part 5 “that you have a fairly solid idea as to what you would see as an ideal next job for you, and with a business that would be a best fit for you. And I assume that you have updated and refined the job search marketing tools that you would need for this: with your resume and other written documents, and with your interviewing and other skills as they could most effectively be used for these jobs in presenting your case. And that brings me to this posting, which I begin with a challenge of sorts.” And I then went on to question this set of assumptions, and with a goal of helping you to refine how you would fulfill them from that.

My goal here, at least to start is to re-challenge that starting set of assumptions but from a second direction, in order to address changes in how businesses select, consider and hire job candidates. More specifically, and in contrast to a number of series that I have been offering here that touch upon the issues of automated algorithm-driven information processing and filtering, and artificial intelligence-driven agents: I have been writing in this series in terms of human readers and human decision makers only. I will move beyond that presumption here.

I began posting to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development in this blog in October 2009. And one of the first issues that I addressed in that, and certainly with regard to reaching out to a possible employer, and to submitting a resume and application to them in an attempt to secure a new job, was how businesses have actively sought to automate their first round candidate screening. Why? Their underlying rationale for pursuing that type of course has not changed and for years now, as more and more, and by now essentially all businesses that allow candidates to send in resumes online, have been inundated with floods of generic submissions that can best be considered spam resumes and spam applications. I briefly made note in Part 5 of a job candidate’s need to prove their genuineness, and that they are not simply a “to whom this may concern” generic submission as would be sent to any possible receiving email address or web site form, as set up by any business that happens to have a job opening.

How does this challenge fit into this series, with its focus on more effective communications and negotiating skills and their use? My answer is very simple. Anyone who would at least initially approach a prospective employer, looking to hire new people into their overall team, has to be able to craft a message that can simultaneously meet the screening needs of a mindless automated filtering system, and still work in creating interest in a real person, when and if their resume and cover letter make it through that first automated gatekeeper round.

I began writing about this set of challenges in terms of what might be called a version 1.0 context, where all of the pre-human viewing filtering is carried out by what amounts to simple key word searches. All resumes and cover letters received, under this system are date and time stamped and coded to identify job candidate source, so anything coming from that applicant can be included in a same single record. And all of this documentation and from all such sources, once tagged this way, is uploaded into a large data base. Then this pool of accumulated document files is data mined, and filtered for relevance to the particular job description that a business is hiring for, using SQL queries that would seek out submitted documents that include at least a threshold level of specific sought after key words in them, and with the sought-for list of those key words prioritized and weighted for their value according to how important their relevant inclusion would be for a hiring manager who set up this job candidate search.

This is a technical solution for what is framed as a strictly technical problem, so it should not be too surprising that it works best, to the extent that it does work, in more technical fields and for more routine positions, where for example a hiring manager might need a new hire who knows some specific computer programming language, or some particular content editing tool, or who has worked in some specific industry, or perhaps (ideally) with some specific business there. It breaks down a great deal when new hires would be needed for positions that are less easily captured, and even just in rough cartoon form by some specific set of background indicating key words or phrases. And that brings me to a version 2.0 to this still rapidly evolving saga, that is only just beginning to be developed and deployed: the use of single task oriented artificial intelligence-driven agents for carrying out this initial screening, designed to go beyond simply key word filtering searches in selecting a fraction of all submissions that might merit further, more directly human consideration.

This, I add is where neural network-based hardware and self-learning AI software systems, grounded in a database expert system foundation of how human experts have selected out viable and best candidates, will really take off. And that is where the challenge that I write of here will become both more interesting, and a lot more complex, and certainly for job applicants.

Automated key word filtering as a first round mechanism for culling out the generic spam, has primarily meant that a real candidate, specifically applying to some particular position with a specific hiring company, has to be careful to use the same type of wording that they use in their posted job description and when discussing this area of their business on their web site, and certainly for the key skills and experience words used there. At the risk of misusing a term or two here, the emergence of candidate culling and filtering version 2.0 will mean a real candidate having to navigate their way through the filtering and selection processes and priorities of two types of at least loosely algorithmically prescribed thought processes: one relatively rigidly algorithmically defined and the other much less so, but with its own biases, preferences and preconceptions (as set by overall company hiring policy and practice, and by the personal biases and assumptions of the hiring manager.)

