Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Finding virtue in simplicity when complexity becomes problematical, and vice versa 12

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on July 16, 2018

This is my 12th installment to a series on simplicity and complexity in business communications, and on carrying out and evaluating the results of business processes, tasks and projects (see Social Networking and Business 2), postings 257 and loosely following for Parts 1-11.)

I have been discussing communications channels and overall communications systems that arise and function within businesses, since Part 7, focusing for the most part on how long tail event, rare challenges arise in a business, and on how new and emergent challenges would be addressed – where both of these contexts mean being able to effectively bring novel-for-the-business, combinations of expertise together to address the non-standard but important, and as quickly and effectively as possible.

I have primarily been discussing this from an Information Technology help desk perspective, and in terms of how problems are identified and resolved with escalation to appropriate next-level support as needed. And in that, I have focused on problem contexts where routine help desk task escalation options are not going to reliably suffice, and certainly if novel specialized skills and experience are called for. That, I add here, does not necessarily just mean novel specialized computer or network skills and experience, and at either a hardware or software level. The contexts that I make note of here are in fact more likely to arise when special skills are needed that related more to effectively using the computer and network technology that is available, in specific highly specialized business use contexts and where the people working for the IT department might know the technology that they offer, but not know the details of the services or business functions that it would be applied to. And the hands-on clients in a department or service who directly face the IT implementation problems that have brought this help desk into the picture, might know how to carry out fixed business processes in their functional areas that they carry out in the course of their work. But they might not know in any depth or detail, how the work that they do fits into a larger pattern and with all of the dependencies involved there, at a business model level. So I am primarily writing about the great gray area that can arise between the IT side of a newly emerging or unusual problem, and the business needs side and certainly when that side is viewed from more of a narrowly focused normative, standard processes perspective – as it will be and certainly at first.

To put this discussion thread into a wider perspective, I have also at least briefly touched in this series, on how the type of communications channels and communications capabilities that I write of here, would be brought to bear in wider contexts in a business, as for example when enabling innovative potential there. So the issues that I write of here, apply more widely than would be found in a help desk context. And with that larger, more wide-ranging context in mind, I concluded Part 11 with the following to-address list of topics points that I would at least begin to delve into here (as here-reorganized in numbered point format):

1. Bringing a business’ own house into order through improved communications and information sharing, of the type under discussion here. (I will continue to pursue help desk systems as at least one possible source of working examples there.)
2. Then, I will turn outward to explicitly bring business-to-business collaborations into this narrative.
3. And then I will delve into at least some of the issues of larger contexts that businesses in general have to be able to function in: regulatory law and its implementation included.

My goal in this topics point progression is to offer a more prescriptive and remediative take on these issues as they arise in-house within a single business, as a first step. And then I will look outward to more fully and explicitly address a wider business-to-business context, with for example supply chain involvement, and with at least selective consideration of emergent issues that first arise at that level of organization. And then I will take one more step outward from the level of the individual business, to consider factors such as regulatory law that impact upon both individual businesses, and business-to-business interactions.

I begin addressing all of this with the above Point 1 and with a goal of building this overall discussion to follow, on the foundation laid out in this series since its Part 7, with its focus on the underlying challenges that businesses face when they have to go beyond the routine and readily prepared-for to deal with the non-standard, and even the contrary to expected. And I begin that line of discussion by stating the obvious – the obvious, at least until you begin to think through how to implement it, while routinely, reliably safeguarding what has become a seemingly open-ended flow of sensitive and confidential data and data types that essentially all businesses have come to face. I stress “essentially all businesses” there, as online business activity with the big data accumulations that that compels enters this narrative, and as just one possible source of sensitive and confidential data exposure.

• Effectively dealing with the unexpected, calls for agile and situationally open communications, and with that potentially including the sharing and joint use of sensitive information as well as more openly allowed and public information.

This sounds obvious and even trite when so stated. Where does that first-cut simple solution to this problem break down? A business cannot proactively prepare to communicate in novel but necessary ways for dealing with the unpredictable and unexpected, when limited to rigidly controlled, allowed-only communications channels wherever sensitive or potentially sensitive information (e.g. proprietary business information) might become involved. And the larger the store of critically sensitive information that a business holds, making this type of communications remediation more necessary, the more likely it becomes that it in fact will develop and follow rigidly controlled communications protocols, and develop and promote the types of communications channels that follow from that.

This point of observation becomes particularly relevant and I add pressing here, because the open communications of the above bullet pointed simple solution, only really becomes an issue where information that a risk management office would want to oversee and control access to, has to be brought into now-necessary business conversations, and with novel and unexpected communications flow required that would involve people and offices that do not normally see and share this information, included.

It is impossible to offer a simple, one size fits all solution here for managing this conundrum: this conflict in what can be essential need for both openness and control. But I can offer some basic organizing principles that when followed can help a business and its functional areas: its risk management office included, thread the needle to find resolutions that work there.

The key to this is in developing flexibility and agility in business systems that would allow for and support rapid communications and resolutions when information access exceptions have to be made. Think of this as building frameworks for recognizing the unexpected and sharing an awareness of it, along with an active awareness of its significance. And this has to be coupled with a permissions system for making specific information access exceptions, that allows access to the set of sensitive information that has to be shared in order to resolve problems, while limiting this special exception access to that, and with monitoring of who has this access and how they might hold it, and for how long. Think of this as dividing business communications into two fundamentally distinct categorical types: the more usual flow of business process communications that always takes place in an organization as it operationally functions, and what might be considered a meta-communications system: communications about and concerning, and with a goal of managing those more standard business conducting communications flows. And here, both of these systems need to be robust and both need to be actively, and proactively used.

Risk management systems tend to become set as if in stone, through the emergence of standardized, vetted and settled processes and procedures, and information access patterns that have arisen and come to be taken for granted with time. That destroys any possible capacity for adaptive flexibility in the face of the unexpected. What I am writing of here is a need for a risk management system that is always going to be seen as a work in progress, and as a dynamically responsive and adaptable service in its own right, and with change-enabling communications within its own systems and connecting this type of office to the business as whole, to match.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment with Point 2 of the above to-address list, and will continue on from there to consider Point 3 as well. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set, for its more generally applicable discussion of focused message best practices per se. I initially offered that with a specific case in point jobs and careers focus, but the approaches raised and discussed there are more generally applicable. You can find that series at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, as its postings 342-358.

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Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 12 – the jobs and careers context 11

This is my 12th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-11.)

I have been progressively discussing the stages in a job search in this series, starting for that in its Part 2. And I have developed that narrative to a point where I assume that you have been selected as one of a small number of top candidates who have been brought in for interviews: first with someone from Human Resources and then with the hiring manager who owns this job opening and this hiring process for it. And as a part of that last stage in this overall process, I have been discussing interviews with other stakeholders who this hiring manager would bring into this process.

More specifically, I have been focusing here on these stakeholder interviewers since Part 9, where I introduced and began discussing this following list of to-address points:

1. Why would a hiring manager bring other stakeholders into what is essentially their hiring decision making step? (See Part 9 for my discussion of this point.)
2. And closely aligned with that question: who would they bring into this process and what would these stakeholders discuss with a job candidate? (See Part 9 and Part 10.)
3. And how would their input and insight be used in making a hire-or-not decision? (See Part 10 and Part 11 for my discussion of this.)
4. And given these questions and their issues, how can you as a job candidate most effectively meet with, and communicate and negotiate with these people, each with their own reasons for being included here and each with their own goals and interests in this process, so as to help you to achieve your own desired goals out of this overall interviewing process?

I began addressing Point 4 of that list towards the end of Part 11 by offering the following orienting thoughts, which I repeat here as I will build from them in this posting:

• Anyone who is brought into this process as an involved stakeholder interviewer has had to find ways to push this added task into what was already a very, very busy work schedule and in the face of tight deadlines that they will still have to meet. Having to meet with job candidates will not qualify as a valid excuse for delays in delivering their expected results for their regular workload task requirements. And this holds for stakeholders who chose to be included and even actively so, as much as it does for those who are “requested” to participate.
• And everyone so involved as participants on the interviewer side of the table, is going to have their own specific reasons for having been included there too. The candidate who is selected and hired will have an impact on what they do and on what they have to do and get completed. So they have reasons for wanting to be there and for wanting to be involved in this, and even if they have to get creative to find the time to do this too.
• Now, and given the dynamics of the first two of these bullet points, how can you as a job candidate better understand the underlying needs and priorities of the people who you meet with: the hiring manager and these stakeholder interviewers included? And focusing back on these stakeholder interviewers again, how can you find and develop a sense of shared alignment between what you offer and can do, and what they want and need, and in a way that would show that you are the candidate who they could most easily and comfortably work with in achieving their goals? How, in other words, can you make allies out of these people, for when they report back to the hiring manager who will make the final officially stated hiring decision here?

