Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Building a business for resilience 33 – open systems, closed systems and selectively porous ones 25

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 21, 2019

This is my 33rd installment to a series on building flexibility and resiliency into a business in its routine day-to-day decisions and follow-through, so it can more adaptively anticipate and respond to an ongoing low-level but with time, significant flow of change and its cumulative consequences, that every business faces in its normal course of operation (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations, postings 542 and loosely following for Parts 1-32.)

I began working my way through a brief to-address topics list in Part 32, that I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative as I continue discussing its points:

1. Even the most agile and responsive and effectively inclusive communications capabilities can only go so far. Effective communications, and with the right people involved in them, have to lead to active effectively prioritized action if they are to matter, and with feedback monitoring and resulting reviews included.
2. Both reactive and proactive approaches to change and to effectively addressing it, enter in there and need to be explicitly addressed in rounding out any meaningful response to the above Point 1.
3. And I will at least begin to discuss corporate learning, and the development and maintenance of effectively ongoing experience bases at a business, and particularly in a large and diverse business context where this can become a real challenge.
4. In anticipation of that, I note here that this is not so much about what at least someone at the business knows, as it is about pooling and combining empirically based factual details of that sort, to assemble a more comprehensively valuable and applicable knowledge base.
5. And more than just that, this has to be about bringing the fruits of that effort to work for the business as a whole and for its employees, by making its essential details accessible and actively so for those who need them, and when they do.

I began addressing the above Point 1 and its issues in Part 32, and I begin this posting by continuing and completing that discussion thread, at least for purposes of this series. And as a core part of that discussion continuation, I will focus on the role of feedback and of two-way communications in these systems, and on the crucial importance of developing and maintaining performance monitoring-capable interactivity in all of this.

• Who needs what business-developed and owned, or at least business held information: sensitive and confidential information in particular, order for them to effectively do their jobs and complete their assigned tasks in that?
• Who holds this information, and closely related to that, who controls access to it?
• Who is communicating with whom there and on what? Are there in fact gaps where the people who hold crucially needed information do not know, or know of the people who most need it and legitimately so?
• And it is important to remember that the above questions apply to legacy and historical background information, including experience learned from how others have dealt with similar issues to those faced now,
• And that this type of at least potentially sharable accumulated knowledge and even business wisdom, can be as important or even more so, than the more immediately here-and-now business transaction data that might be called for. If you have that data and allowed access to it, but do not have the necessary and perhaps less than obvious background information that might be crucial in carrying out a task at hand that would call for it, you might use the right customer or other specific transaction oriented data, but in ways that leave process disconnects or other challenges.
• Consider this type of possibility whenever facing what for you might be a new and novel situation, but where it might have a longer history at that business for others.
• And consider this when facing what might involve significant change. Have others faced similar change there? And if so, what transaction-level complications if any did they encounter in that and what where the ultimate resolutions that they achieved? What complications or collateral issues did they have to identify, clarify and resolve in that too?

And with these types of detail noted, communications feedback on the timeliness and effectiveness of these information exchanges as carried out in practice, are essential for developing and maintaining business systems that work. And necessary follow-up steps that would accompany and complement that type of review would include monitoring, and performance reviews and outcomes research on work carried out as a result of these communications. And together, these overall communications plus work flow performance reviews would be used to both identify gaps where raw data and more processed knowledge are needed but effectively unavailable, where they are actually made available and effectively so, and how to more effectively balance information security with its necessary access restrictions, with necessary information and knowledge sharing.

• And adding in this type of business process management, means shifting this discussion from a here-and-now tactical and transactional level, operationally, to a longer-term strategically conceived one.

This is important, and it raises issues that are not always appreciated in practice, even when they are acknowledged in the abstract. Decisions and actions taken without the benefit of review and the insight that it can develop and offer, are usually carried out as if in a vacuum and often as either ad hoc or blindly adhered to cookie-cutter responses. Feedback monitoring and review processes add historical perspective – and are essential in making strategic planning and follow-through possible.

And with that noted I at least begin to address Point 2 of the above list, and the closely related issues of reactive and proactive decision making and action. And I begin addressing that set of issues by clarifying where I am citing “closely related” alignment in this.

• Reactive decision making and its follow-through are almost always resorted to on the fly, absent any clear-cut foundation of precedent or best practices understandings. That in fact is what makes them reactive per se.
• A perceived need for a reactive response arises when the unexpected and unplanned for arise, and generally when those who have to decide and act have to do so as if there were no precedent for the situation faced at that business, and with no best practices solutions or even just workable but known ones available to fall back upon.
• I amend that by offering an exception to the above bullet point that I have seen play out too many times, when a hands-on employee or lower level manager, or someone simply out of the loop for this event knows of an established approach for dealing with and resolving an apparent problem, but they are unable to actually share any of that in a meaningful way with whoever has to actually make a decision there and take action on that.
• This is in fact a description-formatted definition of business systems friction with the breakdowns in communications and information sharing that lead to it, as I have discussed in this blog on numerous occasions now.

I am going to continue my discussion of reactive approaches and their consequences in the next installment to this series. And I will continue on from there to consider proactive approaches and what goes into enabling them and carrying them out. Then I will proceed from there to address the remaining points of the above topics list. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory.

Reconsidering the varying faces of infrastructure and their sometimes competing imperatives 5: the Marshall Plan and the Molotov Plan, continued

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning, UN-GAID by Timothy Platt on January 18, 2019

This is my sixth installment to a series on infrastructure as work on it, and as possible work on it are variously prioritized and carried through upon, or set aside for future consideration (see United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID), postings 46 and following for Parts 1-4.)

I began this series with two admittedly quite negative case study examples that both rise to significance for scale and impact, and that have both been well documented in more primary news and analysis sources: the failed US government led recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after the disaster brought on there by Hurricane Maria in 2017 (in Part 1 and Part 2), and the mismanagement of the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as a political football, caught in the middle between New York City and New York State politics (in Part 2 and Part 3.)

I then turned in Part 4 to consider two infrastructure redevelopment programs that I argued were both successful – according to their own politically and governmentally defined criteria, and certainly as established by the nations that led them: the American-led the post-World War II European Recovery Program, or Marshall Plan as it is better known, and its Russian-led Eastern European counterpart: the Molotov Plan.

I said at the end of that series installment that I would continue my discussion of those two programs here, to round them out for purposes of this series. And I at least begin to do so by more fully explaining why I would argue that both were in fact successful.

• The Marshall Plan was not perfect, and it did not fully put Western Europe entirely back on its own feet again, leaving a lot left for those nations to do for themselves (which was in fact, good for them as it allowed them to regain real autonomy as independent nations again.) The nations that benefited from this effort were also dictated to from it, for how they were to be rebuilt through this program and with what priorities and in ways that did not always entirely please the new emerging national governments of the region, or align with their emerging nationalistic priorities. France, as a case in point example, pushed back against this and related “foreign interference”, and the public sentiment that arose there did a lot to shape the often contrarian government of Charles de Gaulle.
• And the United States did impose a long-term presence over Western Europe coming out of World War II, and both through this reconstruction effort and through the shaping of a Western European-based mutual defense force that the United States effectively came to lead: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as it was developed as a response to Russia’s emerging empire building ambitions. All of this support was both appreciated and seen as a source of friction too. That noted, the Marshall Plan, overall, was a stunning success, and was so on a level that had no real historical precedent.
• The Molotov Plan, on the other hand is often viewed as much more of a failure, and it would qualify as such and without real grounds for argument if its driving goals had been the same as those of the Marshall Plan. But its goals were fundamentally different, and even diametrically opposed to those of its Western European counterpart.
• The Marshall Plan was first and foremost a rebuilding effort, and secondarily, if still importantly an effort to create a new political order there so as to prevent further war. And much of that stemmed from an emerging awareness of threat of conflict and of a possible World War III, coming from the East and from Russia.
• What were the defining goals that led to and shaped the Molotov Plan: the criteria that it in fact succeeded at and until the fall of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union itself? They were secondarily to rebuild Eastern Europe, and primarily to create a defensive buffer zone separating Russia and Russian soil from a now American-led Western Europe. So the official name of the Molotov Plan was the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (Договор о дружбе, сотрудничестве и взаимной помощи). And this was first and foremost a “mutual” defense treaty, much as NATO was, but not as a separate effort from any rebuilding effort: as a primary overall goal with some infrastructure and related aid tacked on, and with that organized around the Sovietizing of all of the Eastern European governments and with a Russian military and a Russian KGB presence there to enforce that.

When did the “mutual assistance” of this play out? When was it invoked and acted upon? It was only really actively called upon when Soviet Union supportive Eastern European puppet governments came into danger from uprisings or threat of them from the citizenry of those same nations. I cite by way of examples, the abortive Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the abortive Prague Spring, or Czech Uprising of 1968. Both were widely supported citizen created efforts to achieve democratic reform and increased personal freedom, within their respective Eastern European nations. Both were seen as direct threats to Russia and its overall security. And both were suppressed by direct militarily backed “mutual assistance” support of other Eastern European Warsaw Pact member nations, with their forces acting under the orders of and the control of Russia as backed by the Russian military.

