Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 8

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on March 16, 2018

This is my 8th 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 1-7.)

I have been discussing this set of issues, and particularly from the wider perspective of the overall business organization and its market context here, since Part 2, doing so in terms of two generic but nevertheless realistic case study 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 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 in the course of developing that dual-facing narrative, I have at least mentioned communications disintermediation-enabled marketing approaches such as gorilla and viral marketing on several occasions, as specific areas of operational and strategic intent and action. Then at the end of Part 7 I said that I would continue its line of discussion here, by:

• More directly focusing on those new and emerging marketing and sales options themselves, and on communications disintermediation as a goal in and of itself.

I begin doing so by more explicitly considering the issues of intent per se, as viewed from a marketing business side and as viewed from an actively responding and engaging marketplace and consumer side. And I begin that by noting that both the similarities and the differences found between these two perspectives are important, and telling. To be more explicit as to what is to follow here, I will address this narrative thread in terms of a business scenario sketch that could consistently arise in either my already discussed new or established business case studies as developed up to here:

• A manufacturing or otherwise providing business: new and startup or old and established, approaches the products and I add any supportive services that they would bring to market with an active intent, seeing them and their success in sales as crucial to their own success and to their long-term viability as a business.
• The consumers and potential consumers of these offerings that they face in their targeted marketplace might or might not take a correspondingly focused approach to these same offerings. They might be more inclined to do so if and when they see these offerings as being necessary in some way for their genuine, higher priority needs: ongoing, or at least contextually here-and-now. But when those products and/or services are viewed as more fad in nature, impulse purchase in nature, or both, a real asymmetry of perceived importance and value can emerge between provider and consumer in this, with those consumers viewing those purchase options as holding lesser priority and significance than their providers would.
• But manufacturers and their wholesale and retail distributors have to be able to look beyond their own product and service assumptions, and their own conceptions of priority and need here, when reaching out to their markets. They need to find ways that help themselves to better connect with their customers and potential customers, and in terms that resonate with the consumer-side vision of what they offer, as is actually taking place around them, and with a goal of capturing the interest and if possible the purchasing activity of these people too.

Marketing in this sense is all about developing and conveying a vision of knowing and understanding the consumer and their needs and preferences, however strongly held or fleeting, as might apply in any given here-and-now. And it is all about crafting a message to these buyers and potential buyers that validates and supports their views and opinions, and in an encouraging and supportive manner.

Traditional marketing bases the resonance that it seeks to establish in this, in in-depth market research that it then crafts into messages and images that it broadcasts at its intended target markets and their consumer members. Viral and gorilla marketing may supplementally build themselves from similar types of more formally gathered market data as starting points, when reaching out initially to begin more direct conversations. But they continue on from there, developing direct information gathering channels, with specific members of those markets from that point on. And crucial to this, these are two way information sharing channels: two way communications channels.

• Viral and gorilla marketing are spontaneous and free-flowing from the market side, and of necessity so. This is true at least in part, because that is how most marketplace participants approach this type of communications and information sharing opportunity: for its entertainment value as much as for its information gathering value and its purchase decision making value.
• And viral and gorilla marketing are inherently less structured, and for both sides to the conversations that arise there.
• A business entering into this type of conversation, presents its brands and represents itself in terms of them. But at the same time, the individuals actually reaching out and engaging in them as representing those businesses, of necessity have to be able to share something of themselves and of their own personalities in this too, if their side to these conversations are to show any spontaneity or anything of a genuine quality. Static script-only in this, abrogates any possibility of actually entering into a genuine two way conversation with anyone. From a consumer perspective that would be more like talking back to a robocall, and it would be just as disengaging, and just as much of a turn off.
• And the market participant consumers who these business representatives meet and converse with in all of this, bring their own personal perspectives and priorities to these conversations too, and individually so, while at the same time showing their affiliation with the general demographics they resonate with too.

One of the core Marketing department goals that a business should pursue in making this type of endeavor work, should that of making these conversations into data gathering exercises, and with every possible learning curve opportunity cultivated from all of the marketplace-to-company and back, interactive exchanges so developed. Traditional focus group exercises are often developed and run with a goal of gathering structured data wherever possible, that can readily be fed into more standard statistical analytical tests for better modeling and understanding their consumer markets. Some unstructured data that cannot simply be handled that way, all but inevitably leaks into that mix too, there. But the conversations that arise here, in the more direct two-way interactive contexts that I write of here, reverse that with a perhaps majority of all data gathered in, starting out as unstructured data and with just some more immediately readily structured data of a more traditional form and format leaking in there too.

Imagine, from the marketplace consumer perspective, you’re receiving a message from a business about a new product idea, through social media. And they express interest in hearing from you, what you think of this. But instead of their trying to capture your interest and curiosity as a full person, they try hitting you with a traditionally formed marketing survey that is filled with yes and no only questions, and questions that allow for fixed numerical scale-only responses, and with no options or opportunities for more nuanced or unplanned for responses allowed. How quickly would you unfriend them and move on? How quickly can you use a mouse or keyboard?

I have taken a more generic approach in this posting than I have in other installments to this series up to here. But I will turn back to reconsider my two working business scenarios of earlier installments in my next posting to it, to at least begin to discuss how the issues and details raised here, would more specifically apply to them. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.


Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 4 – the jobs and careers context 3

This is my 4th 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 1-3.)

I offered Part 1 of this series as an orienting directory of what I will address in it, with a goal of at least relatively systematically outlining the key point-by-point topics areas that I would cover here. And I then devoted Part 2 and Part 3 to the first topics point listed in that Part 1 discussion: negotiations and the need to pursue them with strategic care and intent in a preliminary phase job search.

My goal for this posting is to turn to the second, jobs and careers oriented topics point of that listing to at least begin to address it here:

• Job search as it plays out when reaching out to and applying for specific work opportunities of real interest to you, with this process continuing on through terms of hire and employment negotiations.

And I begin this by in effect completing my Parts 2 and 3 discussion of earlier job search steps, by picking up on a detail that I mentioned in passing in Part 3, that becomes crucially important here: job search prioritization and the value of practice before actively pursuing what might be one of your top choice and ideal next job opportunities.