I begin this posting and its narrative by drawing a crucially important point of comparison between these interviewer participants and the hiring manager who at least nominally brings them into this process. Ultimately, a hiring manager takes on the task of hiring a new member of their team and with all of the time and effort consuming commitment that that calls for, starting with developing a business vetted and approved job description, because they want to find someone who can make their life easier at work, by taking some critically important task or set of them off of their desk so they do not have to worry about them, or directly deal with them anymore, themselves. Stakeholder interviewers, for the most part, are brought into this process because the work that a new hire would carry out in this position, would address one of their more significant workplace goals and priorities needs too. So while they might grumble at the inconvenience of having to add this interviewing task into their already overloaded work schedules, they can still see this as worthwhile and regardless of the ripple effect consequences they would have to face when so participating, that taking on this commitment is going to have on their own work schedules and efforts.

• You can think of this point as an all but axiomatic truth: the people who would be drawn into these interview processes as stakeholder interviewers are always going to be busy and in demand, and they are always going to hold positions of significant responsibility – and regardless of their titles held at work. People who have idle time on their hands at work and consistently so are not going to be called upon for this type of interviewing task, as they are not going to be crucially involved in or counted upon for completing any of the more pressing work that any new such hire would have to do.

If you find a business where the above point does not hold, you have probably found a business that you would not want to work at, unless of course your goal is to help them institute or carry through upon a change management remediation.

If your goal here is to “make allies out of these people, for when they report back to the hiring manager who will make the final officially stated hiring decision”, how can an active awareness of this context that they are meeting with you in help you to achieve this? Finding a more effective way to address that question, is to core topic of this posting. And I begin at least, to answer that by highlighting a point that is all too often lost to the interviewee when seeking employment, but that is crucial to their success in getting hired to a best-for-them job:

• You are interviewing the people who you meet with at a hiring business, just as they are interviewing you.

What does this mean in a practical sense, in this context? Yes, a significant part of these conversations will involve you’re answering questions and providing information that is more about yourself and your background, training and skills, and goals. But from your perspective, you’re listening and asking questions, and insightful ones can be much more important. You are there as a possible answer to at least one of the problems or challenges that each of these interviewers brings to the table with them, when they meet with you. So you need to listen to their expressed needs and priorities and you need to ask questions that explicitly connect to and address them. And it is important that you provide supportive feedback responses to what they say as they answer your follow-up questions there, that indicate that you are listening, that you understand what they are saying and that you share an awareness with them of the importance of the issues that they have brought with them. So actively listen and learn – and offer further details as to your own background and experience and your own job and career goals as appropriate, that mesh with what they are looking for and with what they need. Note: I just said “offer further details” there, as it is very likely that these people will have reviewed copies of your resume and cover and any other you-provided documentation that is available to them (e.g. your LinkedIn or other online profile and certainly as can be found on professionally oriented networking sites.) So these people will start out already knowing the basic details of your professional background and you probably will not have to cover that level or type of detail about yourself unless one of these interviewers asks questions that would call for that.

• Put somewhat differently, but with the same end point goal as the core point that the above narrative is directed towards, you cannot effectively present yourself as the answer to someone else’ problems if you do not know what those problems are, or if you cannot convey a clear sense to them that you do understand and value those issues and challenges.

Too many of us go into an interview presuming that this meeting is all about us. Interviews are in fact about us insofar as the people meeting with us are hoping that they will find us to be an effective source of answers and solutions to their problems – or at least to one of them. And that is the central area of discussion that these interviewers are going to be most concerned about. They generally ask at least some more general questions about the people who they meet with to interview, but ultimately, we are there as interviewees as possible answers to at least one of their more pressing needs, and these meetings are ultimately all about that. So our goal is to present ourselves as their best choice in addressing those needs and concerns.

Listen. Ask questions based on what you hear, and to gain further insight and understanding, as you peel back the layers and unearth the details of the issues you have been brought there to discuss. And selectively add further background details as to who you are and what you can do, that would address their needs and priorities, and in ways that would indicate that you are someone they could comfortably work with. And you’re listening to them and you’re showing interest in what they have to say, and you’re offering mirroring comments and asking clarifying questions, will go a long way in you’re establishing yourself as the candidate they would most want to bring onboard and work with. You will have made these interviewers your allies to the extent that you can accomplish this.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment, where I will assume that you have become the top choice candidate and that the hiring manager who you have met with, and other involved stakeholders would like to bring you in as a new hire. That means, as already noted in earlier anticipatory notes concerning series installments to come, discussing negotiations as to terms of employment. Then, looking ahead, I will turn to consider the new hire probationary period as will begin with your day one on this new job.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And I particularly recommend your at least briefly reviewing a specific job search best practices series that I developed here on the basis of both my own job search experience and from working with others going through that: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search isn’t Working, as can be found at Page 1 of my above-noted Guide as its postings 56-72.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 11 – the jobs and careers context 10

This is my 11th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-10.)

I have been focusing in recent series installments, on the interviewing process that top candidates for an open position at a business would go through as part of the hiring selection process. And to be more specific there, I have been focusing on interviews with key stakeholders who a hiring manager would bring into this process, and the why and how of that. So I begin this posting by repeating my to-address list of questions and issues that are related to that topic area that I have been discussing here, and with a goal of continuing that process in this posting too:

1. Why would a hiring manager bring other stakeholders into what is essentially their hiring decision making step? (See Part 9 for my discussion of this.)
2. And closely aligned with that question: who would they bring into this process and what would these stakeholders discuss with a job candidate? (See Part 9 and Part 10.)
3. And how would their input and insight be used in making a hire-or-not decision? (See Part 10 for the first orienting part of my response to this, which I will continue building from here in this posting.)
4. And given these questions and their issues, how can you as a job candidate most effectively meet with, and communicate and negotiate with these people, each with their own reasons for being included here and each with their own goals and interests in this process, so as to help you to achieve your own desired goals out of this overall interviewing process?

My goals for this series installment is to complete my response to the above Point 3, at least for purposes of this series, and then at least begin to address Point 4 with its question and issues. And I begin that and addressing Point 3 by repeating (here slightly rephrased) a point of observation that I offered at the end of Part 9 as foundational material for this posting, and in anticipation of it:

• How the input and insight offered by these stakeholders would be used in making a hire-or-not decision, depends in large part or even entirely for that matter, on the role that these colleagues play in that process as discussed in Parts 9 and 10, and the relationship that they have with the hiring manager who they would report their interview findings too. Their role and their acted-upon stake in this hiring decision process depends on what type of a stakeholder they are, from the hiring manager’s perspective and their overall relationship with them.

I have parsed the general categories of within-team insider versus “outsider” stakeholders, and of outsider stakeholders themselves in Parts 9 and 10, and have done so in several ways in the course of writing those postings. And I begin this discussion by parsing these stakeholders in yet one more way:

• Stakeholders who are selected for inclusion in this interviewing process by the hiring manager as a consequence of their own decision making processes,
• And stakeholders (here, usually outsiders to the hiring manager’s own work team) who are in effect imposed upon them by others, as being necessary to include here.

I have seen stakeholders of that second category added in at the “request” of a more senior manager or executive who the hiring manager reports to. And this has generally, at least in my experience, represented situations where a more senior manager seeks to take an active hand in a candidate selection process that is more officially being managed and carried out by a more junior manager, and generally one who reports to them – but without their overtly taking over this task.

A hiring manager is more commonly advised to actively include any imposed category stakeholders in the interviewing schedules, that are being set up for meeting with the top job candidates who have made it that far in the hiring process. This type of inclusion is less often presented to a hiring manager as a direct order. But either way, this always amounts to a more senior manager giving the hiring manager involved here, what amounts to a de fact direct order anyway. And hiring managers who finds themselves in this position should at the very least listen to what these outside stakeholders have to say. And they should be sure to require that all stakeholder interviewers offer their assessments in writing, and regardless of how they were selected for inclusion in this. But with the office politics issues of Part 10 in mind, this can still leave a significant amount of flexibility as to what the hiring manager does with this input and certainly if they can argue the case that they did listen to all involved stakeholders.