I have recently offered an at least brief and selective account of the why of this, in another series when discussing why Russia has acted so belligerently towards its neighbors from well before the rise of Communism and the Soviet Union per se. And I have been discussing there, how and why this pattern has continued since the fall of Communism and of the Soviet Union as Russia’s sociopolitical form and image too (see Rethinking national security in a post-2016 US presidential election context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 13.) My point here, however, is more focused and specific for raising that side to Russia’s overall history. This history and the lessons that its leadership have continuously learned from it, including the searing lessons coming from a World War II that had just concluded, and the lessons from their going into a Cold War that was just taking shape, led to both the Warsaw Pact and the Molotov Plan and all else that Russia did – that the West in turn responded to in its collective thinking and acting as well.

• No one in all of this acted as if in a vacuum, and in any of this and in either shaping or carrying out these redevelopment programs: the Marshall and Molotov Plans. And both sides set their goals and their priorities and their criteria for success in them accordingly.

And with that, I finally turn to consider China, and both as it has pursued massive infrastructure development and redevelopment within its own borders and as it has used infrastructure development offerings as tools of statecraft beyond those borders as well. And I state here in anticipation of discussion to come, that the government and the Communist Party of China, and the leadership of both, have selected and shaped their plans and their goals for all of this according to their own goals and their own priorities, and yes their own hopes and fears too – just as the decision makers did who created and led the Marshall and Molotov Plans.

I will begin discussing that complex narrative in my next installment to this series. And after completing that line of discussion, with at least brief digressions into other infrastructure development and redevelopment efforts added in as necessary, I will step back to consider a basic success or fail model for such efforts, as a possible predictive resource for achieving more effective, mutually agreed to success in them and from all involved stakeholders.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. I also include this in Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3, and also see Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And I include this in my United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID) directory too for its relevance there.

Addendum note re. the New York City MTA and its subway system, as discussed in Parts 2 and 3: I primarily focused on the subway system and its issues when discussing it up to here in this series. But I see need to more explicitly note here, how the inefficiencies and mismanagement of this system have impact that extends way beyond the subway tunnels and stations themselves, adversely affecting all who use and rely upon this system.

This has been a long-simmering issue in New York City, and not just for those who are challenged by the failure of the MTA to become more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as already made note of in this series. The chronic and I have to add progressively advancing breakdown and decay of this subway system and its critical infrastructure affects all who would use it and every business that relies upon those who do. And the move that Amazon is making into the borough of Queens, as a site for a major new secondary headquarters, with the prospect of all of their new employees having to use this already overloaded system there, has only brought already ongoing concerns, and anger to the surface and in a more widely visible form (see Maybe It’s Not Taxes That Scare Off Business but Failing Subways.)

Note that the finalized online version of the title for the just-cited news analysis piece, focused on how an already over-stressed subway system can and will create increased challenges for businesses that it should be serving, and especially when a same already inadequate system is about to face whole new additional challenges. The original print edition title to this piece was: Job Growth Gets Stuck on the Subway, highlighting the impact of all of this on individual riders, and on their employment prospects. Both perspectives fully apply, and both serve to illustrate how an infrastructure development and maintenance failure is certain to have widespread negative impact, and of a scale that at the very least matches the scale of that infrastructure system itself.

Addendum note 2: Unfolding events in the politics of the New York City MTA prompted me to offer an initially unplanned-for add-on installment to this series, between the time that I wrote and posted its Part 4 and when I wrote and uploaded this Part 5. So I added that in as a Part 4.5 addendum posting. And events have continued to unfold that I decided I should make note of here in order to bring that narrative up to date.

I begin this continuation of that note by citing three news and analysis pieces from the New York Times:

Is the Fix for the L-Train Apocalypse Too Good to Be True?
Cuomo’s Risky L Train Fix
Cuomo Swooped in as L-Train Savior, but M.T.A. Rejected Similar Approach Over Safety Concerns

The bottom line from this is that the MTA claims and with documentation to prove their point, that they considered the type of “solution” to the L Train problem, that governor Cuomo is now pushing. They studied its feasibility and its risk and benefits issues in detail. And they had already rejected it as creating too much risk, as well as for its effective lifespan limitations as a workable solution. But this is not about engineering solutions to a complex and pressing infrastructure maintenance and repair problem and it is not about the risk or benefits of possible solutions under consideration, or possible approaches for realizing them. This is about politics and political ambition. And for governor Cuomo it is likely that this is about the soon to arrive 2020 US presidential race and his desire for higher office. He is focusing on short-term MTA rider approval for stopping a complete shut-down of the L Line during its repair. And he wants to look presidential in how he does this. Other considerations, of necessity have to carry lower priority in the political calculus that this entails.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 23 – the jobs and careers context 22

This is my 23rd 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-22.)

I have been working my way through a to-address topics list of points that are relevant to successfully navigating a new hire probationary period, since Part 18 of this, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative, with links added for where I have already discussed its first five points:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in (see Part 18.)
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them (see Part 19.)
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected (see Part 20.)
4. Networking for success in the workplace (see Part 21.)
5. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement (see Part 22.)
6. And Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected (and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.)

My goal for this posting is to complete this narrative thread by turning to and addressing Point 6 of that list, though I have to note that I have already begun doing so in Part 22. To be more specific there, I focused in that posting when addressing Point 5, on what might more properly be considered a Point 6, Plan B example.

Start out with a primary Plan A approach in mind and with its more likely possibilities thought out, so you can minimize the likelihood of disconnects and inconsistencies that just proceeding ad hoc would more likely lead to. Plan out your basic, first try Plan A approach, and certainly when addressing what are likely to become complex overall challenges, to at least limit problems, and to help you better identify when they are arising and early, when they can be more easily corrected from. And as a starting point there, assume that any task or responsibility that rises to the level of complexity and importance for it to be explicitly included in your job description, rises to that level of complexity.

At least as importantly for purposes of this posting and its discussion, develop and pursue your Plan A with a measure of agility and resiliency as a goal, so you can accommodate a measure of the unexpected. And as a part of that, this means you’re being ready to switch to a new Plan B if needed, and with a smoother transition to that, than ad hoc alone could ever support.

That noted, let’s reconsider my social networking management example from Part 22, here very explicitly as a Plan B work-around and task completion endeavor:

• I did my due diligence research going into applying for that position, and for purposes of the interviewing and related processes that I would go through for it.
• But when I took that job and began it I uncovered an until-then more hidden side to this work position and its key tasks and priorities: something of the underlying relevant history as to why this business was trying to fill this position, and information and insight as to how and why earlier attempts at doing so with other new hires had failed.
• My focus in addressing this experience in Part 22 of this series was on how I had been taking the workplace and career-oriented success steps there, that I have been discussing in this series, and certainly since its Part 18, that built a foundation for my finding a way around some of the impasse that had caught up my predecessors there. I wrote in that installment of how I had paved the way for myself to be able to more effectively identify and access the resources that I needed, in order to carry out the key tasks that I had been hired to fulfill – and in that case despite my immediate supervisor there and his.
• I left out some fairly significant buy-in oriented negotiations with those two stakeholders in Part 22, as not being particularly relevant there. But I do note that they were very important, here in this Part 23 continuation of that narrative.
• What made these negotiations work? I would focus on two crucially salient details of that, here. First of all, I focused on how I was more effectively helping these managers to achieve their overriding goal of connecting with their business’ market and related community through online social media, and in ways that would facilitate all of their key personalized outreach and connection goals. My carrying out and completing this work would help them as well as the business, and I addressed their questions as to how I was doing this, in terms of my more effectively meeting their goals. And second, I focused on how this could be done with resources at hand, and in ways that would not blow up their budget, and for their department’s line on the table of organization or for their own more specific budget lines within that.
• This meant my shifting from an expected Plan A to a now pellucidly necessary Plan B and as quickly and smoothly as possible, and with the support of key stakeholders who my direct supervisor and his had to be able to work with. And it meant my coordinating my reports back to these managers, with feedback from these stakeholders who wanted to provide supportive help for this project and its completion: one key highly supportive department head definitely included there.
• I took this job, worked on their key projects that I was brought in for, doing so for about half a year, and then moved on to a next assignment elsewhere. And they got what they wanted and I did too.

And with this, I turn to some additional wording that I have added to the end of Point 6 as stated above, that I have repeated every time that I have repeated the above to-address list: “…and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.”

Was I misled by the hiring manager who became my direct report supervisor there, and I add by his department head direct report supervisor who I also met with while being interviewed? Yes would be an arguably valid answer to that question. And they were not the only people there who were misleading at best, which is one reason why I never sought out further work with them and why I was happy to leave when I did. But would laying blame for any of this, or for any of the other issues that I faced at this place of employment, have helped me in any positive way while I was there? Nothing that I faced fit a pattern of workplace discrimination, or of any other fault-finding pattern that would reach of level of impact that would in any way demand my more formally complaining and seeking redress. So I found and developed my Plan B work-arounds where needed and negotiated buy-ins for them and I did my job there and left.

