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, since Part 20 of this, 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, when they arise. 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 counterpart 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, 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 these two hiring exception scenarios in Part 23, and then began to consider them from a participant-oriented game theory-based strategy perspective there, building that line of discussion from the points of similarity and of difference that I had just noted for them. Or to be more specific here, I began to so analyze the first of those two hiring scenarios in that installment in that manner. 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 between the two added in while doing so. And I begin this by at least briefly repeating, and then expanding on a basic point that I made in Part 23 when considering the above renumbered (and somewhat rephrased) Scenario 1, that holds pivotal importance in any theory of business as a whole and across wide ranges of context as they would arise in them:

• 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 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, and both from their own perspective and from that of a hiring company, 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 the defining edge sought in winning this is new and emerging skills-set driven race, would still hold first mover advantage for them in capturing emerging new markets. 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.

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 a 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 would at least likely turn out to be at least somewhat close to being diametrically opposed.
• 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 a win-win solution here and once again, most certainly where Scenario 2 applies.

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 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 20as 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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Rethinking Platt Perspective at 2501 postings – an update on how this enterprise is to continue from here

Posted in blogs and marketing by Timothy Platt on May 29, 2018

I began writing to this blog at a rate of one posting going live every day, starting September 14, 2009. And I continued at that pace, with a few supplemental postings added in, until February 17, 2014. At that time, I made a fundamental change in my pace of writing for this overall narrative. I switched to writing and uploading new installments to go live on it, with a next posting set to appear every other day. And now it is May 29, 2018 and I have decided to slow my writing and publications pace again: this time to once every three days.

I have thought a great deal about when and how I would make this type of chance, just as I did leading up to my September, 2014 decision to start writing to this at all with the long-term commitment that I assumed with that. And at this time, I feel that I have reached a point in my efforts here, where this is the right decision for now as to how I should proceed moving forward.

That said, I will still offer at least some postings on “off-days” and particularly for series that are not amenable to longer-term scheduling, with the delays that that involves for their next installments to go live. But even then, I will have days off that allow for longer development and writing times.

As stated above, I pursued what was basically a once a day, every day publishing schedule for a number of years. My at least initial goal when switching to a once every other day schedule was to continue at that pace for about the same length of time in which I had posted daily. I did reach that mark. As of now, I expect to continue at this new pace for at least as long as that timeframe unit of measure, which would mean my following this approach until something after posting 2900 and probably closer to posting 3000 for this blog. That said, I might change my mind, in which I will share another schedule-correcting update to this. But I still view this endeavor as being open ended in duration and the total number of postings that I will eventually have written to it.

Timothy Platt

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 23: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 15

This is my 23rd 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 1-22.)

I have been discussing a series of what can perhaps best be considered exceptions scenarios, that would arise in the hiring process in a business, in this series since its Part 20, alternating between discussion of these specific business process issues, and more general theory of business considerations, that I have been exploring by way of these special case contexts. For smoother continuity of narrative, I repeat my four hiring scenario list, with a goal of addressing its third entry here:

1. More routine hire, hands-on non-managerial employees, and I add more routine and entry level and middle managers – versus – the most senior managers and executives when they are brought in, and certainly from the outside.
2. More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires and employees, hands-on or managerial.
3. Job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying as discussed up to here in this narrative on their own initiative – versus – those who the business has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.
4. And to round out this list, I will add one more entry here, doing so by citing one specific and specifically freighted word: nepotism. Its more normative alternative should be obvious.

And I begin addressing Scenario 3 by pointing out the similarities that can arise, and the overlap that can occur between this and Scenario 2. Both involve a business coming to realize that it needs to hire one or more very rare, high demand special-case new employees, at whatever level they would work at on the table of organization. This makes these hiring processes, seller’s market oriented with advantage held by any who can convincingly present themselves as fulfilling the wish list requirements of the hiring business. Both involve situations where more possible employers, quite arguably would wish to hire these types of people than there are actual job candidates – and certainly ones who are looking or willing to look for new work opportunities elsewhere. But even with all of that held in common, these are two distinct and separate special exception hiring scenarios.

• First of all, a really proactive, entrepreneurial professional who has skills and experience that are coming into high demand and need, and at levels the market cannot meet, can reach out to hiring managers and potential hiring managers at businesses that they would like to work at, and basically make sales pitches directed towards starting a conversation. Their goal in that would be to discuss the possibilities of what they could offer, that would specifically bring benefit to that business and to the people there who they get to meet with.
• A business in question, and at least one of its hiring managers have to have thought all of this out first, for a Scenario 3 as offered above to apply; a potential job candidate and new hire can reach out to inform and to provoke that type of thinking process, making an initial effort in order to explore their possibilities and see what they can develop. In Scenario 2, they can easily be the more proactive participants in this. In Scenario 3, it is the potential new hire catch, who would be reactive and the potentially hiring business that would be more proactive in setting this type of process in motion.
• And to cite one other at least potentially significantly differentiating detail here, Scenario 2 tends to apply more for finding and securing special here-and-now hires, and with a goal of keeping the business cutting edge and competitive from that in some rapidly changing, generally technical functional area. What is hot enough in the jobs market to qualify for Scenario 2’s preferential treatment today, is probably going to cool down enough and in a relatively short period of time, to fit more smoothly and realistically into that company’s routine candidate selection and new hire processes and procedures, and from the early job description preparation and initial candidate screening and filtering process onward. And this can happen very quickly, making Scenario 2 into more of a narrow window of opportunity phenomenon.
• Scenario 3 candidates on the other hand, and the people that a business would want to convince to become candidates, might fit that pattern. But this scenario is also were businesses reach out to special possible hires who would offer long-term defining value too, such as marketing or sales professionals with a well established golden touch track record, or senior executives who have proven track records of stellar excellence as visionary leaders and managers. I write here of having more persistent soft skills excellences, versus simply having a more state-of-the-art based, ephemeral technical skills edge.

With that offered as a starting point for discussing what Scenario 3 actually is, let’s consider it and I add reconsider Scenario 2 again, from a game theory perspective. And I begin addressing that, by picking up on the last sentence of the immediately preceding bullet point description, and the basic message that I seek to convey through it, and with timing considerations.

