Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Meshing innovation, product development and production, marketing and sales as a virtuous cycle 8

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 25, 2017

This is my eighth installment to a series in which I reconsider cosmetic and innovative change as they impact upon and even fundamentally shape the product design and development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales cycle, and from both the producer and consumer perspectives (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 342 and loosely following for Parts 1-7.)

I offered a downward, vicious cycle example of recurring bad decision making in Part 3 and a more positive virtuous cycle counterexample to that in Part 5, that a business might attempt in order to pull out of the downward path of the first example. And in the course of that, I at least briefly noted how blindly following what might begin as an essential corrective change, can lead to disaster too if circumstances further change, but no further course correction is allowed for or considered.

This leads me directly to the challenge of how best a business would respond at a higher level strategic and overall operational level to mapping out possible change and its pros and cons, and not just act (react) at a day-to-day, here-and-now details level.

The downward spiral, negative example that I make note of here was an at least brief and selective, though entirely accurate one that I have at least occasionally seen in restaurants. It is a decision and action pattern that I have come to refer to as the restaurant death spiral, and it is a path forward that is based on cost cutting, at the expense of customer-facing product and service, and an attempt to achieve savings in the face of loss of business through quality and value cutting. And when that short-term-perspective, expenses limiting approach is unrelentingly followed, repeat business and then essentially all business, dries up and so does that restaurant. The alternative, positive example that I have also discussed in this series, was offered as a turn-around strategy for a restaurant seeking to survive what its owners had come to see as an at least near death experience from following that first approach in their enterprise. And that decision and action pattern was organized around a conscious and firmly held decision to switch to a value creating and enhancing farm to table business model, in which they would work collaboratively with local farms and dairies, bakeries and other providers, in order to bring their customers the very best while helping to support their own local communities – that would in turn help support them too.

Then, after a period of local success, their local farmers who they would turn to, were hit and very hard by a long-term drought or other natural disaster, greatly limiting what they could source from them, and for some of the core ingredients that anything like their standard menus would call for.

Yes, they would very much like to continue supporting and working with the local producers who they had built both mutually beneficial business relationships and friendships with. But at least for a year, according to long-range forecasts, a strictly pure-play local farm to table approach might not work. Where would and should they draw what lines in what they will do, while this is happening? And what of local producers who might have helped them out when they were still low on cash and still trying to pull out of the nosedive of their near death, restaurant death spiral experience?

I stated at the end of Part 6 that I would continue its strategy and planning and operations oriented narrative here, in terms of a particular aspect of the consequences that this leads to:

• “Where decisions that have to be made can be grounded in business ethics and related terms and in how a business and its owners enter into and participate in larger communities that only begin with their customers and their potential customer bases.”

My goal for this posting is to address that, but in the perhaps larger context of creating and maintaining business agility and resiliency as organizational goals – and as buffering mechanisms against the down-sides of change.

Businesses might enter into collaborative relationships with other businesses, for purposes of enlightened self interest and in order to become more competitively strong and profitable. But when they do so from a long-term perspective this of necessity means their planning and executing according to a perception that win-win strategies that would benefit all involved parties: their own business included here, always offer greater positive stability and more secure long-term value – and for themselves too. But the key phrase in that is long-term.

Business ethics, in this type of context does not mean long-term sacrifice and certainly not with that meaning increased risk of long-term business failure; it does mean making and allowing for short-term accommodations, that at the very least mean supporting a partner business that has helped create mutual positive value, so that it can still be there and under circumstances where it can do so again. The basic principle that I cite here, arises in a wide variety of contexts. To cite a common one that I have at least occasionally mentioned in this blog in different contexts, consider how businesses can allow longer lag times before payment is due (e.g. larger numbers of days receivable) for products and services provided.

But the basic principles that I write of here go beyond that too. In an increasingly complexly interconnected global context, the traditional view of business process cycles, as addressed in the titles to the postings in this series, has to be expanded to be more inclusive. The most important processes and process cycles that need to be included there, do not exist entirely within single businesses or within them and their specific markets and customer bases as they work with them. They have to be expanded to include larger business-to-business collaborative networks too. And I have been building up to that point throughout this series.

The one significant area of discussion that I posed as being necessary to include here in this series, that I have not actively discussed so far in it is the marketplace and how that fits into this here-expanded framework of understanding and action. I am going to turn to explicitly include that in this series discussion in my next installment to it. 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 see also Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its Page 2 continuation.

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