How would I propose navigating this more complex and nuanced path going forward? I can only offer a partial and even tentative response to that question here, with the still embryonic stage of version 2.0 candidate pre-filtering and culling in mind, that we are coming to face. Focus on improving how you would respond to a more advanced version 1.0 system but with additional care made to avoid colloquialisms, or vagueness of expression. This means being as clear as possible and it means avoiding ambiguity of possible interpretation in what you do offer in your submitted documents, that you will be judged and selected-in, or filtered out by. Beyond that, I at least categorically make note of a possible and even likely source of trade-offs that will have to be addressed. From the version 2.0 automated screening perspective that your submission will have to successfully pass through first, effectively mirroring the phrasing of the job description and related business-sourced content that you are responding to, will probably offer positive value to you. But too much mirroring of this type, might very well trap you when your resume, cover letter and any related documents are passed on to a next step human review – and certainly if an excess there does not red flag your submission as the product of a robo-applicant, or similarly fraudulent applicant before any human can get to see it. And even if you’re perhaps too-close-a-match application documents do not get caught up in that type of problem, you will still need to show that you can and do think through the issues that you are presenting yourself, and that you are not just parroting back what you see the hiring business as wanting. So you have to mirror back what the company wants, in their type of wording, but selectively and with a view towards your best understanding of their hiring priorities and needs. This, among other things means that a switch from a version 1.0 here and now to a version 2.0 as it more fully arises, will increase the pressure on you to more thoroughly research and understand the businesses that you apply for work with. I offer this as a briefly stated preliminary and even anticipatory note for what I am certain is to come and soon.

With that offered, think through what version 2.0 will be like for this, and certainly as far as the current state of artificial intelligence per se is concerned. And consider the implications of businesses pursuing this type of shift in the basic job candidate selection process followed by them, and the limitations that are sure to arise in that, and throughout any more immediately foreseeable future. In that, consider the sometimes extreme lack of apparent judgment and understanding that still comes through from even the best, most advanced automated agents coming from sources such as Google, Microsoft and other leaders in the development of consumer-facing AI agents, with their Siri, Alexa and so on. Now consider the implications and complications of having one of those agents carrying out a candidate screening and filtering, and first round job candidate culling function for an employer that happens to get way too many applications to be able to deal with them without resorting to automation. Anyone who has ever struggled to convey what would seem to be a simple request or command to those AI agents, knows how limiting and frustrating that can become. And the version 2.0 candidate selection AI agents that I write of here are certain to go through a protracted, similarly “awkward” development period too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will assume that your submission has made the initial automated cut and that you are now going to face human gatekeepers, perhaps starting with a member of Human Resources, but with that process leading towards your meeting with a hiring manager. And I will begin to more fully and directly consider negotiating and the skills that go into that, there.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And I particularly recommend your at least briefly reviewing a specific job search best practices series that I developed here on the basis of both my own job search experience and from working with others going through that: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search isn’t Working, as can be found at Page 1 of my above-noted Guide as its postings 56-72.

Meshing innovation, product development and production, marketing and sales as a virtuous cycle 12

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 5, 2018

This is my 12th installment to a series in which I reconsider cosmetic and innovative change as they impact upon and even fundamentally shape the product design and development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales cycle, and from both the producer and consumer perspectives (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 342 and loosely following for Parts 1-11.)

I positioned the issues of business process innovation (as opposed to market-facing product or service innovation), in a wider context of innovation in general in Part 11, to focus on that particular category of business improvement change and development in a wider context. And then I focused in on the specific area of business-to-business transactions and the processes that would govern them and determine their valuation, and from both participant sides, where that involves the development and possible intentional transfer of such business process developments out of the businesses that they arise in, to other enterprises, as for example in supply chain or related business-to-business collaborative contexts, or through sale as marketable products in their own right.

Then towards the end of that installment, I raised a set of questions and issues that I stated that I would more fully explore here, building from its line of discussion:

• Does a business process innovation of the type that is under consideration here, connect into and directly improve core business processes that are essential to creating the marketable sources of value that the innovating developing business would bring to market, as their unique value proposition?
• Or is this a business process innovation that at least primarily fits into directly supports more supportive areas of their business, and even just what might traditionally be considered a cost center operation for their business type and for them?

