Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 43: elaborating on the basic model for adding people and their management into the equation 4

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on September 23, 2017

This is my 43rd installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-42.)

I have been addressing a series of issues in this series, leading up to here, first from the How perspective operationally, and then from the Who: stakeholder and participant perspective. And I repeat that list of topics points here for purposes of continuity of narrative for what I will turn to now, as offered in Part 42:

1. How is a business under analytical examination being managed now? (Note: this is a complex question because it raises issues of what it is doing in principle and as a matter of intended process and practice, and of what is actually being done and on a day-to-day basis and by whom and where in the organization and under what circumstances, and how consistently. The following questions in effect dissect out what would go into this question and what would go into answering it and from both the intended side and the actual in-practice side to that.)
2. Does this business actually follow a seemingly entirely ad hoc approach as if it had no past and as if the experience of here and now, could hold no informative value in its future either?
3. Or does it more systematically pursue at least a close approximation of the default model approach as laid out in Parts 38 and 39, with its systematically pre-planned out and followed processes and practices?
4. Or does it in some systematic manner differ from that, with non-default features brought in and included, and for at least specific areas of the business?
5. If this business does at least situationally resort to consistent non-default management approaches, where and how and when does it do so?
6. Is this resorted to in order to address specific perhaps recurring problematical situations or events, or in order to capture available value from specific perhaps recurring opportunities that the “standard” approach cannot handle in and of itself? Does this, in other words, reflect an alternative approach that might be resorted to on a needs and opportunities, functional process-defined basis?
7. Or do one or more specific areas of the business (e.g. specific departments or specific organizationally distinct sections of them, or specific satellite offices in a larger geographically dispersed enterprise) simply pursue their own course in how things are routinely done and across all functional areas and processes carried out?
8. This is only a starter list and one of the goals of any business review and analysis here would be to progressively, iteratively refine and elaborate on what is asked here, drilling down into the specifics of the particular business and away from the more generic as has been offered up to here.)

My goal for this posting is to step back from consideration of specific types of stakeholders in businesses and in their relevant outside contexts, and how they do and do not act and why. My goal here is to address, and in fact reconsider the issues that I have been discussing here from the perspective of an at least seemingly simple question, which I posed at the end of Part 42 in anticipation of this posting:

• What makes a good manager?

I have in fact been addressing this question in general, throughout this blog and as one of its central points of discussion, so my goal here is much more limited. For purposes of the here-and-now context of this series, I will focus on how a good manager identifies and understands the types of issues that I raise in my above-repeated list, and in the specific day-to-day contexts that they actually face at work. And I will focus on how that knowledge and understanding shapes and informs their decisions and actions too.

There are a variety of starting points that I could build this line of discussion from, but one in particular comes immediately and forcefully to mind for me: that of taking an ownership approach to the business that we work for, and regardless of any equity-holding or similar, fiscally grounded ownership considerations. I write here of a level and type of responsibility and of taking responsibility, and a level and type of pride in the quality of work done. And I write of commitment and follow-through, and with an ongoing goal of excellence as a basic standard to be worked towards.

For background material that more fully outlines what I mean by “ownership” and an internalized sense of it here, see:

Building a Sense of Ownership and Responsibility into Business Operations and Processes, and into Core Business Culture,
• And my seven part series: The Importance of Taking Ownership in Your Work and Your Business, as can be found at Business strategy and operations – 3 as postings 445 and following.

The issues that I raise there and that I return to here are crucially important. And they become more and more so in the context of this discussion, as a business scales up and as its senior and executive management that hold responsibility for overall strategic and operational planning, require more and more of their input on what is actually done and how it actually does and does not work, from managers and employees who work farther and farther removed from their own direct experience.

The single most important thread running through all eight of the above numbered topics points is that of adherence to or deviation from a business’ overall planning and the expectations that they would be built from and that they would further advance. Beyond that, I focused on issues such as process and process system effectiveness, but with explicit acknowledgment that ad hoc and unofficial but standardized work-arounds that achieve positive results short term, can only create risk of larger problems long-term. These short-term work-arounds lead to and in fact help create the single points of failure that can seemingly suddenly bring at least areas of a business to their knees and without warning to those who supposedly lead the organization, overall. And even when they do not cause more abrupt challenge of that type, they do create friction and inefficiency that can cumulatively limit the business as a whole and even quite significantly and certainly when that business functions in a highly competitive context.

I have been writing about communications in this thread of discussion, and over the course of much if not most of this series. I am writing about this here too, and by highlighting some crucially important points:

• Good managers supervise and lead the members of their teams. And they both supervise and manage the members of their teams as individuals, and they bring them together and coordinate their collective work in addressing and resolving tasks that are larger than any one person could handle and succeed at on their own.
• But they do not and cannot do this as if they and their team of direct supervisees were functioning in a vacuum. They have to do this in the larger context of their overall business and in the context of its overall functionally connected environment: its relevant outside context with its market and customer base, its supply chain and other business-to-business partners and providers and more included.
• Good management faces and acts in multiple directions, and not just inward towards the smaller group of employees, or of the employees and their lower level managers, who happen to fall within a given business leader’s specific management purview. And their management of their direct and indirect reports is not always of necessity the most important direction that they face in all of this, and certainly not at all times and under all circumstances.

I have been offering and outlining this approach in general terms here, and will step back to consider some of the specific in-house stakeholders that I have delved into in recent series installments, in my next installment to this series – and with a goal of taking this posting’s discussion out of the abstract with real world examples. 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. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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