Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 24: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 16

This is my 24th 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 1-23.)

I have been discussing a brief set of what can be seen as hiring process exceptions that can categorically arise in businesses, and that impact upon employees and potential employees as well as upon management and the business as a whole, when they arise (see Part 20.) And my goal in that developing narrative has been to use these real-world business process-based, interpersonal interactions as grounding points for discussing more general issues that would help illuminate and develop a more general theory of business as a whole.

I began discussing two such hiring situations in Part 23 that I repeat here as I continue to address them, as renumbered here from the original, more complete list. Please note that both of these exception scenarios are offered in contrast to a more normative hiring context scenario that they would prove to be an explicit exception to, with their normative counterparts offered first:

1. More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires, hands-on or managerial. (Here, the emphasis in this second possibility is in finding and bringing in people with rare and unusual skills and experience sets that are in high demand among competing businesses, and at levels of need that exceed any realistic pool of available candidates holding them.)
2. And job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying for work there as discussed up to here in this narrative, doing so on their own initiative – versus – professionals who might not even be explicitly looking for new job opportunities, who the business itself has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.

I started out comparing and contrasting the above repeated hiring exception scenarios in business process terms in Part 23, and then began to consider them from a participant-oriented game theory-based strategy perspective there too, building that line of discussion from the points of similarity and of difference that I had just noted for them in the first half of that overall line of discussion. To be more specific, I began to so analyze the first of those two hiring scenarios in Part 23, and my goal for this posting is to take that same approach as a tool for examining and understanding the second of those scenarios too, and with further points of comparison drawn between the two basic scenarios under consideration here as I pursue that. And I begin that by at least briefly repeating, and then expanding on a basic point that I made in Part 23 when considering the above Scenario 1, that applies to both of these exception hire context, and that in fact holds pivotal importance in any theory of business as a whole and across wide ranges of contexts as they would arise in such a theory:

• The phenomenon of competing alternative strategies, and how real world business contexts can come to require reconciling and coordinately following more than one such strategic approach at the same time – or at least finding a workable and mutually acceptable hybrid combination of them.
• It is obvious that different participants: different players, to couch this in game theory terms can and often do hold to differing and even overtly competing strategies and goals as they interact, and seek to influence the interactive processes that arise between them and the goals reached from that.
• When I raise the issues of competing strategies here, I am focusing on competing alternatives that can arise and play out within the individual participants involved there, as for example when they individually have to simultaneously find and promote negotiated approaches that would work for them on both a short term and a long-term basis, or in accordance with essentially any other dichotomous (at least) parameter that would hold importance to them, while pressing them with significantly differing alternative best paths forward.

As noted in Part 23, potential new hires who would fit into a Scenario 1 pattern as offered above, generally have specific currently must-have skills and experience sets that that hiring business feels compelled to add to their staff capabilities and as quickly and early as possible. This type of scenario is most likely going to arise for businesses that operate in very fast paced and rapidly changing, technology-driven business arenas that are continually racing to achieve an ever-changing goal: top position in a very competitive industry. As such, this scenario is usually all about businesses seeking a new and cutting edge technology advantage over their competition, and certainly while a current defining edge sought in winning this race is new and emerging skills-set driven. And that dynamic leads to both short-term and longer-term consequences, and a need for both short term and long term strategy and from both the would-be employee, and from the would-be hiring business perspective, and with game theory-defined strategic understandings to all of this, to match and for both sides of this too. These points as so generally stated, apply with equal force to the second above-repeated hiring scenario too.

A job candidate seeking out this type of hiring opportunity has to be able to leverage any possible advantage that they might be able to offer from their holding a still rare, high demand skills and experience set, while those special capabilities attributes still hold this type of defining value for them. So they need to be able to negotiate towards a hiring decision from their side of the table that would leverage their being able to achieve their goals, and help them gain the best possible terms of employment and compensation levels, commensurate with the current (but perhaps soon to fade) special value of what they have to offer now, and with a short-term strategic approach pursued in doing this. But at the same time, if they want to stay employed at that business longer term instead of only pursuing shorter-term gigs as an ongoing career path, they need to develop a relationship with this hiring manager who will be their supervisor and direct boss there, and with this business, that is not going to chaff and create resentment there too. This, of course holds for terms of employment and the details and levels agreed to in the overall compensation package.