I began addressing these questions there, by at least beginning to posit a cost-benefits analytical approach for determining when it would be best for a business to retain such innovative change in-house and when it might make more sense for that business to in-effect commoditize its business process innovation capabilities by selling or licensing the fruits of their labors in a more marketplace type of arena. (See my six bullet pointed questions, as offered in Part 11, that at least briefly note a few of the key decision making steps that a business management team would more generically face when confronted with this type of choice.)

To be more specific and at least hopefully more clear here, I at least began parsing the overall question of explicitly determining as a cost/benefits and risk management consideration, whether to retain this type of business enabling New in-house and closely so, or whether to market and share such innovation, according to where and how it fits into the developing business and its core business systems that specifically support its fulfilling its business model, or into its more peripheral and even essentially entirely cost-center areas. My goal here is to step back from that starting point to consider the issues raised here from a fuller and more comprehensive business systems perspective.

I stated at the end of Part 11 that I would do so, at least in part “in terms of markets and marketplace dynamics” as I began doing there, where I raised the question of competitive pressures and how they can, if sufficiently pressing, make it more important to keep any possible value creating edge in-house, and no matter how individually small and incremental it might be, where less immediately pressing direct competition might make such innovation sharing more reasonable. Think of this as a timeframe issue:

• Where returns on investment made in developing such innovations might be more short-term in nature, and particularly if their advancements under consideration are more evolutionary in nature than revolutionary, and their novelty shelf life might be limited at least individually,
• While the cumulative effect of bringing such offerings to market might become significant when considered longer-term.

Let me raise two possible outcomes scenarios here to more fully clarify (complicate) that dual observation:

• A business that keeps developing perhaps simpler, more evolutionary updates to their operational processes that individually only create more minor increases in their capacity to create a stronger competitive position for themselves, might in fact be creating building block pieces that would cumulatively, collectively lead to much more significant overall results for that enterprise. There, the accumulation of the quantitatively small and more minor might come to add up to a qualitatively large and an overall positively significant. The word synergy enters into this narrative here, where individually small, can, when combined add up to offering greater value than would come from the simple sum of their individual component parts. So selling off this source of value piecemeal might not seem all that significant when considered step-by-step for its impact and from a strictly here-and-now short term perspective. But all of this might prove to be much more significant and very justifiably so when considered long-term.
• But even then, this type of piecemeal selling or licensing sharing might still be worthwhile for that innovation developing business, if this also cumulatively positions them as a true leader in their industry and for their marketplace, for their overtly visible innovative strength. And that might particularly hold true if other businesses are simultaneously working on and developing what are essentially those same next evolutionary step innovations, or at least trying to, and the greatest value arising from them might come from how a developing business could market and position themselves as the enterprise that visibly, palpably keeps arriving there first.

Let’s consider the second of those two points in a bit more detail. I am writing here of business systems innovations, and not the more directly-consumer facing innovations of products and services that would be brought to a marketplace. Consumers do in fact tend to focus more on the innovations that businesses bring to the markets that they make their purchases through. And consumers tend to focus primarily on the products and services offered there that would best meet their needs, or at least their desires. But they also look to the providing business too, and certainly when for example, ongoing product support might be a consumer requirement, and the assurance of a providing business’ strength and creative resilience can be taken as a measure of their being able to sustainably fulfill their customers’ needs.

With that noted as necessary background, I switch directions to consider where such business improvement innovations might be marketed and offered, and used to market the value of the providing business as a whole too. I have at least briefly raised in this blog, the issues of businesses competing for inclusion in supply chain systems that would have the best partner businesses in them too, and certainly when participation would not be open-ended and even promiscuously so for key and linchpin business members in them (as for example when bringing in shipping and logistics service providers such as FedEx that take on any and all customer businesses as their own and regardless of how they do or do not compete with each other.) I point out in this still emerging context that supply chain level competition is all but certain to become an increasing important consideration in the coming years and both intra-nationally and internationally, and globally so for that, where at least selective exclusivity and protection from what could become competition-based conflicts of interest would be contractually spelled out and legally binding for all members of a given supply chain system.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment where I will discuss contextual pace of change issues, and innovation shelf lives as sources of consideration that would impact upon strategy and its decision making processes here. And I will also discuss all of this in the dynamic and at times less than clear cut context of global flattening as it is taking place in this 21st century, as accompanied by the reactive (if nothing else) global wrinkling and push back that accompanies that. I will at least briefly consider how those types of factors would impact upon business process improvement and innovation, and its retention or transfer that I have been addressing here too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. And see also Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its Page 2 continuation.