But before addressing that in any detail, I would offer and at least somewhat develop a simple, crucially important point. Before deciding what to make of these outside imposed stakeholders and their input, it is imperative that the hiring manager who is officially making this hiring decision, understand the why and how of their inclusion in this process.

• What role, and what personal stake does the more senior manager involved here, have in whatever tasks or goals that this new hire would be brought in to manage or resolve? Expressed somewhat differently and a lot more directly, does the senior manager or executive who imposes their selections of stakeholder interviewers in this, see the job that this new hire would carry out as being at least essential for the completion of one of their own pet projects that this hiring manager is simply carrying out for them, or are they getting involved here for other reasons?
• And what more direct relationship if any, might exist between this senior manager and at least one of the potential candidates under consideration? Do they have particular reasons to want to see one of the people under consideration here, hired for this job? And if so, why? Yes, the possibility of nepotism is always going to be present in this type of situation, but sometimes a more senior manager or executive wants to bring in a specific individual to test them out, and groom them for a particular next job and career advancement if they work out, and as they learn the area of the business that they would start out in.
• And what if anything, does this forced stakeholder inclusion participation on the part of the more senior manager, say about their relationship with and level of trust in the reliability of the hiring manager? Do they tend to micromanage, or are they using this to test out the validity of concerns that they might have as to the hiring manager’s performance or abilities? Here, these outside stakeholder might in effect be interviewing the hiring manager, even as they interview the job candidates.

Why do I delve into these issues here? I do so to highlight that the interviewing process and who is included in it from the business’ side of the table and why, are not necessarily about you as a job candidate or about the final top candidate group that is actually brought in for interviewing. Yes, a great deal of the selection process for determining who should interview the top candidates for an open position at a business, is going to be based on the job opening itself and on identifying the best candidate of those available for filling it. But a lot more can be going on when meeting with stakeholder interviewers, and particularly when meeting with outsiders to the hiring manager’s own team. And the hiring manager can be under as intense a level of scrutiny themselves, as any candidate who is brought in.

How can you tell if one or more of the outside stakeholders who a hiring manager has you meet with, have been imposed upon them for inclusion there, from higher up on the table of organization? One obvious giveaway on that is if the hiring manager’s own boss there insists on meeting with you and the other top candidates. I have faced that situation a number of times in my own career, and both when going in-house to work with a business and when taking on what would at least start out as a more open-ended consulting assignment there. And in all such cases, and I am thinking of two in particular as I write this, it was clear that these more senior interviewers were the people actually in charge there, and that they would have the final deciding voice in those hiring decisions.

• As a general rule, and I am directing this to the hiring manager side of these conversations: they should always listen to what their involved and included stakeholder interviewers have to say: all of them. That can be important in validating more expected conclusions that they themselves have reached too. But the fresh sets of eyes and the insight that experienced outsiders can offer in this type of setting can be valuable, and even a lot more so if it includes the unexpected too and certainly when that sheds new light on a candidate and how appropriate they would be as a potential new hire. The point there is that this hiring manager should be able to present any such findings to their own boss and supervisor there, in ways that are as fact-based and logically grounded and inclusive of all such input received as possible, grounding these interview findings in what was actually said in these stakeholders’ interviews with these candidates and with an awareness of what might have been skirted or evaded in what these candidates said too.
• And as a general rule, and I am directing this to the interviewee, job candidate side of these conversations: always assume that everything that you say, and everything that these interviewers say will enter into this hiring decision making process – including any attempt on your part to add a touch of humor into the conversation, which might or might not work.

And this brings me to Point 4 of the to-address topics list as repeated at the top of this installment. And I begin addressing that here by noting three points that can for all intent and purpose be treated in what will follow, as if essentially absolute truths:

• Anyone who is brought into this process as an involved stakeholder interviewer has had to find ways to push this added task into what was already a very, very busy work schedule and in the face of tight deadlines that they will still have to meet. Having to meet with job candidates will not qualify as a valid excuse for delays in delivering their expected results for their regular workload task requirements. And this holds for stakeholders who chose to be included and even actively so, as much as it does for those who are “requested” to participate.
• And everyone so involved as participants on the interviewer side of the table, is going to have specific reasons for having been included there. The candidate who is selected and hired will have an impact on what they do and on what they have to do and get completed. So they have reasons for wanting to be there and for wanting to be involved in this, and even if they have to get creative to find the time to do this too.
• Now, and given the dynamics of the first two of these bullet points, how can you as a job candidate better understand the underlying needs and priorities of the people who you meet with: the hiring manager and these stakeholder interviewers included? And focusing back on these stakeholder interviewers again, how can you find and develop a sense of shared alignment between what you offer and can do, and what they want and need, and in a way that would show that you are the candidate who they could most easily and comfortably work with in achieving that? How, in other words, can you make allies out of these people, for when they report back to the hiring manager who will make the final officially stated hiring decision here?

I am going to continue my discussion of this Point 4 in my next series installment. And then after that, I will discuss negotiations as to terms of employment, and with compensation and other factors definitely included in that, there assuming that the hiring manager you have met with has made a positive decision to bring you into the business as a new employee. Then, looking ahead, I will turn to consider the new hire probationary period.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And I particularly recommend your at least briefly reviewing a specific job search best practices series that I developed here on the basis of both my own job search experience and from working with others going through that: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search isn’t Working, as can be found at Page 1 of my above-noted Guide as its postings 56-72.

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 10

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 10, 2018

This is my 10th posting to a series on disintermediation, focusing on how this enables marketing options such as gorilla and viral marketing, but also considering how it shapes and influences businesses as a whole. My focus here may be marketing oriented, but marketing per se only makes sense when considered in the larger context of the business carrying it out and the marketplace it is directed towards (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 278 and loosely following for Parts 1-9.)

I have been discussing communications and I add business process disintermediation in businesses from the start of this series, primarily doing so in terms of two specific business model and business type examples:

• A new, young, small startup that seeks to leverage its liquidity and other assets available as creatively and effectively as possible, and from its day one when it is just starting to develop the basic template that it would scale up and grow from,
• And a larger, established business that has become at least somewhat complacent and somewhat sclerotic in the process, and with holdover systems and organizational process flows that might not reflect current actual needs or opportunities faced.

And I have focused most recently in this series progression on the second, more established business example here, considering change and its need and how resistance to it more commonly plays out, and particularly where such change is actively needed but could be viewed as disruptive (see Part 8 and Part 9.)

I began specifically focusing on marketing, and on more effectively identifying and connecting with the right marketing demographics in Part 9, as an arena where these issues and challenges are most likely to critically play out, and certainly in any business that significantly follows the pattern laid out in my large and established, but at least somewhat sclerotic business scenario. And I then concluded that installment with an open question that I offered as a point of thought for the reader to consider:

• If change per se in a business and its ways, is going to engender resistance from the ranks within it anyway, why not focus on making the right changes from a market-facing perspective and certainly going forward, and simply accept a need to bring the people working there along with it, as an unavoidable cost element?

I begin this installment from there and by expanding out at least some of the complex of issues that go into both understanding and addressing a question of that sort. And my goal for this reframing to follow, is to lay out and at least begin to consider some of the trade-offs inherent in any effort to more effectively address it:

• What types of change are being considered here, and with what priorities?
• Focusing on the higher and I add the highest priorities of them: the issues and needs that have to be addressed, and effectively and soon in order to safeguard and advance the business, and setting aside the optional potential changes that would simply be nice to be able to carry through upon too, where exactly do these must-do tasks fit into the business? Functionally that almost certainly ranges out beyond the boundaries of a Marketing, or a Marketing and Communications department per se and even if the issues under consideration are all at least nominally marketing, and marketing approach in nature.
• What costs would their not being corrected create, and what would be saved or enabled in increased revenue generation if they were addressed?
• What costs would arise and both directly and consequentially if they were set aside for future resolution, where a decision might be made to address them but only as holding lower priority need?
• What would the costs of actively pursuing these changes entail? This, I add is a question that of necessity cannot be fully contained in a more routine bookkeeping ledger. Costs there, critically include human impact as well as directly calculable monetary cost, and the costs of resistance to change, and the cost of adaptation and learning curve participation even if a change involved here is fully and even eagerly endorsed.
• Now let’s consider the key stakeholders to these changes, and particularly those whose actions could stymie or enable them, and whose resistance or positive participation would influence overall costs faced, and of all types. Who is significantly going to be involved in this change initiative at that influencing if not outright controlling level, and on a critical needs change, by critical needs change basis? Once again here, I am particularly focusing on those critically important change issues, and with a goal of arriving at as realistic an overall assessment of them as possible.
• And I will be blunt here. If there are crucially positioned gatekeepers of the type noted here, who would actively work against and resist changes that any prudent business systems analysis would show to be essentially necessary, are they the right people for the positions that they hold in the business? Are there others there who should be advanced into, or more laterally moved into those jobs? Is it time to bring in new blood through carefully selected new hires?

