Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Balancing innovative change and ongoing reliable stability and consistency 5: strategic thinking, planning and execution 2

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 24, 2017

This is my 5th installment to a series in which I explore tactical and strategic approaches to business management and leadership, and best practices approaches for coordinately pursuing both as context dictates. See Business Strategy and Operations – 4, postings 655 and loosely following for Parts 1-4.)

I offered a still to consider, list of to-address points for this series at the end of Part 4 that I repeat here as a starting point for this step in this series’ overall discussion:

1. I will move on in this narrative to discuss the questions of identifying disconnects in this (nota bene: between strategy and tactics), and as early as possible when they do arise.
2. And I will consider and discuss startups, as a business context where founding executives can find themselves facing learning curve challenges in understanding and addressing the issues that I raise here,
3. And the sometimes significant challenges that large and complex business organizations can create in aligning strategy and tactics, with effective disconnect identification and remediation implemented as a core ongoing due diligence process.
4. And I will return again to my starting case study example for this series, to consider lessons learnable and remediative approaches that might be possible for that business – and at least some of the trade-offs that would have to be resolved in that too.
5. And that … is where some very specific, crucial negotiations-related issues enter into this series’ narrative.

And I begin here in this posting with the first of those five points, and by highlighting the obvious: change happens and the unexpected and even disruptively unexpected happens too, and disconnects do arise between what is expected and planned for, and what is actually faced. Disconnects happen, and between longer-term overarching strategic planning and actually encountered reality faced, and between more here-and-now tactical planning and its expectations and the reality that is suddenly encountered and that has to be operationally addressed. And certainly when tested by the disruptively unexpected, disconnects can arise between strategy and tactics in place.

So my goal for this posting is not to offer or even suggest the existence of some magical management process that would eliminate uncertainty or the appearance of the unexpected, or the occurrence of disconnects between what was planned for and prioritized, and what has to actually be done next and how. My goal here is to address the issues of limiting the occurrence of these disruptions to the truly unavoidable, and it is to offer at least an orienting overall approach for responding to these events when they do arise, and more efficiently and smoothly so their impact can be kept as limited as possible,

• And both for their reach throughout your business systems and in how they would affect your customers and other external stakeholders, and
• Over time, where these events would be resolved as quickly as possible,
• And with lessons learned and operationalized so your next such disruptive event is not simply going to be a repeat of one already faced.

How do you best “identify disconnects in this, and as early as possible when they do arise”? This begins with really tracking where you are now and how you got there so you can, among other things have a capability for identifying drift or overt shift from what you would expect and have planned and prepared for, to an unexpected new.

Ultimately, this is an information development and management problem and a communications problem. Even perfect information and communications systems, with all necessary information developed and organized and shared as needed, and real-time cannot prevent the completely novel and unexpected. But good information management and communications practices can help you, and your at least potentially affected stakeholders, from being blindsided and certainly from more gradual drift from the expected – and before a crisis tipping point has been reached from that.

Let’s consider this from a strategy and tactics perspective and more specifically in terms of how the two do and do not effectively connect together in day-to-day and longer term business planning and execution. And I begin by offering a simplifying division of labor understanding of what strategy and tactics are, in practical day-to-day terms:

• Strategy tells you and the members of your overall business team what to do and with what priorities and for achieving what goals,
• And Tactics map out how to accomplish that and with both task selection and completion, and results and performance benchmarking and reviews included for better carrying out next steps, and subsequent occurrences of those same tasks.

So ultimately, this posting is about understanding and bridging any potential gaps between knowing what to do and knowing how to do it, and in the face of a lack of perfect information availability and in the face of sometimes genuinely unpredictable change and disruption.

I noted earlier in this posting, the importance of learning from challenges faced so the next disruptive disconnect between strategy in place and its tactical implementation is not going to be a repeat of one already faced – but not apparently, effectively learned from. Recurring instances of some same disconnect, and of a disconnect that rises in level of significance so as to merit specific focused action, reflects a structural failing in either the underlying strategy itself where it does not meet actual needs or circumstances faced, in the tactically defined and shaped processes in place that should implement strategy, or both.

• One-off disconnects that are corrected for by type and that would not recur as a result, are learning curve opportunities and opportunities to keep the business more agile and effective in the face of ongoing change.
• Recurring disconnects and certainly recurring ones of some same basic type, call for a more specifically corrective remediation response and in the business systems in place. They constitute red flag warnings of what might be wider and more pervasive underlying problems in the strategic plans and in the operationalized tactical planning in place, and can in fact primarily represent points where wider underlying business systems challenges are prone to visibly erupt.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, where I will focus on one key word in the above cited Point 1: “early.” Then I will then proceed from there to at least start a discussion of Point 2 of the to-address list offered at the top of this posting:

• Startups, as a business context where founding executives can find themselves facing learning curve challenges in understanding and addressing the issues that I raise here.

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.

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 30 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 13

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 22, 2017

This is my 30th installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-29.)

I have been writing in recent installments to this series about finding and hiring the best, and particularly for critical needs positions in your business and when you need to find new employees who do not fit into any given, standard cookie cutter-type moulds. And with that in mind as a general overarching area of discussion, I successively addressed four specific issues and their possible resolution in Part 27, Part 28 and Part 29 that I repeat here for continuity of discussion as I proceed on from that starting point:

1. First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
2. Then you need to craft conversation starting messages that will prompt them to reach back to you, and to at the very least look further into what you have to say, and into what you do and are as a business.
3. Then you have to actually engage, and with a goal of starting a conversation – which would lead to these people thinking of your business as a possible next employer, and with their coming to see one or more positions that you have available as possible good next career steps for themselves.
4. And this crucially means you’re learning more about them, just as they reach out to learn more about you.

I have, as just noted, offered at least a foundational answer to the issues and questions raised in those four numbered points in the three immediately preceding installments to this series. And I continue on from there, with a goal of putting that flow of discussion into an organizational context, where I took a more individualized approach to special needs hiring there. And that brings me to two more areas of consideration that I made note of in Part 29 and that I repeat here, as new additions to the above list:

5. How can you more effectively bring current employees and managers on-board with change in hiring and in personnel policy and practice, as your and their business pivots towards being more innovative – and even in its basic business processes where that would create greater business flexibility and competitive strength?
6. And how can you best enable a smoother integration of the type of change that I address here, into a perhaps very settled existing system and in ways that can increase buy-in from stakeholders and gate keepers already in place – and at a structural organizational level in your business as well as at a more strictly interpersonal one?

Simply promulgating policy and passing it down the table of organization here, is not going to in any way guarantee either buy-in or compliance, or even a shared understanding as to what is supposed to be done now or why – which can explain a lack of actual day-to-day realized buy-in and compliance in and of itself.

I have made note in recent installments to this series, and certainly in Part 29, of how both compliance with and even shared understanding of new policy and practice of the type discussed here, can require active support from the corporate culture in place. And I have explicitly stated that making a change to the type of hiring and staff retention approach that I write of here, can require change and even relatively fundamental change in the overall corporate culture in place too. I stated there, that I would delve into this complex of issues in the course of this overall discussion, and will begin to explicitly do so here in this posting, as I at least start considering Point 5 as just listed above. And I begin that by posing a challenge, or rather by acknowledging one that the ongoing momentum of a business can and often does offer.

• Supervisory managers who are looking for new hires, and I add members of Human Resources who are supposed to assist them with this, and help keep processes followed aligned with business norms, all tend to follow processes and practices that they themselves have had to follow in their own careers, and from both sides of the hiring table.
• When these processes have come across as onerous or difficult, even the managers who found them the most objectionable when they were going through them, can come to see them as “paying one’s dues” and as a necessary part of the new employee candidate-filtering and selecting process – and not as problems that they might have prevailed over themselves but that nevertheless create avoidable problems for all concerned, and on both sides of that hiring table.

So as a starting point, Point 5, above is in many respects a matter of bringing decision makers in the hiring process to see this workplace and task performance requirement through fresh eyes. And for finding and bringing in the best possible new hires, and particularly the creative and special skills and experience best, that means looking through and thinking through the hiring process both from their own perspective and from that of the candidates who are under consideration – and particularly for those candidates who could bring the most to the business if hired, and who all of your competitors would want to hire too.

• This is important; re-envision the hiring process as a manager or as a Human Resources professional who works on hiring-process tasks, from the best candidate perspective, and from the perspective of you’re looking to hire those best candidates in a seller’s, candidate favoring market.
• When you are looking at these candidates, the market is always going to be at least somewhat of a seller’s market, and even if it is an essentially entirely buyer’s, hiring business-favoring jobs market for finding and bringing in more routine hires.

Now, how do you actually bring these business-side hiring process gatekeepers on board with all of this, as the business they work at seeks to pivot towards being more effective in finding, hiring and onboarding their next business step forward, new hire enablers?

I at least begin addressing that question by turning back to the above repeated Points 1-4 of the numbered lit at the top of this posting. The interactive online experience as an all but ubiquitously expected presence, and online social media have changed the playing field here and for both job seekers and hiring businesses. And at the same time that this has affected how candidates and employers find each other, come to know about each other and interact, this also offers a key element to the answer to that question too.