I wrote Parts 2 and 3 of this series from the perspective of new job seekers who are facing a need for at least somewhat significant change in what they would do professionally: desired and planned for on their own part or simply imposed upon them as their new reality, or arriving as a combination of those possibilities. And that meant a job seeker not always knowing precisely what they would best seek out next as they more actively start to search for a new job opportunity that would be right for them. But anyone seeking a new job, and certainly anyone who has not done anything like that for a significant period of time, should assume that they are at least a bit rusty in the skills that they have used for this in the past and that they will actively need now. They should assume that their professional networking has to be brought up to date. Their resume, if they even have one still, is certain to be outdated. Their interviewing skills almost certainly are too. And they might very well benefit from learning and using new types of job search skills, that might not have even existed in practice the last time that they were in search mode.

So even if you start out knowing precisely what type of job you want to find and land next, and from the start of any new job search that you would enter into: even if you have no uncertainty as to what your next best jobs and careers step would be, you almost certainly need to do some preparatory work and (re)learning curve work as a part of that. And you all but certainly would benefit from practice too.

• Do not start out cold in this, by sending what you have now in writing, and using your current off the cuff interview approach as it is currently formed, on what you see as your top choice job possibilities. Find opportunities to practice on and to gather in input and insight on how to refine your message, and for all of its faces: written and verbal, distant and face-to-face.

This practice can include you’re going through practice interviews with friends and colleagues who know you and who would give you honest feedback: critical comments included. And from a resume and cover letter perspective, and with follow-up correspondence in mind: emails included, this means getting editorial and content detail review and feedback too, with this coming from people who you respect for their ability to write effectively. The details in this can be decidingly vital; just consider as a specific detail case in point example, the importance of more effectively quantifying the value and significance of the accomplishments that you would cite as bullet points on your resume, or in interviews when asked about yourself. That can make it a lot easier for others to see, and at least basically understand the level of value that you have brought to your work and that you could bring to a next job too.

Finding the right people here who will help you with this and who can be candid – even if that might bruise your ego a bit, is vitally important here. People who only tell you what they think you want to hear, are not helping you and certainly if that means your repeating a mistake that you made for them, when addressing others at a business that you really would like to work at.

This is where your professional networking can really help, and certainly if you know an appropriate manager or executive who might be willing to meet with you to give you a practice run mock interview. Note, and this is important: any such practice run can only work if this professional approaches it as if they were actually interviewing you, asking the types of probing questions that they would actually ask then, and eliciting the types of feedback from you that they would need in order to ascertain how effectively and thoroughly you have done your homework as to what “their” (your target) business does, and what you would do there if hired.

But this type of feedback and practice is only part of what you should do, and certainly to the extent that through preparation is possible for you for this, given scheduling opportunity and help availability. The second, and more routinely discussed type of practice here, is to go on actual job interviews: starting with applying for and interviewing for positions, with businesses that would for whatever reason start out as not being among your first choices.

There are some basic ground rules here:

• Seek out these positions as actively and fully as you would a top choice opportunity. And pursue them just as thoroughly and systematically too, with a well crafted resume and job application that is fit to meet the needs of and attract the interest of that business and its hiring manager. And if you can get an interview there, prepare for it and go through it as if this were your first choice business and work position that you are seeking. And follow through with emails at the very least to everyone you meet with by phone or in person – and most certainly with anyone you actually meet with at an interview. Always assume that if a hiring manager asks you to meet someone on their business’ staff, they are crucial gatekeepers in making any hiring decision.
• And do all of this with a mind that is open to the possibility that you might in fact like the people you meet there and the workplace that you would move into there, and that this might become a top choice for you – even if unexpectedly so.
• If you do any less: if you “phone this in” in some way and act as if a “practice” job search and interview campaign does not matter, all you will be practicing from going through this exercise is how to cut corners and disqualify yourself from real consideration when that will really count.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will consider top choice and most preferred positions. And as part of that, I will discuss goals and priorities and even knowing what would qualify as your top choices here, and why. And I will at least begin to discuss the negotiating sides to all of this in more detail, and for turning a potential second or lower choice job opportunity into a top choice one for you, among other possibilities.

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.

Rethinking national security in a post-2016 US presidential election context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 8

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 10, 2018

This is my 8th 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 1-7.)

I focused in Part 7 on nation state players, and on how national governments and their agencies have been actively developing and live-fire testing offensive cyber-weapon capabilities. And I particularly stressed the significance of this real world testing for how it addresses uncertainties as to how or even whether completely new types of weapons would work if turned to in an active conflict. And I stress here, that such testing allows for weapons refinement. But more importantly, this type of validation increases the likelihood that such new technologies and their weaponized applications would actually be used. Testing use to validate, lowers the threshold of possibility and likelihood that new types of weapons will be used in more overt and open, large scale conflicts too.

I primarily focused on Russia and its activities in Part 7, for its recent activities in this arena. And I more briefly cited North Korean and United States activities in this too. Then at the end of that posting, and with those working examples in mind, I began addressing motivations: the more strategic level reasons and their underlying assumptions, that would both guide the weaponized development of cyber-capabilities and shape their likely use as such – and in both proof of principle test case application and in any actual larger-scale use that might follow that. And I begin addressing this complex of issues here, by offering three points of observation that I would suggest offer predictive value:

• 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.
• 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 holds these resources, and map out the types of scenarios 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.

Let me take that out of the abstract with a very real world example that goes back to before the advent of cyber-weapons per se. Japan actively started World War II in the Pacific theatre on December 7, 1941 with, among other military incursions its sneak attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. The principle weapon deployed in this attack was a new variation of their Koku Gyorai, or Type 91 torpedo that could be launched from low-flying aircraft against ships – in this context, ships tied up in a particularly shallow harbor. And that is where this narrative dating to 1941 parallels the early 21st century threat theatre context that is more explicitly being considered here in this series.

Conventional aircraft launched torpedoes of the time, including earlier versions of the Type 91 torpedo, dove deep when first entering the water, to arc back up again to follow a track closer to the surface on the way to their targets. That might work and reliably so in deep open water, but Pearl Harbor was and still is a very shallow harbor, with little clearance between the hulls of ships that enter it, and the harbor bottom. Ships captains, or rather harbor pilots who have to navigate its waters to bring larger vessels in and out, have to follow the deeper water channel markers in the harbor with care there, to avoid grounding those vessels. So Japan’s older torpedo models that were in use up to then, and even older versions of their Type 91 torpedo itself, could not work in a place like Pearl Harbor as a source of threat or attack there. The Japanese found a more out of the way bay in their own territory that in many respects matched Pearl Harbor for its depth and that was large enough for their purposes, to test and refine a new shallow water torpedo design on. They never would have attempted using this new weapon design against enemy ships of a major potential adversary such as the United States and its navy, if they had not carefully tested it out and exhaustively so, to be sure that it could and would work as intended and not fail, leaving an enraged adversary militarily intact.