I offer that last point with my own direct experience in mind, where I once found myself taking a consulting assignment that could in principle have lasted longer than it did – but I negotiated terms from too much of a short-term perspective and not from a longer-term one. So that business agreed to bring my in to work with them, but at a pay rate that they came to see as too out of range from what they paid others at the same level in their organization to be long-term sustainable. That realization on the part of this hiring business, I add, colored my entire work experience there, and even as I successively achieved the goals that I was initially brought in to work towards. And that brings me to the hiring manager and business side of this. They seek to meet the short term strategy requirements that they face in being able to bring in necessary and even essential skills and experience, but in ways that are going to be longer-term sustainable too – assuming that is, that they are not simply hiring short-term and intentionally so as their basic strategy.

Now let’s consider these same types of issues from an explicitly Scenario 2 perspective, where a business has decided to seek the services of some specific individual as a new hire, who they reach out to and attempt to convince to work for them, and regardless of their current work and employment status. These efforts are not generally directed towards addressing short-term needs, and the people they would bring in usually have skills and experience sets that they would want to retain longer-term. So their shorter term and here-and-now strategies and tactics for this would revolve around their seeking to catch the interest of such a potential hire, and in ways that would bring them in through their doors. Their longer-term strategy here would align with that, and function as a continuation of it, with a goal of finding a mutually agreeable overall, terms of employment and compensation package that both sides of these negotiations could live with moving forward.

• Both the potential new hire and the potentially hiring business in this, seek to reach an agreement that would best serve their particular needs and for both of these hiring scenarios. Short term, and certainly when only considering that timeframe, this would likely mean both of these two sides pursuing more of a win-lose strategy approach, that could turn out to be at least somewhat close to being diametrically opposed. So negotiations from that timeframe perspective would be oriented towards reconciling at least the make or break disagreement points that could arise.
• But both of the types of scenarios under consideration here, and the above-stated Scenario 2 in particular are essentially never short-term only and for either side of the negotiating table. So it is usually in the best interest of all parties to seek out more of an explicit win-win solution here and certainly where Scenario 2 applies with its more intrinsically long-term strategy focus built into it.

This leads me to the final crucially important point that I would address here in this posting: business systems friction and the fact that neither side to the negotiations that are under consideration here is going to know enough of the information that is held on the other side of the table to be able to make an optimally best-for-them decision when crafting the offers that they would propose. Neither side, for example, is certain to know if their counterparts on the other side of the table are negotiating with others too, and even if they do know that, they are unlikely to know the crucial details that they would have to compete with there. And neither side is going to know the outer parameters as to what the other side would deem acceptable, and either in detail for specific points or in overall balance where significant trade-offs might be possible.

How conservative in their thought and actions are the people involved in these negotiations? And how much would they seek to press the limits of what might be possible and achievable for their side, on the assumption that they could probably concede ground if needed when making adjusted offers and still keep these negotiations in play? Personalities involved, and basic business and negotiating styles pursued here can become very important, and both in shaping any dual or alternative negotiating tactics and approaches pursued, and in identifying and understanding the thinking on the other side of the table. (Look to the corporate culture in place in the hiring business, and the corporate cultures that a potential hire here, have succeeded in and even thrived in, that they might turn to for guidance as they negotiate possible next career moves that they might accept.)

• The points that I have been making here, and certainly in the last several paragraphs, while framed in terms of a hire-or-not negotiations, hold much wider importance in understanding the dynamics of business decision making and the agreements and disagreements that can arise in them, and both when dealing with outside stakeholders and when negotiating strictly in-house and across what can become highly competitive boundaries there.

I am going to more fully explore and discuss that last bullet point in my next series installment. And then I am going to turn to and consider the last hiring scenario from my original list in the next installment to this series, as first offered in Part 20 as noted above: nepotism as a specific case in point example of how hiring process exceptions can take more toxic forms. I will consider intentionally, overtly family owned and run businesses in that context, that simply seek to keep their business in their family, there. And I will also discuss more overtly problematical examples of how this type of scenario can play out too. Then after completing that line of discussion, at least for purposes of this series, I will step back from consideration of theories of business and special case contexts that they apply to, as an overall special categorical form of general theory, to delve into a set of what have become essential foundation elements for that discussion, with further consideration of general theories per se. I began this series in its Parts 1-8 by offering a start to an approach to thinking about and understanding general theories as such. I will add some further basic building blocks to that foundation after completing my business theory discussion here, up through a point where a new hire first successfully joins a business as an in-house employee, hands-on or managerial. Then I will turn back to further consider general theories of business per se, on the basis of that now-enlarged general theory discussion.

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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