Planning and Acting

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Fighting is acting to achieve change. Debate is about examining options to improve planning.

Should we put more planning into fighting and more fighting into planning? And if so, what might that look like in practice?

For a political party fighting an election, campaign resources including the number of enthusiastic canvassers prepared to knock on strangers’ doors is limited. Voter areas to target are critical too. Planning is everything.

For an advocacy charity fighting to achieve significant impact, but operating in a world of inertia and indifference, planning what data to use, who to serve the insights to and how to incentivise them to act is key.

For an SME start-up, they need to fight to establish their brand and delight customers with the brand experience. Market research, cashflow and communicating the values embodied in the brand all need to operate in tandem. That takes careful planning.

What about putting more fighting into planning? Effective planning includes a battle of ideas and approaches. The winner isn’t the successful planner, but the successful plan. That plan, if the right people are in the planning room, ought to be a hybrid synthesised from many high quality contributions and a few ‘what if we…’ comments.

Food for thought?
Simon

Flexibility and Brands

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Having Flexibility on the outside and the (business) brand at the core makes sense for organisations wanting their clients to experience their own unique version of the brand. Caterers, publishers, movie makers & evangelical religious leaders take this approach. Their clients might say, ‘I don’t know what I want, but I’ll pay good money (and invest my soul) when I see it.’ The brand values are a molten core, radiating outwards into the client experience. Consistency where it exists, isn’t across the client base. But across the repeat experience of a given client. 

Then there are organisations who put Flexibility at the heart and wear their brand on the outside. You can’t think of their brand without valuing the innate flexibility within it. The likes of Google, Wikipedia, hospital groups, research-led universities and legal systems take this approach. Their customers might say, ‘what insights can my interaction with this brand reveal?’ There is consistency of experience across the user base. But if the product evolves, a given customer’s experience may vary over time.

So what does this tell us? Creating a sustainable brand is necessary. Figuring out whether to put Business Flexibility at its centre, or on its surface, is what makes your brand sufficient.

It probably works for personal flexibility too.

Simon

 

Technical solutions seeking existing problems

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At the time of writing (late Aug 2019) there are at least two pressing Brexit problems that will need a technology solution to ride in and save the day. The first is a practical technology solution to avoid the need for an ‘Irish backstop’. If achieved and quickly demonstrable, the UK won’t have to exit the EU on 31 October 2019, on a default, ‘no deal’ basis.

A second, related issue is about UK rubbish recycling, pre and post Brexit. At present, quoting the 6pm BBC news on 22nd Aug, loads of UK rubbish is exported to the EU (Sweden & Holland) for conversion into energy, under existing EU agreements.

Meanwhile app developers and inventors every day come up with (trivial) tech solutions, seeking a business or social problem to solve.

Wouldn’t it be grand if a tech company or two quickly presented a compelling solution to the backstop problem, saving Britain and its EU colleagues from a ‘no deal’ aftermath.

And if a science solution quickly emerged to provide UK onshore waste recycling on masse, (so no need to send to landfill, perhaps with intermediate stockpiling) as well?

Am I the only one keeping my fingers crossed?

Simon

 

 

 

Flexibility and Binary Choices

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Are binary choices becoming an endangered species? Flexibility on binary seems to go in one of two directions:

(1) There is the conversion from binary to a spectrum instead.

  • Oscillation along the spectrum between two limits is useful for bird flight, in juggling and in art. Or to make songs more interesting.
  • Computers to date have been binary, but quantum computing uses more of a spectrum approach.
  • Expert amateurs and novice professionals existing between the states of expert professional and rank amateur.
  • Logic used to be binary. Then we recognised fuzzy logic as useful too.
  • Governments generally moved away from binary sentencing in the justice system (death penalty or not, innocent or guilty) to concepts of restitution, share of blame, clemency and degree of penalty.
  • Human genders used to be recognised as male or female. Now we recognise a trans gender spectrum.
  • Political parties used to cluster around left wing or right wing. Now simultaneous local, national and trans-national identities feature just as prominently for voters.