And with my above cyber-context bullet points in mind about assumptions, motivations and tests, I cite how events prior to December 7, 1941, including events that took place at Pearl Harbor itself, challenge the validity of claiming that the attack of that day was a complete surprise in principle, even if this particular attack was a surprise as a specific incident. There are a number of references that I could cite here in this respect but one that I find both concise and sufficiently inclusively detailed to explain and justify that is Gary Rethford’s piece: Pearl Harbor: a warning unheeded.

Japan felt hedged in and stymied, and with the United States in particular reaching out to deny it access to critical needs raw materials that it needed for its manufacturing base that it could not acquire except from foreign sources. And Japan was militarily expansionist with a dream that they were actively seeking to realize, of building a more extensive empire: their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. So in principle at least their basic assumptions and their motivations were known, and they in fact were even if not for their actionable implications by the planners who set policy and practice at Pearl Harbor in 1941. And specific proof of principle tests had been carried out and by the Japanese military, and even by US naval forces that showed Pearl Harbor’s vulnerabilities to aircraft carrier-based aerial attack. But no one in authority there saw, or even significantly gazed in the direction of the evidence that was mounting, that might suggest how Japan’s growing intent and its growing capabilities in this direction might be used, and in a large scale attack.

Hitler’s Germany tested their newly refurbished military and its industrial base in a “trial run” in Spain during its civil war, leading up to their full scale use of all of this in World War II in the European and African theatres and in the Middle East as well. Japan did its own tests too, and ones that went well beyond simply test firing some torpedoes in one of their own harbors. No one in authority saw the next-step implications of this while they were just that. And this brings me directly back to the test case incidents cited in Part 7 of this series, and my above noted bullet points.

• What vindicating lessons did Japan learn from its pre-Pearl Harbor attack that would justify its basic assumptions as being viable of support and action?
• What did they learn as to the feasibility of taking this war-commencing action, from their tests and from the evident blindness of the US government and its naval command to the risks it was facing?
• And now, what lessons have Russia, and I add North Korea and others learned from their cyber-weapons development programs and from their tests of these new capabilities?
• And what blindness will their assumptions in all of this, become evident in retrospect if these weapons are used again, and even just at the scale they have been used at up to now?

I offer this posting to highlight that the issues that I raise in this series are not just abstract and academic, or of only lower level and small-target concern. And with this note added to this developing narrative, I at least begin offering some thoughts as to how better to prepare and respond to the types of cyber-threats we see emerging around us. I will turn to that in my next installment to this series.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its Page 2 continuation. 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 8

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on March 6, 2018

This is my 8th 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 1-7.)

I have been discussing workforces and some fundamental shifts in how they are shaped and managed in an increasingly wide range of businesses and industries, in this series since its Part 5. And I have very explicitly focused in upon this topic area since Part 6 where I delved into issues of terms of employment and how they are changing for their basic norms. I then brought that line of discussion into a very explicit focus in Part 7, where I began writing here of the emerging gig economy, in which an increasing percentage of the overall workforce is increasingly limited in how they would be hired: limited to taking temporary and other “outsider” work positions, rather than more traditional full time in-house positions, and even when they would perform types of work traditionally carried out in-house and by full time employees there.

This represents an emerging trend away from offering in-house employee status to new employees, and even to ones who would be expected to work for a same employing business in a same work position long term. And the primary source of impetus behind this emerging trend is an intended cost savings on the part of those hiring businesses, where their personnel costs have traditionally been among their single largest overall expenses faced. But this shift, of course, simply means those employers shifting these expenses or at least responsibility for assuming them to others: to their individual employees and staff members themselves.

More specifically, I am writing here of businesses no longer offering even large percentages of their actual hands-on employees, in-house employee benefits such as healthcare coverage that would be at least partly paid for by an employer, sick days and vacation days, and retirement-facing investment options (of types that employers have traditionally paid some form of matching funds into) and more. Temporary hires and other gig employees have to fund these types of expenses on their own, to the extent that they do so at all.

This is a series about communications in businesses, and both up and down the table of organization and across it as that proves necessary too. And this is a series about simplifying and enabling those communications and information sharing flows, and specifically by disintermediating them: removing unnecessary gatekeepers and intermediaries from them so people who have to connect and communicate can do so more easily and effectively.

This might not be a significant source of concern for small businesses with correspondingly small headcounts and where everyone there can and does see essentially everyone else at work and on a regular basis. But this can and does become important in a more widely spread out, larger headcount setting as would be found in a large business or corporation. The types of communications challenges that I write of here can become endemic to such settings unless explicitly addressed. The types of employment and employability changes that I write of here are certain to complicate that, and for many in unexpected ways.

I begin discussing that point of observation here by noting the obvious. When you work with a same, relatively stable set of colleagues who have been working there long enough to have learned their way around the business, and who have in turn become known there for what they do and for how well they do it, it becomes easier to find the right people to communicate with, gaining information from and sharing it with and carrying out tasks with. When, on the other hand, crucial (at least to you and your job) work positions that would be filled by such colleagues, are routinely held by perhaps just temporary hires and of whatever sort, even just finding the right people can mean searching out a moving target. And even if a gig or “temp” employee has been in the same place for a more extended period of time and has been reliable and reliably available up to now, the fact that they are outsider employees and not working in-house, can mean their suddenly not being there anymore and without warning to anyone they might work with.

With that point of replicably reliable observation noted, let’s consider its implications from a communications perspective – and not just from the perspective of availability and connectivity, but from how they are accepted and vetted into such systems. And in anticipation of that, I cite information security and confidentiality and its risk remediation requirements as just one possible point of justification of what is to follow here.

Outsiders such as temp and gig workers tend to be treated very differently than in-house employees would be in any such workplace communications flows taking place, and even when the same temp employees and gig workers are there in place over extended periods, and even when their work responsibilities while there are similar to those of in-house employees who they work with. They formally and officially are outsiders there, and they are often at least selectively left out of or only partly included in what would be considered more in-house only conversations and information sharing, and even by default. This makes these issues of employment and employability very important here, as this trend holds real potential for creating new forms of cost and of risk to businesses, even as it holds potential for limiting other cost centers, and personnel-related expenses in particular for that. And from the perspective of this series, this trend if anything, adds in information access controlling gatekeepers, and with all of the added delays and all of the added potential for friction-limited communications that this increased communications intermediation brings with it.

