Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Rethinking exit and entrance strategies 9: crisis as a transition demanding challenge 8

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 26, 2016

This is my ninth installment to a series that offers a general discussion of business transitions, where an organization exits one developmental stage or period of relative strategic and operational stability, to enter a fundamentally different next one (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 559 and loosely following for Parts 1-8.)

I began a more detailed discussion of real-time and post hoc, after the fact business process reviews and analyses, in Part 8 and with a focus on analysis of, and response to what can be viewed as anomalous events. This can mean crisis response, but it can also mean addressing sudden unexpected windfall opportunity and the unexpected positive. And it can mean addressing the unexpected in ways that prevent its becoming problematical too, and keeping an unexpected event more neutral in impact where a more negative outcome would also be possible.

And I added in that context at the end of Part 8 that I would turn here to consider how to conduct both types of analyses more effectively, where I had just noted that real-time event analyses that take place during an event, frequently lead to and feed into post-hoc event analyses and more business-wide, overall reviews and performance analyses too. And to complete my lead-in note as offered at the end of Part 8 in anticipation of this posting, I added that:

• A flawed real-time analysis and its follow-through, is likely to lead to a more flawed post hoc analysis than would otherwise take place.

So I will discuss both types of due diligence processes as separate approaches, but I will also discuss them for how they and their outcome products fit together. And to round out this portion of this discussion and this portion of this series as a whole, I will also use this area of discussion: this set of issues as a transition point for widening my discussion of business transitions per se, to consider ones that take place without the impetus of the sudden and unexpected too. But I begin with the two analytical forms themselves: real-time and during an event, and post-hoc and as carried out in retrospect to that event having occurred.

• Real-time analyses and the outcome decisions and actions taken during the heat of the moment are essentially always more tactical than strategic, insofar as conclusions reached and actions taken are much more apt to be framed in terms of strategic understanding already in place. When decisions have to be made on the spot, they follow existing strategic and business model understanding, or they acknowledge gaps in what is available there as a pre-planned and pre-considered path forward, and decisions and actions are made more ad hoc than they are precedent-based.
• Post-hoc reviews and analyses are essentially always strategic in nature. And this particularly holds when truly ad hoc solutions to an immediate crisis challenge had to be resorted to, at least in the minds of the people who find themselves post-hoc reviewing the decisions and actions that were taken. This can mean filling genuine gaps in the overall business strategy and in the business model that it fits into. This can mean clarifying strategic policy that was at least nominally in place so it can more readily be followed. This can mean making resources available that would have been needed if a more “standard” approach to resolution could be followed – but that were not there, forcing the managers and others who had to decide and take action to seek out an ad hoc work-around. There are of course other possibilities that could as readily be cited here, so I just offer these ones as food for more detailed thought, and hopefully thought that is framed in terms of your specific business.
• Both types of analysis require objective consideration and reconsideration as to what should be expected and planned for, and how best to both rapidly identify and deal with the truly novel and unexpected – with that definitely including consideration of how to more effectively, quickly, reliably bring necessary stakeholders into those processes.
• That last point obviously holds for real-time analyses that take place during an event, and particularly when it is fast-paced and sudden in its emergence.
• But this also holds (as briefly noted in Part 8) when post hoc analyses and reviews are being carried out, that those reviews and analyses not become scripted and pre-ordained events and that the wider range of stakeholders who need to be brought in are, and with all of those people given a voice – and permission and support to speak out and even if that means their speaking out against a status quo ante, standard process and approach.

And with that noted, I at least begin to widen this discussion to more directly consider what can be seen as normative, business as usual circumstances and contexts too. And to cite a type of point that I sometimes more humorously refer to as “one of the secrets of the universe,” I begin by noting that most of the core issues and details that I have been discussing in a more disruptive event context here, also apply at least in general terms to the more normative and day-to-day normal too. And I at least begin addressing that by noting a crucially important set of details, that I add here are what motivate me to use that “secrets of the universe” label in the first place:

• Most business managers, leaders and owners come to take their normative day-to-day for granted, and most of the time that does not at least overtly carry any costs, while seemingly streamlining and speeding things up. After all, everyone knows what to do next and how and they at least should already have all of the necessary resources in place to do so, and as a matter of established routine.
• But if you never really look at and review your basic, standard ongoing processes and systems and yes – even when they are performing as expected and desired, you can never take that first, crucial, essential step that you would need to take if you were to innovatively improve your business there. If you do not conduct real-time and post-hoc, longer timeframe reviews and analyses of your routine, you will never find ways to create new sources of competitive value for your business from doing better. And you will leave that to your competitors and yourself to a role of playing catch-up and to developing reactively. And this approach creates crisis events, at least long-term and makes them more likely.

And with that, I will turn in my next series installment to directly consider growth and scalability, and business transitions in non-crisis contexts – including more intentionally planned for and sought-after transitions. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory.

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