Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 4

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on September 21, 2017

This is my fourth installment to a brief series on coordinating information sharing and communications needs, and information access filtering and gate keeping requirements (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 275 and loosely following for Parts 1-3.)

I have been discussing business and organizational stakeholders, and both as they arise within a business (see Part 2) and outside of it (see Part 3.) And I concluded Part 3 of this series, stating what I would continue that narrative thread here, by specifically discussing the fifth and last outside stakeholder group that I listed in Part 3, and with at least a start to a discussion of communications in this series’ context, and:

• Within specific stakeholder groups,
• Between separate stakeholders per se,
• And more specifically, between stakeholders: internal or external to the organization, and the business and its leadership and senior management as a whole.

I begin this with the last stakeholder group in my Part 3 list: outside regulatory agencies and organizations. And I begin addressing that by offering some general thoughts on what types of organized stakeholders I am specifically referring to here, as there is a lot of diversity that has to be included here, as well as a set of critically important unifying considerations.

• The outside regulatory systems that I refer to here, can be organized, adjudicated and enforced through dedicated organizations or agencies that primarily or exclusively focus on oversight, or they can be so managed and run by more wide-ranging agencies or organizations that also have other responsibilities and areas of action too.
• These entities might be set up and mandated according to specific legal statute and with their activities defined and prescribed according to specific law. And as such, they might be governmental in nature and structure, or at least governmentally regulated.
• Or they might be more private-sector in origin and nature, as for example when leading businesses in an industry seek to step out in front of possible outside governmental oversight by preemptively setting their own standards, for product or business decision issues that carry risk of conflict with consumer or marketplace needs and desires.
• A failure on the more private sector-managed option there and the hue and cry that this can lead to, might in effect force legislative response that would push such oversight into a more officially, governmentally managed position. And that can take a great deal of the oversight and the decision making choice that participating businesses would want to keep control over, out of their hands. So even more loosely defined and enforced, industry self-regulated efforts at organized oversight can be compelling for individual businesses to follow and they can be designed and enforced with legal statute in mind.

Let me take this out of the abstract with two specific examples:

• Truth in marketing and advertizing are in large part regulated through the enforcement of consumer protection and related law and this is in large part carried out officially and in accordance with underlying relevant law, and by legally mandated agencies: the offices of attorneys general definitely included in the United States.
• In the United States, consistent supply chain systems communications between retailers, wholesalers (for replacement parts) and original manufacturers in the automotive industry, are primarily carried out under the aegis of a private sector collaborative system call Standards in Technology for Automotive Retail (STAR), that has an organizational membership that cuts across wide ranges of competing brands and their owning businesses. This organization, as a private sector venture has to operate within agreed to boundaries and restrictions that are set by legally mandated governmental agencies, and in accordance with anti-monopoly laws and the case law that has arisen from their enforcement.

This last stakeholder category, as a case in point example, brings me directly to the issues of communications and their best practices. I will at least begin discussing these more general issues in terms of this example, and then expand this narrative from there to consider stakeholder involvement and participation in general. But let’s start all of that with the fundamentals:

• Communications only work when there are messages that sender and recipient would see as holding sufficient importance so as to justify the effort to organize and share them.
• A sufficient channel has to be available for this, with both adequate accessibility and bandwidth, and with adequate security as required too.
• And potential participants have to be able to use this resource at times that would work for them and with sufficient timeliness for the messages that they would have to share. Messages that can only arrive too late to matter, cannot matter or hold any real value and for anyone involved.
• And with the second, outside regulatory half of my STAR example in mind, communications have to be framed in accordance with the requirements of all involved and potentially involved stakeholders, which in this case includes their being framed in accordance with exceptions to anti-monopoly law that are carved out to allow for and support, permitted exception communications.
• In-house information management security systems can and do create their own filters and restrictions and their own systems for exception handling and the creation of special-case communications allowance too. And this has to be allowed for and specifically planned for too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will consider communications within businesses, and both along and across the table of organization. I will also delve into the issues of publically traded companies communicating with shareholders, where traditional annual reports and legal document formatted stockholder reports and updates are only one approach that can be pursued – and particularly in an increasingly ubiquitous interactive online, social media driven context. Too many businesses still communicate at their stockholders as if they still lived in a pre-internet world and in too many ways and with too many limiting presumptions. That can be improved upon and it has to be for 21st century businesses.

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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