• Any specifically short-term, time limited Scenario 2 advantage that a prospective job candidate might hold in a hiring process there, would of necessity significantly shape the strategy that they would pursue, and I add that the hiring business would pursue too, when meeting and negotiating with them. This biases all that would transpire on both sides of the hiring negotiations table there, and in terms of short timeframes and in terms of strategic and game strategy considerations that would support them.
• But a Scenario 2 candidate who is hired, is in most cases going to want to continue on at that job for longer than just the perhaps brief span in which their special skills that brought them there, still retain their special edge. I am not suggesting that they would want to finish their overall career paths with this employer: only that they would want to have a say in how long they remain there, and on what they can develop and take with them from that experience, as and when they do move on. This gives them positive incentive to think and plan in terms of longer-term career strategy too, and according to a game theory approach that would promote and advance their interests along that timeframe too. And this might in fact be at odds with a strictly short-term interest and short-term planning strategy and game theory approach that they might take if only thinking in terms of getting hired in the first place.
• And a Scenario 2 hiring business, would see compelling need to pursue an at least short-term compatible hiring strategy and game theory approach at first and when negotiating to bring in such a new hire. But as an ongoing organization, they would also have to consider and take on a dual approach there too, building from day one in the hiring process for longer term viability in any hiring agreements reached.

And with this, I raise the issues of dual and competing strategies and their game theory implementations, and the need to reconcile and coordinate between them, to find what for a participant would be their best, more timeframe-independent path forward. I will continue this discussion of Scenario 3 (and of Scenario 2 as well) in my next series installment, and will then move on to Scenario 4, which I offer here in this series as one of several potentially toxic hiring scenarios. And after completing that line of discussion, at least for purposes of this series, I will step back from consideration of general theories of business as a special categorical case, to delve into a set of what have become essential foundation elements for that discussion, with further consideration of general theories per se. And looking ahead, I will then turn back to the more specific context of theories of business again, where I will begin using this newly added, more-general foundational material in its more specific context. My goal there is to follow the discussion of business hiring processes and their exceptions that I have been pursuing up to here, with one that focuses on the new hire probationary period and its dynamics. And I will use that as a source of special case examples, in order to develop and present more general theory of business considerations.

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.

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 22: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 14

This is my 22nd 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 1-21.)

I began addressing a set of four example scenarios as to how someone might be hired into a business, outside of the more standard framework of processes and understandings that Human Resources would develop and follow as its routine business practice, in Part 20 of this series, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative:

1. More routine hire, hands-on non-managerial employees, and I add more routine and entry level and middle managers – versus – the most senior managers and executives when they are brought in, and certainly from the outside.
2. More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires and employees, hands-on or managerial.
3. Job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying as discussed up to here in this narrative on their own initiative – versus – those who the business has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.
4. And to round out this list, I will add one more entry here, doing so by citing one specific and specifically freighted word: nepotism. Its more normative alternative should be obvious.

And I have addressed the first of these more novel-case scenarios, at least for purposes of this narrative, since then with that line of discussion leading me to the above repeated hiring Scenario 2. My goal for this posting is to address that. And as done in my now completed discussion of Scenario 1, I do so in the context of alternating between the specifics of the scenario at hand, and more general theory of business considerations.

Focusing here on the more general line of discussion pursued in this series up to here, I analytically characterized trust as it enters into the types of decision making processes that arise in situations such as the above four scenarios in Part 21, splitting off three categorical varieties of it that differ from each other for the most part, according to how fully and directly a process or transaction participant can know, of what they would need to know, in order to make a best-for-them, or a best for their business decision.

My goal here is to delve into at least some of the more general issues that arise when discussing Scenario 2, and use that specific business circumstance as a means for further developing my more general business theory narrative, taking an explicitly game theory approach to that here. Think of my Part 21 discussion of trust and its information based foundations, as a foundational element to that, and for what is to come here.

First, let’s consider Scenario 2 itself. And I begin by noting that this arises when a business seeks to address a specific strategically significant challenge by finding and securing the hire of one or more specific individuals, who are at least relatively uniquely capable of addressing this new or emerging need. This type of scenario is most likely to arise in the context of addressing new or expanding gaps that have been found in the skills and capabilities sets that a business can apply towards fulfilling its core business goals, at least from its current staff and management. This means making its core capabilities more effective, that directly generate its incoming revenue streams and its profitability. But this can also arise if specific individuals can be found who for their special skills and experience, could make a necessary cost center, more competitively cost-effective too, freeing up resources for more profits-center use. Either way, a Scenario 2 situation as outlined above would arise when a business has to find and bring in specialized and difficult to find and secure new hires, with an overall goal of becoming or remaining as competitively effective as possible from that.

And in either case, this means finding and securing specific people:

• Where more generically available, routinely effective job candidates would not be able to offer the types of new value required in a hire here,
• And where wider candidate selective choice considerations, and the compensation benchmarking that such hiring patterns would provide, could not be used to help define or limit what the business would have to offer in overall compensation here.
• Together the above two points throw away the possibility of meaningful, standardized marketplace norms for hiring or for compensation offered for these Scenario 2 candidates, increasing the bargaining power of the most desired job candidates here, relative to that held by a hiring business.

And as soon as the managers directly involved in these hiring decisions begin to realize that their more routine personnel policies for managing compensation levels cannot apply here, due to uniqueness of circumstance and scale of need, this second scenario becomes inevitable in one form or other.

And with my earlier discussion of Scenario 1 as noted above, and this discussion of Scenario 2 noted, I turn back to the issues of trust and how it can take different forms, depending on the availability of necessary information. And I move forward to at least begin to reframe this in more explicitly game theory terms.

I have written in this blog on several occasions, about win-win and win-lose scenarios. And as part of that, I have noted that win-lose can come to predominate as an approach taken, as a consequence of at least one of several possible factors applying to the contexts in which these games play out, as perceived and understood by the participants involved. And I begin this phase of this narrative by at least briefly and selectively listing a few of those possible strategy triggers here, that I will then explicitly consider, and certainly for Scenarios 1 and 2.