Effectively bringing a change like this into a business means offering the people involved in it as stakeholders and gatekeepers, the tools that they would need to actually follow the new approaches and processes put in place. And that begins with information gathering and communications.

Marketing and Communications is always involved in the hiring process when a new hire would work in that department or service and in that functional area. But in an interactive online and social media shaped context, it is vitally important to bring relevant skills and experience from these professionals into the hiring process in general, and exactly as more generically skilled Human Resources professionals are brought in, to help organize and manage specialty skills hiring for other functional area services. An involved member of the HR team does not have to be an expert in the skills sets that they would help another department or service to hire for; they do not necessarily have to actually know anything about the details of what a new hire there would do. That is an area that the people involved in this from the hiring department or service would be expert in. Similarly, a social media and related communications expert from Marketing and Communications, need not be an expert in what a new hire in another department or service would do either. But they could offer real expertise in finding and vetting the right online channels to connect with the right potential new hires through. And they could offer assistance in crafting a conversation with these people, that could be built from as best candidates are identified and pursued.

• Even when a new hire would work in the most abstruse technical areas, an initial conversation starter that might lead to their applying for a job with your business, is not going to be technically detailed and abstruse. It is going to be more general and two-way introductory, and more generic in many respects for that. It is going to be more about “this is who we are; what are you looking for as a next best opportunity and how can we work together to reach our respective goals?”

I have started addressing Point 5 of the above, here-expanded to address list by expanding the range of expertise brought into the candidate selection process at the very least, and in building a more effective communications bridge that can be used in the next hiring process steps. I am going to continue addressing Point 5 in the next series installment and will at least begin addressing Point 6 there as well. 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. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 1

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 20, 2017

Two of the most powerful and at the same time tritely used terms in the “new” economy of the social media-driven interactive online business experience are “disintermediation” and “frictionless.” Both are often and even commonly misused and without explicit consideration as to what they mean operationally, or of even what they can mean. But at the same time, both of those terms at least point toward very real and fundamental truths and towards very real sources of opportunity. My goal for this posting is begin to at least briefly delve into this dichotomy of promise and expectation on the one side, and of actual realizable value on the other, from business simplification in its many forms.

When I cite “social media in gorilla and viral marketing” in the title of this posting, I refer to market facing disintermediation processes that a business can enter into. I will directly consider that side to disintermediation as a whole in what follows, but I will do so in a larger business structure and function context as well, and with consideration of processes such as table of organization flattening as well. And I begin this discussion at a more generally inclusive, overall business organization level that addresses what can be called disintermediation as it might be pursued in a variety of contexts.

More specifically, I begin here with what might be the most visibly obvious details as to how the issues underlying the term “disintermediation” per se, can and do create positive value, as for example for smaller businesses and ones just starting out, or for established businesses in need of fundamental change. There is in fact real meaning, or at least real potentially for it, when a term such as disintermediation is invoked, and certainly when specific applications of it such as viral marketing are considered. I begin here with the fundamentals:

• When disintermediation means cutting out extra, excess cost-center layers in an organization and its functioning,
• That hold potential for becoming, or that already have come to serve more as performance restricting barriers between functional areas within a business,
• Or between those businesses and their customers in their target markets,
• Or between them and their partner businesses in their supply chains,
• Or in any combination thereof,
• This streamlining and simplification can reduce or even eliminate a whole range of possible step-by-step operational mark-up costs that would otherwise have to be carried.
• This type of impediment and barrier removing disintermediation holds potential for speeding up internal business processes, sales and supply chain processes and essentially any and every other aspect of the organization that can become hindered by dysfunctional table of organization and functional requirements complexity. This can, if planned for and carried out effectively, make an organization more agile and better capable of meeting its immediate, real-time needs,
• And it reduces information sharing failures and the business systems friction that that creates.
• Bottom line, under the conditions as just outlined here, disintermediation can make a business stronger and more competitive in its industry and in its markets.
• And when this is taken as an automatic outcome of any such organizational simplification, that is when reasonable and realistic and focused upon in the above bullet points, can veer off into the realm of hype and comforting fiction.

The cumulative end result of all of the above bullet points, and certainly for all but the last of them, as is often noted is that even a small but nimble, effectively connected enterprise can compete with a large and diverse corporation, at least in its area of business and market-facing strength, and on an essentially even footing with them for capturing market share and profitability. I write what follows with that in mind, and with the caveat of a last bullet point to the above list in mind too.

Here, to pick up on the specific disintermediation steps cited in the title to this posting: gorilla marketing and its marketplace-sourced viral marketing cousin, this means a business directly reaching out to and connecting with its marketplace and generally through development of two-way conversations where that business listens at least as much as it speaks, in order to make sure that when it does speak, it conveys the right message and in the right way and to the right audience and through the right channels. This means they’re not going through intermediate marketing or marketing data provider levels to learn about and respond to market interests and needs, to do so directly and creatively and in many respects at low or no direct cost.

• That briefly stated understanding of disintermediation, and of how it can at least reduce friction and create greater agility in this market facing context,
• Represents the truth behind what can become the hype, and certainly when business systems simplification is carried out within the framework of an ongoing strategic vision and understanding, and within an ongoing strategically considered operational plan.
• Here, ill-considered and ad hoc and a lack of analytical follow-through to track actual results, lead to simplification as hype by way of comparison.

And that set of points at least opens the door to the possibility of how disintermediation per se, and simplification for the sake of simplification can also come to mean creating seemingly simpler but very real inefficiencies in a business too, and even new sources of inefficiency for it, and certainly if the streamlining processes carried out that lead to specific disintermediation steps are not effectively thought through and executed.

Ultimately, what I am writing about here is not structural and organizational simplification per se, though that is a big part of this posting’s goal and purpose. This posting and others to follow it as a new series are also only partly about developing best practices for mapping out and carrying out the right simplification steps: the right disintermediations and in the right ways. I primarily address that set of issues elsewhere in this blog. See, for example, my series: Intentional Management for a more in-depth discussion of that (as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following.)

My goal here is one of thinking through what organizational layers and strictures actually are and both as a matter of structure per se as would be represented on a table of organization, and as a matter of business function and how that is parsed and distributed throughout the organization. It is about knowing what might best be maintained or even expanded upon, or simplified or done away with and where, and it is about knowing when layers and structures in place in a business and its systems provide value and reduce risk, and when they simply add costs and potential for increased risk.

I have been discussing this set of issues in fairly abstract terms up to here. But I will continue from this foundational starting point in a next series installment, by offering two admittedly cartoon-like business model caricatures. In anticipation of that next installment to come, I acknowledge up-front that while both are very realistic and describe actual businesses and business approaches actually pursued, both also fit into and support what might be considered the at least potentially hype-end of the spectrum for thinking about disintermediation too. And I add that both case study stereotypes consider wide ranges of specific forms that disintermediation can take (e.g. removing management layers and flattening table of organizations, but also reaching out directly and creatively to the market and its end-users for what a business offers and with a goal of “eliminating the middleman” in both.)

The two scenarios that I will at least briefly explore are:

• 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.

I am also going to continue on from this to indentify and challenge some of the tacit and more usually unstated types of assumptions that usually arise in these types of examples and that I will start from too. And I will pursue that reanalysis as a means of more fully analyzing what the general process of disintermediation actually entails, and what its specific market-facing applications of social media-driven gorilla and viral marketing actually do and can mean, as well as what its more internal-to-the-business applications mean and entail.

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.

Pure research, applied research and development, and business models 4

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 16, 2017

This is my 4th installment to a series in which I discuss contexts and circumstances – and business models and their execution, where it would be cost-effective and prudent for a business to actively participate in applied and even pure research, as a means of creating its own next-step future (see Business Strategy and Operations – 4, postings 664 and loosely following for Parts 1-3.)

Every business that is planned out and every business plan that is implemented and carried through upon faces two fundamental financially driven processes that they have to effectively reconcile of they are to succeed: expenses and cash flow out, and revenue generation and cash flow in. A nonprofit business might seek to essentially break even in this with any potential profitability expended towards realization of their founding mission and vision, net any financial reserves set aside for the explicit due diligence purpose of maintaining ongoing organizational stability. And a not-for-profit might similarly seek to balance its books with a minimal-at-most “excess” profit generated, by for example passing on greater savings to its customers or clients to balance its books. But of importance to this discussion, even the most assiduously maintained nonprofit or not-for-profit business or organization faces this cash flow dynamic – and not just their for profit enterprise peers and businesses that seek to maximize realized profitability.

In a fundamental sense this entire series is about finding ways to achieve an effective balance there, when the additional costs and risks of pursuing next-step-forward research are added into the mix of what might be carried out by an organization. I have been discussing timeframe and risk management issues in installments leading up to here in this series. And I step back from that level of consideration here, to reconsider the above-noted accounting balance and its impact on what would and would not be maintained in-house, from what might be the most cogently fundamental level that this can be viewed from: consideration of what makes a unit or area of a business a cost center or a profit center per se.