Basically, and as a summary answer to the initial bullet pointed question that prompted my offering this list, if there are critical needs changes that have to be entered into, simply following a more passive, let’s see what happens next strategy, is bound to lead to failure. Proactive decision making and follow through are essential in this type of situation. And that has to be information drive, and grounded in an understanding of consequences, and of systems and processes dependencies faced. And as marketing represents the public face of the business as a whole, the potential range of those consequences and dependencies can be widespread.

And this brings me to the issues and questions of startups and early stage businesses and the first of my two, above repeated business scenarios. And I begin addressing that for purposes of this series by reconsidering what change and continuity mean when considering the background experience, preferences and assumptions of key participants in shaping and executing business practice.

When you study and analyze a well established business: a more troubled one included as would fit the terms of the second basic scenario as listed above, you can usually assume that at least significant aspects of a presumed “tried and true and correctly so”, will be shared throughout the organization in accordance with their corporate history and with their deeply ingrained corporate culture and sense of shared identity there too. And that definitely applies to those in position of authority and influence who have worked for significant periods of time there and who have become fully invested in their business’ here and now.

When you look to startups and early stage businesses, you can find a great deal more diversity there in what is believed and in what is all but axiomatically assumed, with all of the founders bringing their own work life histories with them and for aspects of those narratives that they would want to perpetuate, and for aspects of them that they would seek to avoid and even antithetically so in what they do next.

I am going to delve into those issues in my next series installment. And in anticipation of that, I note that this means holding conversations that bring out what everyone involved in the founders’ team assumes regarding their new shared venture, and all of the key points as to what they would seek to achieve through it and how (at least in broad outline and certainly where differences and unstated ones could lead to collisions.) What goals and aspirations do the various members of the founding team hold? And what do these professionals seek out, and I add presume as coming for how they would variously divide up the work and the authority there and for how they would communicate with each other? As this is a marketing oriented series, I will specifically discuss the issues of what would be marketed and how, and how that would be planned out and executed upon. And I will explicitly discuss disintermediation in communications and marketing, as that would impact upon and shape the business plan, and how it is executed and by whom.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

Rethinking national security in a post-2016 US presidential election context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 10

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on June 4, 2018

This is my 10th installment to a new series on cyber risk and cyber conflict in a still emerging 21st century interactive online context, and in a ubiquitously social media connected context and when faced with a rapidly interconnecting internet of things among other disruptively new online innovations (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 354 and loosely following for Parts 1-9.)

I sought to at least briefly lay out a fundamental challenge that we all face, globally, in Part 9. And I continue developing that narrative here by briefly repeating a four point starting assumptions list that I began that posting with, and a core point of conclusion that I arrived at from it, and from recent in the news events as well. I begin with the four basic points, somewhat edited for use in this next discussion step context:

• The underlying assumptions that a potential cyber-weapon developer (and user) holds, shape their motivating rationale for developing (and perhaps actively deploying and using) these capabilities. (Yes, I phrase that in terms of developer and user representing the same active agent, as a developer who knowingly turns a cyber-weapon over to another, or others is in effect using that capability through them them and with those “outside” users serving as their agents in fact.)
• The motivating rationales that are developed and promulgated out of that, both determine and prioritize how and where any new such weapons capabilities would be test used, and both in-house if you will, and in outwardly facing but operationally limited live fire tests.
• And any such outwardly facing and outwardly directed tests that do take place, can be used to map out and analyze both adversarial capability for the (here nation state) players who hold these resources, and map out the types of scenarios that they would be most likely to use them in if they were to more widely deploy them in a more open-ended and large scale conflict.
• And crucially importantly here, given the nature of cyber-weapons it is possible to launch a cyber-attack and even with a great deal of impact on those under attack, in ways that can largely mask the source of this action – or at least raise questions of plausible deniability for them and even for extended periods of time. That, at least is a presumption that many holders of these weapons have come to assume, given the history of their use.

And with that restated, I offer my point of conclusion and concern as arise out of the above:

• Think of this as a matter of cyber-weapon capability, by its very nature, setting up what can amount to the opposite of the long-presumed threat-reducing result of nuclear deterrence. The more damaging the potential and even certain outcome of anyone launching nuclear weapons against an enemy is, the more likely it becomes that all would be annihilated from them. This is the by-now widely and all but axiomatically assumed Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD hypothesis, and a hypothesis that few if any are willing to even seriously consider testing experimentally. And the more advanced and capable the nuclear weapons are that are developed, the greater the perceived and shared fear that they generate and for all from this, and the greater the impetus that this creates to prevent that from happening. Here in contrast, the more advanced and sophisticated that cyber-weapons become, the greater the risk that they will be used and certainly in “limited and controllable” live fire tests, that become increasingly likely to get out of control and with all of the escalation of conflict that that could lead to.

I stress the last sentence of that bullet pointed statement here, explicitly noting that while nuclear weapons and their development and even-just limited proliferation, led directly to a recognition and acceptance of the MAD doctrine: the MAD hypothesis, cyber-weapons and their much wider proliferation have led to what amounts to an anti-MAD presumption: a presumption of anonymity-based safety for any who would deploy and use such weapons. And that leads me to the to-address point that I added at the end of Part 9 as my intended area of discussion here:

• The issues of how better to respond to all of this, and reactively where that is necessary and proactively where that can be possible, have become an absolute imperative and for the safety of all. And my goal in addressing this is ambitious as my intent here is to at least touch upon all involved levels of conflict and its potential, and from that of the individual to that of the nation state and of national alliances. And in the course of discussing issues that arise from all of that, I will of necessity reconsider a point of issue that has informed most all that I have written in this blog regarding cyber-security and the challenges that it faces: the impact of change and of disruptive change in all of this, where any solutions and approaches arrived at, of necessity have to be dynamically updatable and as part of their basic definitions.

I begin addressing that Gordian knot challenge by at least raising a perhaps simple sounding, wave of the hand solution to all of this, which I will address in the course of what follows: a need to develop a convincing cyber-weapons counterpart to the old nuclear weapons context MAD doctrine. And a key to that would of necessity require making the core of my above repeated fourth assumptions bullet point obsolete:

• Effectively ending any possible realistic presumption of anonymity as a protective cloak around any cyber attacker by making the consequences of relying upon it too costly and the chances of being found out and identified as the attacker too high.

This would require a coordinated, probably treaty-based response that would most likely have to be organized with United Nations support if not direct United Nations organizing oversight:

• Possible cyber-attack victims, and at all organizational levels from nation states on down to local businesses and organizations, have to be willing to both publically acknowledge when they have been breached or compromised by malware (cyber-weapons.)
• And organizations at all levels in this from those smaller local organizations on up to national organizations and treaty groups of them have to develop and use mechanisms for coordinating the collection and analysis of this data, and both to more fully understand the scope and nature of an attack and any pattern that it might fall into, and to help identify its source.
• And a MAD approach can only work if this type of analysis and discovery would in effect automatically lead to action, with widely supported coordinated sanctions imposed on any offenders so identified and verified, and with opportunity built into this to safeguard third parties who an actual attacker might set up as appearing to be involved in an attack event when they were not. (I made note of this type of misdirection as to attack source in Part 9 and raise that very real possibility here again too.)

There is an old saying to the effect that the devil is in the details. The above “solution” approach to this challenge might sound positive and nice when simply presented in the above type of broad brush stroke manner and without regard to, or even acknowledgment of the very real world complexities that any such resolution would require. I am going to at least briefly begin to chip away at the edges of the perhaps naive if well intentioned simplicity of what I have proposed here, in my next series installment where I will begin to delve into some of the details that any valid resolution to this challenge, would have to accommodate and deal with.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3, and at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And you can also find this and related material at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 10

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 27, 2018

This is my 10th installment to a brief series on coordinating information sharing and communications needs, and information access filtering and gate keeping requirements (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 275 and loosely following for Parts 1-9.)