I stated at the end of Part 7 that I would continue this narrative flow here from a more game theory perspective. And I have at least begun doing that here by offering some further background to put that line of discussion into clearer perspective with. One of the core issues that I have raised and pursued in my concurrently running series: Some Thoughts Concerning a General Theory of Business (as can be found at Reexamining the Fundamentals as its Section VI), is that any such endeavor in conceptual organizing and analysis of business processes and practices, has to be able to account for good and best practices – which is obvious. But just as importantly such a body of theory and explanation would also have to be able to include and account for less than effective, and even bad practices too and certainly insofar as they are followed and adhered to in the real world too. And it should address the issues of contexts where what could be good or even best in one circumstance, might become less effective if underlying circumstances and contexts change.

This is true both because ineffective and bad happen, just as good and best do, and because their occurrence impacts on any corresponding effort towards following best practices too. And it is true because the value and the value-creating or limiting potential of business processes and practices is context specific; there are not absolute goods and bests in this, where such judgments would always hold true. In the real world, the types of communications-based business systems friction that I write of here, as a source of ineffective and bad business practice, happen, as do more effective alternatives to them. And good and bad, best and worst are context dependent. And how they would rate in this sense can be trade-off dependent.

I have been couching my approach to a more general theory of business in the above-cited series, in interpersonal terms and in terms of game theory and I cite that series here because of that. And two of the more general game strategies that I have discussed there are win-win with its goal of achieving stability-enabling mutual benefit, and win-lose with its goal of more effectively addressing short-term need, attainable resource limitations, and/or uncertainty in pay-off.

I have among other things, addressed these two strategic approaches in my general theory series using:

• Long-term businesses as they relate to their markets and to possible business-to-business collaborations (e.g. supply chain participation), as they seek out ongoing stability,
• And short-term, season-limited businesses that need to move in quickly, create positive revenue flow and profitability for themselves, then close down and hopefully without their holding much if any leftover inventory or other sources of what can be essentially unrecoverable loss. (Think of businesses such as sidewalk Christmas tree vendors there with their immutable drop dead date for when they would have to close out their business for the year, and where any leftover inventory would hold zero value beyond that date.)

I would argue that a traditional business personnel policy with all or at least most people hired, brought in-house as full time employees, leads to what can become a win-win strategic context. Us versus them conflicts as for example can and do arise between employees and senior management, or between unions that collectively represent employees and their interests, versus senior management, illustrate how it is still possible for these businesses to slip into more of a win-lose competition between a business and its rank and file employees. But win-win is achievable when a business seeks to secure and retain a stable pool of effective employees long term, and when they can reach agreement with them as to what fair compensation and fair workplace treatment mean in enabling that.

A shift towards a largely or even primarily temp worker and gig worker only, personnel policy ends that, and win-lose conflict between a hiring business and its employees becomes all but inevitable.

I am going to delve more deeply into these issues in my next installment to this series, and will focus on how this impacts upon and shapes communications and information sharing, and trust as that enters into this set of issues too. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 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 3 – the jobs and careers context 2

This is my third 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 Part 1 and Part 2.)

I began discussing the preliminary steps of entering into a significant job search in Part 2 of this series, addressing this from an information gathering and networking perspective. And I began couching that in terms of negotiations and value sharing when reaching out to others for information and insight, and for leads to new and next-step networking contacts too. Crucially importantly for this context, I discussed all these issues there from the perspective of a next-step job search that involves significant change in what you would do professionally: in the type of business you would work at or functional setting that you would work in, or both. This means you’re really needing input and insight and the help of others, as you find a possible next path forward and as you navigate your way to what would be the right type of positions for you to apply for.

I said at the end of Part 2 that I would more explicitly discuss the negotiations side of this process here, and I begin doing so with a reconsideration of how you reach out to and communicate with your networking leads, and both to ones who you have already come to know and to ones who you have just met or only been directed to.

When you reach out to others, and certainly when you reach out to already very busy professionals to ask for their insight, you are asking them for a favor, and even a costly one. No one has more than so many hours in their day, and time and effort expended on your behalf means their taking away from other matters of importance to them. So you need to be appreciative, and as noted in Part 2 it is important that you make at least some effort to offer something of value back to them in return. That is all about negotiating: here, and in this case from a position of relative weakness and need. You will most probably need more than you can offer in return, but that does not change the basic negotiating nature of these exchanges. And one of your core goals here is, or at least should be, to build bridges that would go beyond this one conversation that you are having. True, you need and want information now, but even more than that and certainly from a longer-term perspective, you should want to build what can become ongoing genuine relationships.

• As a crucially important note here: effective networking is not about collecting names and increasing your supposed-connections count as that would show on sites such as LinkedIn. It is about developing real ongoing relationships.

With that point in mind, approach early stage networking contacts in this early stage of a job search for information only, and seek to set up these conversations as information gathering exercises on your part, and just that. Then NEVER go beyond that unless one of these contacts initiates such a goals expansion. Let me be very specific there; never ever approach a potentially valuable networking lead under the guise of simply seeking information and then hit them with a job request. First of all it is very unlikely they would even have an appropriate job opening available that you could apply to, so this would uncomfortably put them on the spot. And second, this would show duplicity on your part and that would most likely make them feel at least a bit angry towards you; they would definitely feel used and they would most likely be happy to never hear from you or about you again.

• Negotiating here means building bridges, and not risking burning them.

Obviously if a networking contact decides on their own that they want to share a lead with you to a management level colleague who is hiring, and who they think you should meet for that, pursue this opportunity. No, this might not turn out to be a best possible next step job choice for you but you can and probably will benefit from the practice and experience gained from trying anyway. And besides – this might turn out to be a really good opportunity for you too. You are, after all, still trying to identify and search out precisely what you should pursue now as a next career path job. So approach this type of outcome as an unexpected and unplanned for gift, and as a valuable one. And approach it as a way to develop and to begin to cultivate a valuable new networking lead too, that might hold genuine long-term value and even if this particular short term possibility does not work out.

Then get back to the networking lead who shared this possibility with you to thank them again and to tell them how this went. Whoever they directed you to will have shared their view of what happened with this professional. You need to do so as well, and to reinforce your bridge to them if nothing else. (And be positive in how you report back to networking colleague who gave you this lead and even if it was a dead end for you; never go negatively in this and no matter how this well intended offering actually worked out.)

Yes, do what should be obvious from the immediately preceding: if this networking lead suggests that you might want to try applying for some specific position with their business itself, say yes and follow through, and as a learning and practice exercise if nothing else. And reach back appreciatively to them as this plays out and regardless of whether you actually land and accept a job offer from it.