• As a cartoonishly simplistic starting point, I note that bottom line, a cost center requires more funding in its maintenance and operations than it can or does generate as new revenue generated. More money goes into it than comes out of it.
• And a profit center correspondingly generates more new revenue than it expends in its maintenance and operations, making it a net revenue generator. So the distinction is simply one of overall cash flow balance.

As a first complicating factor that I would add to that in to make this discussion more realistic, I raise the possibility that a putative cost center as determined by this bare bones analysis, might enable that business’ primary profit center for it, to be able to generate revenue. In this case, a valid analysis of that “cost center” area of the business would require a more comprehensive consideration of both that functional areas itself, and analysis of its functionally connected and supporting context. Such a business unit might appear to be a cost center when only considered as if in a vacuum, but a realistic analysis of its true status there might require coordinate consideration of what it has direct and in this case facilitating, enabling impact upon in the business as a whole too. And that can turn a seeming cost center into an enabling profitability center and even an essential one. Conversely, a seeming profit center – when considered in vacuo, might be found to in fact qualify as more of a cost center when considered in its larger context, and certainly if maintaining and operating it as is, simply means that it will continue robbing resources from what could be much larger and more effective profit centers in that business. A marginally effective profit center can, under the wrong circumstances achieve and maintain that status by in effect robbing the business that it resides within from what could be greater sources of profitability potential elsewhere in it.

This second level analysis can cut both ways in forcing a reconsideration of what is and is not a cost or profit center for a business. And effective ongoing strategic business management has as one of its key goals, the identification of the types of inefficiencies that can turn a seeming profit center into a more actual cost center, or a seeming cost center into more of a profitability enabling one, and with a larger overall goal of optimizing within and across the business for greater overall financial effectiveness in general.

But returning from that higher level organizational point of consideration to focus on the individual functional unit or area in a business, let’s specifically consider an organized effort to create new and next for it, and with a goal of keeping that business effectively competitive long term: let’s consider research and product design and development here.

I focused in Part 3 on timelines, and the issues that arise in that context are critically important here. Realistically, a short timeframe, or even a single instant snapshot-in-time approach to evaluating cost and profit center positioning in a business might or might not make sense, depending on the business and its overall business model and its overall expected timeframe of operation.

If the business under consideration is a long-term venture, at least as a matter of intent, then it becomes important to take longer-term time frames into account when balancing overall incoming and outgoing cash flow considerations for areas of it that under analysis for this. To put this into a specific context, consider what might be considered business units that might be considered borderline for their fiscal balance and for whether it makes sense to maintain them as is.

• Would it make sense to keep some particular seeming-borderline unit of a business and its function in-house, or would it be more cost-effective to outsource it to a specialist partner business and not have to pay out all of the maintenance costs for keeping it in-house?

The word “longer” as just used in the preceding paragraph, and what that actually means becomes important here, and certainly for businesses that see cyclical patterns of profitability with for example recurring peak revenue-generating and slow break-even or low level loss seasons. And this analysis would probably be undertaken at least twice: once considering that unit of the business as if in vacuo and entirely on its own, and a second time when taking into account its functionally connected contexts – and here over at least one complete peak and trough cycle for seasonally driven businesses.

But this only applies to long-term ventures and businesses that are at least intended to follow that pattern. And perhaps more importantly it specifically applies to businesses that would be expected to follow more predictable patterns for when they would face high profitability and when they would see business really slow down. Uncertainty there would skew any cost center versus profit center calculations too, making potential cost centers that much more risky for their downside potential and certainly in the face of (less predictable in detail or timing but still quite expectable) lean times.

Scale of operation and particularly larger scale of operation with capacity to build and maintain greater reserves can reduce risk from maintaining true cost centers in a business, by reducing the overall level of risk that they might generate for the business as a whole. But efforts to make the organization lean and agile and functionally efficient might still significantly drive initiatives to the identify and remove or at least limit cost centers per se, except when specific modulating factors would dictate that they need to be maintained and in-house anyway.

Addressing that from the perspective of a specific case in point example: research and development:

• Outside competitive challenge and rapidly changing marketplace demand can create that type of countervailing pressure to maintain in-house new product development, including at least some relatively basic supportive research that could feed into it, as a here-relevant case in point.

As already discussed in this series in its opening installments, short-term businesses, and short-term opportunity ones would be hard pressed to find reasons for ever really looking beyond the immediate here-and-now snapshot view of what is a cost or a profit center for it. And all effort would be made to develop and maintain profit centers and immediately weed out any sources of loss or potential loss, however brief for that. Such enterprises and their business models would never be expected to support research or development efforts and would in most cases seek to start out with essentially their full realizable range of products and services already planned out and ready to provide, market and sell.

Now let’s reconsider the above lines of discussion in a bit more detail, and in a research unit context. And I begin that with a key issue that I have just been citing: “uncertainty.” I briefly sketched out what pure and applied research and targeted product development are in Part 2 of this series. And one of the core distinctions that I made note of between them there, at least from a business perspective is that of uncertainty of pay-out, and both for their overall potential profitability and for their timeframes of that profitability being realized. A larger stable business that can more readily maintain supportive reserves for among other things bankrolling its future through research, and a business that can more reliably long-term predict and manage its revenue flows is going to be in a stronger position to take the risks of maintaining longer-term potential areas that might create profitability at some future date but only then: such as longer-term research. Smaller and less fiscally protected enterprises would be less secure in attempting this. And with that, I have just restated the basic conceptual model underlying the default vision of only large and established corporations being able to develop and sustain real research and certainly anything like pure research in-house.

I am going to examine the assumptions made there in justifying a big business only approach to research, and in this series up to here as a whole, in my next installment where I will at least briefly consider and sketch out a smaller, lean and agile research-focused business model alternative – and how this briefly sketched description of it need not automatically be seen as a contradiction in terms. 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.

Intentional management 40: elaborating on the basic model for adding people and their management into the equation 1

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 10, 2017

This is my 40th installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-39.)

I began focusing on the Who side of intentional management in Part 38 and Part 39 of this series, building from a more What and How approach to this management systems approach that I have more actively pursued in earlier installments. More specifically, I briefly oriented this more Human Resources and Personnel related side to intentional management, to that process and organizational structure perspective to it and I offered a briefly sketched out, to-address list of at least some of the key points that I will address here and in installments to come.

In the course of offering what might be viewed as this second-perspective restart on this series, I briefly re-sketched out a basic default management approach that I initially offered from a business process and systems side, this time from the personnel side (see Part 1 for my original presentation of this default, baseline model.)

I stated at the end of Part 39 that I would begin adding real-world complexities and requirements, and management approaches for best resolving them into this narrative here, and I will start doing so by posing a set of questions of a type that would come up in any significant review of the management systems in place in a business, and certainly if the leadership of that business were bringing in an outside business consultant to help more fully identify and clarify, and correct problems and challenges in place.

I am, in this, beginning with the absolute fundamentals and at step one to any process of even just understanding where a business is now, independently of whether or not any change might be contemplated too.

1. How is a business under analytical examination being managed now? (Note: this is a complex question because it raises issues of what it is doing in principle and as a matter of intended process and practice, and of what is actually being done and on a day-to-day basis and by whom and where in the organization and under what circumstances, and how consistently. The following questions in effect dissect out what would go into this question and what would go into answering it and from both the intended side and the actual in-practice side to that.)
2. Does this business actually follow a seemingly entirely ad hoc approach as if it had no past and as if the experience of here and now, could hold no informative value in its future either?
3. Or does it more systematically pursue at least a close approximation of the default model approach as laid out in Parts 38 and 39 (and in Part 1)?
4. Or does it in some systematic manner differ from that, with non-default features brought in and included, and for at least specific areas of the business?
5. If this business does at least situationally resort to consistent non-default management approaches, where and how and when does it do so?
6. Is this resorted to in order to address specific perhaps recurring problematical situations or events, or in order to capture available value from specific perhaps recurring opportunities that the “standard” approach cannot handle in and of itself? Does this, in other words, reflect an alternative approach that might be resorted to on a needs and opportunities, functional process-defined basis?
7. Or do one or more specific areas of the business (e.g. specific departments or specific organizationally distinct sections of them, or specific satellite offices in a larger geographically dispersed enterprise) simply pursue their own course in how things are routinely done and across all functional areas and processes carried out?
8. This is only a starter list and one of the goals of any business review and analysis here would be to progressively, iteratively refine and elaborate on what is asked here, drilling down into the specifics of the particular business and away from the more generic as has been offered up to here.)

It is important to note that many businesses at least contextually and circumstantially find themselves in positions where for example, their executive leadership could legitimately answer “yes” to any combination of questions 2, 3 and 4 from the above list – and certainly for how their business is actually day-to-day run and across its entire table of organization. Though I add that a business that actually simultaneously pursues all of those management approaches is in most cases going to be one with an executive leadership that does not fully know that, until that is, that fact is brought to their explicit attention through an ad hoc process and performance review that would be added into their ongoing strategic planning schedule and even as a deviation from it for how it is carried out.

