Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 17: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 9

This is my 17th installment to a series on general theories of business, and on what general theory means as a matter of underlying principle and in this specific context (see Reexamining the Fundamentals directory, Section VI for Parts 1-16.)

I began this series with a discussion of general theories and what they consist of, as a matter of general organizing principle (see Parts 1-8.) And after laying a foundation in that, for focusing in on a general theory of business as a special case, I began addressing the more specific intended topic of this series as laid out in its title. And I have focused essentially entirely since then on the organizational level of the business as a whole. I then switched orientation, and level of organization in Part 16, to consider business theory from the perspective of the individual participant in these systems. I offered Part 16 as a whole, as an orienting start to that discussion thread, and in the course of that offered two basic approaches that can be and that frequently are pursued:

• That of the entrepreneur who takes a more consultant approach to their work and to dealing with their employer,
• And that of an employee who in effect leaves their own longer-term jobs and career planning to their employer and in the hands of the people who they report to there.

I at least briefly argued a case for pursuing the first of these approaches but acknowledged both, and a need for a general theory of business to accommodate and include both as well. And with that stated, I offered a brief to-address list of points in Part 16 that categorically list how different types of stakeholders would participate in business systems. And I added that I will at least begin to address those topic points here, which I repeat for purposes of continuity, considering businesses:

1. From the perspective of the individual employee, whether hands-on and non-managerial or managerial, or executive or owner, and with consideration of a still wider range of stakeholder types as well.
2. From the perspective of how each of these groups of stakeholders see themselves and other stakeholder types, and in both risk and benefits, risk management terms and in game theory terms,
3. And according to how the members of these groups see themselves as strictly in-house employees with their leaving their longer-term planning in the hands of their employers, or as more independent entrepreneurs and consultants who take direct ownership over and responsibility for their own work and career planning and its execution.

And I said that I would begin doing so by way of offering an orienting scenario, which I framed in general terms that “begins with the individual career developer and the hiring and promotion-directed strategies that they follow, and ends with the approaches that those same individuals follow when actually working at a business. And as part of that, I will also consider the strategies and the tactics of others who work with them or who otherwise become stakeholders to these transaction flows (games.)” And I said that I will approach this from both the individual and the business perspective. I begin that here.

When you are looking for a new job and you put at least a measure of thought and effort into that proposition, you seek to find an organization to work at in which you can gain value for yourself in meeting your own needs, while offering value in return that would make you an attractive hire and a valued employee. This means you’re having and effectively presenting skills and experience that you would want to use and build upon in a next job and as you pursue further development of your overall career. And it means presenting them to potential employers who would find value to themselves and to their enterprises, in what you can demonstrably do.

This is not a friction-free system and particularly in an age and an employment context where so many would-be job seekers send out hundreds and even thousands of copies of the same generic resumes electronically, at no cost or additional effort on their part to essentially every business that might be hiring that fits within what might be a very vaguely defined target audience. The result is that essentially all hiring businesses these days, push all resumes received into digitalized database systems and effectively filter out and discard all that do not meet the initial screening criteria of automated search queries. No human ever reads the vast majority of the flood of what is essentially spam and background static that goes into those systems, and all of the submissions that are received that do not make any first cuts, is generally mass-deleted after some set period of time in limbo in them, never to be considered there again.

I would argue, in a more explicitly jobs and career best practices context that this means we should all be more focused in what we submit and where, and that we need to know and use the same wording that the businesses that we would apply to, use in their posted job descriptions that we would apply to, and both for the skills and experience that we offer and for precisely how we phrase them. From a business theory perspective, I focus here on how the hiring process takes place in the context of what communications theory would refer to as noisy channels that are filled with background static, and in a context that I refer to (in more economics theory terms) as being limited by business systems friction.

This flood of often and even usually non sequitur resumes would overwhelm the hiring process if it were not for automated, database screening filters. That work-around can and does add entirely new forms of constraint on those who seek to find work and certainly for any position that is not entry-level or otherwise highly standardized. I write here of the emerging 21st (and undoubtedly beyond) context that hiring now takes place in and increasing as a universally applicable source of constraints and for any job offering that would draw in wide ranging interest and response of any type.

If as a job seeker, you send out enough copies of your e-resume to enough businesses you will probably, eventually get something of a response – but the level of chance in where that comes from and in what you might achieve as a next job out of that will be very limited, and certainly insofar as you would seek to strategically pursue a longer-term career and advance in what you do. So I will presume in what follows that you take more of a planned approach, as I discuss in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development in its postings and series (see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 listings.) And I presume that any hiring manager and other stakeholders who screen and select applicants, and who help determine who a final selection hire will be, are equally systematic in their hiring processes and decision making too.

• Basic underlying assumptions made are important. And I assume here, as an at least for-now axiomatic assumption that the people on both sides of a potential hiring process are following something of an at least relatively consistent and rigorous logic in what they do and how, and that they act accordingly.

This is very important. I will delve into the issues of reductionism and of emergent properties and processes as they arise at higher levels of organization, later on in this series and in some detail for that. But hiring new employees and I add the management of ongoing employees at a business is always carried out by individual people, and even if and when they do follow detailed strategically organized approved business-wide operational processes and procedures.

There is a dynamic balance in that. Most hiring managers in general, do seek to pursue courses that would benefit the businesses that they work for. But at the same time, they also seek to take actions that would facilitate their own personal success in their jobs too, and ones that would help them to advance their own careers, and to maximize their own job security and their own compensation received for what they do in the process. And they interpret what is best for their employer at least in part in terms of that.

The people on both sides of a hiring process participate in it as individuals, and even when they are also serving as agents for the hiring business when on the hiring side of that table. And this enters into their thinking and into their decision making, and both as they perceive and evaluate possible risk and possible benefit as they make their hiring decisions. And this shapes any emergent, higher level organizational factors (e.g. the overall business side to hiring here) that they might enter into.

Turning back to consider the employee side of this again, this addresses the emerging situation for employee participation in a business up to the point when they are first hired. Now let’s assume for purposes of continuity of discussion, that they prove themselves as a best candidate, are offered the job and accept it for the terms of employment and of compensation offered. I am going to switch directions in my next series installment here, and consider this narrative from their day one as a new hire, and how perspectives change, and for both the new hire and for their manager and other stakeholders involved. In the course of that, I will begin to more explicitly discuss the issues raised in the three numbered to-address points listed at the top of this posting.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material about what I am attempting to do here at About this Blog and at Blogs and Marketing. And I include this series in my Reexamining the Fundamentals directory, as topics section VI there, where I offer related material regarding theory-based systems. And I also include this individual participant oriented subseries of this overall theory of business series in Page 3 of my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, as a sequence of supplemental postings there.

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