Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 40 – the issues and challenges of communications in a business 7

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 18, 2018

This is my 40th installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-39.)

I offered the following overall assessment point at the end of Part 39, that I repeat here as a starting point for further discussion:

• This (nota bene, the potential for structural-level failure in risk management and information systems security as sketched out in Part 39) can reflect how specific access decisions if explicitly made at all, are made on an individual information sharing detail by individual information sharing detail basis, and without regard to or even awareness of the larger innovation-to-product process (and without consideration of the business as a whole or its larger contexts too.) Risk management itself can become too compartmentalized and walled off for it to be able to make effective big picture-aware decisions.

And I add here, to that:

• Risk management can also concurrently become rigidly static as a system of rules and procedures that are never adequately reviewed or updated – except perhaps retroactively and only after a drift in them from actual business need, has led to a significant lost opportunity or similar problem.

Think of the above as representing what are essentially two sides to a same coin:

• Rigid compartmentalization and both for the information in question and for where and how it might be considered for use,
• And for how rigidly codified and even calcified business rules arise for managing approved information access there.

And from a prescriptive, remediative direction my goal here is to at least lay a foundation for more fully discussing how risk management and information access security systems should be developed and maintained with a goal of achieving greater agility and responsiveness, and with a capacity to be more proactively-capable and throughout the organization, in the face of those always-potential challenges.

I concluded Part 39 with the following list of to-address points that I more formally begin this posting with, with the above repeated and expanded-upon note serving as foundational orientation and starting point for what is to follow:

1. Offer an at least brief analysis of the risk management-based information access determination process, or rather flow of processes, as that arises and plays out in a mid-range risk level context (where I sketched out and used a simplified risk management scale system in Part 39 for didactic purposes, that I will continue to make use of here and in what follows.)
2. Then continue on from there to discuss how this type of system (or rather a more complete and functionally effective alternative to it as developed around a more nuanced and complete risk assessment metric than I pursue here), can and in fact must be dynamically maintained for how the business would address both their normative and predictably expected, and more novel potential information sharing contexts as they arise too. I note here in anticipation of that, that when innovation is involved and particularly when disruptively novel innovation is, novel information sharing contexts have to be considered the norm in that. And that significantly shapes how all of the issues encompassed in these two numbered points would be understood and addressed.

Let’s begin addressing those two topics points and the above offered context note that I would propose considering them in terms of, by considering the businesses that all of this would play out in. And I begin that with a cautionary note:

• One of the most serious mistakes that even experienced professionals can make in developing and carrying out risks and benefits analyses of the type that are under review here, is to approach them wearing the blinders of one’s own more limited scope of action and responsibility, and with one’s own more specialized range of hands-on and managerial expertise serving as decision framing parameters for that. Risk management and information security professionals of necessity need to rely on their own expert training and their own experience. But it is vitally important that they also look beyond and listen beyond that scope too, to more effectively encompass the particularities of the contexts that their decisions and actions would play out in and impact upon.
• And equally significantly it is important that they take care not to be peripheral vision blinded by only looking to the functional areas where the information in question would normally go, and their function area experts, for essentially all insight into what might be allowable and done in a more novel here-and-now that those experts might not be in a best position to more fully address. This means bringing what might at first seem to be wild card input from less usual sources into these conversations.

The questions and issues that I raise here, of necessity call for a more business-wide analytical scope of consideration, and even a business plus wider context scope of consideration too. Blinders in perspective as noted here, can in fact become the most significant risk factors in place in an innovation context, and can play the role of the 800 pound gorilla in the room for that: present and very real but unacknowledged for all of that.

Ultimately that is where all of the challenges and potential challenges that I have been writing of here in the last few postings of this series, grow from. So let’s step back and consider the business as a whole. And for purposes of this discussion, I would suggest doing so beginning with a particular point of focus and orientation that I can largely summarize with a single, seemingly simple-to-answer question:

• Is a business under consideration here, that faces at least a potential for developing and capitalizing on some new innovative possibility, new to addressing innovation as a possibility, or is it a business that has developed at least something of a genuine research and development capability already?

That is obviously a simple question insofar as answering it at least in general outline would only call for:

• A review (with information access clearance to do this) of possible R and D and related capabilities as laid out on the table of organization,
• And a review of the business’ capital expenditure and other dedicated resources that that management and supervision listing reflects,
• With findings from those reviews, coupled with a review of any specific project and related development work that is actually being carried out or that is at least formally being considered for that, or that has taken place and certainly recently as that is identified and prioritized, funded or not, and actually carried out or not. (Note that what constitutes as “recently” here can be open to interpretation, so the meaning of that word has to be clarified here too. A big and impactful innovation (or a big project that fails to complete and is dropped) can remain in everyone’s minds as if recent, and a lot longer than a more minor change improvement would that might grow stale as far as this business and its markets are concerned by the end of a current business quarter.)
• Think of this collectively as a review of what can be done and by whom, and certainly at a core resources needed, and a managerial and oversight level, with that coupled to a review of what is considered and what is actually done with those (and other supportive) resources in place.

But I have to add a cautionary note here. Any answer arrived at for the above “simple” question, as thought through according to the bullet pointed analyses just offered above or through comparable analytical means, might in and of itself be misleading at best, for actually understanding this business and how it in fact consequentially faces and acts upon the innovative potential that it has before it.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment, picking up on that admittedly cliff-hanger ending, by at least briefly discussing two specific business scenarios. More specifically, my goal for what is to follow in this series is to explain that last paragraph, cautionary note and as such, the bullet pointed question that preceded it too. Then after developing and discussing the two business models and their case in point implementations that I make note of here, I will more directly address the two to-address points that I repeated towards the top of this posting as the core topics I am working towards addressing in this narrative. Think of this narrative progression as being comparable to peeling back the layers of an onion to get to the core of what is there, but hopefully without any eyes watering.

In anticipation of that, I note here that:

• The first example that I will pursue in this is a business that I will refer to as ClarkBuilt Inc.: a small to medium size business by head count and cash flow that was initially built to develop and pursue a new business development path as built around its founders’ jointly arrived at “bold new innovative products” ideas. The Clark brothers, Bob and Henry came up with a new way to make injection molds for plastics and similar materials that would make it cost-effective to use injection molding manufacturing processes with new types of materials, and cost-effectively so. They have in fact launched their dream business to do that, and have developed a nice little niche market for their offerings, providing specialized-materials parts to other manufacturers.
• The second is a business that I will refer to in this as Kent Enterprises, and it is a larger and more established business that in fact has at least something of a track record of supporting, or at least attempting to support innovative excellence within its ranks and on a larger, wider-ranging scale.

There are, of course, catches in both of these businesses that would likely impact upon and even force a reframing of those two brief bullet pointed descriptions, and I will develop and explore those details as a means of more fully addressing what will turn out to be the two main to-address points that I essentially began this posting with, as I finish laying out and delving into the onion layers as a whole.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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