Let me conclude this posting by reframing a detail that I noted above in it. I wrote above, of the asymmetry of the networking relationships under consideration here where the established professionals being reached out to, hold more power of position than do those reaching out to them for career insight and advice. First of all, even very busy professionals can find personal value in simply being nice: in being helpful to others who are still on their way up, and certainly if they do not feel used by them and if they see positive potential in them. But second, and at times just as importantly, as a job seeker in need of advice you need help and value received on a shorter term timeframe and in the here and now. But the networking professionals you would reach out to, build and actively use bridges too. They might find longer-term value in connecting with and cultivating next-generation up and coming professions who they might have reason to reconnect with again, at some later date too. And with that noted, I repeat a simple basic networking mantra:

• It is not who you know alone that that matters; it is who your direct contacts know and in who their direct contacts know who you could, through directed negotiated effort come to meet and know too when you have need and reason to want to.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will turn to the second to-address point as initially offered in Part 1 of this series:

• Job search as it plays out when reaching out to and applying for specific work opportunities of real interest to you, with this process continuing on through terms of hire and employment negotiations.

I will discuss practice runs and systematic effort at refining your pitch and your approach in preparation for applying for your top choice and preference possibilities. And I will go from there to discuss applying for them too. 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.

Finding virtue in simplicity when complexity becomes problematical, and vice versa 9

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on February 24, 2018

This is my 9th installment to a brief 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 1-8.)

I began discussing Information Technology help desks and their systems and processes, as an illustrative source of working examples in Part 7 and again in Part 8, for discussing how critically important business communications can become structured through multiple organizational levels and complex systems of gatekeepers – and with opportunity for communications inefficiency and delay and of communications error at every step of those business process flows. And one of my core goals in offering this was to lay a foundation for outlining and discussing an alternative to the standard information sharing and communications processes that in effect, set up a business for the types of challenges noted in those two postings, and in Part 8 in particular.

More specifically, I stated at the end of Part 8 that I would turn here to discuss and consider the potential role that a social media-inclusive, interactive intranet can bring to this type of challenge. I will focus on that in what follows as a possible resource for limiting the types of business systems friction that I pose as arising from this challenge. But before doing so I want to dig a little deeper into the challenges that all of those potential communications and action layers can bring to any effort to resolve the types of complex, novel help desk challenges as outlined in Part 8.

• Anyone employed at a workplace of any significant scale, comes to meet and gets to know a circle of fellow employees at their place of employment. And they come to know, in varying levels of detail what these colleagues do professionally and certainly at the level of basic job description. More than that they often come to know with time, at least categorically what these colleagues know and can do in their particular fields: how expert and experienced they are and how through they are in carrying out their work.
• This circle begins with their immediate peers and colleagues who they actually work with and near, and radiates out from there. Note that in a pre-internet context with its essentially entirely immediate direct communications limitations, “near” as just cited means physically near for the most part. But in an online context with effective bandwidth connectivity available and used, it can be quite possible for a professional in one office of a larger and more physically dispersed business, to come to know a physically remote colleague better for what they do hands-on and for how their do it and for how well they do it, than they know about people who work just down the hall from their office or cubicle who they might only know as nodding acquaintances.
• This circle of professional connectivity and knowing comes to include a wider range of stakeholders within their own business, as touched upon above. But this range of professional network reach routinely extends out past the outer walls of a place of employment too, and for many who work there. Consider, for example, supply chain collaborations, or networking connections and real communications built from them that are developed from working with specific contact persons at third party specialty businesses that their employer acquires supportive specialized services from. In an Information Technology context, to take that out of the abstract, consider IT employees at a business who as a matter of ongoing practice, work with specific accounts managers at a cloud storage business that they use for data and file backups and for facilitating remote access from approved and vetted users.
• And if we change jobs, we also bring with us a knowledge base of who does what and how well, from where we have previously worked and from our wider professional networking that we have entered into at least when in job search. This point highlights how time and loss of direct ongoing contact can attenuate and degrade the value of these information resources as people move on and both to new employers and to working on different types of tasks and with different skills. Our networking is probably going to be the most up to date for those we directly work with now and on an ongoing basis. It is likely to be more limited, and to have more, and I add more significant gaps, the farther out we look in this expanding circle. And as the start of this bullet point indicates, this is where our directly applicable and useful knowledge of who we know, can and does age out too.
• But the key point here is that we all with time come to develop professional contact networks. And the more closely and the more frequently we work with individuals in those networks: the more often and the more effectively we communicate with them, the more detailed and accurate an understanding we can have of what they do now and what they have done and certainly recently, and what they are up to date on for doing as that work is done now. And this also means their being more up to date on what we do too, and on how well we do it. And older and long-moribund contacts degrade with time for their immediate effective usefulness and in both directions. And in between, we all develop what might be called gray area contacts who we still know but not well, and who may remember us but not well either and certainly at that might apply to any given here and now context.

Let’s reconsider the help desk work ticket escalation issues of Part 8 in light of this functional networking model. A help request arrives by phone or email and a member of the basic first level help desk team fields it, opening a work ticket that outlines what a now-reported problem at least presents itself as symptomatically. And this ticket also serves as a starting point for tracking all that will come next, as effort is made to resolve this problem; this work ticket opens a file on this instance of help desk activity and on the problem that has prompted that response. And when completing that problem resolution task has been achieved, this ticket will be closed out with a concluding note on how that was accomplished and by whom and with a goal of more effectively tracking the types and frequencies of problems faced, and of tracking and improving how responses and at all levels might be resolved.

If this is one of the roughly 90% of routine, standard problem resolution requests that would fit into the top 10 or so list of recurring issues faced by that help desk system, the initial help desk contact who picks up on it can in most cases resolve it on their own. And if they do need assistance for some detail of one of these standard problems, that will be routine too and essentially hardwired in. But the more non-standard this problem is, the more dependent its resolution becomes on the networking reach that that help desk professional has.

True, most help desk systems develop contact lists for bringing in specialist support that constitute known shared professional networking resources. But these lists primarily focus on more routine within-system specialists who would be turned to as tickets escalate for higher level response, supplemented with specific contact information to bring in help from particular outside software and hardware providers. These shared resources do not necessarily at least directly include the people who those help desk professionals might need to be able to reach, for managing and resolving true long-tail rarities, let alone disruptively new and emerging problems. And that might include bringing in specific types of information technology specialists, or people with particular expertise in functional areas that this technology is used in, or some combination of both in order to make sure that the right technologists for this task are addressing the right problem and effectively so.