Win-lose strategies are defensive in nature, and arise when, among other possibilities:

A. One or more participants in a business transactions system see the overall pool of rewards available from participating in it, as smaller than the overall pool of value that those participants would collectively have to pay in to it, in order to participate and with a chance of gaining some share of those rewards. This is the “pie to be divided is too small” scenario, where win-lose arises as participants seek to secure what they see as their fair share (or more) and even at the expense of others not even coming close to that.
B. One or more of those participants see that while they might be in effect paid back, if with a delay if they play cooperatively, it is uncertain, or even unlikely that the business transaction system game that they are in will be sustainable long enough for that to happen. This is the “cut your losses and play for as quick a return on investment as possible and regardless of impact upon others” scenario.
C. And with my discussion of trust in its varying forms, as outlined in Part 21, I add in business systems friction and the types of communications and information availability challenges that engenders it. The more incomplete and unreliable the timely availability of necessary information when choosing and pursuing a game strategy as a strategic option here, the more attractive and the more specifically risk reducing a win-lose strategy can appear to become. Limitations in information availability for quality and/or timeliness, and the friction that creates and drives that, degrades types and levels of trust that can be sustained, and that degrades any possible cooperation and any possible win-win alternative.

And to add one more detail to this brief narrative on why people would be drawn towards pursuing a win-lose, or zero-sum strategy, I stress that the strongest driver of all that would drive participants towards pursuing win-lose strategies (at briefly touched upon above, in a Rationale A context) is a sense of inequality and of not being offered a fair chance at receiving compensation in proportion to value and commitment invested. That point of observation, in fact underlies all that I have said here regarding win-lose and its root causes. With that noted, let’s reconsider first Scenario 1 as repeated above, and then Scenario 2 with this general business theory note in mind.

Employees at businesses do not in general see themselves as directly competing with the owners of those businesses or with their more senior executives, and certainly in big business and corporate contexts. This means Rationale A of the above list is unlikely to apply with much force for Scenario 1, unless employees as a whole come to see the leadership of the business that they work for as in effect, looting them of their fair due from how they loot the business as a whole, denying for example adequate cost of living wage increases to their employees while claiming the business cannot afford them, while significantly increasing their own paychecks or other direct personal benefits out of the resulting “savings.”

But employees who see their work as being important to their employing business, and who take pride in doing their work very well, do not necessarily see this same type of categorical separation as noted in the above paragraph, as existing between themselves and others who at least nominally work at the same general levels as them on the table of organization, simply because those employees, or at least some of them happen to know and use some currently “must have” new set of technical skills that they themselves do not need or use, such as knowledge of some new specialized computer language or tool set. The Phrase “as understood and accepted by …” as a contextual qualifier, becomes crucially important here (with this paragraph addressing Rationale A and Scenario 2, as both are offered above.)

I mentioned three rationales in my above list, as to why people working at a business or with an organization might come to pursue a more win-lose, zero-sum personal strategy there. Then I focused on the first of them: the limited pie that cannot suffice to fully meet all participants’ reasonable claims. It is possible for two or more of the types of sample rationales touched upon in that list, to co-occur, and I add that different participants and participant groups can in fact see and be driven by different ones, even if all involved basically follow the same general strategy at least most of the time (e.g. win-win, or in this case win-lose.) But that makes any analysis of the type I am offering here, more complex. And this type of complexity, of necessity means all involved face at least significant levels of Rationale C from my above list of them: friction stemming from faulty and incomplete information as to why others make the decisions that they do, that would be needed for making their own decisions more effectively.

I am going to complete this line of discussion in my next series installment, and will then turn to Scenarios 3 and 4 to complete this phase of this series and its overall discussion. Then I will step back from general theories of business as a special categorical case, and delve into a set of what have become essential foundation elements for that with further consideration of general theories per se. And looking ahead, I will then turn back to the more specific context of theories of business again, where I will begin using this newly added, more-general foundational material in its more specific context.

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.

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 21: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 13

This is my 21st 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 1-20.)

I began Part 20 of this by offering a set of four case in point examples as to how someone might be hired into a business, outside of the more standard framework of processes and understandings that Human Resources would develop as its basic default candidate selection, vetting and onboarding system. Then, and with an initial discussion of the first of those four alternative scenarios in mind, I briefly touched upon a set of more general principles that would help to conceptually organize and explain how business systems function as networks of interacting individuals and as networks of more closely aligned groups of them, and in contexts of the type raised by those scenarios among others. (N.B. I will return in detail to the issues of groups and their decision making processes and their consequences, later in this series when considering emergent properties as arise in higher organizational levels where convergence and divergence of opinion, and social and authority based hierarchies enter this narrative, among other considerations. I only considered what might be viewed as simplest baseline scenarios in Part 20, as far as this is set of issues is concerned, assuming that any groups involved would start out as collections of individuals of like mind on all pertinent matters.)

I plan on reversing the order pursued there in this installment, and will begin with further discussion of more general principles. And then I will delve into the specifics again, as outlined at the end of Part 20 as an anticipatory closing note. And I will complete my discussion of that first scenario as my specific application of theory, half of this posting. But for smoother continuity of narrative, I begin this posting’s narrative by repeating those four scenarios as a group, as I will develop and present my more general organizing comments of this series installment, with all of them in mind:

1. More routine hire, hands-on non-managerial employees, and I add more routine and entry level and middle managers – versus – the most senior managers and executives when they are brought in, and certainly from the outside.
2. More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires and employees, hands-on or managerial.
3. Job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying as discussed up to here in this narrative on their own initiative – versus – those who the business has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.
4. And to round out this list, I will add one more entry here, doing so by citing one specific and specifically freighted word: nepotism. Its more normative alternative should be obvious.

With that list noted as a source of specific case in point contexts that any overarching theory would have to accommodate and account for, I built my more general discussion portion of Part 20 around a conceptual model of how businesses are functionally organized:

• A business can, among other things, be viewed as a dynamic system of overlapping and interconnected stakeholder networks, some assembled on the spot for specific purposes just to dissolve as their sources of impetus for forming are resolved, and some enduring long term.
• And long-term ones, can even become effectively enshrined in the business model and in strategic and operational systems, where membership can become title and position based to allow for smoother member turnover as people come and go in a business’ workforce, and as people there change jobs within the organization. Much of this is in fact laid out at least for likelihood of arising in the table of organization itself, but even stable and seemingly permanent functional networks of this type can systematically cut across the table of organization too, and even intentionally so.
• Ultimately and according to this understanding, business systems and their functioning can be viewed as representing complex and evolving networks of interpersonal interactions, and interpersonal commitments. Think of the Scenario 1 hiring process and new employee onboarding process example that I have been focusing on here, as a case in point example of this much more widespread general set of phenomena.