• If anything, the approach that I have just raised here applies even more importantly when you plan on staying on at a job long-term, that you resolve unexpected challenges and still meet goals and schedules as effectively as possible – while maintaining and even reinforcing buy-in and support for your efforts.

That is important: te same basic principles that I write of here, apply when you are working at a job and for a business that you would want to stay with, long-term. Preparing for possible Plan B’s should become all but automatic and certainly when you approach a complex task, project or other workplace responsibility, and with a goal of you’re being able to switch to one of them as smoothly and effectively as possible if needed, and with as many of the new resources that you would need for that either at hand or realistically available from their stakeholder sources for becoming so. No, it is not always going to be possible to fully achieve this goal, but effective preparation, and preparation that actively includes effective networking can go a long way in addressing possible gaps there.

• And then it is all a matter of doing the job and in as professional a manner as possible – and particularly if you feel put upon in some way by all of this and from how the need for a Plan B arose. Don’t go around assigning blame, and don’t focus on that in your own thoughts. Pick up these challenges, and address them as opportunities – opportunities for you to show your true capability and professional competence and get necessary work effectively, efficiently completed.
• Think of these here-and-now job issues as career-level opportunities and proceed accordingly.

I will have more to say regarding all six of the points of the above list, moving forward in this series as they remain important throughout the span of the jobs that you come to hold. But I at least preliminarily conclude this phase of this overall narrative here, with this final-for-now point. And with that, I am going to turn to consider negotiating in general as a jobs and careers tool set, beginning in my next series installment. That means looking way beyond any initial new hire probationary period to consider entire tenures as an employee with a given business, where promotions and more lateral moves, and possible career set-backs and recoveries from them and job description evolution in general can bring you to a position and to holding work responsibilities with an employer that could not have been imagined when you were first brought on-board.

This means discussing negotiations and all of the preparatory work that you would carry out leading up to them, and all of the post-meeting follow-through that those negotiations would lead to, if the results of them are to be effectively carried out. In anticipation of that next discussion thread to come here, I note that negotiations of this type essentially always take place and hold meaning in the context of change and its at least potential challenges and opportunities. That point of observation certainly applies to the topic points and issues that I have been raising and discussing in this series up to here. And it will continue to hold merit, and even defining merit in what is to come here too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 42 – the issues and challenges of communications in a business 9

Posted in book recommendations, HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 12, 2019

This is my 42nd installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-41.)

I initially posed two topics points, both developed around strategically and operationally framed issues that can be expected to arise when moving forward innovatively in a business, in Part 39 of this series. And I have repeated them in Part 40 and again in Part 41 as an orienting framework for how to think about this narrative and as indicators of where it is headed.

I repeat those topics points here, as I continue laying a foundation for specifically addressing them, turning in this posting to consider two specific case in point business examples that I would address them in terms of. That noted, the two points that I have been preparing for through all of this, are:

1. Offer an at least brief analysis of the risk management-based information access determination process, or rather flow of such processes, as would arise and play out in a mid-range risk level context, where I sketched out and used a simplified risk management scale system in Part 39 for didactic purposes, that I will continue to make use of here and in what follows. (Note: see that posting for an explanation of why I would focus on mid-range risks here, rather than on risk in general, or on mid-range and higher risk level possibilities.)
2. Then continue on from there to discuss how this type of system (or rather a more complete and functionally effective alternative to it as developed around a more nuanced and complete risk assessment metric than I pursue here), can and in fact must be dynamically maintained for how the business would address both their normative and predictably expected, and their more novel potential information sharing contexts as they might arise too. I note here in anticipation of that, that when innovation is involved and particularly when disruptively novel innovation is, novel information sharing contexts have to be considered the norm in that. And that significantly shapes how all of the issues encompassed in these two numbered points would be understood and addressed.

And with these here-goal oriented topics points offered again in this still developing narrative thread, I repeat my single bullet point-framed opening descriptions of the two case study businesses themselves, that I would raise and discuss here:

• ClarkBuilt Inc.: a small to medium size business by head count and cash flow that was initially built to develop and pursue a new business development path as built around its founders’ jointly arrived at “bold new innovative products” ideas. The Clark brothers, Bob and Henry came up with a new way to make injection molds for plastics and similar materials that would make it cost-effective to use injection molding manufacturing processes with new types of materials, and cost-effectively so. They have in fact launched their dream business to do that, and have developed a nice little niche market for their offerings, providing specialized-materials parts to other manufacturers.
• And Kent Enterprises: a larger and more established business that in fact has at least something of a track record of supporting, or at least attempting to support innovative excellence within its ranks and on a larger, wider-ranging scale.

And I begin that by pointing out what might for many readers be a fairly obvious point. Both of these businesses start out as innovation oriented ventures. But ClarkBuilt is built around an initial core innovative insight and its realization, and with a long-term goal that would focus essentially entirely on that.

• Bob and Henry Clark are not planning, at least as a core element of their overall business model in seeking out or developing entirely new sources of disruptively novel New to supplement or even replace their initial injection molding technology innovation. So while they would most likely be expected to continue at least something of an innovative effort in their business, this would be more evolutionary and fine-tuning and upgrading in nature, and not revolutionary and game changing.
• Kent Enterprises, on the other hand is more of an innovation factory, at least as a matter of intent. And it is, as intimated above, open to innovative ideas and innovative potential as they might arise through larger swaths of their organization than might be contained in a designated in-house research and development department, or through an innovation outreach office that would buy rights to New from outside sources (e.g. university-based research labs.)

This point of distinction is very important here, as the decisions that inform it for these two enterprises, and the actions and subsequent decisions that each would follow in pursuit of their own particular vision, effectively shape and define what meaningfully relevant research and meaningfully relevant innovation might even be considered by them.

ClarkBuilt very specifically seeks to become and remain the leading manufacturing business in its entire industry and sector and both when competing against rival manufacturers and when facing and meeting the needs of its market. And that industry and sector, and that marketplace are organized around and effectively defined by injection molding parts manufacturing and any immediately competing technology alternatives that a business such as ClarkBuilt might come to face. Innovation that would take essential resources from that defining focus and its realization, and that would arguably compete with their effort to achieve this goal, would be problematical at best and certainly as an initial and essentially default response to it.

Kent Enterprises, on the other hand, is more fundamentally aware of overall change, and of the longer-term need for them to keep exploring and developing towards new markets and types of them, as current ones mature and opportunity to innovate in them begins to dry up – because their more comfortably established markets and their buying participants have become less and less interested in next-step new for what to them might even just be legacy system products.

If you were to ask the leadership of these two businesses what they read for inspiration as they plan for and lead their businesses, which set of them would be more likely to have read – and taken to heart, the more expansively innovative messages of a book such as:

• Gertner, J. (2012) The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Golden Age of American Innovation. Penguin Books?

And the points of distinction that I raise here, have immediate and direct impact on both the hiring and retention policies of the managers and leadership of these businesses, and of their Human Resource departments as each of them variously develops and makes routine, the personnel side of their business plans and strategies.

Both of these businesses need creative, innovative people on their staffs, and in both hands-on and managerial positions. But ClarkBuilt is more likely going to be much more focused in precisely what they look for, and both in specific job-related skills and experience sets that they desire to bring in, and for the perhaps less easily defined communications and other soft people skills and qualities that they might look for in a good-fit new hire. And at least if they are managing and growing their business effectively and with an eye towards their actual needs, Kent Enterprises should be looking for innovative potential, using more open and flexible filters and wider good-candidate identification criteria.

• Overly narrow job description filters that would most likely discard anyone as a possible next hire who does not fit their job description postings in some fixed and limited, key word matching manner,
• Would be too likely to eliminate the good and even the best possible candidates who have applied for that job from the applicant pool that is available, and for any given position they have open
• This obviously applies to a business such as Kent Enterprises, with its business model orientation to finding and developing the New and even the disruptively game changing New. But ultimately, the types of hiring process blinders that I write of here, can become just as problematical for a more tightly defined business such as ClarkBuilt too.

I have raised this type of concern in earlier postings, and both in this blog as a whole and in this series itself. And I raise it again here, for its crucial importance, and certainly for any business that would, or should see innovation as its best path forward. (And yes, broadening this discussion for a moment at least, that ultimately means any business that would seek to endure and even thrive longer-term and in the face of the ongoing flow of change that it is certain to see.)

I am going to complete my discussion of these two case study examples in my next installment to this series, at least for purposes of its line of discussion. And then I will at least begin addressing the above by now oft-repeated topics questions that I offered at the top of this posting. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 13

Posted in social networking and business, startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 9, 2019

This is my 13th posting to a series on disintermediation, focusing on how this enables marketing options such as gorilla and viral marketing, but also considering how it shapes and influences businesses as a whole. My focus here may be marketing oriented, but marketing per se only makes sense when considered in the larger context of the business carrying it out and the marketplace it is directed towards (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 278 and loosely following for Parts 1-12.)