The ad hoc of question 2 in particular, is rarely discussed or even openly acknowledged and certainly if more systematic processes are at least formally in place – and even if ad hoc has become the de facto, actually followed norm for large and significant areas of the business as a whole. And this is where I shift focus in this installment from the What and Where and How of management to the Who of it. And I make this transition by noting that however the above questions are answered, and both for what is formally on paper as to how a business is supposed to be run, and for how it is actually run and day-to-day, its management is all planned out and carried out, and performance reviewed when it is, by specific, real individual people.

So I reframe the approach to management that I just outlined in my above first seven more-generic starter questions, in terms of who decides to do what and how of all of this, and particularly in actual practice and in the face of tight schedules and performance demands and in the face of real-world resource limitations, that might be very different from what is nominally and “officially” expected.

• When on-paper and official processes and official practices give way to alternatives that are actually followed, look for gaps and differences between what “nominally expected and officially followed” expects in the way of resource availability, and what is actually consistently and reliably there. And look for the perhaps even consistently recurring emergence of key resource shortfalls as “exceptions” too, that might in fact be predicable and even very reliably so for their recurrence.
• These gaps and shortfalls in most cases, in effect define the parameters that shape the “what is done” for how it deviates from the “what is formally on paper as being done.”
• When standardized effective processes break down, and for whatever reason in the immediate and often compelling pressure of the immediate here-and-now, ad hoc arises to fill the gap that this creates. This is a first response and the greater the ongoing and recurring uncertainty faced by managers under pressure to perform, the more likely it is to be resorted to and the more likely it is going to become the standard response taken.
• When specific recurring breakdowns become consistent and known for how they will arise and play out, alternative “standard” processes and procedures start to emerge – where they are still deviations from the officially expected.

This progression of points outlines one of the more common paths that would spell out why individual managers, and even particularly the best of them who actively seek to meet all of their performance goals and compete all of their assigned tasks and on time, can find themselves resorting to ad hoc and other non-standard management and business process approaches – and particularly when business systems friction: added in limitations to information availability and to communicated support, force them to decide and act on their own, and with them moving into what for them might be uncharted waters in doing so.

Ad hoc, to focus on that extreme deviation from standard-official here, can arise from sloppiness and ineffectualness, but that is self-limiting and if for no other reason than because poor managers who do it and consistently, tend to stand out poorly in their ongoing performance reviews in general. They make themselves and their job tenures self-limiting so their doing this and their making things up as they go along: their ad hoc tends to go away. But when good and even very good managers do this in order to stay effective in outcomes achieved, and they succeed in that and in meeting their assigned goals, their ad hoc and band aide solutions tend to be overlooked and they tend to go unreported too. That is where hidden but emerging patterns can and do begin to emerge – that come to light only when they are specifically looked for.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will more fully consider questions 3 and 4 of the above list, and from a largely Who perspective. 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. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 1

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 8, 2017

I write on a recurring basis in this blog, on a variety of basic business strategy and operations issues that come together in this posting. A list of such issues would include making a business lean and agile, and more flexibly resilient in the face of change and its pressures. And any such list would essentially automatically have to include information management and communications, and identifying and remediating business systems friction there, where friction per se militates against lean and agile and resiliency per se, and essentially by definition.

There are two basic approaches that I could address this posting’s topic from: reactive and in terms of after the fact correction, and proactively and from a more preventative and opportunity creating perspective. My goal here is to pursue both of these faces to this complex of issues and in that order, and with a goal in doing so, of presenting an argument for actually pursuing the later so as to at least limit the need for ever pursuing the former. Though I will add in an at least seeming-complication to that too.

My primary focus in all of this is on making communications more direct and impactful while at the same time effectively meeting any and all realistic, and realistically necessary information and communications compartmentalization requirements, as for example arise when dealing with:

• Customer’s or employee’s sensitive personally identifying information,
• In-house proprietary information such as trade secrets, or
• Business intelligence from supply chain or other business-to-business collaborators that has to be kept secure and confidential.

And I begin doing so by citing a famous, if fictionally literary counterexample to the approach that I offer here, as can be found in Jonathan Swift’s novel: Gulliver’s Travels. (See for a free downloadable PDF version of the full text of this book.)

One of the peoples that Gulliver is said to have encountered in his far-reaching journeys is the Laputians: a race of deep thinkers renowned for their grasp of mathematics and music but who were at least equally impractical in day-to-day matters as well. They tended to get caught up in their own areas of interest and expertise, and to the exclusion of all else. So when one of them had to converse with anyone from outside of their community, they employed the services of special servants who were known as Flappers, to facilitate that. These servants would carry about with them a special rattle on the end of a long stick, and when a Laputian they worked for was supposed to speak, they gently flapped their lips with it to remind them and to in effect enable them there. When their master was supposed to listen, they would similarly flap their ears with this device, and when they were supposed to look at something as a part of one of these conversations, they gently brushed this device over and near their eyes as well as a necessary cue for that too.

Of particular importance here, if a Flapper did not want their master to speak, or to even know if they were facing a possible conversation, they simply refrained from acting. They did not flap. If they wanted to end such a conversation, they stopped flapping and that was that. And if for whatever reason, a Flapper did not want their master to see something, they controlled that too.

Flappers were the quintessential information gatekeepers in Gulliver’s universe. And while modern businesses do not generally employ their exact counterparts, the gatekeepers that they do employ can have as far reaching an impact, and as much consequential control.

My goal for this posting is not to discuss or describe specific implementations of how a business can be better organized so as to facilitate more effective communications, and the information and knowledge development that would lead to it. Good practices, and certainly best practice solutions to that type of challenge are business and business-context specific, and depend on a variety of factors that can at times create conflicting organizational demands that would have to be reconciled. And the factors and forces at play in specific businesses that would shape and resolve these at least potential congruences and conflicts including but are not limited to:

• The business model of the specific business under consideration and how functional areas are set up and connected together, and why.
• The scale and size of the organization, where larger organizations with more functionally and task-oriented specialization can demand more complex overall structure and both laterally in a standard modeled table of organization, and vertically in its system of management and supervisory oversight.
• The levels and types of sensitive and confidential information held, and the nature and pervasiveness of access restrictions that have to be in place in order to safeguard it according to required due diligence and risk management standards.
• And the range over which employees, and in general and in specific areas of the business, have to reach across table of organization boundaries in order to jointly carry out tasks with more distant colleagues, that call for multi-specialty, multi-functional area participation.

It is at least a necessary goal of effective strategic and organizational planning, that the people responsible for it take these issues into account when doing so, and the overarching need for developing and maintaining more effective information and knowledge development and communications. And this brings me closer to what I would in fact discuss here: the question of how they would do this.

I answer that question with the Laputians and their Flappers in mind, and by posing a set of basic due diligence questions:

• Who in fact has taken on an information gatekeeper role in your business?
• Was this intentionally planned out and implemented, and do these information and communications intermediaries have specific thought-through gatekeeper responsibilities and areas of responsibility, and guidelines in place for when and where and how they should exercise this responsibility?
• And how is this activity being monitored and tracked, and performance-impact reviewed, and by whom and how often and under what circumstances?

Information security management, as a specific case in point is one area where at least some form of gatekeeper activity is likely going to be necessary and even required. But even in a seemingly clear cut context like that, a requirement for having information access gatekeepers in place does not necessarily mean that they are all working according to a same, single, and up-to-date set of guidelines. Arbitrary and ad hoc create deleterious friction, and it creates increased risk at the same time too, and both from allowing information access in specific cases where that would probably not make the most sense and by denying it or delaying it where it is in fact justified and necessary.

• Is the information access management system that is in place for this, consistently framed and enforced and throughout the organization?

That is, in fact something of a trick question. Many organizations in fact see genuine need to in effect carve out special areas in their overall systems where special and perhaps more restrictive rules of access and of communications might apply. So this question addresses an area of this overall discussion where a simple one size fits all approach is unlikely to work, or at least work best and certainly as a general rule.

But even when a business is so compartmentalized and with need, consistent enforcement of the rules that are in place, and certainly within any given same-approach area of the business, is essential. And everyone should know that whatever specific contextual rules they face in their particular functional area and in their part of the table of organization, information security per se is insisted on and followed, and fairly and consistently and throughout the entire organization as a whole.

And this brings me to the issue of change, which I at least briefly make note of here:

• Is this system being maintained and kept up to date, and both with regard to outside legal and regulatory and other requirements, and to meet internal to the business needs?

I have already at least briefly noted the issues raised in that bullet point in passing in this posting. I highlight this area of concern here as a significant due diligence issue in and of itself, and as one that calls for further consideration. But let’s return for the moment to consider processes and practices per se for this.

Is the system in place for managing sensitive information, explicitly spelled out in rules-based terms and with records kept on who has legitimate access rights to what specific types of sensitive data, and when and where and for how long? Does this rules based system distinguish between read-only access, and read with permission to maintain locally save copies of sensitive information while it is being used? Does it distinguish between read-only access rights and of whatever type, and read-write access rights where a holder of that level of authority can add, delete or alter records in place? How do you maintain archival records in the event that a recovery to an earlier stored version of your databases proves necessary from read-write error or from networked computer systems failure, and both for who has access to what, and for the information that these people would in fact access and for what they have accessed?