Communications and business transactions in general, have least traditionally taken place on an individual to individual basis, and even when a person sending a message or initiating a transactional business event does so as a representative or agent of a larger group or on behalf of another individual. A communication’s intended content might have been crafted by others, at least for its intended content. But if the message sender does more than simply push a button, expressing that message in their own terms and through their own effort, they are actively sending it.

And I add that this individual-to-individual communications paradigm holds when a communicated message is sent out to a group audience as much as it does when it is sent to a single specific individual, as it is individual recipients who actually take in such messages or ignore them, and they individually process them in their own minds and according to their own understandings and their own areas of workplace responsibility and their own agendas there too. Once again, communications remain fundamentally individual-to-individual in nature.

Automation and the increasing incorporation of artificial intelligence-based systems and agents in this overall communications and work process transactional flow, complicate this. When their form of New is added into these transactional systems, agents can no longer be presumed to be independently intelligent and certainly where that would involve general intelligence, and they can no longer be presumed to have anything like free will on their own part in the decisions that they make or the actions that they take. Then, and particularly as matters now stand as far as the state of development of artificial intelligent agents is concerned, they have to be thought of as following the dictates of rigidly circumscribed outcomes-defining algorithms that do not offer higher level (e.g. general intelligence level) flexibility or creativity as options in how they would be carried out, and either for their information inputs or for their consequential actions.

That changing circumstance can apply, of course, to both the sender and recipient side of a putative communication. But for purposes of this posting, and this series, I presume that any such artificial agent involvement can be seen as invoking the involvement of the original starting-algorithm creator at a distance, where these artificial agents act as if surrogates for them. Then the question here is that of business systems friction, where it cannot be possible for such a represented human agent to anticipate or account for in advance, all possible contingencies or types of them that an artificial agent representing them might realistically have to carry out the terms of its algorithm(s) within. So I make note of these emerging realities here, and both to set them aside for the moment and to predict that a time is coming when an artificial agent versus human agent distinction will become moot, as far as capacity to make internally sourced and arrived at, independent decisions and actions are concerned. Then, the points that I raise here in this posting and series will apply equally to general intelligence-based agents and whether they are human or artifactual in nature.

All of this noted, I have been writing this series in terms of strictly-human agents. That need not be an entirely valid assumption and even now and it is becoming less and less so every year, and for both communications and for actions that might take place in response to them in a workplace. Nevertheless, the basic principles that I raise and address here, will likely apply across this new and emerging workplace context too. And I presume that most if not all of the key issues raised here will continue to apply as valid then too.

I write this for now, in terms of strictly human agents. And with that starting-point contextual framing for this series and its narrative in place, I continue it here from where I left off at the end of Part 9, where I have been writing of full time in-house employees, and outsider-sourced professional help that would include temps and temp workers, gig workers, outside consultants and others – who might in fact be carrying out essentially the same type of work as their in-house employee counterparts do, and who might be working at and for the same employer long-term, but who are nevertheless still considered to be outsiders and who are treated as such. This means they’re not being eligible for in-house employee benefits, and of a scope and range that just begins with company sponsored and supported healthcare coverage, sick days and vacation days and any retirement-oriented benefits offered.

I have been discussing this dichotomy of employee status and standing in this series and how it also impacts upon the issues of how these outsider employees are included or not, in the contexts of within-company, business communications and information access-driven business processes, and particularly where they involve a need to share and make distributed use of sensitive or confidential information. This distinction shapes how these people as at least nominal outsiders would be compartmentalized and treated in risk management-based information access due diligence systems, and both individually, and categorically as a group. And considering the individual employee versus group distinction just raised there, this means how special exceptions for allowing access to sensitive business intelligence, and a need for these special exceptions would be identified and considered.

I began a discussion of game theory strategies in Part 9, as they would arise and play out in enacting the points of distinction that I have just briefly listed here in this officially in-house versus officially outsider employee context. And I stated at the end of that installment that the basic game strategies in place among stakeholders involved in a business, and at all organizational levels in it:

• Are fundamentally driven by risk and trust assessments (as operationally defined and at least briefly discussed there),
• And as predictive assessments as to the actions that would be taken by individuals under direct consideration here, and others who they deal with, and the consequences of who would and would not be included in these business transactions and how.

And I added that I would proceed from there to at least begin to tie this developing line of reasoning back to the issues of communications in a business with an explicit focus on gig and other short-term and outsider employees, and certainly under circumstances in which hiring and onboarding on these and related bases have become the hiring and terms of employment norm at a business. And I stated that I would at least begin that line of discussion next, citing the more traditional stable place of employment context that this type of gig economy and its patterns of employment are developing from, and coming to supplement if not replace, as a source of contrasting reference points.

Let’s start addressing these topic points by considering a brief set of commonly adhered to fictions: points of assumption that are all but axiomatically assumed and by many still, that were once valid as such and all but universally so and across the wide swath of businesses and industries in place, but that have come to be much less certain and much less reliable as working presumptions, and for an ever-increasing range of the workplace experience:

• Full time, in-house employees enter into a business with an intention of staying there long-term and even throughout at least substantial portions of their work lives. And as such, they take on an active sense of commitment and involvement, as they see any success from working there that would accrue to them, as coming from the ongoing success of this, their employer. They assume a buy-in, proprietary position there in their thinking and take on something of an owner’s mentality, where alignment of their own interests and those of their employer, as they see them, come to be mutually supportive. And businesses that see their employees as at least one of their most valuable overall assets, for their experience and expertise there, take on a more collaborative approach towards those employees and certainly towards the more effective and productive of them, and the more important of them for maintaining the business and its competitive effectiveness moving forward.
• And outside help employees, and of whatever specific sub-type form (e.g. temp or outside consultant among other possibilities) are only going to be brought in to address immediate short-term needs. This might mean a more transient in-house staffing shortage in this business’ capacity to carry out some type of basic work that is more routinely carried out in-house, and where it would not be cost-effective to simply hire in-house to address peak period needs. Or this might mean bringing in specialized skills and experience expertise that might be needed now, but that would not be required on-tap, in-house on a long-term ongoing basis.

The longer an employee is going to be there and the longer they are going to be needed at a business, the more deeply entrenched in that business and its ongoing work flows they become, and both as they more deeply learn the systems there and as they become better known for what they can do and effectively so. And longevity of service there creates opportunity to build a foundation of trust when dealing with these employees from a business perspective, and a matching level of trust from those employees too as their employer demonstrates their appreciation for what these people can do.

Short term help is only brought in for specific task-related purposes, according to the paradigm outlined in the above two bullet points and continued up through this paragraph. And while trust might significantly enter into their carrying out their responsibilities there, it is less likely to become more generalized beyond the constraints of that specific task-based work assignment and in either an employer to employee, or an employee to employer direction. And in a practical manner, this might not matter and certainly as a due diligence consideration, and certainly when a temp or an outside consultant who is brought in to work on some specific task and time limited assignment comes into the business, does their planned out work there and then leaves the business to work elsewhere.

I just laid out a foundation in this posting’s narrative, and certainly in its second half for more fully discussing the issues raised towards the start of this narrative: the basic game strategies in place among stakeholders involved in a business, and at all organizational levels in it as they are driven by risk and trust assessments, and as predictive assessments as to the actions that would be taken by others, and their consequences as would arise from those decisions and actions taken.

• And tying together my more here-and-now and still-just-emerging comments regarding what has come to be called the emerging gig economy,
• And my still all too presumed (long term) in-house employee versus outsider help presumptions.
• What actually is taking place and what is more just assumed for that, begin to fundamentally break away from each other in this, as soon as a driving threshold level of employees are and will remain outsiders and never be brought in-house and as a basic business model decision.
• Or a pattern emerges where outsider employees are in fact brought in longer-term and even on an open-ended basis with an employer but with them remaining outsiders by default,
• Or both.

I will complete this posting’s main discussion thread as developed up to here in my next series installment, at least for purposes of this series. And I will then begin to explicitly tie its developing line of reasoning back to the issues of communications in a business with an explicit focus on gig and other short-term and outsider employees, and certainly under circumstances in which they have become the hiring and terms of employment norm at a business. And I will at least begin that line of discussion in my next series installment, citing the more traditional stable place of employment context that the gig economy and its patterns of employment are developing from, and coming to supplement if not replace, as a source of contrasting reference points. I have touched upon some of this here. I will dig deeper into these issues there and then.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. And also see Social Networking and Business 2 and that directory’s Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 10 – the jobs and careers context 9

This is my 10th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-9.)