My goal here is to at least begin to reconsider this model in more explicitly game theory terms, and with a focus there on how stable networks that are assembled from these interpersonal relationships, arise. And I begin that by noting that historical track records mean everything there. Stability in this is based on trust, and that is based on the at least presumably reliable foundation of prior and currently ongoing experience, and both with specific individuals and with the organizations that they work for.

• Let’s begin with the familiar. You know a particular individual and how well they do or do not carry out their work tasks, and how promptly or not they do this. You know how reliable or not, any collateral and supporting information would be, that they would have to provide as part of a task completion on their part – and also from past experience with them and from their track record from working with your own direct colleagues. And in this, I could be writing about a direct member of the work team that you yourself work for who reports to the same supervisor as you, or I could be referring to a more distant colleague who works in a different part of the same business as you, but who works there at least situationally as a fellow stakeholder with you in some larger overall task or work process. Or I could be writing of a professional who works for a completely different organization, who you find yourself dealing with through, for example, supply chain transactions.
• In any of these cases you might directly, individually know these people who you would work with. Or you might only know them to start with at least, by reputation and from knowledge of who they work for and from what you know of the reliability of their hiring and retention and employee training systems. Yes, that applies to new members of your own same-supervisor work team, as much as it does to the context of working with more distant task participants and stakeholders. Then, and focusing for the moment on new hires to your work team, your basis for initial trust is based on your sense of the reliability and thoroughness of the vetting and screening that new prospective hires go through there, to make sure that the right people are hired, and both for their professional skills and experience and for their qualities as people who others can readily work with.
• Think of this set of bullet points as having described individually based trust that is grounded in your own direct experience, and institutionally based trust that is based on your trust in organized vetting systems in place.
• New hires, arriving from outside of the organization as a whole, bring with them more and I add more fundamental unknowns in this, barring direct prior knowledge of them from earlier experience or from knowing them from outside of the hiring workplace. Then the questions of reliability and trust and of genuineness in what they claim, for example in their resumes and covering letters, can come to depend on how reliable their references might be viewed. I add a third category to this list with that: surrogate-based trust, where individually based trust as grounded in face to face meetings and interviews, and knowledge of the businesses that a job candidate has worked for and their hiring and retention practices, would be supplemented by insight from third party references who might themselves be largely unknown. Think of this as an example of trust in the presence of information limited friction.
• To complicate matters and certainly for that and when hiring from the outside, businesses that a prospective new hire has worked for in the past are often reluctant to discuss or even admit that a now former employee of theirs might have left under a cloud if they did, and with problematical entries or worse in their personnel files there. Such disclosures can and often are seen as creating legal liability in the event that a job candidate who is not hired by a prospective new employer, might file suit of defamation of character from a former employer.

And this brings me directly to the issues of hiring from completely outside of a business, as opposed to promoting from within a business and from within the same local line of a table of organization at that, or hiring from a different functionally and perhaps geographically distinct part of a same, generally larger and more geographically dispersed company.

All three of these possibilities carry both positives and negatives. Outsiders can for example bring new ideas and insights and approaches, where insiders might start out with sets of career-based blinders in the form of same-as-everyone-else assumptions and presumptions. I mentioned in Part 20, how managers and executives in nonprofits tend to advance in their careers to higher level positions by moving between organizations, rather than by moving upward along a table of organization within some single employer. Partly that is because these organizations tend to keep their headcounts to a minimum so it is unlikely that an appropriate next step upward would even be available in-house where a career advancer is now. And that is the point that I raised there, in this context. But it is also true that nonprofits often explicitly seek out fresh blood and fresh, new ideas, and the greater breadth of experience of having worked, and successfully so at one or more other nonprofits already.

But this reaching outside also brings an increased measure of risk too – which among reasons is why essentially all hiring businesses have an at least informal probationary period for new hires, as a means of validating that they actually work out before more fully committing to having them there as full time in-house members of the team.

Let me bring that back to Scenario 1 to conclude this posting, and to the issues of bringing in senior executives in particular. I write this thinking of a nonprofit that I worked for, that brought in an experienced Chief Strategy Officer from the outside as a means of bringing in new ideas and approaches for making more fundamental overall changes in the organization as a whole: strategic and operational changes that a significant amount of organizational growth had now made necessary as they had significantly ramped up the number of local chapter offices that they had to support nationally, and as they had instituted larger regional offices to help national run their overall operations in this, as a new intermediate organizational and supervisory layer. But they brought this individual in-house this way for a second reason too; their Chief Executive Officer of long-standing was beginning to prepare to step down and retire. And they wanted to bring in new blood there too, but at least as importantly they wanted and needed to find someone who really knew their systems and their corporate culture too, and who they could rely upon to be a good fit for both and from day one at that job. They brought in their new Chief Strategy Officer and kept them at that position for something over a full year, to groom them, and yes to validate them too, as a good fit next CEO. He worked out and was advanced to be their replacement CEO and has worked there in that capacity for a number of years now since then. Think of this as representing a hybrid strategy as far as balancing risks and benefits is concerned.

I am going to turn to Scenario 2 in my next series installment: special skills and experience, new hires and employees who might work hands-on or in a more managerial capacity. And I will also continue my discussion of more general principles there – applying this posting’s more general discussion to an explicitly game theory context. 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.

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 20: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 12

This is my 20th 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 1-19.)

I took something of a dual, specific case in point examples plus general principles approach in writing Part 19 to this series:

• Focusing on the specific case in point source of examples of the hiring process, and of deciding to retain or let go current employees, and how the dynamics of those interpersonal processes and of the relationships that inform them, change as a possible employee outsider becomes an in-house member of the team,
• But also considering how individual behavior and binary interpersonal relationships in general (as for example found there between a job candidate and a hiring manager) comprise the basic elements of larger and more business systems-defining networks.

And at the end of that posting, I said that I would continue both of those lines of discussion in this installment. More specifically, and certainly for my working specific-case example, I discussed routine and more generally applicable personnel policy issues of employment in Part 19, as they arise and play out independently of the precise details of what a prospective new employee would do there individually, and without consideration of special case exceptions as to how a prospective new hire might come to meet with a prospective employer for a job, or for how matters might proceed from there. I wrote my case in point example discussion of Part 19 in terms of prospective job candidates who reach out to a hiring business on their own initiative and through standard channels, and how matters proceed from there, and also according to a standard business-wide model. And I wrote that in terms of issues that would apply to both hands-on non-managerial employees, and to at least basic lower or mid-level managerial employees too.