(2) There is two merging into one united view, perhaps to realise synergies.

  • Humans used to combine our skills with nature’s raw materials (binary). It was obvious what was created by nature and what was created by people. Then we invented technology and eventually added synthetic biology to natural biology. We also augmented our own design approaches with computer-aided design & build. Then came computer-generated design & build, with its merging of physical and digital reality into augmented and virtual reality. And its blending of natural and synthetic biology.
  • People’s identity started when they were conceived. And their actions ceased when they died. Now people can pre-programme digital events (including posts) to happen after they think they will die. It then becomes possible to give the digital appearance of human life, after actual physical death.

What do you think?

Simon

Surfing the ups and downs

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Surfers know about staying on their board to ride out the lows and enjoy the highs. Breaking right or left when the opportunity arises. Surfing away from danger if they spot a shark in the water.

How can companies or staff use flexibility to stay sustainable through boom & bust cycles? For companies, buying up distressed assets and companies in an economic downturn isn’t the only game in town. With companies desperately shedding cost by laying off staff, the downturn is a golden opportunity to pick up experienced talent in plentiful supply. Likewise for staff, stay open to new opportunities from those companies wanting the good people.

In the downturn, if they can’t justify hiring operations staff, firms can hire more developers instead, to deliver for the next bull run. Or better still (in a flexibility sense), acquire staff who develop in the downturn and do operations/marketing in the boom. For staff, think about widening your skills from operations into development and marketing too.

In a downturn, business ethics are tested by fear, not greed. Whether boom, bust or in between, staff can work hard to join up their personal morals with the business ethics of the business, to keep the customer love alive and thriving.

Finally for staff, if you’re not involved in development innovation (team leaders and middle managers), try to catch the eye of senior management, by helping them develop real options for the company’s future. For the company, having both innovations and real options is the equivalent of riding the surfboard through the ups and downs both.

Simon

 

Management and Leadership

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On environmental pollution, managers collect rubbish and send it to landfill sites. Leaders ensure consumer products are biodegrade.

On Brexit, managers coax passengers into making the trip. And pressgang the rebels on to any boat that floats. Leaders engineer the journey of a lifetime, on a robust, spacious ocean liner, designed to make the journey trouble-free.

On housing, managers write up the waiting lists, set the criteria for allocation and fix the rents. Leaders spread the jobs regionally, deliver modular housing units for the masses and reform planning regulations to fast-track construction.

Managers push sentiment change to get regime change. Leaders keep suggesting reform of unpopular practice, until the weight of popular opinion drives mass momentum towards a useful outcome.

Managers create a one door pathway. Leaders create a many door environment for followers to choose from.

Managers move movers & shakers to move forward. Leaders shake shakers to shake movers forward.

Managers downplay rigid to progress. Leaders practise flexibility to progress.

Simon

Personal Flexibility Acronym

P=Plan flexibility (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C).

E=Enlist support & ideas. Good ideas come from anyone, anywhere, anytime!

R=Rotate when you need to. Rotate, Reset, Relax.

S=Select amongst style & substance flexibility.

O=Options management. It’s as important as accumulation.

N=Name your epitaph. What do you want to be remembered for?

A=Analyse the situation. Unless you want to rely on dumb luck!

L=Lay out encouragement and praise like a new carpet. You might get a magic carpet in return!

 

F=Flexiscribes & flexitypes to flex your flexibility.

L=Limit your pessimism, limit your downside, limit your limitations.

E=Explore new routes. Life’s meant to be a great adventure.

X=X on the trade-off spectrum.

I=Invest, invest, invest in more options.

B=Brace for impact, brace for success.

I=In it for the long haul.

L=Leverage for impact. Small lever, big technique!

I=Initiative & innovation.

T=Turn to & tune up the talent of the team.

Y=You are never surprised the way you surprise yourself!

 

Simon