Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leadership as a process of matching strengths to weaknesses

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 29, 2013

I write a lot about best practices and about developing competitive strength through the creation and cultivation of sources of competitive value and unique competitive value. But in the real world, even the best run and most dominatingly competitive businesses contain within themselves both stronger and weaker elements.

• Their ongoing strategic goal might be to expand their areas of strength to cover the entire range of operational systems, capabilities and processes that functionally define their business as it operates in its markets, and
• As it offers its customers sources of value that they see as holding value to them.
• But even as an extreme, this can still mean maintaining as simply effective but not outstandingly so, more secondary and support functions and systems – those that it would not make more sense to outsource, that it.

But in the real world financial and other supportive resources that would be needed to achieve this are limited and have to be prioritized for their application. Even where sufficient cash and cash equivalents at hand are nominally available to make additional capital expenditure and other infrastructure and support improvements now, real world due diligence constraints and future planning considerations might keep significant amounts of that tied up as reserve funds and as effectively unavailable liquidity. And certainly in competitive industries with demanding marketplaces, what constitutes a best in breed, unique value proposition resource or capability can change, and rapidly. So what would go into meeting the goals of the above bullet points can change, and suddenly and dramatically, and certainly if a competitor from inside the industry or from a novel outside direction shows up with a game changing competing innovation.

• So in the real world, effective leadership of a business, and certainly of a highly competitive one, has to be seen as a balancing act: developing and sustaining new sources of business strength and capability,
• While balancing off and limiting impact of relatively weaker areas,
• And reviewing and refining the basic understanding of both where resource capabilities are being expended and where they will need to be next so as to actively support and develop the right things.

Leadership is, in this regard all about continually identifying and prioritizing and selectively addressing and correcting gaps and weaknesses, and balancing strengths with relative weaknesses to cover for them while they are still lower priorities for actively correcting. And as a part of this, leadership is a process of managing triage for determining what to work on now, what to hold off on and work on later, or at lower priority and a slower rate now, and what to simply outsource or do away with as extraneous to business’ overall strategic vision and its overall and long-term needs.

This plays out at the level of hardware and software and at the level of buildings and physical and informational resources held within them. This plays out at the level of the human capital that a business can hold claim to in the form of its trained and skilled employee workforce. And making all of this work calls for participation of a full, well rounded strategic leadership team, and an effective managerial and hands-on employee base – of whatever complexity, diversity and scale would make sense for that business in keeping it functionally effective and competitive.

You can find this posting at Business Strategy and Operations – 3, and can also find related postings at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory and at Social Networking and Business and HR and Personnel.

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