Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

The importance of taking ownership in your work and your business 7: navigating change and uncertainty

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 21, 2013

This is my seventh 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 1-6.)

I have been writing to this series, at least up to here, with steady ongoing processes in mind, and with an essentially stable and steady marketplace in mind that employees would work in and that their customers would come from. I wrote in Part 6 about problems and identifying and resolving them, focusing there on issues and challenges that arise when working with and serving the needs of customers. But even there, I at least implicitly assumed a fairly stable business and marketplace and setting, and course correcting as needed to return things back to a stable and effective business as usual if drift from that is observed.

I set aside that assumption here and add in business and marketplace change and uncertainty, and I begin this part of this overall discussion with the fundamentals:

• When everything is going predictably smoothly and any course correction is simply a process of returning to an ongoing competitively stable center point, then business as usual and the processes and perspectives that define it become settled and they quickly become taken for granted too. Taking the business or its customers for granted is always problematical but this is a trap that is all too easily drifted into.
• When a business is operating in a changing competitive context, the clearest indicator that this is happening is that old tried-and-true, and old business as usual begin to break down. New approaches and ways and new understanding of what the business is and how it would best work, become essential.
• Effective employees and managers who can embrace this change and the uncertainties that come with it can thrive in the face of competitive change and uncertainty. Taking an owner’s level of responsibility in this means maintaining an ongoing sense of the long-term, ongoing value of the business as a stable core point and working from there as if a fixed compass point.

I do not write this as a long posting, but it is an important one.

• If a business’ employees take their business for granted, they will in turn take its customers for granted too, and that inevitably will limit both their own individual chances for personal job and career success, and the chances of the business they work for succeeding long-term too. At the very least this type of attitude limits the competitive potential of the business and guarantees that even if it succeeds, that will be to a lower level of success then should have been possible.
• If a business’ employees, its managers or both simply take the business for granted and take its ongoing success for granted, in a time of change and competitive challenge, everyone’s chances of success goes down that much more.
• I usually write about businesses in analytical terms and I usually write in terms of quantifiable measures and outcomes in doing so. Here I step back and offer as an implicit assumption that a business does better when the people who comprise it do not simply take it for granted, and particularly when facing change and uncertainty, and even when they cannot explicitly chart their best paths forward quantitatively.
• And I write here of the value that can be achieved from taking as a given that if they are involved and committed, good employees and managers can help make their business a success. If a point is reached where that understanding cannot be maintained as tenable, then the business is through – and even if it still has cash and readily monetizable reserves left.
• I write here about commitment and even passionately held commitment to the value of the business and what it seeks to do and I write about heart. Ultimately, that is what taking an ownership position means. And sustaining that requires active supporting involvement from both employees and managers and owners.

I will continue to write about analytical and the more quantifiable sides to business and its operations and strategies in future postings and series, exactly as I have up to here but I note here that it is important to keep the non-quantifiable values in mind too as they also offer sustaining value and meaning. 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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