Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 7: looking beyond simply managing personnel 3

Posted in book recommendations, HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 29, 2014

This is my seventh installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-6.)

I began looking beyond direct interpersonal management issues and processes, as take place between supervisors and in-house employees who report to them with Part 5 of this series. My topic of discussion there was management and the workplace context and setting. I continued looking at management from a wider perspective in Part 6 with a discussion of how management practices can and do shape the customer experience, and how they influence how effectively a business connects with its marketplaces. I turn in a third outwardly facing direction in this installment to consider supply chain systems and other business to business collaborations and how management style and approach in a business that seeks to gain from such business-to-business systems, can facilitate or limit the achievable value that could be gained from them.

I stated at the end of Part 6 that I would discuss as a part of this, the role of management approach in:

• Developing and managing effective interfaces with differing business systems and cultures, and to mutual benefit for all businesses involved, and certainly if these business-to-business relationships are to remain positive and sustainable.

This means looking at how businesses communicate with and work with other businesses at their immediate points of contact, and how they organize and function so as to keep those points of contact working smoothly and effectively. And that “as is” approach is where strategic planning for supply chain participation often both begins and ends. This also means looking at how a business’ overall systems can be optimized, and both for maintaining effective ongoing supply chain participation when everything is operating smoothly and normatively, and also when it is necessary to adjust to sudden change and the unexpected. And this second approach is essential if that first approach is to work reliably, long term, and in the face of both ongoing evolutionary change and more rapidly emerging disruptive challenge and opportunity as they arrive from the outside. This is where business agility and robustness enter supply chain participation with its business-to-business collaborations, and where these collaborations can be engaged in as a source of ongoing competitive strength for all participants.

This is also a point where I would cite one of my favorite companies, for how it has sought to develop and optimize supply chain systems, so as to capture rapidly emerging opportunity in rapidly changing industries and marketplaces through them: Li & Fung, Ltd (and see:

• Fung, VK, Fung, WK and Wind, Y. (2007) Competing In A Flat World: building enterprises for a borderless world. Wharton School Publishing.)

I cite this business as a very real world example of how the points I make here are not just abstract theory; they represent very real world and real marketplace experience and very real business practice. Li & Fung began as a stand-alone business but it evolved into a dynamic supply chain system creating and managing powerhouse and has gained the level of competitive strength and the success that it has, and in some of the most demanding and rapidly changing marketplaces that can be found anywhere, by developing and evolving its business processes and its management systems as tools for building supply chain systems that the best possible partner businesses would want to join into, and on mutually favorable business to business terms. It has become the go-to middleman company in this and I frequently cite it as a case study example of the emerging 21st century globally reaching and interconnected business.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will move away from this specific case study example, to consider how

• Different functional areas and their functionally focused management can work together strategically within a collaboratively active business to make it more agile and effective as a business-to-business collaboration partner, and more competitive in its own marketplaces and for its own good as a result.

Meanwhile, you can you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and also at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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