And this brings me to the issues of reactive and proactive systems that I made note of towards the start of this posting. Reactive systems essentially always have functional gaps in them, and both for what is officially supposed to be done and by prior-developed and established processes and procedures in place, and in how those processes and procedures in place are actually carried out. Reactive systems are always playing catch-up, and both from picking up the pieces when rules in place were not followed, and in attempting to improve those rules when they are but are found lacking. They are always playing catch-up to keep them relevantly in focus, so they address the right issues and situations actually faced, and to do so in ways that encourage their being followed and even when reactive per se engenders real uncertainty as to what should be done next.

That description addresses efforts to reactively remediate after perhaps multiple day-to-day, incident-by-incident failures and inefficiencies, when an effort is finally made to fix what has palpably locally been found to be broken and for a long time. And that description also addresses how they identify – usually with added delays, when a truly disruptive challenge has arrived and how that would be remediated as well.

Proactive systems seek to step out in front of all of this and to anticipate, and to build for flexibility and to implement accordingly. And this brings me back to those Laputians and Flappers again. The Laputians arrived at their system because they were attempting to proactively prepare for next and new contingencies and needs – when by nature they were more than just somewhat absent minded and inattentive and knew it, and when they thought that they needed specialized gatekeeper help to stay in focus when dealing with outsiders on matters that went beyond their own areas of real interest. It is not enough to simply be proactive. Proactive only works of it represents the right forward thinking and preparation, that is going to be put in place. And this means thinking through the possible contingencies and the possible adverse outcomes that a proposed proactive solution might engender and it means consistently performing reviews and analyses of performance results achieved from them to track how they have actually worked out. And that means proactive depends on reactive, or at least post hoc in order to keep it on track. Proactive without a backward looking experiential foundation cannot succeed, in and of itself.

And this brings me back to the reality check due diligence questions that I bullet pointed above. Add to them a set of questions that would help specify what particular information should not simply flow freely throughout the organization, and where it can go and still meet due diligence and risk remediation requirements. Now where are the barriers in place, to effective communications that are counterproductive to the organization and its functioning and either in principle for their being in place there or in practice from how they are implemented?

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will explicitly consider innovation and the innovative business. And I will discuss how both effective and unduly restrictive rules-based information management guidelines can and do impact upon information and knowledge development, and on communications systems that can at least in principle help turn what is known into realized value. And turning that around, I will address how innovative initiatives and the drive to achieve them shape and reshape information and knowledge development, and communications systems development and implementation too – and those rules-based systems.

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.

Business planning from the back of a napkin to a formal and detailed presentation 15

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 4, 2017

This is my 15th posting to a series on tactical and strategic planning under real world constraints, and executing in the face of real world challenges that are caused by business systems friction and the systems turbulence that it creates (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 578 and loosely following for Parts 1-14.)

I have been systematically addressing a set of issues in this series, starting with its Part 12 that I repeat here for continuity and clarity of discussion:

1. Different functionally focused stakeholders might reach different conclusions as to which processes and subsystems of them are core or peripheral to a business, and as to which might be secondary-peripheral of them – and if so of what type (e.g. necessary but outsourceable, or no longer needed and dispensable.) And it is important to both clarify and discuss those differences, and reach a working consensus that all key stakeholders can come to at least tacit agreement upon, and certainly if a business is to enter into and carry through upon the right transitions for its own needs, and in the right way and with the right timing.
2. Then after that, and in the context of distinguishing between core and peripheral processes, I said that I would turn to consider areas and aspects of the business that can be linearly scaled up, and areas that represent true nonlinearities – places where simply scaling up according to the pattern in place would create inefficiencies.
3. And I added that I would discuss all of this in terms of crucial information availability and communications, and in terms of two types of case study examples: a retail business, and a software development business.

I primarily focused upon and addressed the first of these points in Part 12 and Part 13, and the second of them in Part 14. My goal here is to at least begin to explicitly address the issues and challenges of that list’s Point 3. And I will begin to do so in more general terms and then in terms of the case study examples that I make note of there. And I begin all of that with the fundamentals, and with a set of observations that many if not most readers would find quite familiar.

• Businesses do not find themselves facing need for change because everything in them is running smoothly and efficiently. They find themselves contemplating and planning for change precisely because they cannot claim this.
• And the more profound the types of change they see themselves as of-necessity facing, the more trouble they are likely to already be in and the more likely it is that they see impending exacerbation of that situation.
• Point 3 of my above list is all about information and business intelligence and its development from raw data collected in, its processing into actionable knowledge and its transmission and sharing. It is about communicating and it is about having the right types and levels of actionable information available to communicate, and to the right people and in the right contexts and through the right channels and at the right time and with the right risk management and information security systems and safeguards in place. And when a business drifts into the types of challenges addressed in the first two bullet points of this list, this is generally one of the first functional areas of that business to at least significantly begin to break down.
• Businesses that are in need of change and particularly of more fundamental, transitional change that cannot be achieved by simply linearly scaling up what they have always done, often approach that from having fallen into a vicious cycle of recurringly problems.
• They find themselves facing processes and practices that are not meeting their needs, coupled with communications and information management problems that limit their capacity to both fully map out those problems and plan out possible resolutions to them. And these information and communications challenges lead them to face next round business processes and practices failures for lack of effective knowledge and insight to arrive at corrective remediation to what they have just gone through and the cycle repeats.
• I have been writing in this series and certainly from Part 12 on in it, of how different stakeholders, working in different functional areas of a business might not even agree on what is more core to the business and its business model and strategy and what is more peripheral to it.
• Part of this can stem from different stakeholders seeing their areas of functional expertise and activity as central, and because they directly see what they contribute to the business and every day, if for no other reason. And this can and does include their actively seeking to maintain their and their functional area’s position in the business. No one ever wants to see their area of activity downplayed there, in-house let alone outsourced to some third party provider or simply discontinued. And managers by and large seek to protect and maintain their teams: the members of the overall business staff who they know and work with, and as individuals with faces and identities and histories there.
• But a big part of how different stakeholders can come to disagree over what is and what is not core to the business, and what is peripheral and must be maintained in-house and what is peripheral and can be outsourced or even discontinued, stems from business systems friction and from the communications and information-level challenges that create it, that I write of here.

I have been writing in this blog about understanding and remediating recurring business operations problems, primarily in terms of table of organization change, and in terms of making the business more agile and resilient and more effectively responsive. And I have focused in that on the operational and process side of this and on reframing the organization so as to both enable and facilitate effective change there. See for example, my series:

• Building a Business for Resilience as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 542 and loosely following.

That means pursuing this set of issues from a process and process systems perspective as this would be strategically organized and managed, according to a single overarching vision and set of business-wide goals – here viewing this from the perspective of business owners and overall business management.

My goal in this discussion is to address these issues more from a buy-in and follow-through perspective and in terms of actual implementation, or failure to do so. And with that noted, I turn to consider my first case study example here: a retail business that has been growing and along a more linear, more of the same approach and that has started to feel real “growing pains” from that.

• Change happens, and in both what forces and factors have to be accommodated, and in how they are. And linear, same as usual growth is a common essentially default way to address that challenge and certainly where opportunity for expansion and for possible capture of increased market share seem reasonable.
• I am writing here of moving beyond simply following a less considered default path in this, towards one of building from and deeper awareness of need and risks and opportunities, and according to a clearer and more consistent ongoing-reviewed business development process. And I begin my first case study example with some background on what this business is and on what it has been doing.

Alpha Hardware has made a real name for itself in its community and it has grown a large and reliable repeat business trade in its one bricks and mortar storefront. But it has hit a wall there from this success. It has a fixed and unexpandable space that it can offer its customers for shopping with fixed available shelving and floor space for their customers to find merchandise on. They have already made seemingly every adjustment they can to use this space as efficiently as possible and both to offer the widest range of products their customers want, and space for them to move around in as they shop. So they cannot increase their business potential by more effectively, efficiently using their current space at hand.

And at least as importantly, they have equally limited and immutable, unexpandable storage space for inventory that has arrived and that they have not brought up to their storefront and its shelves yet, that they need to have on-hand in order to keep those shelves replenished and stocked. And the more customers they have, the more pressure they face to limit what they offer them, to those items that fly off of their shelves. They cannot afford to in effect waste shelving or storage space on slow-moving inventory.

They cannot speed up deliveries and shift to a more just in time approach to inventory management and still feel confident that they will not face shortages in key items (to their customers) that they do want to stock and sell. So if they are to keep their customers happy and returning by offering them what they want, and when they want it, something has to give. And expanding to a new, second storefront is the answer that they chose.

