Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Business planning from the back of a napkin to a formal and detailed presentation 12

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 25, 2016

This is my twelfth 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 1-11.)

I began discussing business transitions in Part 10 and Part 11 of this, and note in that regard that:

• A business transition, as I use that term is a strategic and operational shift in a business and how it is conceived and run, that does not simply following standard linear business as usual patterns as have been pursued up to there. A true business transition represents a point of discontinuous change and fundamental newness in that organization, where it becomes significantly different and in more than just scale from what it was before this change.

I follow a very process oriented approach to thinking about and understanding businesses, and approach business processes and functionally connected systems of them from an explicit causation and causal mechanism perspective (see, for example the progression of contextual management oriented postings that I include in my series: Intentional Management, as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, where I outline and discuss causal linkage analyses and maps.)

Keeping that in mind, I have been addressing businesses as systems of processes and supporting resources in Parts 10 and 11 here, in terms of how specific processes in question do or do not actively and specifically support core business model-defined needs. And as a crucial element in that, I developed and have been making use of a business process taxonomy that would serve to distinguish between activities carried out at a business, as they would be viewed according to this perspective:

• Core processes and subsystems of them are crucial to the basic business model in place and to functionally creating and maintaining the business’ competitive effectiveness, and
• Peripheral processes and subsystems might be important to the business and even crucially so but they do not directly enter into defining what a business seeks to do as an organization. These are more supportive in nature.
• And I subdivided that second categorical grouping into primary peripheral processes and subsystems that would best be maintained and in-house, and secondary peripheral processes and subsystems that might best be outsourced for greater business efficiency, or even discontinued as being no longer relevant or necessary.
• (As a clarifying side note, and to explain my reasoning where I have not done so up to here, I group together secondary peripheral processes as I do in this narrative, including both useful functional areas that would best be outsourced and true resource wasters that would be dropped entirely, because in all cases these are functional areas that do not need to be maintained in-house and that as such do not belong in the business’ basic systems or in its core underlying business model or business plan.)

At the end of Part 11, and as lead-in to this installment, I added that I would turn from this background narrative to discuss the following:

1. Different functionally focused stakeholders might reach different conclusions as to what processes and subsystems of them are core or peripheral, and as to what might be secondary – and if so of what type. 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 certainly if a business is to enter into and carry through upon the right transitions for its own needs, and in the right way and with the right timing.
2. Then after that, and in the context of distinguishing between core and peripheral processes, I said that I would turn to consider areas and aspects of the business that can be linearly scaled up, and areas that represent true nonlinearities – places where simply scaling up according to the pattern in place would create inefficiencies.
3. And I added that I would discuss all of this in terms of crucial information availability and communications, and in terms of two types of case study examples: a retail business, and a software development business.

I begin here with Point 1 and the issues of bringing a perhaps wide diversity of involved stakeholders into at least tacit agreement, and their efforts and activities into effective alignment. And I begin this with the fundamentals:

• Most stakeholders see the world around them in terms of their own place and their own orientation in it. At work, this means their seeing the business they work at in large part in terms of their own areas of responsibility and their own immediate goals and priorities – and their own skills and experience. I am writing here of how most of us take a very performance review-oriented perspective, as it is our own goals and stretch goals in our particular part of the business, and how we perform in meeting them that directly and specifically measure and determine our success there – and even our remaining employed there.
• When you find a significant exception to this performance review mandated tunnel vision in a hands-on employee or manager, and they actively present themselves in terms of always seeing the larger picture, and how their work and work area fit into that, you have most likely found someone who can succeed higher up on the table of organization and in a much more strategically oriented position. But most people find their own best career paths in the functional areas that they specifically, day-to-day work in. And this as just noted can in effect mean their having at least vision limiting blinders on and certainly when they would be required to look over the walls and at their business as a whole – as is fundamentally required in anything like a business transition context.
• That wider vision is what is required here. Ultimately it is entire businesses that go through transitions, and even if only a few functional areas are overtly changed – the entire business changes as other areas of it have to adjust their thinking to accommodate the overt reorganizing and rebuilding change that has taken place.
• Cause and effect changes radiate out, and true business transitions always involve significant change.

I have outlined the problem faced in Point 1, above, in this discussion. I am going to turn in my next series installment to discuss how it might better be resolved. And then after that I will delve into the issues raised in points 2 and 3 of the above to-address list. 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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