I initially offered a to-address list of topics points at the end of Part 8, that variously address the issues of other stakeholders who a hiring manager would bring into the candidate selection and hiring process. And I repeat this list here, for smoother continuity of narrative as I continue addressing the issues that they raise:

1. Why would a hiring manager bring other stakeholders into what is essentially their hiring decision making step?
2. And closely aligned with that question: who would they bring into this process and what would these stakeholders discuss with a job candidate?
3. And how would their input and insight be used in making a hire-or-not decision?
4. And given these questions and their issues, how can you as a job candidate most effectively meet with, and communicate and negotiate with these people, each with their own reasons for being included here and each with their own goals and interests in this process, so as to help you to achieve your own desired goals out of this overall interviewing process?

See Part 9 for a discussion of Question 1, and a start to one regarding Question 2. And my goal for this posting is to complete my discussion of Question 2 and its possible answers, at least for purposes of this series, and then at least begin to delve into the issues raised by Question 3.

I wrote in Part 9 of within-team stakeholders: people who would be brought into this type of interviewing process as peers of whoever is hired for this position, who report to the same hiring manager and supervisor that this new hire would. And I wrote of outside stakeholders who a hiring manager has to effectively work with. These are in most cases, people who the hiring manager is in-effect working for at least for specific tasks or work processes, and on a service provider-to-client basis. Then I parsed the pool of possible stakeholders who might be brought into this in a second way. There, stakeholder interviewers might focus more on validating how well a potential new hire would fit in and how easily they could be worked with. Or alternatively, they might primarily focus on the issues of how effectively these candidates might be able to effectively contribute to the resolution of whatever goals-specific tasks or ongoing work processes that the hiring manager is to a significant degree responsible for getting done, that those stakeholder in effect own as their problems to be resolved.

I bring a third set of stakeholder selection criteria into this narrative here, when I add in the issues of office politics, and the need to be able to work with at least minimized social friction, with others in the business. This can mean more effectively meeting the needs and preferences of people higher up on the table of organization. But at least as importantly this can mean maintaining smoother and more mutually cooperative relationships with others in the business who might be at the same level of that table of organization as them, who this hiring manager would not want to displease by excluding their voice and opinion.

• Who does the hiring manager work for, and either in a chain of command, reporting and supervision manner, or through a service provider and client relationship?
• Who does the hiring manager depend on for service and support, and both for special task work or on an ongoing and more normative basis? There and in both cases, who is in a position to make life easier for this hiring manager, or create bottlenecks for them?

Most people who write of businesses and business processes and work flows, do so in terms of normative, expected and official processes and priorities and how they are arrived at and how they are met. In reality, politics always enters into all of this and a large part of office politics, at least as a more positive, is directed towards reducing friction and tension so work can get done and at what is at least ideally, the maximum level of comfort for all who enter into those political negotiations there. I set aside the issues of cliques and in-groups there, that by their very nature limit effective communication and collaborative cooperation across their boundaries, and simply note them here as an aside, that can also enter into who is and is not included as involved stakeholders in this, and I add in other business contexts as well.

I have written about idealized and realized business models with their systems of business processes and priorities, and how they arise and play out. For a most recent reference here for how I have done so, see Business planning from the back of a napkin to a formal and detailed presentation 24. Office politics can also lead to the types of divergences from the normally planned for and expected that I have been addressing there, and particularly when political considerations and their ongoing impact on the decision making processes in place, hold sway but as unacknowledged factors in that.

I add this final detail here to my response to Question 2, simply to indicate that the issues that I write of here in this posting can have implications and consequences that even the most savvy and aware, and thoughtful a job candidate would not be able to pick up upon and certainly in any actionably meaningful detail. So approach both possible future employers, and cutting ahead in my narrative here: current ones too for those hired, with an awareness that there is always more to learn and know about places of work. This applies to the dynamics at play that would govern decisions to bring specific stakeholders into a new hire interviewing process, and certainly when that means outsider stakeholders. But this only begins with that. Think of this concluding comment as an attempt to put the hiring process as a step in the jobs and careers pathway, into a fuller perspective. And with that noted, I turn to Question 3 of the above list, and consideration of how stakeholder interviewer input and insight are used in making a hire-or-not decision.

I am going to focus on that topics point in my next installment to this series, and begin that here by offering an orienting point of observation that I will build from moving forward.

• How the input and insight offered by these stakeholders would be used in making a hire-or-not decision, depends in large part, or even entirely for that matter, on the role that these colleagues play in that process as discussed in Part 9 and here, and the relationship that they have with the hiring manager who they would report their interview findings too. Their role and their acted-upon stake in this hiring decision process depends on what type of a stakeholder they are, from the hiring manager’s perspective and their overall relationship with them.

Then after completing my discussion of this topics point and the question that it is centered around, I will address Question 4 from the above list. And then I will proceed from there to discuss negotiations as to terms of employment, and with compensation and other factors definitely included in that, there assuming that the hiring manager you have met with has made a positive decision to bring you into the business as a new employee. Then, looking ahead, I will turn to consider the new hire probationary period.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And I particularly recommend your at least briefly reviewing a specific job search best practices series that I developed here on the basis of both my own job search experience and from working with others going through that: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search isn’t Working, as can be found at Page 1 of my above-noted Guide as its postings 56-72.

Finding virtue in simplicity when complexity becomes problematical, and vice versa 11

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on May 17, 2018

This is my 11th installment to a series on simplicity and complexity in business communications, and on carrying out and evaluating the results of business processes, tasks and projects (see Social Networking and Business 2), postings 257 and loosely following for Parts 1-10.)

I have been at least relatively systematically discussing Information Technology help desk systems in this series since Part 7, with a focus on identifying and tapping into the right types of expertise that would be needed to resolve rarer long-tail problems, and disruptively new and novel ones. And in the course of that narrative thread, and certainly in Part 9 and Part 10, I have focused on using more openly connecting interactive channels such as version 2.0 intranets in an organization, to facilitate finding and bringing together the right people with the right skills sets and experience, to both better understand and better resolve these nonstandard challenges.

Think of this line of discussion as paralleling an approach that I offer and discuss for better managing the proactively facing challenges of innovation and disruptive innovation in a business, where a largely similar approach can also be used in the often more reactive arena of problem identification and correction, and with a goal of offering both immediate here-and-now remediation and longer-term recurrence prevention capabilities. I cite this perhaps more ancillary detail here, because my overall goal in this narrative is to offer a more generally applicable single approach that would apply across a business organization as a whole, in making it more robustly effective and competitively agile. And with this noted, I return to the context that I have been exploring here, and help desk-based problem remediation.

I stated at the end of Part 10 that I would continue its discussion with a focus on developing resources that would:

• Facilitate greater business systems efficiencies, with lean and agile businesses and lean and agile supply chain and other value chain collaborations made possible from that.

And I added that after addressing that complex of issues, and with my discussion as offered in Part 10 in mind, I will also consider how the issues raised there would be shaped for their management and resolution by:

• Focused regulatory law and its implementation level frameworks, and other outside factors.

But before delving into that topics area, and with the first of these to-address bullet points in mind, I am going to at least briefly address what in most cases would have to qualify as the key enabler technology that would have to go into any large and complex business’ version 2.0 interactive, community-involving intranet, if it is to actually offer practical, usable value: a local use search engine. And for a major corporation certainly, but for larger businesses in general, this means developing and offering, or acquiring from a third party source such as Google, an easy to use search engine user interface, backed by an effective big data search, sort and filter capability.

I find myself thinking of a company such as IBM as I write that, with its roughly 380,000 employees, counting employees at wholly owned subsidiaries, as of late 2017. I have offered the possibility of businesses offering internally facing professional social networking tools through their intranets, counterpart to a publically facing internet site such as LinkedIn. Let’s assume a business that large in which only a third of all employees actually set up a professional profile in such a system, and with enough content to offer real value for anyone using it for networking purposes. That would still mean anyone seeking to search through it, facing over 125,000 possible candidates to start with, for any targeted search that they would make. And while IBM has a large headcount, it is not by any means the largest single business that I could cite here by way of example. (See this IBM background reference for more a more detailed discussion of this business and who works there.) And to highlight the geographic spread of a company such as IBM, as of September, 2017, that company has more employees in its operations in India than it does in the United States (see this September 28, 2017 news piece: IBM Now Has More Employees in India Than in the U.S.)