I am writing there, of contexts where both the shared networking resources offered to all help desk employees, and those employees’ own professional networks might very likely break down, and certainly for more traditional professional networks as discussed above and in widespread businesses with large headcounts. And this brings me to a fundamental question and a fundamental challenge:

• How can people at a business tap into a more up to date and wide ranging, and even business-wide inclusive pool of information on who does what and on who knows what, than is addressed by my above outlined professional social networking model?
• Ideally, this type of networking enabling and expanding resource would be useful for, and used from early on as a problem is identified as long-tail or completely novel, helping these professionals to better identify the right networking contact candidates who might be able to help them separate out underlying causes from the more visible symptoms of a problem. And it would continue to serve the needs of stakeholders there in resolving these problems, and with longer-term fixes and with any short-term remediations that might be required before that can be accomplished.

And this brings me directly and specifically to what I have come to call the business intranet version 2.0. And with that I cite as a source of background material, two postings that I have already offered on that topic, that I will build from and expand upon here and in what follows in this series:

Connecting an Organization Together, Version 2.0,
Creating Value from Constructive Conflict 2: thinking through the creative commons as a practical, effective business resource.

I have been writing throughout this blog, of the value of taking a consultant’s approach to work, and even when working long-term in-house for a single employer. That understanding of workplace engagement will prove to offer particular value here, and both to the individual who would have greater opportunity to exercise their full range of skills and experience, and to the business that they work for.

And I have been writing at least in general terms of the value of interactive intranets in enabling businesses by helping them to identify and more fully engage the people they have in-house and in their overall team who have wider ranges of skills than they usually have opportunity to use: skills and experience, as for example gained and developed in prior work positions, that can become hidden by the more day-to-day of what they routinely do in their here-and-now jobs with their usual ranges of assigned tasks. And once again, this means offering information sharing systems that would benefit those employees too, as well as their employing businesses and in ways that would increase their job satisfaction, and that from a business prospective would improve their employee retention rates from that.

Consider this series, or at least this portion of it as offering and developing a specific, very real-world example of how developing such an involving intranet, with business-oriented social media and social networking capabilities added in, can realize such value and for all involved. I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will at least begin to delve into the details of setting up and running such an intranet, as a widely involving and including collaborative effort. And then after discussing that, I am going to pick up on and discuss customer service and support desks, as cited in passing as a source of working examples in Part 7, in order to more fully discuss this series’ complete set of issues. I add in anticipation of that, that I will explicitly consider how the issues of this series play out when services such as Information Technology help desks, and Sales and Marketing supportive customer services are maintained and run in-house and when they are at least in part outsourced.

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 2 – the jobs and careers context 1

This is my second 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 Part 1.)

I wrote Part 1 of this series in large part as a briefly stated, orienting outline for what is to follow in it. And I begin addressing its topics points in this posting with its first one as listed there:

• A job search leading up to your applying to specific positions at businesses that you would definitely want to work with, and with the conversations and negotiations that that process entails.

And I begin addressing this point with the essential fundamentals and by noting a point that might seem obvious: preliminary job search steps do not at first glance, generally look like a context where negotiations or negotiating skills would be of much use or importance. But as I will argue here, that all too easy a presumption is far from the truth.

What you do or fail to do, leading up to a specific focused job search and an effort to gain a specific position with a specific employer, and the first steps of that preparatory process, can set you up for more likely success or failure in achieving your goals there. And negotiating skills enter into many aspects of that anticipatory preparation work. Let me explain that by way of a specific career development-oriented narrative to take this out of the abstract:

• Assume for the moment that you have a job now but that it is one that does not hold promise for offering any career advancement opportunities. And assume in that, that this is a job that you do not in any way find rewarding, and that working at it does not fit into your desired career path or enable your pursuing it to a next more desired step forward. So you see need for change in what you do and where you would do that professionally.
• Or alternatively, assume here that you are simply looking for a new job where as in the above bullet point situation, you would need to make at least something of a career change and a change in the types of work and job that you would hold. Here, you might currently be out of work and looking, but under circumstances where you have come to realize that simply looking for a repeat of what you have been doing professionally, is not going to work for you.
• So you find yourself in a position where you need to do a perhaps significant amount of work in order to know what you are more widely prepared to do now professionally. This means knowing what you have the skills and experience to do now, that might differ from and go beyond any current or recent job descriptions that you have worked under. But it also means knowing, or coming to know how to more effectively present your already-held skills and experience for their transferable value, and knowing more effectively how to market what you can do to new types of hiring managers for new-to-you types of work positions.
• And at the same time, you should be reaching out to learn what you need to prioritize and focus upon, in expanding your current skills and experience: building upon them to make you a better job candidate moving forward and certainly if you are to succeed in securing the type of next step job that you would find fulfilling and rewarding.
• And then you need to more effectively network out to the right people who could help you pursue your professional development and job search goals. For an orienting discussion of that job search process flow, see: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search Isn’t Working (as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 56 and following for its Parts 1-17.)

Where do negotiations enter into that? Everywhere! And to clarify that observation, consider the likely results that a would-be, next career step job seeker would achieve if they were to simply demand value for themselves out of any conversations that they enter into, with for example professionals already working in the types of jobs that they might want to apply for, or when meeting with professionals who might be willing to help them network to such people. Any of these people are certain to be busy already, and with very full schedules. No one likes feeling used.

• So if one or more of these professionals are willing to take the time and effort to meet with you on top of all of the rest of their busy schedules, to help you in your next job search, and you do not show even a basic awareness of how this is an act of kindness on their part: if you do not or cannot at least attempt to offer value or at least appreciation in return for this value given, all you will do is burn bridges moving forward.

This means thinking through what you might be able to offer them in return, and thinking through their needs and priorities. Simply being appreciative and showing a willingness to accommodate their schedules is an essential there, but what else can you do?

That need not be anything big and it should not be offered as if it were, but being respectful of the value offered from such professionals and of their time can make all of the difference. So for example, if in the course of your own study and research, in preparation for this job search and career path change, you come across a news piece from an unexpected direction that might be of interest to the people you would meet with, share it with them. At the very least, that would show that you have been doing your homework, and that you are making a real effort to become more fully qualified for the type of work that you are seeking out.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will approach this posting’s narrative in terms of negotiations per se, and for finding and developing bridges and for strengthening them in gaining the information and the insight that you would need in order to achieve the goals of the above-repeated topic Point 1. Then after completing that discussion thread, at least for purposes of this series and this part of it, I will continue on to consider Point 2 of Part 1’s to-address list and building from this start in applying for specific next jobs.