I began discussing a set of issues that would arise for well established businesses that have become set in their ways, in the context of this type of series, in Part 2. And I then switched directions in Part 11 to at least begin to consider a newly forming startup example in contrast to that, which I have cartoonishly summarized for its basic form as:

• A new, young, small startup that seeks to leverage its liquidity and other assets available as creatively and effectively as possible, and from its day one when it is just starting to develop the basic template that it would scale up and grow from.

And as an orienting starting point for what is to follow, in fleshing out and examining that type of case study example, I offered a to-address topics list that can be considered startup-oriented in its basic tenor and orientation, which I repeat here for its first three entries for purposes of this posting:

1. What types of change are being considered in building this new business, and with what priorities? In this context the issues of baseline, and of what would be changed from become crucially important. I assume here that change in this context means at least pressure to change on the part of business founders, from the assumptions and presumptions and business practices of their past experience: positive and negative that they might individually bring with them to this new venture, and their thoughts as to how a business should be organized and run as shaped by all of their prior workplace experience. So I will consider change as arises in how the business is planned and run, at least as much as I do when considering what would be developed there and brought to market as product or service. I will mostly just cite and discuss the later for its contextual significance in all of this.
2. Focusing on the business planning and development side to that, and more specifically on high priority, first business development and operations steps that would be arrived at and agreed to for carrying out (in light of the above bullet point considerations here), and setting aside more optional potential goals and benchmarks that would simply be nice to be able to carry through upon too,
3. Where exactly do those must-do tasks fit into the business and how can they best be planned out for cost-effective implementation (in the here and now) and for scalability (thinking forward)? Functionally that set of goals and their realization, of necessity ranges out beyond the boundaries of a Marketing or a Marketing and Communications context, applying across the business organization as a whole. But given the basic thrust of this specific series, I will begin to more fully discuss communications per se, and Marketing, or Marketing and Communications in this bullet point’s context. And I will comparatively discuss communications as a process, and as a functional area in a business there.

Note: I also outlined some of the essentially axiomatic assumptions in Part 11, that I would bring to my analyses and discussions of all of the topics points and their issues as listed there: the above-repeated first three included. And I recommend that you review them as discussed there. That noted, I began addressing the above restated Point 1 in Part 12, focusing there on a need for effective negotiations as involved stakeholders air and argue the case for their respective understandings of the goals and priorities faced, for developing and building this new business venture. And my goal here is to finish addressing that Point 1 and its issues, at least for purposes of this series, and to at least begin addressing Points 2 and 3 as well.

To be more specific here, I approached Point 1 and its issues in Part 12 of this series, by primarily focusing on the fundamental need for informed and mutually agreed to consensus, among key stakeholders:

• As to what type of business a startup is to grow into, as it realizes its business model,
• And what its goals and priorities should be, at least in a more immediate here-and-now context, and for next steps that would be taken moving forward beyond that.
• And to add one more detail to that summary: the earlier that any really significant points of disagreement can be identified and worked through among the key stakeholders of a business, at least to the level of their arriving at basic workable functional agreement, the better. Problems of that sort that are set aside for later consideration, only fester and grow.

I turn here to consider a What and How counterpart to that Why. And I begin addressing this half of my response to Point 1 by dividing this approach to its issues, into two areas of consideration:

• What specific tasks would be agreed to and for type and priority? And what specific tasks act more as focus points of disagreement?
• And Who arrives at the determination in any finalized sense of how these discussion point decisions would be resolved and by whom, at least for immediate and next step purposes as the business proceeds forward? I simply note here in generic, generally stated response to that question, that there are circumstances where stakeholder priority in arriving at and phrasing such resolutions would best be based on equity ownership in this venture and on position and title held, and some would best be based on specific relevant expertise and certainly for more technical issues and their tasks. The details as to how this would and should play out, would of necessity be business, and business-model specific and depend on the nature of, and the decision making influence of the emerging corporate culture coming into place.
• Who would make these relevant binding decisions as far as the second of those points is concerned, when determining how specific business decisions would be parsed out according to those decision maker options? And how would their decisions and conclusions, or their recommendations if so identified, be supported and moved forward on?

The first of those points is explicitly What oriented. And together, the second and third points of that set, at least begin addressing the How (and the by whom) side of the issues raised in Point 1, above. The rest of any such answer to the question as raised there, becomes a matter of personality, and of leadership and followership, as can be found or encouraged among the key decision making stakeholders of a business. And the patterns that arise from this process, lay the foundations of the overall corporate culture to come at this new business as it becomes established and begins to grow beyond the initial founding team.

And with that, I offer a word of explicit warning:

• I have seen startups and early stage businesses succeed and even to spectacular degrees. And I have seen them flounder and fail too. And one of the core, fundamental differences between these two outcomes-defined groups can be found in how well the decision makers there, and those who can influence and shape the consequences of their decisions, can come to agreement and achieve alignment in what they do there, or fail to do so.

Abraham Lincoln’s so relevant words come to mind for me, as I ponder what for me is that repeatedly validated point of observation: “a house divided cannot stand.” Lincoln had a very different and I add more societally impactful context in mind when offering this advice, but it applies in the smaller scale of individual businesses too.

This, as experience shows, can be an even more important metric of overall likelihood of success for a business, long term, than the challenge of arriving at an effective way to profitably monetize what a business would offer to market as its primary product or service. Google, to cite a well known example there, and its founders, knew that they were building a business that would offer a best of breed online search engine as the core element of its overall market facing offerings. And they were effectively aligned in this and in how to proceed in developing their business for this. But they did not in fact work out the details as to precisely how they could best create a profitable service that would enrich the business (and themselves) from this, and even until after they initially went IPO for this venture.

They knew basically what they wanted to do and they were able to effectively capture the imagination of the public that they were trying to reach with this business, and with their online search tools. And they were able to come to sufficient agreement on all of the key business development issues that they faced as they organized and launched and began to grow this new business. And they captured a very significant market share for what they would do. Then, they figured out in more fully working details, precisely how they would earn money from all of this productive effort. Were some of those steps carried out in a very contrarian order, and one that other new businesses would best avoid trying to emulate? Yes. But they did get the most important of their basic business development decisions and steps worked out early, and even from the beginning – and at least effectively enough to make it possible to move forward in achieving all of the rest. They were at least working together in all of this, and certainly for all of the really important issues and decisions that they faced.

And with that offered here, I will turn next to more directly and fully consider Points 2 and 3 from the above list, which I just touched upon in the above narrative. Then after completing my discussions of those topic points and their issues, I will proceed through the rest of the Part 11 to-address list points, as offered in detail there. And I will connect this overall narrative as I have been developing it here, to a more strictly Marketing and Communications context, noting in advance of that, that

• While it is not possible to effectively discuss that area of business activity, or its more social media-based forms without considering the business and its markets that would enter into that,
• It is still necessary to tie any such contextual narrative back to Marketing and Communications again too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1. And I also include this posting and other startup-related continuations to it, in Startups and Early Stage Businesses – 2.

Reconsidering the varying faces of infrastructure and their sometimes competing imperatives 4.5: an addendum update on the New York City MTA as a case study

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning, UN-GAID by Timothy Platt on January 7, 2019

This is my fifth installment to a series on infrastructure as work on it, and as possible work on it are variously prioritized and carried through upon, or set aside for future consideration (see United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID), postings 46 and following for Parts 1-4.) And this is also an unplanned for addendum posting to this series that I have chosen to insert into this blog here as a breaking news and commentary update to a case study example that I have been developing and offering here since Part 2.

Let’s begin this posting’s narrative with a brief recent history-based digression and with Hurricane Sandy as it made landfall in New York City and its vicinity on October 29, 2012. Global warming with its resulting increased ocean water temperatures in the Atlantic and along the coast of the United States led to this storm remaining a strong Category 2 hurricane when it arrived there. And it did so, making landfall during high tide for the area and during a full moon, meaning that this would be an unusually high, high tide anyway. And when Sandy struck, it did so on a path that took it straight up the Hudson River and into lower Manhattan, creating storm surge flooding that inundated lower coastal areas throughout the City.

Large sections of the New York City subway system: their MTA subway was completely flooded, with salt water filling up subway stations to their ceilings and completely filling long tracts of the underground tunnels that connect them. And this led to massive salt water corrosion and destruction throughout the affected areas of this system.

One of the key points that I have been raising in this series, and certainly when considering the NYC MTA and its management and development, has been how this vitally important infrastructure system has become a political football between competing politically motivated forces: one in New York City’s City Hall and the other in Albany in the state legislature and the office of the governor. And one consequence of that, is that here in month 75 after that storm landfall, when any clock would begin ticking for any response to that disaster, there is still a significant amount of even basic repair work that is still to be done. And this brings me to the late breaking, as of this writing, news story that has prompted me to add this posting to this series and this blog, and now.