• Making a business and its systems lean and agile and efficient in its outwardly facing supply chain and other value chain collaborations, can only be possible if it is lean and agile and efficient in its internal and within-business operations and strategy.
• If it cannot function effectively internally and within its own systems, it is essentially inevitable that it will prove unable to benefit from possible efficiencies that might be offered to it through its larger business-to-business collaborative contexts.
• And it will find itself unable to sustain any such relationships because it will not be in a position to offer positive value to partner businesses in return for what it is offered, either.
• So addressing the first of the two to-address bullet points offered at the top of this posting, has to begin in-house. And that has to be information and communications driven. And that brings me precisely back to the issues and challenges that I have been addressing here in this series, and certainly since its Part 7.

My goal for the next installment to this series is to at least briefly discuss the issues of bringing a business’ own house into order through improved communications and information sharing, of the type under discussion here. And I will continue to pursue help desk systems as at least one possible source of working examples there. Then, I will turn outward to explicitly bring business-to-business collaborations into this narrative. And then I will delve into at least some of the issues of larger contexts that businesses in general have to be able to function in: regulatory law and its implementation included.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set, for its more generally applicable discussion of focused message best practices per se. I initially offered that with a specific case in point jobs and careers focus, but the approaches raised and discussed there are more generally applicable. You can find that series at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, as its postings 342-358.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 9 – the jobs and careers context 8

This is my 9th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-8.)

I focused in large part in Part 8, on meeting with and interviewing with a hiring manager: the manager at a hiring business who most specifically owns the hiring process and the work position that you are applying to there, and who will hold the greatest stake in any hiring decision consequences faced as a presumably best candidate is selected and brought in. Then I began addressing the issues of other stakeholders who a hiring manager might bring into this process, who would also meet with the top candidates under consideration. And I offered four basic questions towards the end of that posting that address the Who and Why of these stakeholders as participants in this, that I repeat here and that I will (primarily) address in order:

1. Why would a hiring manager bring other stakeholders into what is essentially their hiring decision making step?
2. And closely aligned with that question: who would they bring into this process and what would these stakeholders discuss with a job candidate?
3. And how would their input and insight be used in making a hire-or-not decision?
4. And given these questions and their issues, how can you as a job candidate most effectively meet with, and communicate and negotiate with these people, each with their own reasons for being included here and each with their own goals and interests in this process, so as to help you to achieve your own desired goals out of this overall interviewing process?

Let me begin with the first of these questions, as stakeholder interviews open a very revealing window into both the job that you might be applying for, and its actual requirements and priorities – and certainly when they might differ from what is stated in the job description offered.

Hiring managers at a business have their own work responsibilities and their own assigned tasks and priorities, and their own challenges and issues. And one of the primary reasons why a manager would take on the responsibilities and the additional work requirements of onboarding and then managing a new member of their team: a new employee under their supervision who they are going to be held responsible for, is that this person would help them to resolve at least one of their more significant challenges faced: a challenge or responsibility that rises to a level of significance for them to make this extra effort and commitment on their part worthwhile to them, and in ways that could not be achieved by members of their team already in place, as it is. And this leads me directly to the question of those stakeholder interviews. And I begin addressing Question 1 of the above list by categorically dividing them into two at least overly distinct groups, that can functionally overlap as I will explain in what follows:

• Within-team stakeholders, and
• Outside stakeholders.

Hiring managers bring in members of their own teams that they supervise, to meet with and interview top job candidates for a variety of reasons. This includes reality check validation that this is someone who their current team members could communicate with and work with on a comfortable and efficient basis: and a reiteration of the “fit test.” And at least as importantly, this is where a hiring manager who might not have specific hands-on expertise themselves in what this new hire would do, can have them meet with the people who they would work with who might be as close to expert as anyone there in what these potential new hires would do there. At the very least, this would include team members who they would directly have to coordinate their work with, so their combined efforts would fit together. Even if a new hire would carry out tasks that no one currently there has any real hands-on experience with, can they communicate on technical and professional issues in a way that will work for others there, so their work can fit in and actually offer value in addressing larger, team tasks?

Outside stakeholder interviewers who are included here, and certainly as specific interviewer choices, are essentially always brought into this process because they play pivotal stakeholder roles in the problems and issues that this hiring manager is seeking to address and resolve through a new hire. Think of them as people who in effect own the tasks that this new hire would work on and contribute to, that their manager and their team members are supposed to successfully work on and resolve. And as team outsiders who are nevertheless significantly involved in what this new hire would do on the job, they are people who the hiring manager is obliged to satisfy, and usually in fulfilling that key one of their own managerial level tasks or goals responsibilities that they are hiring for.

I made note, above, of the possibility of functional overlap between within-team stakeholders and outside stakeholders, and clarify that here by noting that key “owner” stakeholders of the tasks or goals that a new hire would be brought in to address, can sometimes be found within a manager’s direct supervision team too, and certainly if they have a large and complexly organized team reporting to them.

• It is a crucially important task for a prospective new hire, to identify who the task and goals owning stakeholders are who they meet with, and who the primarily fit-validating ones are.
• And one of the most important objectives there in knowing and understanding that difference, is in learning as much as possible about the issues and challenges that have led to a decision to hire in the first place.

One of the most important points that I have raised in this blog over the years, regarding consulting, is that people and businesses that hire consultants often know more about what the symptoms are, than they do about the actual underlying problems that cause them. What would you actually be hired to do, and at as much of an underlying-problem level of understanding as possible? And would you be offered the resources and opportunity needed to go beyond symptoms to address those underlying problems? Note: even when a job description and all ensuing interviews focus on symptoms to be addressed, and here-and-now, resolve for the moment issues, managers always hire with a goal of achieving longer-term results and underlying problem resolutions through their new hire.

And with this, I have addressed the above-stated Question 2, as well as Question 1 – or at least a significant measure of it. And at this point, I raise a pair of questions that I learned the importance of, the hard way in my own work life and career experience:

• Is the job that you are applying for and being interviewed for, one that this same hiring manager has unsuccessfully tried to get completed before and through earlier in-house staff or new hire attempts? And if so, how and how many times?

I write this thinking back to a consulting assignment that I took on and agreed to, just to find after I had started that the hiring manager who I met with was being pressured by his supervisor: a more senior executive, to complete a very complex overall set of coordinated tasks that he did not understand for what this required, and with time frame and other constraints that made this work impossible. So several others had been brought in to attempt this job and all had failed, and no one working under this more senior manager was willing to let on that any of this had happened in any interview meetings they participated in. They were all terrified of the boss’ boss.

• Know what you are getting into, and really listen to and speak with the people who you get to meet with: all of those directly involved stakeholders definitely included. And think in terms of reading between the lines in what they do and do not say, and in what they ask and how.
• Prior failed efforts such as the workplace example that I cite here, to achieve desired goals through bringing in new hires: in-house or as consultants, need not completely preclude you’re taking this type of job. But the more you know of what you face, and in general in a new job with its actual issues and challenges, the more effectively you can negotiate your terms for taking this work on, and with time-to-completion and performance benchmarks and resource access issues clearly spelled out. (I will come back to this point when discussing terms of employment negotiations, a little later in this series. I simply note this complex of issues here to put this posting’s interview phase of this overall process into a fuller and more useful context and perspective.)

This last comment can be seen as a foretaste of how I will address the above Question 4 when I more formally do so. I will offer come concluding thoughts regarding Questions 1 and 2 in my next series installment, and will then address Question 3, and then Question 4 as a whole to round out this phase of this overall narrative. And then I will proceed from there to discuss negotiations as to terms of employment, and with compensation and other factors definitely included in that, there assuming that the hiring manager you have met with has made a positive decision to bring you into the business as a new employee. Then, looking ahead, I will turn to consider the new hire probationary period.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And I particularly recommend your at least briefly reviewing a specific job search best practices series that I developed here on the basis of both my own job search experience and from working with others going through that: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search isn’t Working, as can be found at Page 1 of my above-noted Guide as its postings 56-72.

Donald Trump Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century – 6

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on May 6, 2018

This is my 33rd installment to what has become an ongoing series of postings in which I seek to address politics in the United States as it has become, starting with the nominations process leading up to the 2016 presidential elections. See my series: Donald Trump and the Stress Testing of the American System of Government, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2, posting 244 and loosely following.

