Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 2

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 27, 2017

This is my second installment to a brief series on coordinating information sharing and communications needs, and information access filtering and gate keeping requirements (see Part 1.)

I offered Part 1 of this series as a baseline representation of how communications in a business can be thought through and optimized, in a stable business that is not going through fundamental, disruptive change and either in what it does or in how it does that, or in its immediate functionally connected context as that might impact upon its ongoing strategy or operations.

As a point of clarification here, a business can fit the expected form implicit in the Part 1 model that I have just offered in this series, and still undergo change per se and certainly if it is taking place in an ongoing evolutionary manner and according to a consistent and at least in-principle predictable pattern. I only assume up to here in this series that this business is not carrying out or facing the disruptive unknown.

I at least begin to challenge that assumption here in this posting, where I will focus on what a business does that makes it profitable, and more particularly on what it brings to market in achieving that. This means my adding marketable product or service innovation into this narrative. At the end of Part 1, I stated that I would discuss:

• How innovative initiatives and the drive to achieve them shape and reshape information and knowledge development, and communications systems development and implementation too – and the rules-based systems that operationally define them.

That is the goal of this series installment. Then after addressing that set of issues I will look outward to consider disruptive change in a business’ outside context, as that would create need for accommodating change within the business. And after that and with both of these faces to disruptive, nonlinear change added to this overall discussion, I will explicitly consider new and novel change in that business’ strategic and operational systems.

• I begin this with the products and services offered and with a simple, basic assumption: product and service innovation and change are information and communication driven.
• And the more fundamental and disruptively novel the change in what a business would develop and produce and bring to market, the more disruptively novel and new the information and communication flows that would be required to actually carry that out.

This can mean new types of information. It can mean new stakeholders and other essential participants having to enter into essential communication networks that would be involved in creating these innovations and in bringing them profitably to market. And it can mean making changes in the rules based systems that govern information control and access. Most of the time, that would mean change within existing rules-based information control systems, with updates made to the lists of who is authorized to have access to what, or who has authority to add to or modify or delete what in the way of stored raw data or processed knowledge. Think cloud-based and computerized database organized data and information, and processed knowledge repositories there, as they have become a primary form of storage and management for most businesses as they develop and maintain information and knowledge “in-house” as a sharable resource.

Networking and direct communicative connections with experts within an organization remain and will remain very important there too. But even there, online social media as for example, can be maintained strictly in-house in intranets for more confidential information, or it can be securely stored in third party cloud-based systems, as well as being managed through third party social media sites. However this is done and in whatever combinations of options pursued, this can prove essentially useful for helping employees and at all levels in an organization, to find and connect to those experts.

And when outside experts have to be brought into these conversations in some manner, online and cloud based systems and resources can prove essential there too. And I will pick up on that contingency as a working example of how rules based information access and control systems can face need for more fundamental change, with a briefly outlined scenario that would compel that:

• Your business has always arrived at and managed its product development in-house, starting from an initial burst of disruptive innovation that it built from when it was initially launched and as it took off as a successful venture. But over time, its innovative development has shifted from disruptive and revolutionary as a beginning, to incremental and evolutionary – and to primarily cosmetic with the successive introduction of more minor tweaks to established product lines.
• And you know this as the owner or Chief Executive Officer of this business and you seek to do something about it to in effect revitalize the business before it slips into a middle of the pack position and loses its marketplace recognition entirely as an innovative business that is preferentially worth buying from. And you see two possible paths forward in addressing this slowly but seemingly inexorable challenge: inexorable if you and your business simply pursue a business as usual approach here.
• You could actively try to find and bring in really creative new hires who can bring real innovative potential back into the business again, and with a goal of disruptively innovating from the inside again, as drove the founding of the business.
• Or you could seek out and secure exclusive rights to a new innovation from an outside source such as a new and creative startup or from a university lab and the professor who runs it.
• You could, I add, take what amounts to a hybrid approach and in several ways. That can mean taking what amounts to a “try before you buy” approach and seeking to acquire that innovative startup if initial experience working with them makes that look like a prudent move. Or it can mean seeking to in some way hire and bring on-board that faculty member with their practical and applicable innovative ideas, and at least proof of principle prototype innovations.
• And this brings me to the information control and access systems that you have in place for safeguarding your business. If your entire product development-facing system there is in-house oriented and you now have to reach outside of your own walls to take your business forward with new next-step innovation, you are going to have to at the very least, rethink and reformulate your vetting and your access management systems, to include wider risk management compliant contexts than you have ever had to allow for in your current rules-based systems.

Businesses in fact look outside of their own walls all of the time for new innovative approaches and particularly when they seek out the disruptively new. One of the challenges of strictly in-house, and particularly when people there can and do freely communicate together, is that everyone there can come to share a same basic set of automatically assumed and even seemingly axiomatic assumptions as to what is doable and practical. And these assumptions can in effect become blinders – as is arguably the case in the above briefly sketched out business example.

• Familiarity there, and a strictly in-house familiarity in particular, can create pressures towards shared consensus and agreement – and particularly where a disruptively novel, current game-breaking alternative is offered by a seeming maverick.
• This point may sound paradoxical, but effective in-house communications can in fact stifle innovation and certainly disruptively new and novel innovation – and certainly when that communication system is coupled with a demand for closely aligned agreement and with no real room left for the voices of what might offer consensus-breaking, current expectations challenging alternatives.

Breaking out of that rut means changing and even disruptively changing information sharing and communications rules for the business, and the rules based systems in place for managing access and control over sensitive and confidential information, that essentially by definition enters into any profitably competitive new innovation and its realization. And I add this has to include the more unspoken rules of corporate culture too, that fit into and help support or thwart formally stated information management systems, and that at the very least serve to interpret them in their implementation.

As noted above, I am going to continue this discussion by looking outward to consider disruptive change in a business’ outside context, as that would create need for accommodating change within the business. This, I add means change and its pressures as arise in their marketplace, and from among a business’ competition, and at least potentially from several other directions too (e.g. from business equity holding outside shareholders, and from outside regulatory organizations.) And after that and with both of these basic categorical faces to disruptive, nonlinear change added to this overall discussion, as noted in this posting and the next, I will explicitly consider new and novel change in that business’ strategic and operational systems.

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. And also see Social Networking and Business 2 and that directory’s Page 1 for related material.

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