Current, updated and more completely documented estimates for how much it would cost to correct all of the ongoing and developing problems that the MTA currently faces, total something just over twice the total capital plan budget that is (still officially) assumed necessary for that, at some $60 billion. That includes still ongoing and necessary repairs from damage incurred from Sandy, but it also includes updates and repair work that have in some cases been put off for decades and even for entire generations. As noted in earlier installments to this series, some of the switches and switching technology that control train traffic flow through this system date to as far back as 1934 for their initial installation! See:

7 Ways to Fix the M.T.A. (Which Needs a $60 Billion Overhaul).

That expanded budget calculation includes in it fixing the still very extensive damage that Hurricane Sandy did to the MTA’s L Line. The MTA itself, carried out a three year study to find the most functionally effective, and cost effective and least disruptive approach to actually do this repair work. And they concluded after all of their onsite expert evaluations and all of the documentation and all of the hearings that that assessment work led to, that the best way to do this and at least limit the possible impact of a Sandy Part 2, would require shutting down the L line for a period of up to 15 months for systematic repair with much of that taking place in the L Line tunnels. And plans were developed to proceed with that. Then a newly reelected Governor Andrew Cuomo, feeling invincible and perhaps a bit omnipotent and omniscient from how he won and from how his political party took control of the state legislature too, stepped in.

It seems that he got into a conversation with an irate L line rider who told him in no uncertain terms that this shutdown would create problems for him and for others as well. And that is certainly true. Approximately 300,000 people take L Line trains between Brooklyn and Manhattan on an average day and depend on its being available for that. This impending closure has forced some people to move to new homes or change jobs and it has forced a great many to seek out least onerous travel alternatives that would still bring them where they have to go, and hopefully without tremendous extra delays or expense. Cuomo had his conversation when on a photo opportunity in New York City and in the MTA system as a part of that. And he unilaterally chose to override the MTA and all of its work related to this repair initiative, and declare by fiat (and by the power granted him by the New York State constitution to do so) that he would not allow the L Line to be shut down. The repair work that would be carried out now has to be completely reconsidered and redesigned and in such a way as to allow at least partial service throughout any planned and executed repair period.

Was the planned for 15 month shutdown that the MTA was expecting to follow, the best possible approach that they could have arrived at? I am fairly sure that there were other possibilities there that might have been as good or better, depending on precisely what criteria are considered. That certainly holds true when the balance between short-term commuter needs are balanced against long-term risk possibilities of the City experiencing a repeat of the type of storm damage that caused all of this here in the first place, from Hurricane Sandy.

But was Governor Cuomo’s knee jerk reaction to the political opportunity that this situation presented him with, the best alternative to what the MTA was doing and planning on doing? And can it be argued that his approach was intrinsically better than that? Cuomo made his decision strictly on the basis of short-term convenience and inconvenience measures, and from what has to be considered a smallest of all possible small sample, completely impromptu data sets, and on more here-and-now political polling number considerations where his being seen as taking action would impact upon them for him. See:

The L Train Shutdown Plan Was 3 Years in the Making. It Unraveled in 3 Weeks.

And note that unlike the MTA approach to this challenge, with its detailed costs and budget analyses for the various repair options that they considered over that three year period, Andrew Cuomo arrived at his executive order alternative, numbers-free at least for financial impact.

The MTA was already facing $60 billion in capital improvement needs, with their approved L Line repairs and their expected costs built into that. How much more would a complete, and I have to add unprepared-for replacement of those plans cost, when this was decided without even considering a bidding process as to who would be best suited to carry out the types of repairs now envisioned, and at what specific costs? Given the way this was so publically handled, it is safe to assume that costs of this restoration and repair work will only increase and certainly as Governor Cuomo has put pressure on the City government and the MTA to get this done as quickly as possible.

So who wins here? Subway riders who depend on the MTA’s L Line trains for their commutes will fare better – except for how this will force a prioritization lowering for other capital repair and maintenance work that might matter to them too, if the overall MTA budget is to be kept at least as close as possible to what it is now. The MTA and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s government have certainly lost in this. Andrew Cuomo has probably gained a boost in his statewide polling numbers and certainly given the all too often animus between Upstate New York and New York City, where too many Upstate residents seem to see the City as receiving undue preferential treatment and with that leading to an all but adversarial relationship between those parts of this same state, as a result. Ultimately though, I would argue that everyone loses, and certainly everyone who relies on this transportation infrastructure system and on a regular, ongoing basis. And this still unfolding but now more toxically transformed news story, highlights how politics and self-interest-based political maneuvering impact upon both costs incurred and repairs and maintenance needed, and how that work is or is not carried out.

Yes, Governor Cuomo would argue that I am fundamentally wrong here and in all that I write about this, and certainly where his decisions and actions are concerned. He would, among other points argue that he was acting in the best interest of MTA’s customers and that he did in fact base his decision on more than just a single round of casual chats with a few commuters during a photo op. But even allowing for a measure of truth in that, he did step into a complex situation and he acted and without more than just a superficial level of forethought or planning, or allowance for either. So how good can the results of this be?

I will continue this series with its planned for Part 5, set to go live on this blog on January 18, 2019. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. I also include this in Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3, and also see Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And I include this in my United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID) directory too for its relevance there.

Pure research, applied research and development, and business models 16

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 6, 2019

This is my 16th installment to a series in which I discuss contexts and circumstances – and business models and their execution, where it would be cost-effective and prudent for a business to actively participate in applied and even pure research, as a means of creating its own next-step future (see Business Strategy and Operations – 4 and its Page 5 continuation, postings 664 and loosely following for Parts 1-15.)

I have been discussing since Part 8, a set of possible approaches for funding the early expansion of a still-new business venture, as it enters its first real post-startup growth phase. And as I explained in Part 15, I intentionally did so from what might seem a more contrarian position: starting with at least brief, orienting discussions of four outside sourced funding possibilities, that a new business’ founders and owners might chose to develop towards and actively pursue. Then after delving into those scenarios, I finally turned to and considered the more traditionally basic option of organic growth that is based upon and benchmarked by the actual cash flows that the business itself generates, and on liquid reserves that the founders and owners of this business would be able to bring to the table themselves.

As a key building block for that line of discussion, I cited one of the most basic strategic planning tools that can be used in this type of planning exercise: a three scenario approach that would variously game out possible consequences, and therefore planning and development needs and options, depending on how smoothly events unfold for the business venture as it moves forward:

• An optimistic possible path forward in which everything proceeds smoothly and cost-effectively,
• A more pessimistic one in which at least some significant delays and other challenges arise, that would add friction and cost to a new business’ growth and development,
• And a normative development scenario that would generally fall in between the first two as listed here.

I used that conceptual framework in both discussing the organic growth scenario itself and for comparative purposes when reconsidering the outside-sourced options under consideration here. And now that I have made explicit use of this tool in all of that, I step back to in-effect challenge it, by raising and challenging a basic axiomatic assumption that is fundamentally built into it. More specifically, I challenge that tripartite business development model by more meaningfully adding in business systems friction: a macroeconomic counterpart to the macroeconomic concept of economic friction per se, and the consequential impact of faulty and incomplete information and communications capability as they would shape the decision making process and its follow-through within a business and its systems.

To repeat the obvious, this series very specifically discusses a type of business and business model that is by its very nature, is disruptively novel. Such a business would face and have to effectively deal with and resolve real challenges, and proactively where possible, where that might mean finding novel business development approaches and certainly as overall business plans are carried out at a more here-and-now tactical level. And together, this means that the owners and founders of such an enterprise, and the members of the teams that they assemble in their businesses, will face and have to deal with significant levels of unexpecteds.

This would have a direct impact on any real effort to carry out the type of planning exercise envisioned in the above-stated three scenarios approach.

• Real and significant novelty and the added uncertainty that that brings with it when planning out an unusual business model, skews what can be found from a more traditional analysis of that type, and for any possible scenario included in it,
• Where its basic three scenario possibilities more normatively tend to differ from each other for timing and level of impact, for what are largely a same set of at least mostly knowable and known working parameters.
• And ultimately, this type of tripartite modeling critically depends on the ready availability of a sufficiently complete and accurate a pool of essential and relevant data, so as to be able to meaningfully, accurately set up and analyze each of the three scenario possibilities moving forward, from it.
• The more uncertainty and the more unexpecteds that are likely to arise for a business, the more the required terms of the above bullet point will be violated, making this type of test that much less reliable and informative. And that raises specific challenges here for any new business that like a research-as-product startup or early stage business, is going to be mired in New and in the friction-creating uncertainties that that brings with it. The more friction and uncertainty that the decision makers at a new business have to deal with, the less likely it becomes that they will even begin to be able to anticipate what complications might arise, and in either a more stressed test case scenario, or even just a normative one.

The founders and owners of a business as discussed here, are not going to be able to turn to a significant precedent-based set of similar enterprises for their case study value in carrying out their own planning. They are not treading that type of well-worn path. And they are not going to have a long enough timeline based data pool from their own experience with this new business, to offer sufficient guidance for more optimally setting up and using this type of three scenario approach either, and certainly when their efforts in that direction would be benchmarked against efforts that would be made when planning out a more standard business model and its execution.

I am not arguing against using this type of business modeling and planning approach per se here, as much as I am presenting a case for supplementing it with additional testing options and considerations, that might help fill in some of the gaps that this more traditional three scenario approach would create on its own. And with that, I raise the alternative of a more precisely targeted scenario-based modeling approach for this type of business development context. And I begin addressing that by raising a basic, orienting set of determinative questions, the answers to which would help to shape those more targeted scenario options.

