Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 48: elaborating on the basic model for adding people and their management into the equation 9

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 15, 2018

This is my 48th 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 1-47.)

I offered a to-address list of topics points towards the end of Part 47 that I repeat here for purposes of smoother continuity of narrative. And my goal for this posting is to at least begin to delve into their issues, at least insofar as I would address them for purposes of this series. And to further clarify and expand upon what I will be doing here, and in following postings to this series, I offered these topics points as part of a discussion two distinct categories of business processes and recurring tasks that represent instances of their being carried out: more fixed and stable, consistently viewed and performed ones, and more flexibly mutable ones, and how these two categorical types coexist within single organizations:

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.

And I begin doing all of this by noting that I have at least selectively discussed all of the items on this list in earlier postings and series, and as many as multiple times for all of them. That noted, I also add that they all raise issues and significant details that I have yet to touch upon in this blog so they come up again here too.

I stated in Part 47 that I would make note of specific numbered topics points as I discuss them, but that I would also discuss these issues collectively and for how they fit together here too. And I will do that. I tend to take a more detail by detail analytical perspective in this blog, examining and discussing individual puzzle pieces that I bring into a narrative, as such. And I have primarily done that for these issues. My goal here, in contrast is to consider the overall puzzle that they fit into and that they collectively create too.

I said that I would primarily focus on the first four of those points here in this posting and I begin doing so by noting a detail that should be obvious but that is easy to overlook and certainly in businesses that are not overtly being challenged and reshaped by change, and from within and from their outside – and with this as a core, overtly stated part of their basic business model.

• All of this takes place in time and even over extensive periods of it. And effective responses to all of those first four points and the questions that they raise are of necessity mutable as needs and circumstances change. All four of those points come together, to collectively address a single dynamic process and in fact a system of them that is time-dependent and that is shaped by the change that time and timing bring.

This can be obvious to people who work at a readily change-driven business that functions in a highly competitive industry, and that faces and seeks to effective engage with a change and New demanding marketplace and customer base: a context that I have addressed repeatedly in this blog and particularly when discussing innovation and its drivers. But even there, newer employees who have not gone through change and disruptive change in particular there, can easily come to tacitly assume that the work flow and the business dynamics and the context that they happen to have seen there are different. I write here of employees and managers who have carried out back-end and other within-business activities that do not seem to be directly affected by product or market demand change and who have not seen significant change during their tenure there. And I write here of how these hands-on employees and managers with their day-to-day focus can easily at least tacitly come to presume that what they do there has always been the effective norm there.

Even these businesses that live or die on the basis of change and on how they respond to it, and in how effectively they can proactively lead in it, have people who can take stable and even constant for granted, and certainly when considering the details that they have not seen changed – and even if they acknowledge overall change as a more abstracted generalization and as a consideration for other parts of their business. What they do and how they do it in their own day-to-day work there, must be more stable and consistent and certainly insofar as they work on and are professionally immersed in within-business supportive services, processes and tasks and not with the flow of new products and services offered per se, where ongoing change would be more overtly obvious.

Some of the back-end and within-business work flow that I just noted in the above paragraphs would of necessity in fact remain largely stable and fixed. And I cite ongoing accounting and related business process infrastructure as a quintessential example there, with its need for adherence to standardized and stable generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and related operational forms, with their stable and consistent calculations and reporting requirements. But apparent consistency and stability can disappear and even suddenly in most any area of a business, and not just in their immediately market-facing functions, as that enterprise faces need for flexibility and agility as a basic risk management consideration.

The presumption of ongoing and even open ended constancy and stability as addressed above, becomes a lot more overt and wide-spread in a business when it functions in a stable, and even perhaps seemingly moribund industry and when its products or services are consistently stable and established as such – with them appealing to a widely defined market audience regardless of their acceptance of or resistance to the new and innovative for other types of purchasing decisions. But change and even a need for disruptively and fundamental change can happen even then, and with all of the potential challenges inherent in the first four points of the above list coming to the fore for those businesses too. See my earlier series: Leveraging Information Technology to Revitalize Mature Industries and Marketplaces (as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 467 and following) for a brief discussion of how this need can arise and be addressed.

• Think of Points 1 and 3 of the above topics list as raising and identifying a complex mix of emerging challenges and opportunities, at least categorically, and with Points 2 and 4 directed towards how they would be responded to, or proactively addressed where that can become possible.

And this brings me to Point 5 of the above list:

• Ad hoc and special exception practices, and the emergence of the “ad hoc standardized” and its consequences

I have touched upon this complex of issues a number of times in this blog and will return to it again in the next installment of this series. And in anticipation of what is to come there, I will discuss this point in terms of the framework offered by Points 1-4. 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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