Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Finding virtue in simplicity when complexity becomes problematical, and vice versa 5

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on September 11, 2017

This is my fifth installment to a brief series on simplicity and complexity in business communications, and in carrying out and evaluating the results of business processes, tasks and projects (see Social Networking and Business 2), postings 257 and loosely following for Parts 1-4.)

I began to more systematically discuss business communications in general in Part 4, doing so in terms of the types of business processes that those communications efforts would support, and as communications would connect those parts of the business into the organization as a whole. And I posited an organizing model that different types of business processes would fit into, at appropriate-to-them points along a continuum, that has two explicitly stated and defined endpoint extremes which I repeat identifying here:

• Type 1 business processes that are essentially rote-standardized and for what is done and how and by whom, and with what expected inputs and outputs, and
• Type 2 business processes that have to explicitly accommodate change and even explicit uncertainty – and that can even be in place and use in order to help the business to flexibly accommodate change.

From a communications perspective I added that:

• Type 1 processes can become rigid and resistant to change and certainly for business activities that have become so consistently standardized that they become taken for granted and all but invisible.
• At the same time, communications patterns and processes in them can become both automatic and minimal and with sparse messaging-only required, and certainly as long as usual and expected continue to hold true.
• Type 2 processes are built around change, and the people who take part in them or who depend upon their being effectively carried out as outside stakeholders for them, have to expect that.
• At the same time, communications become both less routine and more critically important. And the level and range of types of information that would have to be shared and effectively so in them becomes significantly greater too, and certainly when compared to the opposite end of the spectrum, of Type 1.

Types 1 and 2 here, represent opposite ends of a spectrum and when they are the only points along that spectrum that are considered, that creates what should at least be avoidable gaps in any analyses and planning that would take place. So I offered at the end of Part 4, to step back from these two extreme point considerations to consider business processes and systems of them in general. And in anticipation of that, I added that I will consider both within-business and external to the business factors that can effect and shape business efficiency and resiliency there too.

I will begin all of this with two key words that I have cited numerous times in this blog, in a business systems context: efficiency and resiliency.

• Business resiliency and agility: another term that I repeatedly use in this blog, both require rapid and timely, and accurate and error-free communications, and certainly when the people involved there and the processes that they carry out, face the novel and unexpected and where that is consequential. And when this means rapidly and effectively addressing the unpredictability of the disruptively new, that means having an ability to create new and perhaps unexpected communications channels on the fly, when and as needed, and bringing new participants into these conversations as needed.
• Business efficiency per se, however, is largely about optimization. And when this of necessity has to include secure information management, as is more common than not for increasingly data-driven businesses, this means following vetted information channels with known participants exchanging and sharing information through them.

Ultimately, the only way to reconcile “resiliency and agility” and in the face of the consequential unexpected, with “efficiency” as an overriding, defining goal, is to build flexibility into areas where conflicts of the type that I address here, could arise. That definitely includes the information access and control systems in place, but also includes how information security is viewed and a number of other basic parameters of operation. And one of the places where any such conflicts will arise, if and when they do is in communications and joint information development and sharing contexts.

• What other possible collision points are there in place in businesses, and both generically and in general, and in specific businesses as special case issues for them?
• And how would they best be identified, characterized and understood, and acted upon?

When a business seeks to accomplish this type of reconciliation, better connecting together its information management systems and communications systems, and all other functional areas that would potentially collide here, that creates a measure of robustness in the overall operational system created. And when such a system is designed and organized and tuned and corrected so as to arrive at an overall work process flow that is as simple and as free of exceptions and complexities as possible, that organization is pursuing a lean and agile approach.

These perspectives apply whether the areas of business activity and functionality under specific consideration are carried out entirely in-house, and remain effectively invisible to any outside contexts or viewers, or whether they involve processes that serve as explicit connection points to the outside: in a business’ markets and marketplace, or in how it connects into and participates in supply chain or other value chain collaborations.

I have written this posting in largely abstract terms, and with a goal of defining and reframing some basic terms that go into analyzing businesses at a higher, broader brush stroke level. I am going to return to these issues in a next series installment where I will at least begin to take this posting’s discussion out of the abstract, by way of more concrete examples. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set, for its more generally applicable discussion of focused message best practices per se. I offer that with a specific case in point jobs and careers focus, but the approaches raised and discussed there are more generally applicable. You can find that series at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, as its postings 342-358.

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