I begin preparing for those questions, by raising an important point of distinction. Business systems friction and the information and communications limitations that create it can be categorically divided into two roughly considered domains:

Constitutive business systems friction that arises as a matter of course, and without specific stakeholder or process-determining source, and
Focally caused business systems friction that arises from the actions (or lack thereof) of specific identifiable sources, whether that means specific stakeholders or specific business systems processes.

Think of the constitutive form of friction here, as fitting a pattern that physicists would associate with the second law of thermodynamics: a basic part of any real-world system that arises collectively from the system as a whole, as the cumulative impact of minor timing and other information development and sharing mismatches that arise within it and seemingly randomly, at least when considered individually. This can perhaps best be seen as representing background friction. And while more effective overall business policy and practice, and more effective communications and other systems disintermediation in them, as appropriate, can limit this form of friction, nothing can entirely eliminate it with that making the business essentially frictionless as an information systems and communications ideal.

Focally caused friction on the other hand can in principle be limited and even effectively eliminated, at least for the most part, by addressing and remediating its specifically identifiable sources. I assumed in the above paragraph, when citing business systems improvement, that this would be done while dealing with the more intractable problems of constitutive friction. But that said, I added the phrase “eliminated, at least for the most part” here because there is always going to be a reactive element to this type of remediation, and new sources of this categorical type of friction will continue to arise, even as older ones are identified, characterized and corrected for. And to highlight a key point of difference between constitutive and focally caused friction here, where the former arises more randomly as to specific contributing causal factors, as noted above, the later: focally caused friction arises from specifically knowable causal factors and ones that at least in principle should be specifically addressable.

The basic three scenario model that I have been pursuing here, is fundamentally grounded in what would more properly be viewed as at least being close to an idealized frictionless business, where all involved stakeholders can and do have the information that they would need in order to effectively understand and make use of the scenario possibilities in play for them. The more targeted scenario options that I have suggested here as an update to or supplement to that approach, would explicitly address friction, and in its two just proffered forms and with a goal of limiting overall constitutive friction as a whole where possible, while focusing in on and limiting or even eliminating friction that arises from focally causative sources.

• The goal there is to develop business-specific scenarios that are built around this type of functionally remediable understanding.

Focusing here on the focally caused business systems friction side of that here, as the most readily addressable of the two:

• What are the gatekeeper and other potential friction sources that a business might face, and where might they be expected to rise to a level of functional significance, for each of the three basic scenarios? Who does and who does not effectively communicate with whom, and on what issues and for what types of information and with what types of delays? Think of these as context-provided stressors.
• Now what business processes are in place, or under development and in early use that might be responsible for an overall increase in the likely level of focally caused business friction and on a scenario by scenario basis? And what other stress or risk of stress contributors might exacerbate this, and how might they arise? Think of these factors as context-provided stressors too.
• Now think through possible and likely outside challenges that would push a business from its more ideal outcomes scenarios too, and think of them as context-provided stressors here as well.
• Go back and forth between these categorical stressor types through a set of iterative reviews to consider how they might interact, and certainly where they might do so in a synergistic manner.
• Now consider the more extreme of these stressors and certainly where one or more of the three basic scenario types might push an identifiable friction source to have profound impact. What are the wall builder/barrier creating issues that this particular business might face, that might be expected to rise to a make-or-break level of significance, were that might be predicted in advance, in anticipatory planning?
• Now, and with those more business-specific possible challenges (and any anticipatable possible positive opportunities) in mind, what would happen as far as more standard metrics are concerned if they were to arise other than normatively? … and with a normative scenario included too of course, for benchmark comparison purposes.
• Use this modified approach as a first cut exercise when making your initial planning, and certainly when facing real novelty and the increase in overall friction that that can be expected to engender.
• And use next round iterations of it, as you develop more empirical input to inform your planning, as you and your leadership team think through and refine your understanding of what issues (and their parameters) should be included, based on emerging real world experience with this new business.
• And continue this exercise until you and your team reach a consensus of understanding and agreement, or until you have unearthed and clearly come to at least workable accommodation on whatever differences emerge in your collective underlying goals and assumptions planning, so that all necessary stakeholders can at least work together in addressing mutually agreed to tasks and priorities.
• And repeat this exercise if you or others in your leadership team – or others who report to them, begin to raise concern over increasing friction in the business with information quality or availability challenges increasing.
• And repeat this if and as it starts to look like the business might be facing an emerging transition point change, as it did when exiting the startup stage per se into a first real growth phase, or for when it appears to be completing that stage with a need to move onto a next development step beyond it. Transition points represent points in time when friction issues are certain to rise in significance.

I said in Part 15, that I would break open the black box representation of the type of disruptively novel new business that I have been discussing in this series and in this installment of it. And I have in fact begun doing so here from how I added a more detailed consideration of friction to this narrative. I am going to continue that opening up process in the next installment to this series where I will address some business model-specific issues, and the challenge of knowing precisely when a business development stage is ending and a next one is beginning. And as noted at the end of Part 15, my basic goal for this series and for where to go in it from here, is to conclude the more entirely-early business development phase of this discussion as I have been offering that here, and then move on to offer a more long-term scalability perspective on these enterprises: one that focuses more specifically on research-oriented enterprises with their particular issues and as they seek to grow into larger successful businesses.

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

Rethinking national security in a post-2016 US presidential election context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 13

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on January 3, 2019

This is my 13th installment to a 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 and its Page 3 continuation, postings 354 and loosely following for Parts 1-12.)

I have been discussing a briefly stated list of topics points in this series in recent installments, that I repeat here as I turn to its third entry, and with a goal of more systematically exploring specific case in point examples:

1. I offered and then began expanding upon a basic if perhaps simplistic outline of a problem that we are all increasingly facing as new cyber technologies and new ways of using them, are turned to societally disruptive purposes, and in ways that are seemingly impossible to address proactively – leaving only more reactive, catch-up alternatives. That seeming impossibility of advancing cyber-security to a more proactive footing, has at least become an all but axiomatically assumed starting point for thought and action and for essentially all actively involved parties in this.
2. And I outlined an at least preliminary cartoon-formatted approach to addressing that challenge, which I have already indicated to be inadequate and certainly for moving past reactive responses, from how it limits consideration of the levels and types of organizational involvement that might be required.
3. And I have offered at least a brief list of working example case studies for discussion in this context. As a part of that, I have already raised and selectively discussed Stuxnet and its use in an attack against Iran’s nuclear weapons development program in Part 12, and have proposed discussing China’s and North Korea’s use of weaponized cyber-technology, as well as Russia’s growing use of this, and their reliance upon it as a means of muscled diplomacy. At the end of Part 12, I said that I would address Russia as a next example here, and I will do so, proceeding from there to more fully consider China and North Korea too. And I will also offer some thoughts as to the cyber-defense (and offense) systems that have been developed in the United States as well, and particularly in recent years. My goal in offering these case in point examples is to more fully analyze and discuss the precise nature of the basic problem faced here (as per Point 1 of this list), and ideally in operationally meaningful terms that would suggest better ways to deal with it (as called for in Point 2) – improving on the first-take cartoon remediation approach that I have offered up to here in this series, for doing so.

I begin discussing Russia’s development and deployment of weaponized cyber-capabilities, with a crucial point regarding the earlier, US and Israeli created and launched Stuxnet, as that has opened the door for all that has followed. The United States and Israel developed and used this weapon against a shared adversary in order to delay if not forestall Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability that both nations saw as creating an existential threat, and certainly to Israel. This was their justifying reasoning, and I am not in fact going to argue against it as being unwarranted. Iran, and certainly the Iran of that time was virulently threateningly opposed to Israel, and I add to the United States and a number of other nations as well, that their zealot religious leadership saw as enemies of them and enemies of their conception of god. But as I noted in Part 12:

• Need and justification for pursuing and developing and even using cyber-weapons, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. And crucially importantly, that means that what is and is not sufficient justification to merit the development and use of these weapons capabilities, ultimately rests on the judgment of those who would seek to build and hold them. It rests in their hands – at least until after the fact if those weapons are in fact deployed and used. And it remains there unless and until such weapons are used and response to them would have to be mounted reactively. (Yes, there are some assumptions embedded in this bullet pointed assertion that I will return to later in this series, and not just when considering more proactive policy and action possibilities. But this approach as offered here, is pretty much our current reality and globally so as nations deal with other nations.)

Returning to the specific case in point example of Stuxnet from that more general point of consideration, the United States and Israel had what they saw as undeniably justifying reasons for developing and using weaponized software against another nation and they acted accordingly – through what turned out to be a short-term solution to what in fact was and is a long-term problem. And they in effect, opened Pandora’s box in doing so, and particularly as Russia, and I add here China and North Korea and others, have found their own justifications for following a parallel if not entirely similar path, and with the development and active use of Stuxnet as a source of justifying precedent.

