Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Rethinking exit and entrance strategies 32: keeping an effective innovative focus while approaching and going through significant business transitions 22

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 30, 2019

This is my 32nd installment to a series that offers a general discussion of business transitions, where an organization exits one developmental stage or period of relative strategic and operational stability, to enter a fundamentally different next one (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations, postings 559 and loosely following for Parts 1-31.)

I have been working my way through a to-address list of closely interrelated topic points since Part 28 that address a set of issues fundamental to that overall business challenge. More specifically, I have discussed its Points 1-3 up to here and in at least sufficient detail required for purposes of this series. And I have offered at least preliminary, orienting comments on its Points 4 and 5 too. My goal here is to at least begin to more fully discuss those issues here, and I begin doing so by repeating this topics list as a while, for smoother continuity of narrative and for greater clarity as to what, overall, I am addressing here:

1. Reserves as a cost because they represent assets and in fact liquid assets that cannot be turned to and used, except in what might be more emergency situations – and the need for larger reserves as risk increases: a situation that arises when facing the novelty and the unknowns as would be found in true transitions.
2. Changes in goals and scope of action, and in the level of detail of processes under consideration that have to be monitored, and how that overall form of course correction can be intentionally proactively sought out and developed, and how it can be reactively forced upon a business and its leadership.
3. And in a more strictly project context, or at least in more strictly project-oriented terms: consider scope creep and scope expansion in general, and its opposite with scope compression and simplification where details are dropped and goals reduced …
4. With and without organized, strategically aware planning and forethought to back such decisions.
5. I added that I would discuss these issues at least in part in terms of goals and priorities collisions, where more strictly cash flow and financial considerations, and risk and benefits considerations, and overall business goals can all come into conflict and even direct collision with each other. And my goal there is to at least begin to offer some approaches for both better understanding these scenarios and their dynamics, and better addressing and resolving them. And then after addressing all of that, at least for purposes of this series, I will proceed to reconsider exit and entrance strategies per se again, this time from the perspective of this developing narrative.

I began taking the structured and organized, versus open and flexible strategic and operational approach dichotomy, of Point 4 out of the abstract in Part 31, by posing a brief orienting set of basic and even generic questions that would realistically apply to most any business and its strategic and operational management and execution. Then I wrote towards the end of that series installment, in anticipation of this one, that I would continue its narrative here at least in part by digging deeper in the nature and specificity of the questions that I would offer here, as a next step continuation of the business analysis process that I in fact have been proposing throughout my discussion of the set of five topics points that I just repeated above. And I explicitly add here in that context, that this business process analysis comes to an explicit point of focus in its Points 4 and 5.

I begin this “fleshing out” discussion by repeating my first more generic question from Part 31, and more importantly for here and now by repeating the side note comment that I parenthetically added to its bullet point after offering that question itself:

• What is the overall goal of the business model in place? (Note: this is not a trivial question; answering it is not just an exercise in blowing the dust off of an old and even original business plan document from this business’ founding to repeat whatever was offered there. This is a question of what the business does now in practice and with what actual current goals and priorities.)

The devil they say, is in the details, and so is salvation were a genuine effort is made to think those details through and understand them, and a genuine effort is made to realistically, effectively build from that. Reread the brief set of questions that I offered in follow-up to the above-repeated first one of Part 31. How many of them even make sense, let alone offer possible value if the answer to the above-repeated Question 1 is just phoned in with an automatic and unconsidered reiteration of the business founders’ original intent and without any regard for how the business and its actual, in-practice business model and business plan have changed?

• The more a business needs to carry out this type of exercise – the more it would positively benefit from doing so, the less value, or even meaning it can derive from this type of overall exercise if it does not, or cannot approach it and carry through upon it with fresh eyes and an open mind.

And the imperatives of that comment come into full force when considering Points 4 and 5, and for anything like a Point 5 trade-offs analysis in particular. This type of exercise can only make sense or offer value to the degree in which it is based on a current and dispassionate understanding and acknowledgement of where the business actually is now and of where it is actually headed now – and certainly if it continues along whatever easiest, most direct, business as usual linear path forward that it is currently following.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will take this posting’s discussion at least somewhat out of the abstract by at least briefly offering and discussing a specific case in point example business. And I will in effect offer a second take there, on my questions list portion of Part 31 of this series, where I will offer some of the key questions that that business’ particular leadership might raise and consider in this type of context. Then I will use that more focused key questions iteration of my Part 31 discussion as a foundation point for more explicitly discussing the above-repeated Point 5, doing so by way of this working example.

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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