Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Rethinking exit and entrance strategies 20: keeping an effective innovative focus while approaching and going through significant business transitions 10

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 6, 2017

This is my 20th 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 1-19.)

I focused in Part 17, Part 18 and Part 19 on a series of How, oriented issues that I repeat here for continuity of discussion:

1. It can be vitally important to make explicit strategic effort to more deeply understand where your business is now and where that business is headed if it seeks to simply follow a straight-forward more predictively linear path, rather than making a more profound shift and going through a genuine transition.
2. And it is equally important to be aware of the possibilities, at the very least of what types of transitions could be possible, and their implications and consequences.
3. This leads me to the question of what would be planned for in a strategically considered, intentionally entered into business transition, and how such a transition plays out.

I turn in this posting to the more Why side of these and related issues and to how they fit into a larger strategically oriented planning perspective, and both in terms of strategy per se and as strategic intent can collide with emerging day-to-day reality. And I begin that, and addressing the main area of consideration for this posting by repeating the basic, and even tritely simplistic Why consideration for all of what I have been discussing here, that I noted at the end of Part 19, and certainly for any best practices context:

• “Change would be made with a goal of more fully and effectively fulfilling the business mission and vision and its overall strategic goals and their realization.”

That is a valid point, but as I will discuss here, there is potentially at least a virtual mine field of ambiguity in it. Part of what I will do here in this posting will be to point out and address at least some of the details as to where that claim of ambiguity holds true. Then after offering that as a frame of reference for what is to come here, I will begin considering the details of what goes into the above bullet pointed Why assertion in specific detail.

It is rare for any business to find itself doing one thing and one thing only at a time, and even when it is a single person enterprise that only takes on and works for one client at a time. Businesses carry out in-house oriented and prioritized tasks and processes, and client-facing ones, and supplier and other supply chain-like tasks and processes, and at least some marketing outreach – and even if they primarily rely on satisfied customer word of mouth in acquiring new business, and more. My point here is that a well run business of any complexity, or simplicity for that matter, is essentially always balancing at least small sets of competing tasks, goals and priorities against each other at any given time. And this competition centers on combinations of any and all of the resource bottlenecks that they might have to accommodate to stay in business, whether that means:

• Time and staff availability to work on what and when,
• Liquidity and cash availability,
• Parts and supplies inventories with their here-and-now availability limitations,
• Access to specialized equipment,
• Or whatever else might become a performance limiting or constraining factor for a business under consideration.

The list of potential bottlenecks here can be significant for any business and it is open ended when considered for businesses and industries in general and certainly when possibilities here are more explicitly noted and not just categorically labeled.

Think of those factors and considerations as arising external to any specific task or process flow that is competing for what it requires for completion, but internal to the business itself. And those within-business factors are matched with ones that are external to it, such as urgency to complete at least certain specific customer sales requests on very tight schedules.

• Dire customer need for a product offered that can only be produced at a certain rate without reprioritizing production line output, faced by an established repeat business client, can prompt this
• As can rapidly approaching calendar deadlines for seasonal products and big purchase orders for them,
• And early completion or delivery bonuses from specific customers for their purchases, as three of many possibilities there, with this third example commoner in business-to-business contexts.

And these three examples are all drawn from one arena of activity here, with a business to marketplace context. Reconsidering in-house tasks and process completions, they compete with each other too, as I have noted both here and in other contexts in this blog when for example referring to bottleneck equipment and other resources that for whatever reason might be available, but as an at least always somewhat inadequately scaled shared resource that is widely needed. Internal within-business, and external factors and forces influence and shape each other here, and can and do serve to set overall priorities and for all bottlenecks and potential bottlenecks faced.

• Effective operational systems in this context, flexibly seek to meet competing needs, and certainly when prioritized scheduling is required, and with a goal of meeting higher priority scheduling requirements first but without unduly sacrificing what start out as lower priority ones – and so they do not become high priority remediation requirements if nothing else.
• And effective strategy facilitates and supports operational systems so they can be flexible and resilient in this and so they can be better able to both identify and respond to scheduling change needs as called for.

And with that, I return to my quote about change, as offered more towards the start of this posting:

• “Change would be made with a goal of more fully and effectively fulfilling the business mission and vision and its overall strategic goals and their realization.”

A well crafted mission or vision statement is brief and clear and simple and in most cases can be summarized for their core requirements and goals in a single sentence. But simplicity can give way to complexity and to differences of understanding when these basic business starting points are used to buttress support for meeting competing resource-demanding needs, and when and at what pace and how. So the alignment apparent in the “overall strategic goals and their realization” of “the business mission and vision and its overall strategic goals and their realization” might be more apparent than real at times, and certainly as understood in an immediate here-and-now by competing stakeholders.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will consider accommodating response considerations to this, such as the development of urgency scales, and timeframe compression and extension responses. I will discuss this in costs terms that include but can go beyond the strictly financial. And I will turn this narrative back to more explicitly addressing business transitions while doing so, where I have addressed change and the competition between needs and goals here, in more general terms. 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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