Let’s start considering Russia’s and Vladimir Putin’s actions where weaponized cyber-capabilities are concerned, by at least briefly considering their reasoning as to how and why this would be both justified and even necessary for them. What shapes and drives their “sufficient justification” for this type of course of action? What is Vladimir Putin’s Russia’s counterpart to a perceived need to launch a Stuxnet attack against a threatening foreign power: a religiously extremist Iran with nuclear weapons, that would prompt and justify their taking the actions that they have?

• To put what follows in perspective here, as a working example that sheds light on more general principles, I note that it is going to be inherently impossible to step ahead of unfolding events and address cyber-threats proactively if you only focus on what adversaries and potential adversaries do. If you do that, you wait until they have already at least in large part completed developing the weaponized cyber-capabilities that they might deploy against you, your allies or both.
• Proactive here, fundamentally requires an ongoing proactive effort to understand the reasoning and motivation that might lead an adversary or potential adversary to pursue cyber-weapons technologies and their use in the first place.
• If you know what concerns and fears drive them, this can and will offer you insight into their likely perceived threat-response doctrines and their more likely approaches taken for fulfilling them.
• And I add in this context that cyber-weapons are among the most appealing options faced where an adversary or potential adversary sees a genuine need for either an at least short-term stealthy weapon that they can plausibly deny having launched,
• Or a need for a weapons capability that would benefit them in an asymmetric conflict where their enemies might be able to launch highly damaging or even devastating retaliatory attacks against them in a more conventional conflict scenario.

I begin addressing Russia and its current development and use of cyber-weapons by at least briefly discussing something of their Why for that course. What are the existential-threat justifications and reasoning for pursuing and using a cyber-warfare capability, as Russia’s leadership and in fact most their general population have generally seen matters?

I begin addressing that question by raising a point of observation that I have at least touched upon in earlier postings to this blog: Russia’s long-standing fear of foreign aggression and invasion has been one of their driving forces behind their approach to other nations, and their diplomatic and other actions taken with regard to them and for centuries.

A perceived ongoing threat to their territorial integrity and to their nation from invasion has been a guiding consideration, and one of more than just historical interest in Russia, and from well before the advent of Communism, and its attempted fulfillment in a Soviet Union era Russia. More specifically, and to add an historical marker to this narrative here, this policy and practice-shaping fear did not begin with Communist Russia’s creation of the Warsaw Pact as an Eastern European buffer zone, to slow down or even block any possible repetition of the carnage from the West that the Soviet Union experienced during World War II, from Nazi Germany’s invasion of much of the Western half of their nation, with their Operation Barbarossa.

Russia has all but axiomatically assumed that would-be foreign invaders are just over the horizon, if not already visibly present and facing them, and for centuries from before the reign of Peter the Great (sole ruler of all of Russia from 1682 to his death in 1725).

The earliest such incursions, and certainly the earliest long-term, highly impactful ones that are generally noted in the historical records, date from the 9th to 11th centuries with invasions of what is now Kiev and its surrounding territories by Varangian Vikings. These incursions have been followed by a long succession of territorial conquests, or at least would-be conquests that have taken control of tracts of Russian soil, and for some of them for extended periods of time.

Consider, for example:

• TheMongol invasions in the 1200s,
• The Swedish invasion of Russian territory as carried out under the rule of their king, Charles XII,
Poland’s recurring invasions of Russian territory with Boleslaw I’s “intervention” of 1018 while Vikings were already invading and controlling parts of Russia, the Polish-Muscovite War of 1605-1618, and the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920. These three events only constitute more notably impactful incursions out of what is in fact a longer list of possible entries here, involving Polish incursion.
• And the Ottoman invasions of Russia of the 16th through 18th centuries.

These conflicts and more, as pressed upon Russia from the outside, come immediately to mind, as does the Napoleonic Invasion of Russia of 1812. And Nazi Germany’s invasion as noted above, has seared this ongoing source of concern into the minds and hearts of Russians everywhere, for the near annihilation of most all of Western Russia, and its agricultural base and food supply there and its basic infrastructure in all of its forms and functions throughout that vast region of Russia, and with that damage leading all the way east to the gates of Moscow itself, and with Russia as a whole facing some 27 million fatalities from that war.

All of this goes a long way towards explaining why Russia has traditionally acted in a manner that the people of most other nations would see as aggressive. From a behavioral science perspective, much of their active response in all of this, and both as reactive response and from when they have been able to mount anticipatory preemptive responses, has been shaped by the ongoing lessons of their history. And much if not most of this has taken forms that can perhaps best be called defensive aggression, or defensive agonistic behavior if you prefer a more general term. And my above-offered list of invasion events only skims the surface for the externally inflicted conflict that Russia has historically faced, only noting some of the historically larger, better known of such events here in this narrative that would inform and shape Russia’s ongoing and current policy and practices.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment, where I will discuss Vladimir Putin and how he has turned this long-held Russian perspective to his own purposes as he advances his own ambitions. And in the course of that, I will at least briefly outline some of the high points for how Putin’s Russia has turned to cyber-weapons and their use, in order to advance Russian national causes and his own. In anticipation of that discussion to come, this will mean my discussing how the approaches developed and used in that ongoing effort, have their roots in the underling motivating drives – the prime driver for them that I have been addressing here of threat and fear of invasion definitely included. And I will add to that policy and action shaping motivator, at least a brief discussion of modern post-Communist Russia’s and post-Communist Vladimir Putin’s understandings of the perceived existential threats that they face, and the opportunities that they face too and how these shaping forces interrelate. Then, as promised above, I will turn to consider China and North Korea and their current cyber-policies and practices, and current and evolving cyber-policies and practices as they are taking shape in the United States as well, as shaped by its war on terror among other motivating considerations.

My goal in all of that is to use these case study examples to more fully explore and discuss the issues raised in topics Points 1 and 2 from the above list, and with a goal of offering at least a perspective on resolving the challenges that they offer as above-written.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3, and at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And you can also find this and related material at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 13

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on December 31, 2018

This is my 13th 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 1-12.)

I began working my way through a briefly stated to-address topics list in Part 12 that I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative, as I continue that process:

• Reconsider the basic issues of communications and information sharing and their disintermediation in light of the trends and possibilities that I have been writing of in this series, and certainly since its Part 6 where I first started to more explicitly explore insider versus outside employee issues here.
• Begin that with a focus on the human to human communications and information sharing context.
• And then build from that to at least attempt to anticipate a complex of issues that I see as inevitable challenges as artificial agents develop into the gray area of capability that I made note of above (n.b. in Part 11). More specifically, how can and should these agents be addressed and considered in an information communications and security context? In anticipation of that line of discussion to come, I will at least raise the possibility there, that businesses will find themselves compelled to confront the issues of personhood and of personal responsibility and liability for gray area artificial agents, and early in that societal debate. And the issues that I raise and discuss in this series will among other factors, serve as compelling bases for their having to address that complex of issues.

I offered at least a preliminary, first cut response to the first of those topic points in Part 12, at least as far as our current workplace context is concerned, where all involved parties are human and where our still simple, pre-intelligent artificial intelligence agents are still just tools per se. But I add here that one of the key threads of discussion that I have offered here in this series has centered on what is inevitably to come, as more genuinely intelligent, sentient artificial intelligence agents arise, and to a level of mental capacity where they should be considered as people. So with that background in mind, I ended Part 12 with what should be a disconcerting note, posing the following comment and question:

• All of our current, as of this writing artificial intelligence agents in place in businesses, and throughout the workplace are still special function and single function for the most part, and driven by single algorithms that are of very constrained and limited scope. They are still just tools. Security software and patches make sense for tools and for any tool-level computer or network or otherwise information access-vulnerable devices. But how do you address the issues that would lead to use of such imposed, overriding and in fact over-writing solutions when faced with what would best be considered AI people, as discussed as a real possibility in Parts 10 and 11 of this series? And perhaps more importantly, how would and should a business parse out valid and I add ethical and moral resolutions to this type of question?

I raised the above-repeated note in the context of having just touched on the issues of how software-based resources can be and are routinely updated with code patches and for both functionality and security purposes – where the systems so acted upon are tools and are viewed as such.

My goal moving forward in this series is to address the human-centric second topics point as listed above and then the artificial intelligence agent-centric third point of that list. But before doing so and as an extension of my response to the first of those points, I want to more explicitly discuss what a true artificial general intelligence agent is, and certainly when recognized as such and when considered from a legal and an ethical perspective. And I note in anticipation of that line of discussion, that some of the issues that bear consideration there, will apply in a more strictly speaking human agent context too, and both as technologies advance that would make artificial intelligence agents direct competitors with humans, and as technologies advance that would enable the manipulation and even the fundamental reshaping of humans and both physically and mentally. That distinction, I add is already becoming moot as pharmaceutically based interventions advance that affect and even transform mental functioning at a basic biochemical and physiological level.

I am writing this at a time when people are people and machines are tools and very separate from people. And I am writing this at a time when people – humans are generally thought of as being essentially entirely in control of who they are and of how they think. The perspectives taken on these presumptions: these automatically assumed axioms will change and even just within the next decades of this century.