This can also be considered to represent my 60th installment to an ongoing series that I have been offering here concerning Xi Jinping and his still emerging and expanding leadership role in China. See China and Its Transition Imperatives, as can be found at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, as postings 154 and loosely following. I began writing about Xi in this series after his elevation to a position of supreme leadership in the Communist Party of China and of China’s government and military. And I include this posting in that progression of them, as the United States president currently in office: Donald Trump, creates both challenge and opportunity and with the second of those predominating, for Xi and his leadership.

I begin this posting by repeating the number of postings that I have offered here, focusing on Donald Trump and his narcissistic zero attention span cupidity and venality: 33. And I have written about him at least in passing on a variety of other occasions in this blog too. As such, that number only approximates the level of specific attention that I have directed towards this man and his activates, and that of his supporters. So I offer this supernumerary addition to what I have to think of as that less than august assemblage of writings, by saying enough is enough. As of now, I am not planning on adding a 34th installment to this progression, unless and until a real change event takes place such as the release of the Muller investigation findings, in his investigation of Russian involvement in compromising the 2016 US elections – and in a manner that would lead to Trump’s impeachment. OK, that is not the only possible trigger that would prompt my offering a number 34 to this series. But any viable alternative to it that would prompt me to return to specifically writing about Donald Trump and his presidency is going to have to be game changing too, as far as Trump and his political and office holding futures are concerned.

I am planning on continuing to write about China and their leadership in further postings. But any references to The Donald in that will simply be incidental and offered as contextual background material. This is it, and certainly for now, for focusing on Trump himself.

And with that stated, I begin this posting with the citation of an historical parallel as drawn from United States history. And I turn for that to the less than laudable presidency of Warren Gamaliel Harding, as a touchstone for better understanding our current, 45th United States president. Harding is widely known as having been one of the worst of the worst, of those who have taken on the responsibilities of the office of president of the United States, and for good reason. The Teapot Dome scandal with its rampant bribery and other corruptions that Harding is perhaps best known for, as carried out by highly placed officials in his presidential administration, is only one of the well known and documented of his administration’s failings. But even a cursory review of the Trump administration, shows him and his inner circle to be much more fully and widely corrupt than that, and for essentially all of the key members of his team and for essentially all who he has tried to bring into it. This side to the history of the Trump administration, beginning at the time of his inauguration into office and continuing on to now, has presented itself as a succession of revelations of senior members of Trump’s inner circle who have proven to be corruptible and corrupt and even overtly criminally so.

Donald Trump famously ran for office on a campaign promise of “draining the swamp” in Washington. And he has continued to proclaim that as one of his administration defining self-assumed success stories, and ever since his achieving office. But if anything, president Trump has taken what might or might not properly be called a swamp in the District of Columbia and its surrounding areas and converted it into what should qualify as a superfund cleanup site. And I cite as a news piece example of how others have arrived at this conclusion:

Trump’s ‘Best People’ Are the Worst

And yes, he has repeatedly proclaimed that he is bringing in the best people as a key part of his swamp draining effort. How could the actual results achieved from his hiring efforts have happened? I could cite several reasons for that, all of which begin in a cause and effect manner from the simple fact that Trump only looks for one quality or qualification when evaluating potential candidates and hires into his administration. Anyone he would consider bringing in must swear personal, absolute loyalty and fealty to him as an individual. And any who turn on him and betray that absolute oath of loyalty in any way, is soon going to be on their way out the door.

As a particularly toxic and I add particularly publically visible example of how that works, I cite an event that president Trump orchestrated and that he directly ordered all of his cabinet officers to participate in, and with whole hearted enthusiasm demonstrably required on all of their parts:

Trump’s Cabinet Showers Boss with Praise,
Trump Invites His Employees To Praise Him During Cabinet Meeting and
Donald Trump Cabinet Praise.

The second and third of these links are to YouTube videos of this event, so a reader can see what I write of here for themselves. A normal person would not want this type of overtly forced praise, and would certainly not demand that type of public obeisance and from anyone. But a willingness to submit to participating in an exercise in public adoration of this type is precisely how Trump picks those who end up at least briefly on his team. And only the truly corrupt and shamelessly so would buy into this type of behavior on their part, as a necessary and acceptable cost of bellying up to the trough to feed. Honest, competent people of genuine integrity would not willingly seek to serve in office under a Donald Trump and certainly as he has proven that fact based decision making and action do not meet with his approval or support: only obedience to his each and every tweet, verbal utterance or thought, and no matter how unconsidered or self-serving.

And that brings me to a verbal shorthand that I have started hearing from news professionals and pendants that I find, if anything, at least as disturbing as Donald Trump’s soft relationship with empirical reality itself. I refer here to how all of this has become so much a “new normal” in the eyes and minds of so many. Phrases line Post-Fact Reality as a new norm prompt essentially the same visceral response in me that I would feel if they began seriously, studiously intoning in their reporting of Trump’s exciting new doublespeak and double think. George Orwell would spin in his grave with joy if he could somehow know that Donald Trump has taken his dystopian dreamscape and made it his, and our reality. (Think of that last sentence as my one and only interview practice run for becoming an “alternative facts” based Trump spokesperson. And think of that phrase as The Donald’s way of doubling down on speech, thought and reality, doublethink style!)

I have written about Trump and his less than simply lose grasp of, or interest in reality. And I have done so many, many times in the course of assembling this series up to here, and while discussing the larger Trump-oriented narrative that I have fit that into, going back to when a pack of the hungry were vying for becoming the Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election. I have written of his swamp draining promises and his toxic waste dumping practices for almost as long. Corruption in highly placed officials and from proposed appointees to the Trump administration has become so common and so expected as to have numbed us all into somehow thinking of this as a form of new form of normal. And that might be his longest lasting legacy from his time in high office, for the callous damaging of American sensibilities and the withering of what should be our shared ideals and standards of public conduct that he has brought us to. And truth and fact have been just as victimized in all of this and to our collective detriment too, and regardless of our political similarities or differences.

I offered Part 32 of this series approximately four weeks ago, with it going live on April 8, 2018. And just in that short period of time, several scandal and corruption unveilings have erupted out of the Trump administration, all of which individually would have been seen as administration threatening news – if that is they did not simply fit into a recurring pattern of such mind numbing regularity.

• Corruption in highly placed officials and from proposed appointees to the Trump administration has become so commonplace and so expected by now and for all of us, as to have numbed us all into somehow thinking of this as a form of normal.

And few if any of us now expect anyone in a Trump administration to offer or even accept what would under more normal circumstances be considered factual truth. This all grievously harms all of us. And it leaves us grasping at straws to understand the how and why of all of this. And with that noted, I come full circle to cite my first installment to what has become this succession Trump-centric postings, along with a recent news piece that I make note of here, simply because it is literally a grasping at straws made overtly public:

Thinking Through the Words We Use in Our Political Monologs and
Why Trump Supporters Don’t Mind His Lies.

And meanwhile, Xi Jinping in China, Kim Jung Un in North Korea, Vladimir Putin in Russia and a host of others, think circles around our US president and act accordingly, and the United States becomes more and more a non sequitur on the world stage for his inept mismanagement and from his lack of vision and understanding.

So I conclude this posting by noting the current tantalizing teases in the news of what might somehow, some time come to pass:

Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction,
Trump Adds Clinton Impeachment Lawyer, Bracing for a Fight on Multiple Fronts,
Mueller’s Questions Point to What Trouble Trump Is In,
Why Answering Mueller’s Questions Could Be a Minefield for Trump,
The Truth Is Coming for Trump and of course
Truth Has Stopped Mattering in the Russia Investigation.

I left out a number of news piece references here that more specifically discuss how terrified Trump’s inner circle supporters are that he might actually agree to meet with Muller and attempt to answer his questions under oath, and even when he has been given copies of all of them well in advance in order to give him time and opportunity to prepare for that.

I waited as long as I did between my April 8, 2018 posting and this one because so many new (should be) scandals have kept erupting on such an ongoing, steady and reliable basis and because so many Muller investigation hint-pieces have come out too. What comes next, besides just this toxic flow of ongoing same and routine out of the Trump White House, will happen … probably … eventually. When something more game changing does happen, I will add a Posting 34 to this.

Meanwhile, I am certain to continue adding new installments to both China and Its Transition Imperatives, as can be found at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation (as postings 154 and loosely following.) And I expect, with time to add more to my series: Donald Trump and the Stress Testing of the American System of Government, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2 (posting 244 and loosely following).

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