Then at the end of Part 19, I briefly cited a short list of alternatives to that baseline scenario that I stated I would at least begin to address here, in order to more fully discuss the issues raised in this narrative thread: employment-specific as they arise, and for the more general issues raised here as well.

For smoother continuity of narrative, I begin this posting’s discussion here by repeating my alternative scenarios list, which I set up as a set of explicitly contrasted opposites:

1. More routine hire hands-on non-managerial employees, and I add more routine and entry level and middle managers – versus – the most senior managers and executives when they are brought in, and certainly from the outside.
2. More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires and employees, hands-on or managerial.
3. Job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying as discussed up to here in this narrative on their own initiative – versus – those who the business has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.
4. And to round out this list, I will add one more entry here, doing so by citing one specific and specifically freighted word: nepotism. Its more normative alternative should be obvious.

And I begin working my way through that list of possibilities by noting a point that should be obvious and certainly for anyone who has reviewed Part 19 of this series: the first alternative in each of the four above listed A versus B scenarios (except for the above Point 4 which is reversed for order), is grounded in the baseline and I would argue default scenario that I briefly touched upon there. So my focus of attention in what is to come, will be in the non-default alternative for each of the four points of the above repeated list, citing the default alternative for each of them primarily for frame of reference purposes and to put those non-default possibilities into a more consistent overall perspective.

With that, I begin with Scenario 1 of that list, and with more senior managers and executives when and as they are brought into a business. And I begin this line of discussion by clarifying two points of detail. The first is that this scenario highlights how the four scenarios as offered here might seem to be distinct and separate in principle, but how they can and often do overlap and co-apply in practice. And the second involves why I added “… and certainly from the outside” to it.

Senior managers, and up and coming middle managers who have developed impressively marketable track records can and do reach out on their own initiative to hiring businesses, for next steps forward and upward along their planned out career paths. This is certainly true for professionals who work in businesses and organizations of the nonprofit sector, to cite a specific and well known industry and business sector example, where headcount is kept low and it can be all but impossible to advance up a table of organization with a current employer, as gaps that might be promoted into can be so rare there. But professionals can reach out on their own anyway and regardless of how fluid and open advancement opportunity might be where they are now, if for example they see particular value in moving to work for some particular new business venture. Still, the higher up a position that would be filled, and certainly for larger businesses and corporations, the more likely that Scenario 3 would apply too. To keep this narrative simpler and more readily followed, I will assume at first that a would-be senior manager or executive officer new hire, reached out on their own initiative to a hiring business and that they would have to introduce and market themselves to it as such, if they are to be considered there. So the point of distinction that I would address here is essentially entirely one of where they would seek out a position along the table of organization as to level up on it.

The higher up a position is, the more wide ranging the impact of any hiring decision to fill it, and across the entire business organization and for external stakeholders too. And for senior executives, this essentially always means board of directors’ awareness, and for key positions such as Chief Executive Officer that of necessity includes a need for achieving explicit board buy-in and approval too. As such, more is on the line and for the business as a whole. And that means that these hiring decision making, and I add subsequent onboarding processes become much more individualized and much less standardized, as for example would be specified by Human Resources process guidelines for more routine hirings. And that only begins with consideration of potential compensation and terms of employment consideration that might be offered and negotiated.

Golden parachute agreements only represent one possibility there as a well known example of how these hiring negotiations can differ from the more routine and standard for a business. This deviation from standard and routine has implications that have impact throughout the organization and certainly as these special exception hires are seen as members of the team, or as special exceptions there too. And that has potential for shaping how the more general principles offered in Part 19, as to how an organization connects together as a system of social networking relationships, might apply too.

To bring that last point of detail into clearer focus, I repeat here my three point outline of the approach to viewing a business as an organized social and interpersonal interaction construct, that I offered in Part 19:

• A business can, among other things, be viewed as a dynamic system of overlapping and interconnected stakeholder networks, some assembled on the spot for specific purposes just to dissolve as their sources of impetus for forming are resolved, and some enduring long term.
• And long-term ones, can even become effectively enshrined in the business model and in strategic and operational systems, where membership can become title and position based to allow for smoother member turnover as people come and go in a business’ workforce, and as people there change jobs within the organization. Much of this is in fact laid out at least for likelihood of arising in the table of organization itself, but even stable and seemingly permanent functional networks of this type can systematically cut across the table of organization too, and even intentionally so.
• Ultimately and according to this understanding, business systems and their functioning can be viewed as representing complex and evolving networks of interpersonal interactions, and interpersonal commitments. Think of the hiring process and new employee onboarding process example that I have been focusing on here, as a case in point example of a much more widespread general set of phenomena.

I initially offered that bullet pointed list in a general terms of employment context that a Human Resources department would encode in its personnel policy and that would be carried out by them and by hiring and supervising managers as they all variously understand and interpret them. When individuals are included in this who are hired under different understandings and who consequentially face different prerogatives and restrictions while there, the dynamics of any such interpersonal interactions and interpersonal commitments that they enter into there, change accordingly too.

And this leads me to the question of why I added “… and certainly from the outside” to the end of Scenario 1 as repeated above. I will turn to that as I begin fleshing out my next series installment and will continue on from there to consider Scenarios 2 through 4 of my above list. And then, as promised in Part 18 at its end, I will explicitly discuss promotions and both as carried out strictly in-house, and as arise de facto from strategically moving on to work for a new employer where suitable job openings are not and cannot be available where an employee works now. In anticipation of that, I add here that I will frame this flow of discussion, at least in significant part in terms of two behavioral dynamics:

• A focus on the potential negatives of change and of the unknown, and a focus on the positive possibilities of change and an embrace of the new and at least in-part unknown, as job and career strategy-shaping presumptions arise and are followed through upon, and
• The potential for alignment and for discord when different stakeholder participants in a business interaction pursue different game theory strategies as they each attempt to reach their own goals.

I will at least begin this to-address list in my next series installment and will continue developing and discussing its set of issues in subsequent ones. 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.

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 19: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 11

This is my 19th 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 1-18.)