This is where this example gets interesting. They decide not to simply open a second storefront location that essentially replicates their current business: a direct clone of their first now-flagship storefront. They decided not to follow a simple templated linear growth model here. That might expand their overall business, but a new storefront in a new and more distant neighborhood would not in and of itself address the growing pains problems that they have come to face in their first storefront. It would just give them, with time, opportunity to face the exact same problems in two locations, or more if they were to expand that way again. Instead, they acquire a second location directly across the street from their first location when real-estate prices are down and certainly for commercial properties, and they divide out what they have offered in their first original store into these now-two locations, with anything more hardware related per se staying in their first location, along with their more gardening center offerings. And everything that would be more home goods oriented is moved over to this new second location and with that opened to the public as Alpha Home Goods. Note: they had found themselves expanding this part of their business prior to this expansion already because more and more of their customers were buying and asking for merchandise that fit into this set of product lines. And they had come to see real growth opportunity there, if they could find a way to meet this expanding area of customer need and of business opportunity.

And even as they do this, they are already thinking ahead in terms of at least looking for opportunity to spread out even further, and with an Alpha Home Garden addition that they would move that part of the business into, as a real possibility. Their second location home goods storefront cannot readily be set up to include that, and they see enough business potential for what they would move there to make this a business-effective growth change in and of itself. So at least initially, they intend to keep their modest but popular garden and house plant supportive offerings in their first storefront. But they do see potential for expansion and growth through location specialization for this too, if they can in fact find the right location at the right price and if their new Alpha Home Goods works out and proves itself – and brings in revenue and capacity to develop increased reserves that they can next-step grow from.

I have just outlined something of the What of this example case study. I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will reconsider that in terms of the issues raised in my top three to-address list and particularly in terms of its Point 3. And I will back-track a bit in that analysis to consider the decision making processes that went into making this business’ first expansion decision, and how they implemented their strategic planning for it. And then I will consider how this expansion actually developed and played out as their new second storefront went into operation, with a mix of the expected and the unexpected emerging in that. Then, after completing my discussion of that first case study example, I will proceed to outline and discuss my second, software development business example 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.

Rethinking exit and entrance strategies 18: keeping an effective innovative focus while approaching and going through significant business transitions 8

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 2, 2017

This is my 18th installment to a series that offers a general discussion of business transitions, where an organization exits one developmental stage or period of relative strategic and operational stability, to enter a fundamentally different next one (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 559 and loosely following for Parts 1-17.)

I focused in Part 17 of this series, on the first two points of a three point to-address list of issues:

1. It can be vitally important to make explicit strategic effort to more deeply understand where your business is now and where that business is headed if it seeks to simply follow a straight-forward more predictively linear path, rather than making a more profound shift and going through a genuine transition.
2. And it is equally important to be aware of the possibilities, at the very least of what types of transitions could be possible, and their implications and consequences.
3. This leads me to the question of what would be planned for in a strategically considered, intentionally entered into business transition, and how such a transition plays out.

And in the course of writing and offering Part 17, I at least briefly touched upon the third point to this list as well as addressing the first two of these points. My goal for this installment is to more fully address that third point on the list, while adding in at least a few extra details that are more related to the first two, as they would offer clarification here.

Let’s start this with an explicit listing of some of the assumptions that I would build from in this posting, and for how the first two points of the above list might have been addressed in the particular:

• First and perhaps most importantly, I assume that a business under consideration in this type of context, actually, actively, systematically and recurringly carries out strategic planning reviews and assessments and that its senior executives, working with other stakeholders as needed, actively and recurringly plan ahead based on the findings of those reviews and assessments. They do not simply take a more reactive and catch-up, ad hoc approach to leading and running their company.
• And I assume that they follow at least relatively standard processes and practices in this, and certainly for including a range of alternative possibilities when planning forward (e.g. with best case, worst case and normative scenarios considered for a basic three scenario approach.) The scenarios decided upon would be selected and customized to meet the needs and expectations of the specific organization. So for example, a business that sells directly to consumers and through bricks and mortar outlets and that is considering expansion into new territory, might develop and consider a scenario that assumes faster than expected next-step growth from this expansion in the numbers of retail outlets supported, with that scenario coupled with one for slower return on investments and profitability growth from that scaling up, and with a more moderate, normative middle-ground scenario possibility included too.
• Note: three scenario approaches per se are common for this type of analysis, but three per se is not sacrosanct and should not always be considered to be the one and only gold standard here. Be sure that you include enough distinctively meaningful scenarios to address reasonable contingencies and outcomes that realistically might arise, while keeping that number manageable and easy enough (small enough) for you to be able to make meaningful comparisons between them possible. And remember the limitations here: these scenarios do not and fundamentally cannot anticipate the truly disruptively unexpected, and primarily offer value in a more linear, predictable change context. So allow for the wild card unexpected in this too, as at least a possibility where you can.
• I assume that all (three?) of the predictive models arrived at, would be both developed and actively considered and not just drafted and set aside. I have seen otherwise smart and savvy executives in effect toss out the possibilities models that they would not like to see realized, only to focus on or actually consider the ones, or the one that best matches their preconceptions and preferences. And then they complain that the strategic planning that they had gone through and paid for has failed them and that the predictive models were no good. I assume that this analytical exercise is going to be carried out and that it is going to be done right: fully and without blinders or avoidable preconceptions and bias.

With these points of assumption offered, let’s at least briefly reconsider the first two numbered points from above. Point 1 of the above list is in fact the easiest of the three to actually carry out and particularly if the assumptions that I have just listed here hold true (e.g. the first of them) and are adhered to. A business and its executive leadership does, or at least should know what their enterprise is doing, and how and by whom and with what levels of efficiency and in the face of what challenges that would need addressing. If they do not know this directly, they should be able to find out from others in positions of authority and leadership along their table of organization – who carry responsibility to know the answers to these matters and certainly for their own areas of responsibility there.

What happens if you simply grow and expand and further develop the business by scaling it up along established templated patterns? The key issues to look for in any answers arrived at for that question, are ones of where a linear growth in scale might yield to a lesser growth in returns and in profitability or in business process efficiency – that with time would translate into reduced profitability too. And as a second area in which red warning flags should be noted, also consider the possibility that simple linear growth and without incorporation of additional more novel support, might create greater business system fragility: more opportunities for unexpected systems breakdown or at least slow-down, and increased risk where that is a cost too.

Now let’s at least briefly reconsider Point 2, and in terms of the add-on note just offered in continuation of my discussion of Point 1. Plan out and develop the three, or if need be more scenarios developed from the Point 1 step to this process, in accordance with the basic assumptions list of above, with a capacity to help you identify and think through possible red flag issues and challenges that might arise – and proactively. Frame this analytical step in terms of processes and practices followed and considered, and in terms of the predictable and likely possible outcomes that you would see from them, given the external factors and other assumptions build into these at least initially still-linear expansion scenarios under consideration. And think through where linear growth in scale would likely lead to linear, or even to synergistically accelerated, faster than linear growth in performance and benefits, net of costs and additional costs faced, and positive value. And at least as importantly look for places in your systems where you might face concern of possible less than linear growth – or even possible breakdown, or at least increased risk for that. And look for patterns in all of that, positive and negative, and for underlying causality patterns where they might be ascertainable.

And focusing here on the contexts where new and novel might offer greater apparent value in this, that means spotting and understanding developing bottleneck and blockage challenges, starting with ones that might already be in their early stages of emerging in your business already. Think in terms of your basic business performance metrics here, and evaluate accordingly. Your maps of where linear growth might break down for you, and according to your standard performance evaluation standards in place – and of where that might have already started to do so, can show you both where novel approaches might be needed, and what such new solutions would have to accomplish to offer defining value to the business where they might be tried.

If you know where you need such change and what it is specifically supposed to address and accomplish, that can orient you in how you would design and develop and prototype test, and implement there too. It certainly offers a basis for how you would evaluate the effectiveness of a new and more disruptive possible change to system processes in place, and the effectiveness of entirely new areas of business system processes that might be developed and included in this too. And this would help you to refine them and bring these change elements to greater efficiently, and both as the people who would carry them out become more used to them, and as stakeholders affected by them get used to their being part of the business and its overall systems too. Add development of communicated buy-in that involves real opportunity for offering real feedback that is really listened to, to this and this paragraph at least briefly outlines what at least should become a cyclical development and redevelopment process for the business as a whole, as it seeks to stay as effective and as resilient and as agile – and as relevant and valuable to its markets as possible and in the face of both internal and external change.

And with that, I have offered at least a first cut response to Point 3 of the above list too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, where I will focus on and further elaborate on that Point 3 and on questions that it raises. 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.

Meshing innovation, product development and production, marketing and sales as a virtuous cycle 4

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 30, 2017

This is my fourth installment to a series in which I reconsider cosmetic and innovative change as they impact upon and even fundamentally shape the product design and development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales cycle, and from both the producer and consumer perspectives (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 342 and loosely following for Parts 1-3.)

My goal for this posting is to explicitly discuss virtuous business development cycles and their vicious cycle counterparts, and I begin this by noting that I have already begun doing so, by way of two specific working examples:

• A more positive, proactively planned and carried out example as drawn from garment manufacturing, where more expensive metal zippers are replaced with less expensive plastic ones (see Part 2), and
• A reactively and at most shortest-term, short term planned negative example that I have come to refer to as the restaurant death spiral, as I explained when presenting this scenario in Part 3.