Finding virtue in simplicity when complexity becomes problematical, and vice versa 10

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 3, 2018

This is my 10th installment to a brief series on simplicity and complexity in business communications, and on carrying out and evaluating the results of business processes, tasks and projects (see Social Networking and Business 2), postings 257 and loosely following for Parts 1-9.)

I have been at least relatively systematically discussing Information Technology help desk systems in this series since its Part 7, with a focus on identifying and tapping into the right types of expertise and experience that would be needed to resolve rarer long-tail problems or disruptively new and novel ones. And I have been discussing that in the context of the more usual routine problems that help desk professionals recurringly face and come to expect, and the challenge of even identifying and understanding the nature of true exceptions there. And at the end of that three installment progression, I stated that my goal here is to at least begin to more fully explore the role that an effective version 2.0 intranet can hold in effectively expanding the networking reach of these employees, for finding the right people to turn to for more widely sourced insight, information and help when that would be needed.

• There, I assume that while standard and routine, commonly recurring problems and problem types can be resolved with standard and routinely accessed and used information and support personnel services, the more novel and unexpected – and functionally significantly so, will call for new and more novel types of information and new and non-standard work ticket escalation support help.

And I begin addressing that here by citing how more traditional version 1.0 intranets are central publishing format-only in nature. And as such, they only serve as platforms for offering official documents and other formally vetted information resources. And they are generally at least vetted and gatekeeper approved for format, through a Marketing and Communications department and its editorial oversight, unless coming directly from C level officers there. And these resources focus in that on the standard and on the standardized, and not on the new and emerging as such intranets tend to be essentially entirely reactive in nature.

A version 2.0 intranet opens up this information sharing capability with the active inclusion of interactivity, and with more direct employee involvement included, as an important part of that. And this interactivity with its wider direct involvement and inclusion would be build into a larger and more inclusive intranet communications and information sharing platform that would also offer more traditionally sourced and vetted business-perspective resources that would also be included. So version 2.0 in this, can best be seen as new that still retains the essential value of the version 1.0 older too.

This type of enlarged platform can and with time all but inevitably does come to include a great deal more than just visibly sharable feedback and response forums that might be appended to the more version 1.0 types of content that would still be provided. Effective version 2.0 intranets can include discussion forums and professionally oriented online social networking capabilities, of a type found in the open internet web sites such as LinkedIn. And a variety of businesses (e.g. IBM) even actively encourage their professionals to post business-oriented blogs – that can appear more openly and publically to the wider internet audience too. I specifically note here that information resources that arise here as coming from hands-on employees and managers at a business might remain in-house and strictly as intranet offerings, or they might at least selectively be offered outside of the walls of the business that they are sourced from as market-facing offerings too.

Let’s consider how this would apply in my IT department help desk context, and for two types of possible scenarios:

• The rare, or new and perhaps emerging technological problem that would require skills and experience that would not usually be called for in dealing with more routine problems, and
• The occurrence of problems that might be at least somewhat closer to standard and familiar technologically, but where specialized and novel insight and help would be required due to the nature of where in the business an emerging problem would have to be remediated.

I pose both of these scenarios in the context of large and geographically widespread businesses with large overall headcounts. And I posit this in the context of businesses that have and that rely upon wide ranges of new and emerging technology as that is brought in, old and standard that is more current state of the art in nature that they routinely use, and genuinely legacy technologies: all of which have to be able to connect together and all of which have to be kept working and cost-effectively so.