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.

Leadership is about more than just ego: an open letter to President Trump

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on February 11, 2018

Dear Mr. President,

I find myself writing this brief note while thinking of your still recent first State of the Union Address, as delivered in person to a joint session of the United States Congress, but as delivered in fact to the world. More specifically, I write this thinking back to your angry and I have to add petty reaction, when members of Congress who have found themselves appalled by your disconnected and divisive policies and pronouncements chose not to applaud as your more ardent supporters did. You called them traitors for not joining in, and for not proclaiming your many self-professed virtues. But you are the President of the United States and that responsibility held is not, or at least should not entirely be about you.

I just took a quick count of postings on this blog that contain the word leadership in their titles, restricting myself to my (as of now) four directory pages that fall under a Business Strategy and Operations rubric. And I found a total of 69 of them; I have written on the topic of leadership and what goes into it elsewhere in this overall endeavor too, but that accounting should be sufficient to indicate that I have thought a great deal about what does and does not make leaders effective and leadership work.

As noted in that mix, I have written this succession of thought pieces on the basis of experience: my own direct experience and my own learning curve in this, and from having witnessed others as they sought to lead others more effectively too. And some of those leaders and would-be leaders have inspired me for how well they have assumed leadership responsibilities. And some have taught me valuable lessons from how they have limited and even thwarted themselves in this, and generally for what is essentially some single underlying specific reason and in some specific way, that can be learned from by others for its consequences.

I offer this here as an open letter to you, knowing full well that you will never see it. And even if by chance you did, you would skim it briefly and dismiss it out of hand as being politically partisan and representative of “fake news.” But I add this to my collection of short essay perspectives on leadership and on what that means, because your approach to this has so wide ranging and damaging an impact when carried out by someone in your position of authority, and for so many. What is the basic question: the basic issue that I would address here as representing one more take on my part, on what good leadership is?

• Leadership is about organizing and collectively enabling others, and even a diversity of others who might otherwise disagree, in achieving shared goals. It is and cannot be about self and ego.

When you make yourself the defining source of value, and you make your needs: short-term only included, the goal, you diminish yourself, and the office of the presidency and this nation as a whole. I know this is going to sound harsh but maybe, just maybe you should read a little and not just from alt-right sources with an eye towards self-vindication. Start, for purposes of this brief discussion, with the United States Constitution and with its Bill of Rights in particular. Start in fact with that brief little note in it about freedom of speech. That, of necessity includes applause as a form of speech, and silence in that as a message shared too.

• You are not and cannot be a leader, regardless of title or position of responsibility held, if your ego and your self-identified needs and preferences are the only litmus test of what should and should not be done, and by you and by all others.

This perhaps just-fleeting incident that I address here, is emblematic of your professional life and of your political life too. So I do not see you as capable of change. Prove me wrong! I would love to find myself in a position of having to write a retraction here, acknowledging that you can, and that you have in some real sense begun to grow into the job you now hold. But you simply seem to be shifting around in it, in uncomfortable disorder as if you were seeking to walk in shoes many times too large for your feet. Make your being President, more about others: all others in this nation, and about serving their needs and less – a lot less about yourself and your all too vein prerogatives. And allow for others to remain silent when you speak, just as you allow and even extol the virtues of your partisan supporters for doing so as your political opponents speak out. If you could do that, those shoes might start to fit better.

Sincerely, and with hopeful intent,

Timothy Platt, Ph.D.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 1 – building a framework for creative and openly engaging collaboration and trust

Two of the recurring topics of this blog are communications and negotiating. And I have been addressing both of them, and on an ongoing recurring basis here from this blog’s beginning. I decided early on to explicitly discuss the issues and at times challenges of communications in this by now extended overall narrative, and in a detailed and structured manner. So along with touching upon more specialized issues related to that skills set, I have also developed and offered more comprehensive discussions of it too. See for example, my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set (as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 342-348.) I initially offered that in a more explicitly jobs and careers development context, as shows in its series title. But I have also cited that progression of postings in a wider range of contexts too as communications practices: effective and otherwise, shape businesses as a whole and drive their success and failings. With that noted, I have to add that I have addressed the issues and challenges of communication’s cousin: negotiating, very differently.

I have in fact touched upon the issues of that skill set a great many times in the course of assembling this blog up to here. But I made an early editorial decision in doing so, not to offer a more comprehensive how-to discussion of negotiations or negotiating as a whole here, as I have with communications, as for example in my above-cited series on that topic. Quite simply, there are a significant number of excellent “how-to” books on negotiating and I had a couple of them in front of me on my desk as I started addressing that set of issues at all, in my blog. But I saw a paucity of professionally oriented literature on communications out there, at least as I saw need to address its set of issues in the overall flow of my business and technology narrative here. So I set out to write my own on that.

I come back here to the issues of negotiating in this series, and with a goal of at least selectively offering a more comprehensive and organized discussion of this vital topic too: one that is more like my above-cited business-oriented communications series. But that point noted, I begin by reoffering my basic how-to references on this, as already cited in this blog:

• Ury, William. (1991) Getting to Yes: negotiating agreement without giving in. Penguin Books.
• Ury, William. (1993) Getting Past No: negotiating in difficult situations. Bantam Books.
• Ury, William. (1997) The Power of Positive No: how to say no and still get to yes. Random House.

No, these are not the newest works out there on this topic. But I still recommend them for their practical wisdom and insight and for their direct hands-on advice.

And this orienting background note brings me to the key question that I would raise and at least begin to answer in this, the first installment to a new series on negotiating. What will I at minimum discuss here in this series? And I begin offering my answer to that by making note of a basic orienting principle that underlies all that will follow here:

• When you have to deal with others, that always means entering into conversation with them, whether verbally or in writing or by some other means. And when this flow of interaction means communications that last any significant period of time, that means you’re having to enter into at least some negotiations with those others too, and on at least some of the issues and questions that arise.

Assume this point as a given, and even as an essentially axiomatic truth as it is all but certain to prove valid and on an ongoing basis for you. Negotiations may be low-key and relaxed in nature and even most of the time for you, but they do happen and even if they are. Think of this series as a selective guide to help you carry out these negotiations more smoothly and effectively – and for both simpler negotiations and for their more complex and emotionally laden counterparts too.

