Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Business planning from the back of a napkin to a formal and detailed presentation 26

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 8, 2018

This is my 26th posting to a series on tactical and strategic planning under real world constraints, and executing in the face of real world challenges that are caused by business systems friction and the systems turbulence that it creates (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations, postings 578 and loosely following for Parts 1-25.)

I have at least relatively systematically been addressing a brief set of topics points in this series since its Part 19, which I repeat here with parenthetically added notes that indicate where I have discussed its issues in preceding series installments:

1. More systematically discuss how business operations would differ for businesses that follow one or the other of two distinctively different business models (see Part 19 through Part 21 for a selectively detailed outline and discussion of those businesses),
2. How the specific product offering decision-making processes that I have been making note of here would inform the business models pursued by both of these business types, and their overall strategies and operations and their views and understandings of change: linear and predictable, and disruptively transitional in nature (see Part 22, Part 23, Part 24 and Part 25.)
3. And I added that I would discuss how their market facing requirements and approaches as addressed here, would shape the dynamics of any agreement or disagreement among involved stakeholders as to where their business is now and where it should be going, and how.

My goal for this installment is to at least begin to address Point 3 of that list in light of my analysis and discussion as offered in response to Points 1 and 2. And as a foundational detail as to how I will proceed here, I will continue this overall line of discussion at least in part in terms of communications effectiveness and the availability of essential information in a timely manner, as decisions are made and carried through upon. That means reframing this in terms of what on a more macro scale would be called economic friction, and that I refer to on a more micro scale as business systems friction.

I begin addressing all of this from a within-business perspective and in terms of the single enterprise. And I will expand this narrative out from there, to include consideration of the still microeconomic but larger scale of supply chain and similarly proportioned business-to-business collaboration systems. Then I will at least briefly consider how the issues that I will raise here, impact upon and shape the more macroeconomic context, and particularly as regulatory law and trade policy create impact on the individual business and on its more microeconomically framed issues.

This is a series with an overall within-business perspective. And it is one that has as its primary focus, within-business issues and challenges, even as I set out to place those considerations in wider contexts here for how they arise and for how they create impact. To round out this orienting anticipatory note, I am going to conclude this line of discussion where I began it with an at least brief reconsideration of the two case study examples that I started addressing the above to-address list with, as noted in its Point 1.

With that anticipatory organizing note in place, I turn to the above Point 3 and to the issues of stakeholder goals and priorities and how they can align and conflict – and even simultaneously. And I begin that by pointing out that I have built what can be a fundamentally untenable axiomatic assumption into Point 3 as I have been presenting it in this series as a topics point up to here. Let’s begin more formally discussing its set of issues by parsing out and analyzing what that built-in assumption is and what it entails, and how it can and all too often does break down.

• The key wording as taken from Point 3 that I am holding up for discussion here, is: “…how their market facing requirements and approaches as addressed here, would shape …”
• But this can only apply as-is and as a sufficiently complete statement, if all significantly involved and all at least potentially involved significantly positioned stakeholders, were to approach the business that they work for from a high-level overall strategy and planning perspective – and not just from the perspective of their particular functional or managerial areas of it.
• And at least as importantly, this assumes that the individual stakeholder perspectives and priorities raised in the above bullet point, would show at least a close enough approximation to real, effectively accommodating alignment as to where the business is and where it should be going, so as to at least allow for a negotiated agreement on any differences remaining. Point 3 is negotiations and alignment-creation oriented, and it assumes that such joint efforts would not be stopped by the emergence of irreconcilable differences. I have seen differences of that sort arise as business founders and owners have sought to move beyond general principles to the more challenging task of dealing with actual day-to-day realities and the longer time frame realities that they have hidden within them. And when points of differences and disagreements arise from that emerging reality, resulting conflict might start out issue-centered but can quickly become matters of personality conflict too. And when impasses are reached in this, that generally means at least one founder/owner breaking away and going off on their own to build a separate new business and according to their vision – if it does not come to mark the end of this business venture entirely through what amounts to an implosion. I assume at least enough initial agreement and capacity for it here to build from, in strengthening a business’ essential leadership alignment, and with real functionally effective stakeholder agreement a real possibility.

I continue this discussion, and a reconsideration of Point 3 by challenging the first of those two bullet pointed assumptions, but while sustaining the second as valid. More specifically, I will assume a mixed big-picture business-wide perspective, even if it is one that can be all but inseparably linked to a more explicit localized within-business functional area, parochial perspective. And I start out assuming at least a potential for differences of opinion and judgment arising in any stakeholder discussions and negotiations that take place, and both as different stakeholders raise and discuss their perspectives on pressing matters and as they work out their own overall positions in their own minds.

I assume that stakeholders do not generally start out knowing in advance precisely what their fellow stakeholder colleagues are thinking, or what their precise priorities are or even necessarily what their precise overall goals are and certainly not in anything like operational detail. That level and type of uncertainly arises from how individual stakeholders each variously seek to balance their own responsibilities and their own functional area concerns and priorities, with their understanding of the business that they work at as a whole – as those big picture understandings are themselves shaped by their view of the business from where they work within it.

Point 3, and certainly as initially framed, looks to its issues from a complete business perspective, and for how that business as a whole faces and works with its marketplace. And in a similar vein I could have easily added its working with business-to-business partners in supply chain or similar systems, to that. A more realistically framed alternative to that might be:

• Point 3 (take 2): … And I added that I would discuss how a combination of stakeholder-held perspectives and understandings of the business as a whole, as shaped by their own more individual work responsibilities and perspectives there, would in turn shape the dynamics of any agreement or disagreement among them as to where their business is now as a whole and where it should be going, and how, as those individuals arrive at mutually agreeable accommodations that would balance overall business needs and their own individual stakeholder needs.

This is where the issues of reactive versus proactive arise, and of necessity. And the key set of issues that serve to link the balance of reactive to proactive that actually take place in a business, to the issues raised in the above restated Point 3, is entrenched in the information gaps and the business system friction that it creates that I have made explicit note of here. I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, where I will delve into that set of connecting issues. Then as promised above, I will discuss the issues that I have been raising here from a larger context than that of the individual business and its stakeholders. And I will return to my initial case study examples as I complete this discussion thread.

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.

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