Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 20: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 12

This is my 20th 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 1-19.)

I took something of a dual, specific case in point examples plus general principles approach in writing Part 19 to this series:

• Focusing on the specific case in point source of examples of the hiring process, and of deciding to retain or let go current employees, and how the dynamics of those interpersonal processes and of the relationships that inform them, change as a possible employee outsider becomes an in-house member of the team,
• But also considering how individual behavior and binary interpersonal relationships in general (as for example found there between a job candidate and a hiring manager) comprise the basic elements of larger and more business systems-defining networks.

And at the end of that posting, I said that I would continue both of those lines of discussion in this installment. More specifically, and certainly for my working specific-case example, I discussed routine and more generally applicable personnel policy issues of employment in Part 19, as they arise and play out independently of the precise details of what a prospective new employee would do there individually, and without consideration of special case exceptions as to how a prospective new hire might come to meet with a prospective employer for a job, or for how matters might proceed from there. I wrote my case in point example discussion of Part 19 in terms of prospective job candidates who reach out to a hiring business on their own initiative and through standard channels, and how matters proceed from there, and also according to a standard business-wide model. And I wrote that in terms of issues that would apply to both hands-on non-managerial employees, and to at least basic lower or mid-level managerial employees too.

Then at the end of Part 19, I briefly cited a short list of alternatives to that baseline scenario that I stated I would at least begin to address here, in order to more fully discuss the issues raised in this narrative thread: employment-specific as they arise, and for the more general issues raised here as well.

For smoother continuity of narrative, I begin this posting’s discussion here by repeating my alternative scenarios list, which I set up as a set of explicitly contrasted opposites:

1. More routine hire hands-on non-managerial employees, and I add more routine and entry level and middle managers – versus – the most senior managers and executives when they are brought in, and certainly from the outside.
2. More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires and employees, hands-on or managerial.
3. Job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying as discussed up to here in this narrative on their own initiative – versus – those who the business has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.
4. And to round out this list, I will add one more entry here, doing so by citing one specific and specifically freighted word: nepotism. Its more normative alternative should be obvious.

And I begin working my way through that list of possibilities by noting a point that should be obvious and certainly for anyone who has reviewed Part 19 of this series: the first alternative in each of the four above listed A versus B scenarios (except for the above Point 4 which is reversed for order), is grounded in the baseline and I would argue default scenario that I briefly touched upon there. So my focus of attention in what is to come, will be in the non-default alternative for each of the four points of the above repeated list, citing the default alternative for each of them primarily for frame of reference purposes and to put those non-default possibilities into a more consistent overall perspective.

With that, I begin with Scenario 1 of that list, and with more senior managers and executives when and as they are brought into a business. And I begin this line of discussion by clarifying two points of detail. The first is that this scenario highlights how the four scenarios as offered here might seem to be distinct and separate in principle, but how they can and often do overlap and co-apply in practice. And the second involves why I added “… and certainly from the outside” to it.

Senior managers, and up and coming middle managers who have developed impressively marketable track records can and do reach out on their own initiative to hiring businesses, for next steps forward and upward along their planned out career paths. This is certainly true for professionals who work in businesses and organizations of the nonprofit sector, to cite a specific and well known industry and business sector example, where headcount is kept low and it can be all but impossible to advance up a table of organization with a current employer, as gaps that might be promoted into can be so rare there. But professionals can reach out on their own anyway and regardless of how fluid and open advancement opportunity might be where they are now, if for example they see particular value in moving to work for some particular new business venture. Still, the higher up a position that would be filled, and certainly for larger businesses and corporations, the more likely that Scenario 3 would apply too. To keep this narrative simpler and more readily followed, I will assume at first that a would-be senior manager or executive officer new hire, reached out on their own initiative to a hiring business and that they would have to introduce and market themselves to it as such, if they are to be considered there. So the point of distinction that I would address here is essentially entirely one of where they would seek out a position along the table of organization as to level up on it.

The higher up a position is, the more wide ranging the impact of any hiring decision to fill it, and across the entire business organization and for external stakeholders too. And for senior executives, this essentially always means board of directors’ awareness, and for key positions such as Chief Executive Officer that of necessity includes a need for achieving explicit board buy-in and approval too. As such, more is on the line and for the business as a whole. And that means that these hiring decision making, and I add subsequent onboarding processes become much more individualized and much less standardized, as for example would be specified by Human Resources process guidelines for more routine hirings. And that only begins with consideration of potential compensation and terms of employment consideration that might be offered and negotiated.

Golden parachute agreements only represent one possibility there as a well known example of how these hiring negotiations can differ from the more routine and standard for a business. This deviation from standard and routine has implications that have impact throughout the organization and certainly as these special exception hires are seen as members of the team, or as special exceptions there too. And that has potential for shaping how the more general principles offered in Part 19, as to how an organization connects together as a system of social networking relationships, might apply too.

To bring that last point of detail into clearer focus, I repeat here my three point outline of the approach to viewing a business as an organized social and interpersonal interaction construct, that I offered in Part 19:

• A business can, among other things, be viewed as a dynamic system of overlapping and interconnected stakeholder networks, some assembled on the spot for specific purposes just to dissolve as their sources of impetus for forming are resolved, and some enduring long term.
• And long-term ones, can even become effectively enshrined in the business model and in strategic and operational systems, where membership can become title and position based to allow for smoother member turnover as people come and go in a business’ workforce, and as people there change jobs within the organization. Much of this is in fact laid out at least for likelihood of arising in the table of organization itself, but even stable and seemingly permanent functional networks of this type can systematically cut across the table of organization too, and even intentionally so.
• Ultimately and according to this understanding, business systems and their functioning can be viewed as representing complex and evolving networks of interpersonal interactions, and interpersonal commitments. Think of the hiring process and new employee onboarding process example that I have been focusing on here, as a case in point example of a much more widespread general set of phenomena.

I initially offered that bullet pointed list in a general terms of employment context that a Human Resources department would encode in its personnel policy and that would be carried out by them and by hiring and supervising managers as they all variously understand and interpret them. When individuals are included in this who are hired under different understandings and who consequentially face different prerogatives and restrictions while there, the dynamics of any such interpersonal interactions and interpersonal commitments that they enter into there, change accordingly too.

And this leads me to the question of why I added “… and certainly from the outside” to the end of Scenario 1 as repeated above. I will turn to that as I begin fleshing out my next series installment and will continue on from there to consider Scenarios 2 through 4 of my above list. And then, as promised in Part 18 at its end, I will explicitly discuss promotions and both as carried out strictly in-house, and as arise de facto from strategically moving on to work for a new employer where suitable job openings are not and cannot be available where an employee works now. In anticipation of that, I add here that I will frame this flow of discussion, at least in significant part in terms of two behavioral dynamics:

• A focus on the potential negatives of change and of the unknown, and a focus on the positive possibilities of change and an embrace of the new and at least in-part unknown, as job and career strategy-shaping presumptions arise and are followed through upon, and
• The potential for alignment and for discord when different stakeholder participants in a business interaction pursue different game theory strategies as they each attempt to reach their own goals.

I will at least begin this to-address list in my next series installment and will continue developing and discussing its set of issues in subsequent ones. 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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