Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Business planning from the back of a napkin to a formal and detailed presentation 10

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on September 12, 2016

This is my tenth posting to a series on tactical and strategic planning under real world constraints, and executing in the face of real world challenges that are caused by business systems friction and the systems turbulence that it creates (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 578 and loosely following for Parts 1-9.)

I discussed growth and scalability in general orienting terms in Part 9, briefly touching on both linear established-pattern growth, and nonlinear change and growth where new systems have to be developed and incorporated into existing organizational structures. And in the course of that, I addressed some of the basic issues of growth and scalability as they would impact upon, and be shaped by both normative business performance, and exception handling challenges.

My goal here is to shift from taking a more general discussion approach to one of determining where to actually make change, and:

• With selection of what possible actions should be taken in scaling up and growing a business,
• Coupled with a systematic planning process that would lead to determination of how to proceed in that and with what priorities.

And as I stated at the end of Part 9, my goal here is “to at least start a discussion of planning and executing upon the specific details in this.”

I am in fact going to address those issues here, but before doing so I want to add one more piece to my more general orienting discussion of Part 9, that I will have explicit reason to cite here as I move from the general to the specific. and to application of the organizing principles that I have been addressing so far.

• I wrote in Part 9 about growing a business as a matter of scaling up and evolving operational and strategic systems. And as a part of that, I noted that this can mean simply expanding current systems in a linear manner, and according to the ongoing operational and strategic pattern in place.
• This, essentially by definition means continued adherence to the same basic business model and business plan already in use.
• Nonlinear growth: growth and development that call for more fundamental change, and a shift to include new organizational patterns, might or might not mean having to update or change the business model and business plan already in place.
• If nonlinear change has to be made in processes and systems that are essential to the core of the business and in how it creates and offers marketable value, this means making at least evolutionary adjustments to the business model and plan too.
• If, on the other hand, such change would only be needed in keeping more ancillary and supportive functions and capabilities effective in supporting the business, those changes would not in most cases call for any fundamental change in the business model or plan per se.
• So central to any analysis and discussion of specific changes that might be made, would be an analysis and discussion of how pivotally central those processes and systems in question are, in defining and offering that business’ products and services, and how central they are in defining what that business is, as a competitor in its industry and in meeting the needs of its marketplace.

For clarity and ease of discussion here, I will refer to processes and subsystems of them that are central to the business and its basic business model and plan as being core processes and subsystems. And more secondary and supportive ones that are peripheral to that are, by comparison deemed peripheral processes and subsystems. And to round out this terminology, and for purposes of this discussion, I subdivide peripheral processes and subsystems into two categories too: primary and secondary. Here, primary peripheral processes and subsystems are ones that at least at this time, would make the most sense to keep in-house; doing so would be more cost-effective, it would be more prudent to maintain them in-house for risk management purposes, or both. Secondary peripheral processes and subsystems are ones that might be more effectively outsourced, or even eliminated as unnecessary.

This represents a relatively complex taxonomy, and certainly when considered strictly in light of snapshot views of a business as it is in some here-and-now. But these same terms and the issues that they represent, can be applied in a longer-term business evolution context too. And in that regard, real evolutionary change in usually measurable in both accumulated linear and nonlinear change in processes and subsystems of them in place, and in shifts in process and subsystem status. And this can mean downward shifts where processes move from core to peripheral status or from primary to secondary for that, or it can mean upward shifts where once-peripheral processes can become more crucially central to the business as core elements of its overall operations.

And with that last, albeit complex and detailed piece to this general pattern of possible change in place, I turn here to at least begin to consider the specifics and how this generally stated approach would be used in analyzing and advancing a business through change.

Begin with the issues of that organizational component taxonomy and with a determination of what is and is not core, and what is and is not peripheral – and what might appear to be both depending on context and situation. Different functionally focused stakeholders might reach different conclusions there, and it is important to both clarify and discuss those differences and reach a working consensus that all key stakeholders can come to at least tacit agreement upon. And for peripheral elements in the business and its operations, determine what of this might in fact be primary or secondary. And for all of this, look for nonlinearities – places where simply scaling up according to the pattern in place would create inefficiencies. And I end this posting by noting an old saying that I have at least occasionally found reason to cite in this blog: “the devil is in the details.”

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will explicitly look into the devil in those details for this, and a range of next step issues that arise there and from taking on that exercise. 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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