The basic approach that I take to business theory at least begins at a more reductionistic, individual participant and interpersonal interaction level, and expands out from there with allowance for emergent properties as higher levels of organization are considered. And in keeping with that approach, I have in recent installments to this series, been at least somewhat systematically discussing the individual employee, who might or might not have managerial responsibilities as well as directly hands-on ones.

So I focused in at least significant measure in Part 17 and again in Part 18, on the new hire and on how hiring managers and the businesses that they work for as a general rule screen out possible job candidates more on the basis of why they would not work out, and with a goal of eliminating most of them from consideration, than they do from the perspective of looking for how these potential new hires would work out and why they should be hired and brought in. And I at least noted in that context, that when and as a winning candidate is selected and hired, that dynamic becomes reversed. Now the dynamic is more one of looking for reasons to keep an already hired employee on, barring overriding considerations such as complete incompetence or downsizing pressures to reduce the workforce in general in at least their area of the business.

That pre-hire side to this has become more and more pressingly necessary and particularly over the past dozen years or so, and particularly as businesses have come to routinely post job opportunities online and in effect at least, globally, and as candidates have come to routinely blanket submit e-file copies of their largely generic resumes to any and every potential employer that is offering an at least vaguely appropriate job opening for them to apply to. Businesses look to weed out and discard any at least partly inappropriate applicants from consideration first and usually by essentially automated means, and do so as a survival mechanism so their hiring process does not become entirely broken down from the flood of extraneous resume submissions, that their much fewer good candidates at least start out, lost in.

The post-hire side to this makes sense at least as compellingly as the hiring manager who agreed to a particular job candidate brings them in, putting at least part of their own reputation and standing on the line there too. But neither of these process and decision-driven relationships can be meaningfully captured as binary, two person interactions. Wider ranges of stakeholders are always involved and on both pre and post sides of any hiring decision too.

This obviously holds true in the post-hiring context that I just cited for a first hiring and now supervising manager who sees a downside to themselves if they become seen as making faulty decisions here. But other stakeholders are almost always brought into the interviewing process for top candidates, and this can include co-workers who a new hire would work with on an ongoing basis, in-house client stakeholders who a new hire would do work for and who would depend on that being done effectively and on time if they are to meet their own goals and schedules, and others. These stakeholder groups can all come from a single localized area of the overall table of organization, that a new hire would work for but they can and at times do come from more wide ranging parts of the business too. And the more wide-ranging the commitment and buy-in when hiring, the more widespread a sense of buy-in is going to be in place to justify a hiring decision and to help see that it does work out successfully.

This example, as I have been addressing here is important in and of itself. But I would put it in a wider, more comprehensive perspective here by noting that:

• A business can, among other things, be viewed as a dynamic system of overlapping and interconnected stakeholder networks, some assembled on the spot for specific purposes just to dissolve as their sources of impetus for forming are resolved, and some enduring long term.
• And long-term ones, can even become effectively enshrined in the business model and in strategic and operational systems, where membership can become title and position based to allow for smoother member turnover as people come and go in a business’ workforce, and as people there change jobs within the organization. Much of this is in fact laid out at least for likelihood of arising in the table of organization itself, but even stable and seemingly permanent functional networks of this type can systematically cut across the table of organization too, and even intentionally so.
• Ultimately and according to this understanding, business systems and their functioning can be viewed as representing complex and evolving networks of interpersonal interactions, and interpersonal commitments. Think of the hiring process and new employee onboarding process example that I have been focusing on here, as a case in point example of a much more widespread general set of phenomena.

With that larger framework perspective noted, I return to that specific case in point example and to a simplifying detail that I offered (again) in this posting when briefly and selectively discussing it:

• The basic issues that I have raised here regarding candidate hiring and employee retention dynamics as they arise, are essentially the same for most all businesses
• And regardless of whether an individual under consideration as a new hire-turned-employee, would or would not have managerial authority and position.

The principles regarding individual and interpersonal behavior that I have addressed up to here in this discussion, apply in general across businesses organizations as a whole, and for most all businesses. But that said and returning to my new hire to in-house employee example, the type of position that a new arrival would hold in a business, is important here too.

Consider my discussion of this up to here as setting a foundational baseline for what is to follow. And I begin this next phase of this narrative by expanding out a list of criteria that would enter into shaping how different types of employees can face very different situations in their hiring to onboarding to retention or dismissal experience, by offering for consideration:

• More routine hire hands-on non-managerial employees, and I add more routine and entry level and middle managers – versus – the most senior managers and executives when they are brought in, and certainly from the outside.
• More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires and employees, hands-on or managerial.
• Job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying as discussed up to here in this narrative on their own initiative – versus – those who the business has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.
• And to round out this list, I will add one more entry here, doing so by citing one specific and specifically freighted word: nepotism.

I am going to at least begin addressing this list of variations on the baseline model as outlined here in my next series installment. Then, as promised in Part 18 at its end, I will explicitly discuss promotions, and both as carried out strictly in-house and as arise de facto from strategically moving on to work for a new employer where suitable job openings are not and cannot be available where an employee works now. In anticipation of that, I add here that I will frame this flow of discussion, at least in significant part in terms of two behavioral dynamics:

• A focus on the potential negatives of change and of the unknown, and a focus on the positive possibilities of change and an embrace of the new and at least in-part unknown, as job and career strategy-shaping presumptions arise and are followed through upon, and
• The potential for alignment and for discord when different stakeholder participants in a business interaction pursue different game theory strategies as they each attempt to reach their own goals.

One of my goals for this posting has been to widen the perspective that this would all be thought in terms of, where for example my discussion here of businesses as overlapping and dynamically changing systems of stakeholder networks, affects how those two bullet points would be considered. I will expand upon this more general understanding in discussion to come too.

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.

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 18: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 10

This is my 18th 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 1-17.)

I began addressing one side to a commonly encountered workplace dynamic in Part 17, which I restate here for purposes of narrative continuity:

• Beginning, with the individual job seeker and career developer, and the hiring and promotion-directed strategies that they follow when seeking out a new job opportunity,
• And ending with the approaches that those same individuals follow when actually working at a business after achieving their next step goals in this.
• And as part of that, I will also consider the strategies and the tactics of others who work with them or who otherwise become stakeholders to these transaction flows (games.) This obviously has to include the hiring manager who would act as gatekeeper in bringing or not bringing them into this business as a new hire, and I will at least start discussing their role here when addressing the issues of the would-be employee themselves, but it of necessity also has to include a wide range of other stakeholders as well. And I will address them and their issues here too, in this series.

