Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Business planning from the back of a napkin to a formal and detailed presentation 29

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 6, 2019

This is my 29th 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, Page 4 and their Page 5 continuation, postings 578 and loosely following for Parts 1-28.)

I have been addressing a set of topics points since Part 19, that can become important in any business and certainly when it is facing change and a need to effectively navigate it:

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 through Part 25 and for more of a “big picture” discussion of this also see Part 26 and Part 27.)
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 (see Part 28 for a start to a discussion of this set of issues.)

My goal here is to complete an at least initial discussion of Point 3 of that list and certainly as its issues would play out in the context of a single business and its management, and the strategy and operational systems that they would devise and follow.

More specifically, I sought to build a framework in Part 28 for how negotiations within a business’ leadership team might succeed. And in the course of doing that, I raised two terms that I held off on discussing there, but that will require discussion and analysis here: two terms that I referred to as being “more-resolution oriented” and that become important here precisely because my goal here is to at least briefly discuss how the possible negotiations over differences of goals or methods or priorities raised in Part 28, might actually be carried out. And those terms were, and are “education”, and “shared insight.”

• Ultimately, and certainly in this context, both of those terms refer to tools for resolving the cognitive dissonance that I wrote of in Part 28: the more individually internalized debate and disagreement that these stakeholder leaders have to come to terms with as they make up their own minds,
• As well as offering resources for resolving any disagreements that they might have with each other, and certainly as these stakeholder participants come to a more unified agreement in their own thinking.

And I begin addressing all of this by posing a basic question that can be all too easy to overlook and certainly in the heat of the moment when stakeholders involved in making what to them are very important decisions, are caught up in the emotion of that. What do some, or even what does just one of the stakeholders involved here know, that others there do not? And how best could such factual knowledge and judgment-based opinion best be shared so a better, or even best possible synthesis of all of this input can be arrived at that would at least seek to address, or at least acknowledge all of the people involved here, and their needs and concerns?

I begin addressing that question by specifically turning to consider a context, where the issues that I raise here can become the most challenging: when a new business is top-down organized and run and with a single dominating owner/leader who would make any finalizing decisions and certainly on matters of importance to the business as a whole.

• The goal here is that all stakeholders involved at least have a say and know that they have been listened to
• And that everyone involved: that key most-senior executive there included, try to at least listen to others with open ears and open minds.
• Note in this context, that squabbles between less senior and less influential members of a founding or early leadership team, can poison the air for this as easily as closed mindedness on the part of that most senior decision maker can. So the approach that I write of here should be encouraged and pursued by all involved parties, and to protect their own positions and their own understandings and to promote them, as much as to protect the rights and the voices of others. This is not necessarily about giving ground as much as it is of creating a safe space for discussion where everyone’s rights and voices can be protected. And that makes this a matter of advancing enlightened self-interest too, on the part of all here involved.
• What are the issues that would come to the fore for each of the participants involved in this debate? It is important to note that while, for example, a particular C level officer might be a later addition to the team, and their contribution might be judged accordingly as being less of an “insider’s,” even the lowest ranking member of the founder’s team might see details that everyone there would need to know of and understand, and certainly if overall decisions that are headed towards being instituted, would likely lead to an otherwise avoidable problem for their service and the business later on, if their voice was not significantly included. The more proactively the members of this team can identify and avoid challenges and before they actively emerge, the better. But this requires open ears and open minds and participatory inclusion.

“Education”, and “shared insight” are all about shared learning and a shared awareness that no one has a monopoly of understanding or insight, and either for the challenges that might be emerging, or for how best to forestall or prevent, or if necessary resolve them. And the biggest challenge there can be found in what can become oversized egos. I have seen businesses, and certainly small young ones get into serious trouble from ego collisions that should have, and could have been avoided. At the very least this can, when unchecked, lead to members of a founding team giving up and leaving, and with all of the gaps and uncertainties and all of the recriminations that can lead to.

• I offer this thought to the dominating, in-control leader of such a new business as I have been discussing here. If your business to be is as important to you as you’re committing so much of yourself to it would suggest, getting this right and ensuring its success should be more important to you than any given possible “wins” over the others on your team, on detail points that no one will remember as significant a month from now and certainly if you and your team do not make bigger challenges out of them.

And I offer that same point to everyone else at this new and forming business too. Humility and an acceptance of not knowing everything and of not always thinking of all of the possibilities either, is golden here.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, by at least beginning to reconsider all three of the topics points that I have been working my way through here, since Part 19, but as they play out in a larger business-to-business context. This, at the very least will mean addressing the above-cited issues as already raised in this series but in larger contexts where for example, individual businesses enter into larger supply chain and related collaborations. But the basic issues I have been discussing here have their larger- scale defined elaborations and counterparts too, as businesses seek to operate in larger contexts too. Then after completing that narrative thread, at least for purposes of this series, I will return to my initial case study examples as cited in the above Point 1, to tie this overall narrative together as a more organized 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.

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