Let’s begin this by playing what-if in reconsidering those two working examples, starting with the one that I presented in its more positive light: the manufacturing decision to switch from using a more expensive metal zipper to a less expensive plastic one.

First of all, I note here that when manufacturers take steps like this, they often approach this possibility with a goal of effecting change throughout their materials selection and manufacturing process systems, and not for just one decision point such as selection of zippers to include in their finished products. And they start that analytical, decision making process at the points in their design and manufacturing systems where they can predictably affect the greatest savings, at the lowest quality control risk: maximizing the positives while minimizing any negatives there. So in the case study example examined in Part 2 and under reconsideration here, this manufacturer would have done their homework before investing in or entering into this type of specific change so they would know in advance, basic details such as:

• How well these newer plastic zippers work,
• How long they last,
• How easily they break and certainly in comparison to the metal ones that they have been offering,
• And if and how customers accept them,
• Where the answers to the sets of questions that the above points raise would vary depending on where these zippers would be sourced from.

That last point highlights what in most cases would be the ultimate due diligence decision making criterion, where at least one source would have to be able to provide acceptable answers to those questions for a potentially purchasing manufacturer to proceed here in making this materials-used change.

Some third party providers would offer better quality plastic zippers than others and some would offer lower priced ones, and the trade-offs between quality and cost would be crucially important in all of this. But this only reflects two of a larger set of important issues here, and certainly as framed by the first four points here. The answers to the questions raised by the above bullet points and to others that would have to be asked, would vary from source to source for these pre-manufactured parts. And deciding where to source these items, would involve making trade-off decisions for what might be directly competing considerations such as per-unit cost of purchase, versus durability. And with that noted, I turn back to more fully examine the fourth bullet point from above, and the customer’s perspective on this.

That means durability and how long these zippers last before breaking but it also means ease of use by a garment wearing customer. Do they jam too easily, and even if they come through any effort to jerk them open again or closed without breaking? A finding that the zippers might be cheap and durable, but that they tend to jam when used and with unacceptably high frequency would not be a positive here. Quality, ultimately, is determined by the end user customer and not just by the manufacturer as for example when considering issues such as ease and cost of putting these zippers into garments on their assembly lines.

Ultimately, if the customer is dissatisfied with the zipper on a new jacket they have just purchased, they are going to be dissatisfied with the garment as whole and probably with its manufacturer too as a whole. But if they are satisfied with this change they are unlikely to even really notice it at all. So there is a real asymmetry of impact here. Risk analysis and quality control evaluation and follow through would focus on the more impact expanding possibilities of, in this example new plastic zipper failure and on the overall potential costs that this could lead to. So here, and particularly when this is a manufacturer that seeks to offer quality: not just cheap knock-offs, higher quality and a more modest per-item savings in manufacturing might win out. And it probably should.

But let’s play what-if here. Let’s assume, and I will be a bit cynical here, that a third party provider sent a specially selected lot of zippers to this manufacturer for trial use when they knew that they were being evaluated for a possible large and long-term contract with them. And now that this manufacturer has signed this contract with them, they just ship them whatever comes off of their assembly line for the make, model and size zippers ordered – and with less quality control added in for any given batch: no pre-shipping extra-step screening for possible defects or other problems.

• Did this garment maker do their homework, checking to see what other garment makers have experienced when sourcing zippers from this company for use in their products? Or did they make their decisions to buy from this source essentially entirely on the basis of their own reviews of a sample lot shipped to them?
• And let’s consider that contractual agreement. How does it cover quality control issues and for terms of payment, requirement for replacement of items found to be problematical, and contract termination if quality control issues from this source reach a level of significance? That last detail is the one that will come back to haunt this garment manufacturer if anything does, and certainly if they have entered into an agreement to buy at least some minimum volume of zippers from this sourcing business to among other things cover their claimed costs of setting up a production line for that work.
• Who actually wrote the terms defining what would qualify as a contract breech defining loss of quality control here, and what does it say? Does it favor the zipper manufacturer here, or the garment manufacturer that would purchase these items from them, or both and if so in what way? Assume that it would be impossible to prove that the zipper manufacturer knowingly sent a highly unrepresentative sample of their product offerings for trial use, where that in and of itself would qualify as a deceptive business practice that would nullify most such contracts. Assume that any binding resolutions made would be based on the terms of this contract itself as if entered into in good faith by all involved parties.

Proactive only works here if the right details and considerations are in fact all proactively considered. And as soon as a significant one arises that was not addressed in advance of contract signing, everything becomes as reactive and after the fact for this scenario too, as was outlined in my more negative working example, restaurant death spiral case.

Now let’s reconsider that example too. And let’s start out with a detail that on the face of it sounds crazy, but that I have in fact seen done. A restaurant buys canned goods and even when local seasonally grown fresh produce alternatives are available, because no one there has the time or expertise to go to the wholesale markets or directly to the local growers to source that way. They start out as a modestly consistently profitable business doing this! And then they get into trouble and in this case the owner decides that they have to make the sweat equity and learning curve investment of cutting costs (and improving quality) by at least seasonally buying locally and using fresh where they can. This changes everything; their cost cutting is now being carried out at least in part with an intense awareness of ongoing quality and as a matter of reducing cash flow challenges to the business by accepting greater owner burdens – but ones that would in fact improve the restaurant. I have just reframed this away from being a death spiral scenario per se and certainly if this type of more positive change predominates in what is done overall and if this approach is expanded in a next redevelopment cycle.

I have reframed this example from simply representing a death spiral scenario and certainly if more positive changes predominate in their overall impact over more negative ones, and particularly in the eyes of their customers and potential customers in their reachable marketplace. And this brings me to a second foundationally important point that I would make here:

• If the difference between these two basic scenarios and approaches discussed here lies in thinking through and examining the right details and factors and proactively getting them right,
• It also plays out in considering all of these factors in the larger context and for how everything fits together – and in how this larger perspective impacts upon the customers who ultimately pay the bills and who would or world not contribute to keeping the business viable and successful.
• This is a point where the garment manufacturer and the restaurant, and essentially any product providing business face essentially the same challenges and issues.

And this is where virtuous and vicious cycles enter this narrative. Both take place as cycles: and with at least two and probably many more rounds of proactive where possible, and reactive where necessary action and reaction.

• Virtuous cycles positively build on successes achieved and on how they were arrived at, and
• Vicious cycles seek to endure where viable paths to positive business building do not seem to present themselves, at least at acceptable costs to the business owners.

To follow-up here on my second example from Part 3, if the owner of restaurant realizes and accepts that they are going to have to step way outside of their usual comfort zone to identify and reach out to local farmers in their area, to buy local produce from them and enter into supply chain agreements with them for continuity of supply, they are creating a foundation for what can become a very positive virtuous cycle. And if they couple this first change with a shift to a seasonal menu where they can always offer best-price, best quality and as locally as possible, they might find whole new types and levels of business success from that. But if they are never willing to take that first step – here let’s say with sourcing and buying local spring and summer produce, none of this potential good can happen.

• Ultimately, the difference between virtuous and vicious here is in the details, with larger positive or negative patterns emerging from the perhaps individually small decisions made, actions taken and commitments made, or not.
• And ultimately, a business owner can decide which of these two paths to take, simply by virtue of whether they are willing to step outside of their comfort zones and attempt what for them at least, would be their new and still at first unknown.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will more explicitly consider paths of change, and in both their gradual and disruptively intrusive forms. And in anticipation of that, this means building for agility and resiliency. In anticipation of that narrative, consider the potential consequences of weather-related crop failure for the virtuous cycle restaurant owner of above, who has sought to develop their newly reframed business in buy-local terms and with that as a defining feature of who they are now as a restaurant.

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 see also Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its Page 2 continuation.

Rethinking vertical integration for the 21st century context 15

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 18, 2017

This is my 15th installment to a series on what goes into an effectively organized and run, lean and agile business, and how that is changing in the increasingly ubiquitously connected context that all businesses, and that all individuals operate in (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 577 and loosely following for Parts 1-14.)

I focused in Part 14 on symmetrical and asymmetrical relationships as they can and do arise in supply chain and similar business-to-business collaborations. And I couched that discussion for the most part in terms of shorter timeframes, and on how collaboration shaping and accommodating terms arise in a more immediate here-and-now. My goal for this posting is to step back from that to consider longer timeframes and the prospect of both slow evolutionary, and sudden disruptive change. In anticipation of discussion to follow, I will continue from there to more fully discuss the details of symmetrical and asymmetrical collaborative relationships and how they are structured and carried through upon, looking at that from due diligence and risk remediation perspectives and from both sides of the table. But for here and now, I focus on the longer-term as such, and I do so through an at least brief and selective consideration of a very specific case study example:

• The Eastman Kodak Company, as it was when it created and led the market, and globally for easy to use cameras and for amateur photography
• And as its position in this market, and the size and strength of this market as a whole changed out from under it.

