Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

The importance of taking ownership in your work and your business 5: reconsidering an owner’s of record understanding of ownership

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 8, 2013

This is my fifth posting to a series on taking ownership responsibility for the business you work at and regardless of your position or title there, or your financial ownership status (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 445 and following for Parts 1-4.)

I have been focusing at least up to here in this series, on employees and the value and meaning of their taking a proprietary approach to the business they work at as if they were owners. Businesses do best when their employees feel and act according to that level of commitment to excellence.

From its beginning when I first started writing to this series (see Part 1) I have set aside any explicit consideration of owners of record here, and how they should and should not express their ownership stake. Obviously, an owner of record is in a position where they can and should make binding strategic decisions and certainly when they own a significant or even majority share of a business. But day-to-day and in the course of their routine business activities how should they express this? How should a majority-share or sole owner present themselves in their routine business activities and when working with their employees?

No one is likely to forget that a business owner does in fact own their business, and an owner of record should not act as if they were to trying to hide that fact. But they do need to give the people who work for them room to act too, and to make decisions where that would be appropriate and according to their roles and positions in the organization.

• Owners own, but this does not mean stifling the drive, energy or enthusiasm of the people who work for them, and it should not mean taking over their jobs at a decision making level and micromanaging either.

And this specifically brings me to a posting that I added to this blog not long after I first started writing to it: Maintaining a Vision While Loosening Our Grip. I wrote of the importance of not holding on too tightly in 2009. I repeat that basic message here, putting it more fully into context and for established businesses as well as for startups.

This basic approach applies to the context of initially developing a business and converting its founding vision into more competitively functional form. This applies when planning out and building operational processes and systems and when setting basic goals, where specialized expertise can offer real value and members of the full team can all offer value. This applies for more established businesses too, where a wider range of insight and options can lead to greater competitive strength – and even if a single owner makes the final overall decisions.

If you are an owner of record and certainly if you are a sole owner of a business, make the decisions that you need to make on the issues that you specifically need to manage. But encourage and enable your employees to take a proprietary approach too, and enable them to make a commitment to your business and its excellence and to its success too. And look for ways of involving others in the decision making process without losing control of it or allowing it to drift. That can call for a balancing act at times, and is a context where experience leading and owning a business can offer real value.

I am going to follow this discussion with a series installment on problem resolution and dealing with the real world inevitability of things sometimes going wrong. Meanwhile, you can find this posting at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and related material at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory.

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