New Year: Regrets or Expectations ?

Missed or Expected ? (Zineb Sedira)

Do Calendars Still Matter ?

Whereas financial results are being established on an annual basis, events nowadays unfold within a seamless space/time dimension:

  • Social networks put long-planned strategies at the mercy of consumers weekly whims often unconcerned by borders or products intents.
  • Mining of big data may curtail innovative head-starts to a matter of weeks if not days.
  • On-line (not to mention high frequency) trading put markets sanction at investors fingers tips, and enterprises’ stocks at predators’ claws.

So why should enterprises bother with yearly schedules ?

Evolutionary Arms Race Doesn’t Wait for Saint Sylvester

Business is governed by the same rule as nature, namely the survival of the fittest, and as with biological ecosystems, enterprises’ individual fitness depends on their relationships with others. Hence, as suggested by Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, the survival of enterprises in their evolutionary arms race doesn’t depend on their absolute speed set against some time-frame, but on the relative one set with regard to competitors. In that case Saint Sylvester could be ignored. Or should it ? Because seasons do play their part in biological races.

From Race to Game

As it happens, business races are becoming more complicated as extensive and ubiquitous information and communication systems redefine the traditional predator-prey casting. With time and space cut down to symbolic dimensions, collaboration and competition can no longer be safely allocated to time-spans and market segments, which entails that the roles of predator and prey can be upended on the spur of moment and the turn of a switch.

Introducing this kind of option transforms tracks into playgrounds and races into games because there is no point in running without knowing who to run against and who to run with. Adding to the challenge, these playgrounds are moving ones, and so the rules of the game: one week a non-zero sum game, the next a winner-gets-all. That is when calendars make a come-back.

Games come with Boards and Time Scales

Contrary to races, games have comprehensive and detailed rules, or regulations in business parlance. As soon as enterprises start to play with roles they have to meet conditions, follow procedures, and take into account specific constraints; all defined with regard to institutional spaces and calendar time, e.g:

  • Customers’ behavior is often seasonal.
  • Regulatory bodies rule within geographical borders and their decisions stand for calendar periods.
  • M&A have to align with stock markets schedules

So, assuming that institutional time-frames cannot be avoided when strategies are set, Saint Sylvester may provide a practical meter for yearly moves.

When to Board a Shuttle

Enterprises have therefore to set their decision-making with regard to the accelerating pulse of business events on one hand, institutional time-boxes on the other hand. That corresponds to a typical shuttle scheme, with taking a decision being associated with boarding a shuttle.

Along that understanding, and assuming that taking a decision means closing alternative options, boarding a shuttle excludes some of the next one(s), and missing it may be beneficial as well as detrimental. That’s the reasoning behind the Last Responsible Moment principle which, when put to use for periodic decision-making, suggests that there can be as much risk at boarding a shuttle than at missing it.

Further Readings



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