Those context qualifiers should be enough to indicate how the first of these two possibilities might arise and particularly where “intergenerational” technology challenges might have to be addressed and with a goal of maintaining the functional capabilities of the new, when they have to work with the old that cannot support those newer functionalities. So I turn here to focus more on the second of those two challenges, which by their very nature as a category can fit into help desk and Information Technology blind spots – and certainly for those working there who think essentially entirely in terms of the how of what they do and from their technology perspective, and less on the where and why side of that and on how this technology is used, and for what specific business process uses.

I at least begin to explain that challenge by noting that businesses function as process flows, with the ongoing carrying out successions of output to input connected tasks. And the information technology in place is there to facilitate and to carry out those tasks, and those task-completion to task-completion flows. But this representation of how a business works, as here stated, is overly reductionistic in explaining or describing essentially any real business or functional area of one.

The key phrase in what I offered in the immediately preceding paragraph, for more fully explaining what a help desk would face here is “businesses function as process flows.” Specific business processes and the tasks that serve as instances of their being carried out, connect together with outputs of one or more other such processes that might otherwise be completely separate from each other, and where input from an already completed task, that would inform anther might be facilitating or blocking in nature: prompting a next possible task and work flow leading from it to take place or not.

Let me cite two relevant terms here that cut across this facilitating or inhibiting/blocking distinction by applying in all such contexts:

• Direct causation where action or decision A directly serves as a causal factor in bringing about (or inhibiting the occurrence of) some outcome C,
• And indirect causation, where A does not have direct impact on B happening and vice versa but where both have impact upon C and whether or how it is to happen. A and B are both related to C through direct causation but not to each other. They are however, at least in the context of C as a possibility, indirectly causally related to each other and even strongly so if both are absolutely needed for C to occur (or to prevent that.)
• Together, patterns of direct and indirect causation and the process and specific instance task level outcomes they create, both shape overall process flows, and determine which flows will be actively followed, depending on context and history.

Functional areas within a business offer value there, for the most part through how they are mutually supportive, in enabling all of them to collectively fulfill the business’ mission and competitively, profitably so, and ultimately through the types of processes flows so briefly discussed here. A breakdown that might at first appear to only affect one process and its tasks and certainly directly, might in effect be having much wider impact and consequence and it might have its roots in earlier process steps that at first glance seem to have functioned correctly. And untangling and resolving this might need much wider informational input, and access to wider areas of hands-on expertise and managerial authority – and certainly if any resolution reached: long-term or more temporary and interim, would have to effectively address a wider and more complex swath of the business and its activities than would immediately show, where the problem was first reported. Here, resolving the second of the two basic problem scenarios that I offer towards the top of this posting means not fixing the overt technological problems faced at the expense of creating wider ripple-effect business process problems and challenges from how this fix is conceived and carried out.

To briefly add in a further possible complication here, of a type that I have primarily seen in government contexts, but that can arise in business ones too, security authorization restrictions can mean that resolving a problem might not just mean bringing in people with the right types and levels of technical expertise to do this work. It might also mean finding the right people with the access authority required to do any work at all in the particular area(s) of the organization where it would have to be carried out. There, finding the right people in an in-house intranet setting would mean searching (perhaps with security clearance authorization to do so) for the right people who have the right security clearance to do this, as a key search and candidate filtering criterion.

• This can and in the real world often does get complicated and certainly when it is not going to be readily and immediately possible to reach across the table of organization, and perhaps between distantly placed offices to access what should be the right people.
• And this makes it that much more important that this business and its employees and managers have access to the most flexible and widely connecting networking and information sharing tools as would realistically be possible for them and from both a cost-effectiveness and a risk management perspective.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment (referring back to Part 4 and Part 5 as I do so), on developing resources that would

• Facilitate greater Business systems efficiencies, with lean and agile businesses and lean and agile supply chain and other value chain collaborations made possible from that.

And after addressing that complex of issues, and with my discussion as offered here in Part 10 in mind, I will also consider how the issues raised there would be shaped for their management and resolution by:

• Focused regulatory law and their implementation level frameworks, and other outside factors.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set, for its more generally applicable discussion of focused message best practices per se. I initially offered that with a specific case in point jobs and careers focus, but the approaches raised and discussed there are more generally applicable. You can find that series at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, as its postings 342-358.

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