Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 21: building a larger shared information commons 2

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 23, 2015

This is my 21st 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 1-20.)

I began Part 20 with a list of points that I would address next in this series, posing these topics of discussion in the context of mergers and acquisitions, and of better meeting the needs of a newly combined larger overall business organization:

• Building a larger shared information commons,
• And better facilitating people from what had been one side of an acquisition or from one side of a merger, in finding people with needed skills and experience
• And from both the other side of this business joining, and from their own side of this as well.
• And I added that I would discuss that complex of issues from a human resources availability perspective and from a management perspective, and in terms of developing what amounts to an in-house consultant placement capability for matching personnel and their skills, with needs they can effectively address, but without causing avoidable harm to the business processes and task completion efforts that these personnel would normally be focusing on in their more day-to-day work.
• And with that, I stated that I would introduce and at least begin to discuss contextual management.

At the end of that series installment I noted that I had started discussing the first three points of this to-do list. And I also noted that I would add at least a little more to my discussion of those points, and that I would move on from there to focus on the last two bullet points. I begin that here with the third point and with a side to it that I have not addressed up to here in this series.

I wrote about building an overarching information commons that would include what had been the two separate sides of a merger or acquisition, under one information-sharing roof. And I focused on how this type of resource can significantly contribute to bridging the gaps between what had been separate organizations until this business-to-business joining took place. But I also noted in passing that this type of newer and more inclusive post-joining information commons can also help people find needed expertise and experience from what had been their own side of this joining too. And I wanted to at least briefly delve into the how and why of that here, as that detail raises some widely applicable issues for any business.

When two businesses join and have to combine their information management and sharing systems, they essentially always arrive bringing at least some incompatibilities with them:

• Resources and processes that do not connect together, and certainly not smoothly and seamlessly
• And differing understandings as to which categories of groups and individuals would have what shared business information access rights, whether that means read-only privileges, read and write privileges but with third party administrative oversight, or higher level administrative rights and privileges – assuming they have access rights at all for an area of business information under consideration.

Any systems joining of this sort in effect forces all involved parties and all impacted-upon stakeholders to examine what is there, and both in identifying gaps and bottlenecks, and with an eye towards identifying better, more widely applicable best practices. And that means addressing problems that come to light within each side of a systems merger, as well as finding and addressing problems that would emerge from this combining.

• This type of shared analytical process highlights systems that work but not as well as they should,
• Systems that might have worked relatively efficiently in what had been the here-and-now of a smaller business organization – but that cannot readily, smoothly scale up to meet the needs of a now larger and more diverse business,
• And systems that are too inflexible in the face of changing needs and that are likely to begin to break down for their effectiveness, even if they have not compellingly done so yet.

And let’s specifically consider the implications of these points in a merger and acquisitions business-to-business joining, where a great many employees and managers are going to have to work together in new ways, and both across the merger or acquisition divide, and on each side of that barrier as well.

Most people at a business might know precisely who to turn to for help, when dealing with what for them have become more routine business challenges. And in a stable single ongoing organization, knowing that is validly considered a significant part of being an effective employee there in general, that everyone there know how to find and access the resources they need for their regular, routine work. But when businesses join, a great many people can find themselves doing new things, and to help facilitate and complete that joining if nothing else. And a manager, for example, who would have been turned to pre-merger might not be there anymore, or they might still work for this now larger organization but have different responsibilities and resource allocation authorities. You might be doing new things where you have to find what for you would be novel resources. And even if you need to access comfortably familiar resources, the people who you would have turned to in order to gain access to them, might not be there for authorizing that anymore.

I focused on the challenge of finding the right people and other resources from across the business joining barrier in Part 20, intimating potentially wider possibilities of challenges of that type there. I at least briefly and in abstract terms note here, how that potential for challenge impacts on the entire new and now larger organization and not just across its joining barrier. And an effective shared information commons helps in addressing barrier breakdown and resolution where that makes sense, and it holds at least equally valuable potential for helping to resolve bottlenecks and disconnects that can and do arise in what might be more unexpected places too. This is a management process series, so I add in this context that this type of shared information resource can help both in facilitating work and in facilitating its oversight and management, and the approval of access to resources that would be needed for all of this.

And this brings me to the last two of those bullet points:

• Developing an effective, value creating in-house consultancy capability, and
• Contextualizing management.

I am going to delve into those complex sets of issues in a next series installment. In anticipation of that, and with in-house consulting in mind, I offer for background reading my series: Consulting Assignment Life Cycle (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 225-249 for Parts 1-25.) And in anticipation of both the next installment to this series and of further series installments to come I will offer an initial, detailed outline there as to what contextual management is and what it addresses, and how it fits into an intentional management framework. And yes, I have already been addressing at least some contextual management issues here when considering mergers and acquisitions. I will discuss those issues more widely in upcoming discussion.

Meanwhile, 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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