Don’t Crack Under Pressure Part I: A Business Diagnostic

Apr 19, 2016
Perry Puccetti

Is your life getting any easier on a day-to-day basis?

To date, and regardless of role or title, professional or personal, I have yet to have anyone answer "yes!" If yours is (getting simpler), perhaps you could share your secret with the rest of us! 

From a business standpoint, one of the primary objectives is to make money. Yes, businesses they serve the needs and wants of people and provide goods and services that we need, however, I think we can all agree that a business’ ability to make money directly impacts its ability to do anything else.

The ability to make money is directly influenced by a number of external pressures, each creating a cause and effect relationship on the business as an entity, each level of the business, and on each of us as individuals regardless of our role or title within that organization. One way to simplify the complexity of our day-to-day (business) life is to take a diagnostic approach toward identifying and defining the pressures, tensions and resulting symptoms of complexity that impact a business at all levels.

For example:

Ecosystem level forces are the underlying macro events or trends that serve as a “catalyst” requiring businesses to make decisions, or take actions, that address the pressures created by these events or trends. For example: global trends (globalization); emerging/disruptive technologies (cloud); customer/consumer demands (mobile devices); shareholder demands (increased profitability); changes in competition (Uber); industry consolidation (banking); regulation and taxation (healthcare); and natural disasters (drought).  While we, as a business or as individuals, have no control or influence over these big, macro forces, it is important to be aware of them and understand the cause and effect relationship they create.

Enterprise level pressures are the direct effect caused by the Ecosystem level macro events/trends. The resultant decisions and actions that must be taken by business leaders at the enterprise level are a direct response to these pressures.  For example: technology; changes in business models; driving innovation and change; expanding products and/or markets; mitigating risk; reducing costs and improving performance; improving customer service; improving marketing/lead generation. These pressures can and must be addressed by businesses who want to not only survive, but thrive.  They are also under our control.

Business unit level pressures are the direct effect caused by the Enterprise level pressures. The resultant decisions and actions that must be taken by business units as a result of the decisions and actions made at the Enterprise level – these are the day-to-day business challenges that are solved on a day-to-day basis. For example: “talent;” developing new systems or applications; end-to-end integration; install or convert software; offshoring/outsourcing; moving to the cloud.  These pressures represent the majority of the day-to-day actions of those in the trenches. They also are under our control.

In addition to the cause and effect relationship created by ecosystem, enterprise, and business unit level pressures that a business must address, things such as strategy, marketing, pricing, products, services and solutions must also be addressed. While each is important in their own way, as a means of further simplifying the complex, each can be aligned to the areas of Brand, Technology, and Talent.

A natural tension exists between each of these areas which is constantly changing and evolving as the cause and effect relationship between the business environment and the business changes.  When these tensions get out of balance, problems begin manifesting themselves as symptoms. For example: poor reputation, perception, and eroding market share (brand); obsolete products/services, outdated technology, and inability to support customers/employees (technology); employee turnover, inability to attract/retain talent, and an uncertain future (talent).

Business who understand the cause and effect relationships between pressures and tensions, and successfully address the resultant symptoms will not only survive – they will thrive.

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