And as this is a series in a jobs and careers oriented directory in a business and technology oriented blog, I will focus at least to begin on a progression of contexts related to that general subject area. Then I will address more specifically business process contexts per se. And I will, of course discuss at least a few negotiations contexts that arise in both of these arenas: at the more individual and at the more overall organizational levels. With that noted, I proceed to outline something of what I will be more specifically addressing in this series, starting at the level of individual job and career planning and execution:

1. A job search leading up to your applying to specific positions at businesses that you would definitely want to work with, and with the conversations and negotiations that that process entails.
2. Job search as it plays out when reaching out to and applying for specific work opportunities of real interest to you, with this process continuing on through terms of hire and employment negotiations.
3. Negotiations as take place during the initial probationary period as a new hire.
4. Ongoing negotiations as you navigate your way through the workplace as an established employee there, and as you seek to create opportunity for best possible next career steps for you. This mean more effectively working with peers who also work as members of the functional team that you are a member of, you’re working more effectively with your own supervisor there, and you’re working more effectively with wider ranges of other stakeholders too.
5. Negotiating with subordinates who report to you, and both for the how and the why of this.
6. Problems such as misunderstandings and disagreements and related challenges enter into here too, and in anticipation of discussion to come this means addressing issues and not personalities, and it means not making the discussions that arise here into anything like personal attacks. (I will come back to this set of issues later in this series when I consider the challenges of negotiating with difficult people.)
7. Negotiating change in your job and in your terms of employment comes next. And preparing for and negotiating a possible promotion enters in here too, though my goal for this to-address point is to consider more wide-ranging possibilities than just that, here.
8. And at least for now, in assembling this list of to-address points, I conclude my jobs and careers portion of this anticipatory note by including grievances and yes, negotiating terms of severance if they become necessary. Note: I did say above, that I would address more challenging and emotion freighted negotiations contexts here too.

After completing this list of to-address points and any others that I would add to it, I will turn to consider negotiations as they enter into the strategic and operational context in a business, and when dealing with external stakeholder to it.

I will begin addressing all of this in my next installment to this series, starting with Point 1 from the above numbered list. 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.

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 7

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on February 2, 2018

This is my 7th 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 1-6.)

I have been exploring how these issues play out in two very different types of business scenarios, since Part 2:

• 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 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 been discussing both of them since then, and basically finished my analysis of the established business alternative of the two, in Part 6. More specifically, I finished addressing a set of stage-specific questions there that are appropriate to an established and at least somewhat sclerotic business, that deal with how such an enterprise would effectively and beneficially institute operational change such as communications disintermediation and make this work for them.

My goal here is to turn back to reconsider my startup scenario, posing and addressing a similarly stage-specific set of questions for that too. I begin this with the fundamentals and add that I will parenthetically note how these questions would apply to an already established business too, in order to put them in wider perspective here.

• What is your business model for this startup and more specifically there, what is the purpose of this new enterprise? What is its defining value proposition that if effectively pursued will lead to business success?

These is also types of questions that the owners and leaders of a more established business should at least periodically ask, and certainly if their enterprise has become so set in its ways as to become at least somewhat calcified into them: sclerotic and with that showing. Then the basic question to be asked here is one of whether change in what that business does and in what it offers, or change in its markets and in what is demanded of them there, or change in its competitive context have led to drift, where they are pursuing an outdated understanding of what they are as a business and of what they should be.

Returning to the startup scenario of this posting:

• What are the core functional areas and process systems, and what are the core supportive resources needed to carry them out, that this new and still forming enterprise will need, and with high priority if it is to succeed in addressing the challenges of the two questions in the first of these startup-oriented bullet points?

I stress here that startups and early stage businesses always have very limited cash resources, so prioritization here is strictly and even stringently required with that in mind, and with a clear and sharp focus on building a foundation that this new enterprise can grow from. But at the same time, this is when and where a new business is going to start building and establishing a reputation, and a brand too, with all of the requirements and all of the consequences that this entails.

A more established business of the type that would fit the model of the second scenario as repeated above, has already drifted out of effective focus and for at least some of its core functional areas. That, as a matter of functional consequences is a measure of what “sclerotic” means here. Then the question is one of identifying where this has happened, and with that happening both from their not changing where they should have and from their changing but in the wrong ways when they do. And coupled with that, is the remediational question of how best to address this challenge.

It is not enough for a business: any business, new and forming or already established to simply develop and produce what should be competitively effective products or services. They have to be able to effectively market and sell them too, and with a realizable goal of generating brand loyalty and repeat business too – and with consumer driven viral marketing if possible, to help drive that too. This is where disintermediated, direct to customer, and direct with customer marketing communication enters in here, and certainly insofar as this can be both an effective and a less expensive way to achieve both positive name and brand recognition, and sales. So for the startup scenario:

• What is the best way to do this?

Those eight simple seeming words capture in them a host of issues and complexities that just begin with an imperative of knowing and understanding the potential markets and the consumers in them that a business (your business) would seek to reach out to. They of necessity include as an imperative that you face, you’re knowing what those participants in your market want and with you knowing and understanding what channels they preferentially communicate through – and where they would be more amenable to a sales pitch-oriented conversation. To take that last point out of the abstract, don’t try to sell lawn mowers on dating sites, and even if they are the dating sites that the demographics that you seek to connect with and do business with, would most likely use.

Let me follow that by at least seeking to dispel a myth. Direct, viral and gorilla marketing can be cost-effective and even inexpensive in comparison to more organizationally layered, traditional marketing and sales approaches. But they are more labor intensive and they do require a much more detailed and nuanced understanding of the marketplace that a business would target, and its consumer members. This approach can be a good trade-off for a startup with less cash at hand and less overall liquidity available, but that has a willingness and ability to put in larger amounts of time and effort to make their venture succeed.

How does this set of issues apply to a more established business? The answer is that it can apply there, and much more directly and specifically than might be expected. And this observation is particularly true if the at-least somewhat sclerotic business in question, has come to realize its current state because of drop-offs in incoming revenue and reserves – which can put them in the exact same place that the startup scenario presents as far as need to make a cash expense versus added effort trade.

The established business of Scenario 2 of above is just burdened with the types of process flow and functional-area to functional-area hand-off disconnects that I wrote of in Part 6, where the startup is trying to build from scratch, making any course corrections in this as it goes along. Both require ongoing review and business develop navigating skills, and a willingness to cut losses when necessary and try again.

Consider a move towards gorilla and viral marketing, as an attempt to capture new tech savvy markets among other things, as a test case of real potential value and for both scenarios, for better addressing the more generally applicable questions that I have been raising and at least selectively addressing here.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will more directly focus on those new and emerging marketing and sales options themselves, and on communications disintermediation as a goal in and of itself. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

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