• Would it be ethical to “patch” a human mind, overriding and even fundamentally overwriting parts of it for purposes of interest and value to others, or in support of a state or other organized entity?
• Most people would say no to that, viewing any attempt at that type or level of control as dystopian evil. And the one generally accepted exception to that, that we now face can be found in psychiatric intervention using medication and restraint as needed, in addressing the challenges faced by people deemed to pose a direct threat to themselves or others as a result of mental illness. But authoritarian states can and do interpret what that means, to serve their own purposes so even that exception can be fraught with uncertainties and even overt controversy.
• Can you ethically “patch” an artificial intelligence agent that has reached a level of cognitive capacity that would lead it to be fully, generally intelligent and in the manner that people are considered to be when fully mentally capable? And if so,
• How and to what degree?
• And with what informed consent requirements and from whom?
• And for what purposes?
• And according to what criteria for addressing those and similar gatekeeper questions that would have to be satisfactorily met to justify potentially mind-altering change or intervention?
• And with those criteria and the standards that would have to be met for them determined by whom?
• And with what legal protections in place to at least limit if not entirely prevent abuse?

To connect this line of reasoning back to this series and its communications and information management focus, can it be ethical to “patch” a genuinely artificial general intelligence agent, with as reasoning and intelligent a mind as a normal human, to externally control their use and sharing of information that a third party would seek to manage? Consider that from the more strictly human agent context of when it will become possible to reshape or even fully delete specific memories or knowledge held in a mind by a combination of psychopharmaceutical and other means.

• On one level I am writing here in this series of our current here-and-now and in an entirely human agent context. But I am also looking forward in order to consider the disruptively new and different contexts and challenges that we will see emerging into our everyday reality, and even before the middle of this century for their opening stages.

And with that noted, and at least starting in our still present here-and-now, I turn to consider the second topic point as offered above, and with:

• A focus on the human to human communications and information sharing context.

And I will also address the third of those topics points with its broader, more inclusive assumptions as to what it means to be a person. In anticipation of that discussion to come, I will raise and discuss the question of whether it would make any more sense to have separate information security management and communications rules and processes for humans and artificial general intelligence agents respectively, than it would to have such policy and practice distinctions when addressing full time in-house employees and temporary, outside-sourced employees.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. And also see Social Networking and Business 2 and that directory’s Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 22 – the jobs and careers context 21

This is my 22nd 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-21.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in Part 14, and that transition period’s day two and following in Part 18. And as part of that continuing narrative, I have been successively discussing a set of issues relevant to any new hire who works in anything like a larger organization, that I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative as I continue addressing them. (Note that I append here, links to where I have already at least preliminarily discussed the first four of these topics points, adding them in as parenthetical notes.)

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in (see Part 18.)
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them (see Part 19.)
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected (see Part 20.)
4. Networking for success in the workplace (see Part 21.
5. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement.
6. Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected (and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.)

My goal for this posting is to at least begin to discuss the above offered Point 5 and its issues. And to put that topic point into clearer perspective with the four that precede it, I repeat the anticipatory note that I appended to the end of Part 21 as a lead-in for this posting:

• “Up to here I have been writing in this posting progression about preparatory networking and conversations, and without you’re coming across as simply asking for others’ time and effort where that might primarily offer value to you. All of this has been about proactively paving a way for you to better fit in and both as a source of value to others and so that you can have a wider range of resources available when and if you need them for yourself too. I am going to turn to Point 5 of the above list in my next series installment, and the issues of actually tapping into and benefiting from the social networking connections and resources that you need, that this groundwork has at least hopefully made more available to you.”

Let’s begin addressing the issues of that bullet point by considering a very specific, and I add very real workplace situation that I have faced and that I have had to deal with, from my own work life experience. I was brought into a business as a new hire, with a set of what amounted to agenda-scaled tasks to carry out and complete that centered around helping that organization reach out and connect more effectively with their “larger surrounding community” and its members, through online social media. I had already faced counterparts to this challenge in the past, and expected to find myself facing essentially the same issues and challenges that I had to address there, in this new workplace. I knew going in that at least one other person had tried carrying out this task and without success, but I had been led to believe that their problem was more a matter of a lack of familiarity with online social networking, at least as a business-wide managed activity than anything else. Connecting into Facebook and other online social media sites as an individual user, and posting to them and responding to the posted content of others on them, is different than setting up and managing larger overall social media campaigns with all of the performance monitoring and all of the brand management issues that that entails. My point is that I walked into that job, expecting that this business had tried managing this workplace responsibility by asking someone who was individually active online and particularly on a site such as Facebook, to move from there into setting up and running a business-wide social media-based marketing campaign, and an open-ended one at that.

I started working there and quickly found that I was facing a very different underlying challenge, at least as far as my being able to carry out this work was involved. Actually setting up and managing this social media outreach and connections system called for a comprehensive database support system for holding all of the information about potentially connected community members, and active ones, and their levels and types of involvement, so the business could individually customize how it addressed the people it wanted to be actively engaged with, according to their history and their levels and types of interest in this. And that required an actively engaged expert at relational database programming. And neither my own direct supervisor there, nor their supervisor was at all happy with the prospect of bringing anyone else into this for fear of increasing the cost of this endeavor, even as they both saw this as crucially important to the organization as a whole and as holding very high priority for their own careers there too, to be able to say that they got this done.

Let’s consider this emergent challenge from a Point 4 perspective first, and in terms of reaching out to meet and network with as wide a range of potentially valuable contacts as possible, and from early on. One of the very first things that I did there was to begin reaching out to all of the key stakeholders who I could identify, and both within this business and from outside of it (e.g. with a relatively few high networking value people who I could readily identify up-front, who this business would want to reach in their online social media-connecting efforts. (See Part 21 of this series and an earlier posting: Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy, for relevant information on hub networkers and other high value networking types.)

This definitely included all of the key gatekeeper level in-house stakeholders who would of necessity by involved in this project, and with them specifically included there because this project’s success would very significantly benefit them and their services and departments at this business if nothing else.

• I initially reached out to them to get to know them, and to make it clear that my goal there at that business was to help them reach their goals that this social media connectivity effort would enable.
• I initially reached out to them to introduce myself as a solution to problems, asking only for more detailed information as to what they needed from this and how it would connect into and support their already ongoing systems and programs.
• When I realized that I needed database help that I could not readily secure from direct support of my supervisor there, I reached out to one of those in-house stakeholders: the head of a large and well-funded department there, who saw particular value in this online social media endeavor, who was well connected with the database people there from his already ongoing work with them on other matters.

I had already established myself as someone who offered value and who returned it when helped. I picked my stakeholder to seek help from, very carefully and both for selecting the right one to reach out to and for reaching out with care and both for what help I asked for and for how I did that. I presented this entirely in terms of my more effectively and quickly helping to meet their needs, and not just in terms of their helping me – even if this stakeholder knew this would directly help me too.

• And as an outcome of this, I did secure the help of a database programmer, and one who was in fact looking for opportunities to get involved in wider ranges of activities there, in order to advance his own career. He did not want to be typecast as only being able to work in one narrow area of the business and saw this as a way out from that rut.
• And this department head stakeholder became a real ally out of this because we had successfully carried out a now-shared task of real value to both of us, or at least a crucial step in achieving that.

Success in this type of networking and in its working relationship building efforts, create positive bonds and strengthens them. And that creates opportunity for further collaborative efforts too.

• Build social networking bridges and from day one on a new job to the extent that is possible. Start this as early as possible and assiduously work at cultivating and expanding your reach there as the days pass and as you work your way through your initial probationary period and beyond.
• Start out by getting to know people and by helping them get to know you too. And present yourself as a positive, and as a source of solutions to problems rather than as a drain who would only seek out unreciprocated help from others.
• This means listening and really listening, and this means you’re coming to understand how your work does, or at least might fit into and support what others there are doing and what they are responsible for. Take notes; develop your own contacts information database to keep track of all of this.
• Then when – not if, when you eventually need help from one of these networking contact colleagues, pick who you would ask for information, insight or overt help from with forethought and care,
• Approach them and ask for this assistance with just as much care, taking their own workloads and their own needs into account when doing so,
• And do so with just as much care when considering the resources that they might be able to help you reach through next step networking.
• Be very focused and specific in what you ask for; you should not come across as asking for a blank check or for an open ended help account that you would just continue to draw from.
• And connect what you ask for from this contact to what you offer to them and can do for them too, presenting this as a transaction in an ongoing reciprocally beneficial relationship. Here, you goal is to build bridges as much as it is to benefit from them.

I am going to turn to Point 6 of the above list in my next series installment:

• Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected.

Then after discussing that set of issues, here from the perspective of navigating a new hire probationary period, I am going to turn to consider negotiating in general as a jobs and careers tool set. In anticipation of that next discussion thread to come here, I note that negotiations of this type essentially always take place and hold meaning in the context of change and its at least potential challenges and opportunities. That point of observation certainly applies to the points and issues that I have been raising and discussing in this series up to here. And it will continue to hold merit, and even defining merit in what is to come here too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And for relevant background and a systematic discussion of the new hire probationary period as a whole, as organized from day one on, see : Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation, as can also be found at Page 1 of that Guide (as its postings 73-88.)

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