Let’s start at the beginning of this narrative arc and with George Eastman’s breakthrough innovation that in effect created the entire industry that his company came to dominate. And in that, I add a telling detail as to their once global reach for home and amateur photography and for a great deal of professional photography too. French: the one true language of France as a nation is one of the most zealously preserved languages on Earth for maintaining purity to its linguistic and cultural roots. There is even an all but revered, at least by many, body of French cultural luminaries, the Académie Française that has as one of its defining roles, the identification of foreignisms and adapted words and their replacement with more allowably French language-grounded alternatives, that would become the only accepted way to speak or write them. I mention this because when Kodak cameras first came out and crossed the Atlantic to find and build markets in Europe, French men and women commonly took to referring to cameras in general as Kodaks; Kodak became their word of common usage for these new devices. And it took a great deal of convincing from the Académie and its supporters to bring their public to use a more acceptably French alternative. They did, but this indicated the hold that Kodak as a company achieved in its new and growing industry.

George Eastman did not invent the camera, any more than Henry Ford invented the car. Both took what had been niche market offerings that only the few could afford or use, and made them into easy to use and inexpensive to own and operate products for mass markets. This, in Eastman’s case was his innovation – or rather his progression of closely interconnected innovations. He and his new company had to design and build cameras that were small enough and compact enough and inexpensive enough for an average man or woman on the street to be able to purchase and use. He had to do this in a way that would eliminate the hands-on technically difficult tasks of loading film into one of those older, pre-Kodak cameras, expose them to create images, and remove and process the resulting exposed firm without loss of the image captured. And he did this at a time when film development still required special dark room facilities and a willingness and ability to work with toxic, and I add noxious smelling chemicals. Kodak cameras were designed and built to eliminate the need for photographers themselves to have to work with those chemicals or carry out any of those still obligatorily complex steps. And he did make those steps easier and more straightforward for the people who would do this. And that meant designing and developing new forms of photographic film, that would be housed in film cartridges that anyone could pop into a camera, use and then remove for development and for the production of finished prints – by someone else. And it meant developing and offering easier to use pre-mixed photographic development chemicals. And Eastman had to develop a system of partner businesses that would do this photographic development work and print out finished products, and with a great deal of that work carried out through local pharmacies, and certainly as points where camera enthusiasts would purchase new rolls of film, and bring them in for development and to pick up their finished photos.

• George Eastman invented the easy to use and inexpensive, mass market camera and made photography a basic activity that anyone could use to record the events and moments of their lives through.
• But at least as importantly and certainly if that more technical half of his endeavor was to succeed, he devised and built an entirely new form of business-to-business collaboration and supply chain system, to address this new area of business possibility.

And cameras – George Eastman’s Kodak cameras became a standard given and for many and globally, and with the French even adapting the name of that company as the categorical name of that device – at least until the Académie Française was finally able to replace that with what they deemed to be a more appropriately French alternative: “la caméra.”

Then time passed and new innovations arose. Kodak became a preeminent source of specialty film such as medical X-ray film. And they supplied the world with a great deal of standard photographic film, as well as well as offering better and better cameras themselves. But patents expired and new competitors came in that undercut them for cost: new competitors that marketed very aggressively and successfully for market share. The Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, often simply referred to as Fuji comes immediately to mind in this context though Kodak and I add Fuji faced stiff competition for film sales from other companies too. And many of these companies also began offering lower cost cameras too.

And then Polaroid came out with its Land camera with its instant development film, and Kodak and their older cameras and film offerings that required outside film development and the built in delays and extra expenses that this entailed, faced an entirely new disruptively innovative challenge.

The original Model 95 Polaroid Land camera that first went to market in November, 1948 was expensive and it primarily appealed to people who were more inclined to be pioneer and early technology adaptors. But as newer and less expensive models and versions of this basic camera design came to market, Polaroid cameras came to capture a large and increasing share of the home and personal camera and photography markets, and particularly for when the greater image resolution and zoom-in magnification available in more standard cameras was not needed. They were easy to use and you got your finished photos in about one minute and all you had to do was to wipe the finished image with a chemical sponge that was provided to stabilize it so it would not fade – at least for several years.

Kodak, and certainly in the 20/20 perspective of hindsight, was not as quick to pick up on this challenge as they could and probably should have been, resting on the laurels of knowing that their cameras and film offered much better and much more long-lasting photographic results. And when digital cameras first came out they fell into essentially that same trap, and certainly at first and when the public was initially coming to define these new cameras in their thinking, and when they first came to see which businesses dominated this new market as its first movers. And the irony in that, is that the first electronic camera ever built, was devised and constructed by an engineer at Kodak: Steven Sasson, in 1975, using charge coupled device technology that was developed and designed there for its specific design features. I wrote an earlier series to this blog that I cite here for its immediate relevance in this context: Keeping Innovation Fresh (which can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 2, as postings 241 and loosely following for its 16 Parts. I specifically note its Part 2 and Part 3 in this series’ context, where I discuss something of the histories of Xerox PARC and Menlo Park as case study examples of how innovative businesses do and do not actually develop and capitalize on the innovations and inventions that their people and their facilities initially devise. Kodak can be seen as fitting into one of the two basic patterns that were discussed there and certainly for this innovation, where other businesses captured large areas of this new market and much more quickly than a more proactive Kodak would have made possible.

Kodak certainly still exists as a business and it is still actively involved in a significant number of industry segments, offering quality products there. But its initial founding market and industry are now more niche and specialty than mainstream and particularly with an all but ubiquitous use of digital cameras for standard photography and with so many of those cameras coming from other companies and as globally sourced product offerings.

Let’s consider the arc of that narrative from the perspective of this series and this portion of it. Kodak, through the vision and drive if its founder, built itself into an industry defining and creating powerhouse, in large part by creating and I add managing what became a vast and with time globally reaching supply chain and business-to-business collaboration system, with Kodak providing cameras and film and all of the development chemicals that outside businesses would use in developing camera user photos and more, and with those outside film processing developers gaining profits from their participation in this endeavor. As a snapshot in time, this presents a very high point of success and one of asymmetrical business-to-business collaborative control. And Kodak as a company continued to both innovate and diversify in what it did and from those early days on.

Some of those ventures, and I cite what became the Eastman Chemical Company as a working example, began as in-house divisions or other holdings of the Kodak Corporation and were then spun off as separate business entities. Chemical production, to pursue that example, was initially developed as a division of Kodak that was tasked with producing the specific range of chemicals needed for processing and developing their film. But it was ultimately reorganized into a completely separate business from its parent company in 1994.

Maintaining this type of chemical production capability in-house was a natural direction for Kodak to pursue in its growth and development and certainly from early on, given its intensive need for photographic and related chemicals, and its capacity to innovate and develop from there. But with time it became more prudent to bring their overall Kodak business model back into focus and its finances back in line and in this case that meant selling off this venture – and particularly as the market demand for more strictly photographic industry chemicals began to shrink. Meanwhile, this division had actively diversified what it offered in order to keep itself relevant and profitable, with its product offerings coming to include a much wider range of specialty chemicals. So it broke off as a new and separate business with a strong start for success as such.

Some of Kodak’s expansion and diversification initiatives have not worked out as successfully as the now separate Eastman Chemical Company has. But I am writing here of a relatively long corporate history, beginning in August, 1880 in Rochester, New York if you choose to trace this back to George Eastman’s original Eastman Dry Plate Company where he produced his first amateur-usable cameras out of a third floor office and production facility that was located on State Street. Kodak itself was formally founded out of that business on September 4, 1888, also in Rochester and as an expanded continuation of it. And I have been writing in this narrative, of change and of slow and evolutionary change that has not always been recognized, and certainly early on for its potential and even likely impact. And I have been writing of disruptive and innovative change and both as it has arisen in this business under consideration here, and as it has impacted on this company from the outside – and even there without always being appreciated for its significance and certainly not quickly.

• When a new and even groundbreaking disruptive innovation first arises and begins to go to market, its initial buying audience – its original realized marketplace is in many cases going to be small from it primarily attracting a positive response from the smaller number of pioneer and early technology adaptors who would take the risk of investing in and using it.
• It is easy to confuse such a starter market as simply representing a niche market – that might fade away or might remain stably strong – but only for a niche consumer audience.
• I end this posting by posing an unfair and essentially impossible to always consistently avoid conundrum: that of discerning early on enough when a new innovation is only starting small and with an initial pioneer and early adaptor market that it will grow beyond, and when it is in fact more destined to start as and remain a more narrowly defined niche market offering that will never really grow all that much in the business opportunity that it offers.

Kodak, like many and even most long lasting and storied businesses, has seen and chosen wisely in this, on a number of occasions and certainly during its founding. And from the vantage of 20/20 hindsight, it has seen and understood the meaning of new and innovative in ways that subsequent history would show to have been correct, and often enough to survive and even thrive, but while missing on that on significant occasions too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment as indicated above towards the top of this one where I stated that I will “discuss the details of symmetrical and asymmetrical collaborative relationships and how they are structured and carried through upon, looking at that from due diligence and risk remediation perspectives and from both sides of the table.” 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 see also Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its Page 2 continuation.

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