Empowered Chats: Core vs. Context



 

Over the past couple of years, disruption has been no stranger to businesses as COVID-19 impacted staffing, cybersecurity, supply chain, and much more. During turbulent times, it’s natural for a business to stop and re-examine its structure and processes. Where can we become more efficient? When a business wants to tackle questions such as this, considering “core vs. context” is a great approach. 

We sat down with Ken Zimmer and Brian Young, principals of technology solutions at Rehmann, to better understand the concept of core vs. context and how businesses can put it into practice. Here is what we learned: 

  • Know your secret sauce. When working through core vs. context, you’re focusing on what makes your business unique – this is the core of your business. Manufacturers are a perfect example because they produce products in a way that is unique to their business. The entire focus of the organization is on those products and making them the best they can be for their customers. This manufacturer may have other necessary jobs that need to be done, but these jobs don’t support their core – their “secret sauce.” For example, they may have an onsite lawn that requires maintenance, but does it make sense to hire an employee internally to oversee the maintenance of that lawn? This is where context comes into play. It’s likely that the manufacturer would outsource this job, so that their employees can focus on the mission and vision of the business. You can start to apply this concept to other areas of your business, such as your IT environment. Consider a recent Harvard Business Review study, which found that ransomware attacks increased by 150% in 2020. Do you want to spend exorbitant hours internally building and maintaining a cybersecurity plan to keep up with this increase, or would that job be better suited for an outsourced expert?
  • Identify your first steps. Core vs. context is a management strategy, and a great leadership tool as well. Organizations looking to use this formula should be urging leaders to take initiative. Leaders should examine the areas they oversee within the business and ask themselves if they’re set up internally to be handling processes properly. Budgeting discussions and goal setting at the beginning of the year can be great times to start this process – you’re actively looking at your business needs and what’s upcoming. Speaking of the future, it’s best to revisit this process at least every five years. A study done by Pew Research Center found that nearly half of Americans credit technology with improving life the most in the past 50 years. Businesses that embrace innovation and new technology are going to stand out. You don’t want to do this process once and wipe your hands clean of it – you want to continue to innovate, which brings us to our next point.
  • Be wary of “We’ve always done it this way.” In any conversation where you’re discussing making changes in a business, you must consider the naysayers – there will always being some. They may use the phrase, “We’ve always done it this way,” which is a dangerous statement. The business landscape is always changing. If you’re not willing to look at your processes and evolve, it will backfire on you. Businesses should urge their leaders to be bold and make decisions that may be different from what’s been done historically. Ultimately, this helps the business focus in on their mission and vision.

Core vs. context is a formula to help you begin moving the dial and making effective changes to your business processes. Start by asking what the core of your business is – what makes it unique? Then, urge leaders to start assessing processes and looking at what could be outsourced to allow more focus on your core. Finally, keep your foot down on the gas pedal, don’t shy away from change, and be sure you’re revisiting this process at least every five years. Rehmann advisors like Ken and Brian work constantly with businesses to understand what core vs. context can mean for them. Rehmann offers a variety of outsourcing services. Contact a Rehmann advisor today to start empowering your business. 

Published in Business Consulting

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