Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 47: elaborating on the basic model for adding people and their management into the equation 8

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on March 8, 2018

This is my 47th 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 1-46.)

I initially raised what can be viewed as a fundamental question in Part 45 towards its end that I repeat here, when I raised the possibility of:

• How managers at essentially any level or position in an organization can facilitate value creating and value supportive processes and systems of them for their business, from their inclusion in the conversations that help shape them and keep them effectively focused.

Note that this does not mean blindingly following fixed and immutable business rules and procedures, or keeping managers oriented towards always automatically doing so; this addresses the issues and challenges of more actively supporting these professionals – and perhaps particularly in the face of change or of need for it, while still encouraging them to address that from a more stable core perspective of established and more widely held processes and procedures. And when that type of capability for at least structured independence is allowed for and even assumed, effective communications as addressed here becomes all the more important, and I add all the more complex and detailed in need too.

Then after raising this question, I began developing a foundation for addressing its here-stated bullet point and its issues in Part 46, ending that installment with a short list of next to consider questions and points of observation that all revolve around the sometimes conundrum of knowing what operational processes should be fixed and consistent, and what should more properly be allowed flexibility and a capacity to change.

I assume here that there are at least some areas of a business that would support and even actively need such adaptability and flexibility, even as large parts of their operational systems would best remain stable and consistently so. But with that stated,

1. What happens to standardized processes and procedures in all of this?
2. And who gets to decide, and particularly on a specific-context by specific-context basis, what should be and in fact is standardized for this?
3. The issues raised in that question become both more pressing and more complex as a business becomes more complex and widely geographically spread out.
4. Now, and with that in mind, how can a business and its senior leadership maintain overall organizational consistency while allowing for necessary flexibility and opportunity to at least locally prototype test out new alternatives to what might be more standard and routine?
5. And this brings me to the next to-address point that I acknowledged as coming up in this series towards the top of Part 46: ad hoc and special exception practices, and the emergence of the “ad hoc standardized” and its consequences.

My more usual approach for addressing this type of topics list in this blog, is to more systematically discuss each of them in order, and with any cross-over between them in how I discuss them identified as such. But while I will cite specific points on that list by their identifying numbers in what follows, I will primarily address them as a whole this time, and certainly for Points 1-4. And I begin doing so by making note of a type of categorical distinction that I have been discussing at length recently in this blog, and by then noting a second one that while related, has been much less visible here.

I have found myself writing repeatedly about core business processes and systems of them that directly enable and enact the business as it carries out its value defining mission: business activities and functionalities that when followed create the products and/or services that that business brings to market, and in ways that would give it competitive strength and profitability. These functionalities and their business processes in effect operationalize the mission and vision of a business as laid out in its basic business plan and in its overall business strategy and strategic vision. And I have also discussed supportive but non-core business functions and services and the processes that comprise them, some of which might best be maintained in-house as necessary cost centers, some of which might more effectively and cost-effectively be outsourced to specialty providers, and some of which might best be dispensed with as no longer needed.

That is my first of two sets of categorical distinctions that I would raise and consider here. And the second of them that I raise now cuts across it, adding in an imperative of change and of adaptation, and both reactive where that is needed and proactive where that is possible and where it would be beneficial:

• Assume that a business under consideration faces need for change. This might be a business that has more traditionally been more staid and stable in what it does that suddenly finds itself facing unexpected disruptive pressures from competitors or from change in what its market demands. Or it might be a business that operates in a very competitive industry and that caters to the needs of an always change-demanding market audience where the change pressures under consideration are anything but unexpected and novel to them. And I add that it does not matter from the perspective of this line of discussion whether the pressure to change comes from outside of this business or whether it arrives from within, as for example from the emergence of an unexpected disruptively valuable insight or innovation coming out of the work of members of their own staff. Generically, I am setting up a business scenario in which pressures to change arise and from whatever source and of whatever form, and in ways and to degrees that cannot be ignored.
• And I only assume that this is a change imperative that would demand business process change. I am not for example, writing here of minor cosmetic changes in products or services offered to a marketplace, which would not raise to the level of significance or of impact as to qualify here as meeting the terms of the above bullet point. So if this change starts with a new product possibility, it is one that would offer real value to the business and its customers and market, and it is disruptively new and different enough when compared to what this business has offered before, so as to require change in their production systems and in marketing, and change in business processes that support them that would radiate out from there if this enterprise were to gain all possible value from this breakthrough.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment, focusing at least to start on Points 1-4 of the above list. And in anticipation of that, and with the boundaries between core and peripheral strongly in mind for business processes and functionalities, I will explicitly consider the pressures and needs for change when addressing more gradual evolutionary change, versus the disruptively novel. 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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