Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Putting change in perspective 6 – taking a 360 degree view 2

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on September 20, 2013

This is my sixth installment in a series on recognizing change and on evaluating its potential significance as it develops, so as to enable a more rapid and effective, and even a more proactive response (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 417 and loosely following for Parts 1-5.)

I have been writing in this series about change per se in its various forms, ranging from business-as-usual background fluctuations in performance and activity, to ongoing evolutionary change, to truly disruptive and market altering change. And as a core facet to any such narrative, I have been discussing metrics and measures that would be used as tools for identifying change per se, and the scale and impact of change as it might arise in these three basic forms. I have not been discussing the valence, positive or negative of change yet and will delve into that later in this series. For this posting, my goal is to pick up again on a set of metrics issues that I first raised in Part 2: taking a 360 degree perspective.

I began this series with a Part 1 on what is both one of the most essential and one of the most lagging measures of change possible: realized financial impact as reflected through bookkeeping and accounting reviews and analysis. I then explicitly began writing here about taking a 360 degree perspective approach in Part 2 where I wrote about what can be the most leading indicator of change arising, and even of change still to come: tapping into and mining the online social media and related conversations, and both for insight into the external marketplace and into the internal conversations of your own business’ workforce. I explicitly add two way conversation and data and insight mining when dealing with supply chain partner businesses here, as a key element to this approach. And I note that this side of a 360 degree approach should be as inclusive as possible, and involve as many groups, organizations and demographics as significantly impact on a business and its competitive position and performance. But simply looking at these two timeline bookend resources, with a leading and a lagging indicator should only be considered part of an overall, comprehensive 360 degree approach.

I began filling in the gap that this leaves in identifying and understanding change in Part 5: widening the range of change indicators and developing effective benchmarks for them, where I began a discussion of how business process and performance metrics can be added in, there connecting this series to one that I developed specifically on building a business around more effective performance metrics, and why: Moving Towards Dynamic Performance Based Business Models (see Startups and Early Stage Businesses, postings 123 and loosely following for Parts 1-8.) My goal for this posting is to more fully discuss what a 360 degree approach can mean for a business, when this wider range of performance metrics is taken into account. And I begin that by challenging what at least as if this writing is the more commonly held understanding as to what a 360 degree approach means.

• When people write or speak of taking a 360 degree approach, they at least currently almost always mean widening the conversational scope, and in a direct person to person context.
• I could simply update that here to include a set of relevant business performance metrics as a supplement to this conversational flow. And I could write here of including a more comprehensive set of tools that fit along a full leading-to-lagging performance metric timeline of a type that I have framed this series in terms of.
• But I am going to take a more far-reaching approach here and challenge the fundamental meaning of the conventional understanding of 360 degrees per se, with its human to human communications assumption.

And I begin that by citing a series that I have been posting to on our rapidly emerging internet of things (see: Some Thought Concerning a Rapidly Emerging Internet of Things at Ubiquitous computing and communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 211 and loosely following for Parts 1-11.) One of the fundamental points that I sought to develop and expand upon there was the simple fact that more and more of our telephonic and online interactions are, and will continue to be with artifacts of hardware and software – and that more and more of these systems that we deal with in our day to day lives will more and more fully and convincingly be able to pass a Turing test and at least collectively on a progressively more open ended range of discussion.

• A 360 degree approach, even when limited to online conversation and transactions is not, or at least should not be limited conceptually or in practice to person-to-person, and in fact that limitation requirement is becoming progressively more and more irrelevant every single day.
• And with that noted, I add that this Turing test capability as a measure of intelligence applies as fully within an organization and its infrastructure and business performance systems as it does in intranet or internet-based systems.
• So I am not actually stating that a fuller 360 degree approach would consist of a person-to-person social networking-plus component added to a separate and distinct business performance tools and metrics component. I am arguing that ultimately they become functionally indistinguishable and we will have to think of all of these components as fitting together into overarching single comprehensive systems.
• I see this as a defining trend that businesses and business people will have to embrace and even take for granted as this 21st century proceeds and this trend as its runs its course will be seen as a defining feature that sets this century apart as a watershed period in history.

It already makes sense now to think of the full set of tools and resources available for identifying, characterizing and understanding change, as fitting together as a single system, where value can be created by combining sources of insight to reach emergent conclusions that would not be apparent from the individual input parts alone.

I am going to turn in my next installment to consider a set of issues that I have noted but put off throughout this series up to now: the positive or negative valence of change, and how a given change can, depending on context and timing present itself either way. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2 and at the first page to that directory. And you can also find this and related material at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory.

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