Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Finding and managing the right simplicity complexity balance 3: benchmarking from where your business is now – 2

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 17, 2012

This is my third installment in a series on more effectively structuring and managing a business, so that its overall organization and system of operational processes include the right details and complexities and no more or less (see Part 1 of this series and Part 2: benchmarking from where your business is now – 1.) And I state up front that I am addressing one of the most difficult challenges here that a manager or executive can face in a business – the challenge of seeing past and through the here and now and the familiar to really see how well their standard practices and systems do or do not work.

• One perhaps obvious place to look is for best practices within the organization, in identifying your most successful teams and managers, and really looking at what they do right and how they achieve greater success.

I have addressed this option several times in the course of writing this blog and simply note my postings on rainmaker best practices as a working example, here drawn from Sales (see Rainmaker Myths and Traps, and Rainmakers as a Source of Shared Best Practices.) Every area of your business is at least potentially a source for gaining greater operational and strategic insight, and both in identifying and understanding where organizational processes and structures do not work as well as they should, and for identifying and learning from best practices already in place – but only locally and where they could beneficially be more widely adapted.

• A second place to look is for outside best practices, and this becomes less obvious as a source of new insight and value when you look outside of your own industry and past the practices and assumptions of your immediate competition.
• If you only look there, to your competitors, the best you can ever achieve is to always be playing catch-up and the best you can ever be is reactive as you pursue a goal of being second best. So look and learn from a wider source of business models and business types, and with a goal of identifying processes, approaches and business understanding that comes from outside of your marketplace – but that could be effectively adapted to your context. A great idea or approach coming into your business in this way can even offer you unique value proposition opportunity, and certainly in your industry and until your competition has gone through the learning curve of identifying and adapting it too.

These approaches both look at adaptive and effectiveness-improving change from the solutions perspective. You want to balance this by looking at cash flow and cost centers in your operations, and for bottlenecks in your processes. Even just from the perspective of applying best practices remediations, doing so is all about knowing where you would need to make these changes and where your business is already running effectively.

A good starting point is to assume that there is room and opportunity for improvement. And the faster paced your industry and your competition and the more rapidly changing your marketplace and the needs and demands of your customers there, the more likely that this assumption will be true.

I am going to turn to the issues of operational and project-oriented approaches to managing business complexity and focus next, and will at least begin a discussion on implementation for this, in my next series installment. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 (and also see Business Strategy and Operations.)

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