I said that I would address this list of issues, starting at the top, from the perspectives of both the would-be hire, and then ongoing in-house employee, and from that of the hiring manager who in most cases becomes their workplace supervisor once they are brought in and onboarded as an employee. I would treat in-house promotions in this sense as in-house hirings, and certainly when those seeking promotion do so in competition with would-be hires from the outside. But setting that specific case scenario aside for the moment, I said that I would address all of this from both the new hands-on non-managerial employee perspective, and the new-hire manager perspective as well. And as just repeated, I said that I would at least begin to discuss all of this from the perspective of a wider range of stakeholders who would be affected here too and from the interviewing process on.

I began all of this in Part 17, focusing on the pre-hire job candidate and the hiring manager who eventually selects them and offers them a job. And I finished that installment at the point of hire, stating that I would continue from there in this posting from day one as a new in-house employee, and how perspectives change and for both the new hire and for their manager and for other stakeholders involved there.

• When a would-be employee, seeking a new job applies for work, they essentially always arrive as largely unknown commodities for consideration, and for all details as to who they are and what they are like to work with and regarding how well they work, that cannot be captured in a resume or cover letter, or in brief and highly choreographed interviews. And given the dynamics of the hiring process and certainly as they are shaped by the flood of often largely irrelevant resume submissions sent out en mass to all hiring businesses, the basic goal from the hiring side in this is largely one of weeding out and eliminating wrong candidates, and not on finding reasons to hire what might be good ones (see Part 17 for a more detailed discussion of background issues relevant to this assertion,)
• There are exceptions to that more general approach of course, and certainly when a business specifically seeks out a particular possible new hire, who they might even court to try to entice them away from a current employer. But this is the basic pattern for all who send their resumes in on their own initiative, in response for example to online jobs postings.
• When a business does hire: when a hiring manager agrees to hire a particular job candidate, making that commitment on behalf of their employer and on behalf of the team they supervise that this new hire would join, the dynamics of this shift, and certainly as that new hire successfully completes their (usually at least approximately) 90 day probationary period, during which time they could be dismissed without a need for well argued justifying cause. Now the basic default is not to find justification not to have this person on payroll as an employee: it is to justify keeping them on and certainly if they do not behave in a manner that would make that explicitly untenable.
• A less than fully successful employee might never get a promotion, or a raise that goes beyond any required cost of living or related pay increases. And they might be among the first out of the door in the event of a downsizing, where dismissal would take place absent any onus of poor performance. But absent more special circumstance processes such as downsizings, an employee who at least meets their basic performance goals in their ongoing performance reviews is likely to stay on there, unless they choose to leave – or unless their job requirements and those of all others in their job category are changed in ways that they cannot even minimally successfully perform at.

All of these are business decisions that at least formally, ostensibly come from the business as an organizational whole and in accordance with its policies and practices as generally understood and carried out. But all of these decisions and actions are made and carried out by individuals who are balancing their own needs and their own agendas and their own workplace contexts in shaping them, as well as attempting to meet overall business needs as they individually perceive and understand them. And this includes addressing the needs and the desires and intentions of the people they report to and those of other stakeholders as well, and certainly where they wield power and influence in the business hierarchy and its networks of alliances that are in place.

Note that “business hierarchy” as used above, need not follow a simple linear, top-down command and control pattern, and many businesses disperse such authority and influence through more complex networks in actual practice, and even when the basic systems in place are presented as being top-down organized and run (e.g. as would be found in a military command structure as a perhaps extreme case in point example.) There, to pick up on that example, young Lieutenants would be foolish at the very least to not listen to their more experienced noncoms as sources of long-term experience and insight. Even good senior officers know when to listen to highly experienced, high ranking noncommissioned officers who in official practice report to them.

What I am doing here in this posting, is to at least briefly and selectively discuss the dynamics of agreement and of conflict, and connect and disconnect between the individual participant in these systems, and the overall organization and its needs and intent, as are variously understood throughout the business. And in that, and to repeat a point already made in this series, at least in passing, all of those individuals who work in that business, do so and see and understand “their” business from the perspectives of their own jobs and responsibilities there, and their day-to-day functional and organizational positions there.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment where I will continue to flesh out the new hire to in-house employee transition scenario and start to more fully address the issues that a wider range of stakeholders bring to this transitional process. And I will explicitly discuss how all of this plays out (think game theory there) for non-managerial and for managerial level employees, executives included. And I will also, over the course of the next several installments, explicitly discuss promotions and both as carried out strictly in-house and as arise de facto from strategically moving on to work for a new employer where suitable job openings are not and cannot be available where an employee works now. In anticipation of that, I add here that I will frame this flow of discussion, at least in significant part in terms of two behavioral dynamics:

• Fear of the potential negatives of change and of the unknown, and focus on the positive possibilities of change and an embrace of the new and at least in-part unknown, as those job and career strategy-shaping presumptions arise and are followed and
• The potential for alignment and for discord when different stakeholder participants in a business interaction pursue different game theory strategies as they each attempt to reach their own goals.

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.

Platt Perspective at eight years

Posted in blogs and marketing by Timothy Platt on September 14, 2017

This is posting number 2363 in this blog. And with that piece of bookkeeping trivia noted, I turn to consider where this blog is as I reach, and prepare to pass by this anniversary for its formally and officially going live online.

I finally feel a measure of confidence in being able to state that I have completed at least most of the foundation for what I would write of here. This is an open ended writing endeavor so I have not felt any pressing constraints to be as brief and as focused as possible in working towards that goal. So I have taken side paths. And I have made digressions. And I have posted about specialized issues as I have deemed to be contextually appropriate, and about issues and topics that I have at least found interesting, while working towards a basic foundation building goal too.

At what I currently estimate to be something over three million words posted here, I have finally (I think as of now) assembled much if not most of a foundation to what I construe to be a general theory of business. That said, I will probably be filling in gaps there for at least a few more years to go, before moving on to focus more entirely on emergent and more specialized topics and issues that would arise from that foundation.

I offer this brief note as a benchmark in what I am doing here, and from its day one up to now and as I look ahead from today.

Tim Platt, September 14, 2017

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 17: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 9

This is my 17th 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 1-16.)

I began this series with a discussion of general theories and what they consist of, as a matter of general organizing principle (see Parts 1-8.) And after laying a foundation in that, for focusing in on a general theory of business as a special case, I began addressing the more specific intended topic of this series as laid out in its title. And I have focused essentially entirely since then on the organizational level of the business as a whole. I then switched orientation, and level of organization in Part 16, to consider business theory from the perspective of the individual participant in these systems. I offered Part 16 as a whole, as an orienting start to that discussion thread, and in the course of that offered two basic approaches that can be and that frequently are pursued:

• That of the entrepreneur who takes a more consultant approach to their work and to dealing with their employer,
• And that of an employee who in effect leaves their own longer-term jobs and career planning to their employer and in the hands of the people who they report to there.

I at least briefly argued a case for pursuing the first of these approaches but acknowledged both, and a need for a general theory of business to accommodate and include both as well. And with that stated, I offered a brief to-address list of points in Part 16 that categorically list how different types of stakeholders would participate in business systems. And I added that I will at least begin to address those topic points here, which I repeat for purposes of continuity, considering businesses:

1. From the perspective of the individual employee, whether hands-on and non-managerial or managerial, or executive or owner, and with consideration of a still wider range of stakeholder types as well.
2. From the perspective of how each of these groups of stakeholders see themselves and other stakeholder types, and in both risk and benefits, risk management terms and in game theory terms,
3. And according to how the members of these groups see themselves as strictly in-house employees with their leaving their longer-term planning in the hands of their employers, or as more independent entrepreneurs and consultants who take direct ownership over and responsibility for their own work and career planning and its execution.

And I said that I would begin doing so by way of offering an orienting scenario, which I framed in general terms that “begins with the individual career developer and the hiring and promotion-directed strategies that they follow, and ends with the approaches that those same individuals follow when actually working at a business. And as part of that, I will also consider the strategies and the tactics of others who work with them or who otherwise become stakeholders to these transaction flows (games.)” And I said that I will approach this from both the individual and the business perspective. I begin that here.

When you are looking for a new job and you put at least a measure of thought and effort into that proposition, you seek to find an organization to work at in which you can gain value for yourself in meeting your own needs, while offering value in return that would make you an attractive hire and a valued employee. This means you’re having and effectively presenting skills and experience that you would want to use and build upon in a next job and as you pursue further development of your overall career. And it means presenting them to potential employers who would find value to themselves and to their enterprises, in what you can demonstrably do.

This is not a friction-free system and particularly in an age and an employment context where so many would-be job seekers send out hundreds and even thousands of copies of the same generic resumes electronically, at no cost or additional effort on their part to essentially every business that might be hiring that fits within what might be a very vaguely defined target audience. The result is that essentially all hiring businesses these days, push all resumes received into digitalized database systems and effectively filter out and discard all that do not meet the initial screening criteria of automated search queries. No human ever reads the vast majority of the flood of what is essentially spam and background static that goes into those systems, and all of the submissions that are received that do not make any first cuts, is generally mass-deleted after some set period of time in limbo in them, never to be considered there again.

I would argue, in a more explicitly jobs and career best practices context that this means we should all be more focused in what we submit and where, and that we need to know and use the same wording that the businesses that we would apply to, use in their posted job descriptions that we would apply to, and both for the skills and experience that we offer and for precisely how we phrase them. From a business theory perspective, I focus here on how the hiring process takes place in the context of what communications theory would refer to as noisy channels that are filled with background static, and in a context that I refer to (in more economics theory terms) as being limited by business systems friction.

This flood of often and even usually non sequitur resumes would overwhelm the hiring process if it were not for automated, database screening filters. That work-around can and does add entirely new forms of constraint on those who seek to find work and certainly for any position that is not entry-level or otherwise highly standardized. I write here of the emerging 21st (and undoubtedly beyond) context that hiring now takes place in and increasing as a universally applicable source of constraints and for any job offering that would draw in wide ranging interest and response of any type.

If as a job seeker, you send out enough copies of your e-resume to enough businesses you will probably, eventually get something of a response – but the level of chance in where that comes from and in what you might achieve as a next job out of that will be very limited, and certainly insofar as you would seek to strategically pursue a longer-term career and advance in what you do. So I will presume in what follows that you take more of a planned approach, as I discuss in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development in its postings and series (see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 listings.) And I presume that any hiring manager and other stakeholders who screen and select applicants, and who help determine who a final selection hire will be, are equally systematic in their hiring processes and decision making too.

• Basic underlying assumptions made are important. And I assume here, as an at least for-now axiomatic assumption that the people on both sides of a potential hiring process are following something of an at least relatively consistent and rigorous logic in what they do and how, and that they act accordingly.

This is very important. I will delve into the issues of reductionism and of emergent properties and processes as they arise at higher levels of organization, later on in this series and in some detail for that. But hiring new employees and I add the management of ongoing employees at a business is always carried out by individual people, and even if and when they do follow detailed strategically organized approved business-wide operational processes and procedures.

There is a dynamic balance in that. Most hiring managers in general, do seek to pursue courses that would benefit the businesses that they work for. But at the same time, they also seek to take actions that would facilitate their own personal success in their jobs too, and ones that would help them to advance their own careers, and to maximize their own job security and their own compensation received for what they do in the process. And they interpret what is best for their employer at least in part in terms of that.

The people on both sides of a hiring process participate in it as individuals, and even when they are also serving as agents for the hiring business when on the hiring side of that table. And this enters into their thinking and into their decision making, and both as they perceive and evaluate possible risk and possible benefit as they make their hiring decisions. And this shapes any emergent, higher level organizational factors (e.g. the overall business side to hiring here) that they might enter into.

Turning back to consider the employee side of this again, this addresses the emerging situation for employee participation in a business up to the point when they are first hired. Now let’s assume for purposes of continuity of discussion, that they prove themselves as a best candidate, are offered the job and accept it for the terms of employment and of compensation offered. I am going to switch directions in my next series installment here, and consider this narrative from their day one as a new hire, and how perspectives change, and for both the new hire and for their manager and other stakeholders involved. In the course of that, I will begin to more explicitly discuss the issues raised in the three numbered to-address points listed at the top of this posting.

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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