Elaborative Creativity


Elaborative creativity is the innovative amplification of a core idea or principle. The difference is between say, staff empowerment as a core belief and its amplification into personnel policies, participative management structures, training programs, and so forth. Elaboration can become innovative when it is creatively contextualized, that is, creatively fitted to the organization’s situation rather than simply borrowed from elsewhere. It can become innovative when it is done participatively, involving various viewpoints and much brainstorming, and the ideas are creatively synthesized. It can become innovative when not just one but several powerful, possibly partially conflicting ideas are fused together to form its basis, such as the ideas of centralization and decentralization, control and authority, or internal entrepreneurship and efficiency. Elaboration can also become innovative when it is periodically reviewed and creatively modified to suit changing circumstances. And it can become innovative when it is benchmarked, not with practices of the leading competitor, but the world’s best practitioners. And not necessarily in the organization’s industry, but in any sector of activity, for then it may reveal gaps that can be bridged only innovatively. When elaboration is made innovative in these ways, it is difficult for others to copy it, and therefore such elaboration confers a competitive advantage on the organization.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Improving Quality


Improving quality is a lot like taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Although the results may not be immediate, long-term benefits are significant. Quality is neither a quick fix nor the program of the month, but rather a way of life for companies who are serious about improvements.

Quality is a fundamental to creating value, yet it is a moving target and must meet the customers’ current definition of quality. Thus, we offer the following recommendations for improving service quality and ultimately delivering superior customer value:

  • Design services in cooperation with customers. Learn what customers truly value by incorporating the voice of the customer earlier in the service development process. Also, it is important to determine not only the customers’ preferred service attributes but their relative importance, as well.
  • Focus your improvement programs outward, on market break points. Only by defining those episodes, when the customer comes in contact with the organization, and by focusing on the ones most critical can you see things as the customer sees them. Also, visualize the complete sequence of the moments of truth a customer experiences in having some need met. Remember, the customer sees service in terms of a total experience, not an isolated set of activities. Mapping the service cycle helps companies see these activities as the customer sees them.
  • Create a triangle representation of service quality. Hotels and restaurants often advertise and display on their properties ratings by one of the major motor clubs, such as AAA or Mobil Oil, Hertz #1 Gold Club service communicates a premium, value-added bundle of services to business travelers seeking a hassle-free car rental experience.
  • Use teamwork to promote service excellence—service workers who support one another and achieve together can avoid service burnout.
  • Create a service bias based on each of the following service quality determinants: professionalism, attitudes and behaviors, accessibility and flexibility, reliability and trustworthiness, service recovery, and reputation and credibility. These criteria can be used as guidelines for influencing positive service quality perceptions.
  • Develop proper measurements. Use metrics that are specific on nature, such as 95% on-time-delivery, customer wait time, or order processing time. Benchmark the best practices for each service are being measured, such as wait time or order delivery.
  • Employee selection, job design, and training are absolutely crucial to building customer satisfaction and service quality. Structure the job of service workers to maximize their ability to respond quickly and competently to customer needs. Also, train service personnel in areas of service delivery and attitude. Role play different service scenarios, showing various service recovery strategies. Provide service workers with some basic tools to help control service quality variation and uncover service problems.
  • Reward total quality efforts in marketing. Look for opportunities to reinforce quality behaviors when they occur. Employees should be rewarded ob the basis of these behaviors (commitment, effort) rather than strictly on outcomes, such as sales quotas. Rewarding a salesperson for meeting or exceeding quota with a bonus while giving a nominal award such as a pin or plaque to the person who fixes the product or process sends a clear message about the importance of quality.
  • Think of service as a process, not a series of functions. Service quality occurs when the entire service experience is managed and the organization is aligned to respond accordingly.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Master Plan


Many people assume that a formal business plan is only for big time businesses. Wrong. A business plan is for anyone who wants to give their enterprise their best possible shot. It is where you detail out all the operational, marketing, and money matters of your business. It is, in essence, a road map. With it, you will better be able to reach your goal. Without it, you run the risk of spending precious time and money traveling in circles or unwittingly wandering into danger zones.

In response to the question, what a business plan is, follow the following”

  • A business plan is written by the home-based business owner with outside help as needed.
  • It is accurate and concise as a result of careful study.
  • It explains how the business will function in the marketplace.
  • It clearly depicts its operational characteristics.
  • It details how it will be financed.
  • It outlines how it will be managed.
  • It is the management and financial “blueprint” for startup and profitable operation.
  • It serves as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

A study for “why” of creating it, note:

  • The process of putting the business plan together, including the thought that you put in before writing it, forces you to take the objective, critical, unemotional look at your entire business proposal.
  • The finished written plan is an operational tool, which, when properly used, will help you manage your business and work toward its success.
  • The complete business plan is a means for communicating your ideas to others and provides the basis for financing your business.

While you are to be the author of the document, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help when it comes to areas outside your ken, such as accounting, insurance, capital requirements, operational forecasting, and tax and legal requirements. Finally, in response to the question, “When should Business Plan be used?” note:

  • To make crucial startup decisions
  • To reassure lenders and backers
  • To measure operational progress
  • To test planning assumptions
  • As a basis for adjusting forecasts
  • To anticipate ongoing capital and cash requirements
  • As the benchmark for good operational management

If you have been doing your research and homework all along, you probably have most of the raw material for the business plan, so it won’t be such an awesome task.

Business plans differ greatly, depending on the nature and scope of the enterprise. Some elements a person in a retail sales business would need in his or her business plan may be totally irrelevant for your service business. Similarly, business plans vary in length—from five or six pages or a virtual booklet; some are written in an engaging narrative style while others take another approach—just the facts. However, while business plans may differ in style, tone, length, and components, there is some common ground. Below is a list of items that should be in almost every business plan:

  • A summary of the nature of your business and its principal activity with a detailed description of the product(s) or service(s) you will offer.
  • A statement as to the form your business will take (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation) and how it will be managed and operated (with information on employees or subcontractors if applicable).
  • A discussion of any extra-ordinary (and potentially problematic) matters revolving around such things as space requirements, production processes, and operating procedures.
  • A discussion of major trends in your trade or profession.
  • A discussion of your competition and the basis on which you will compete.
  • A description of your target market that might include a profile of a typical customer or client.
  • A discussion of your plans for pricing, sales terms, and distribution.
  • A discussion of how you intend to advertise and promote your products or services.
  • A detailed statement of startup and operating costs for at least the first year.
  • A discussion of how your business will be financed.
  • Profit and loss and cash flow statements for at least the first year of business.

If this list has made a business plan seem all the more scary and arduous a task, don’t panic. There are books on the market that will guide you through the process.

A clean attractive business plan is a sine qua non if you will be applying for a loan or looking for investors. But even if the document is for your eyes only, you owe it to yourself to produce a professional-looking document. Since it is your road map, the neater it is the better it will serve you when you refer to it at various stages of your entrepreneurial journey.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Developing a Goals System


The process of identifying and structuring the goals system that is emerging from an exploration of strategic issues helps clarify what the strategic direction of the organization will be if no deliberate actions are taken to change it. Through understanding the potential impact of the issues and opportunities facing the organization, steps can be taken to position the organization in such a way as to resolve or capitalize upon these. As such, it provides a valuable benchmark against which to consider the strategic future. Thus, the process involves identifying the goals and understanding how they impact on one another. However, we usually find that a developing understanding of the nature of a goal comes from working on your own material.

Although not being absolutely dependent on the previous activities of issue surfacing, or interviewing using cognitive maps, the goal surfacing activity powerfully extends both the initial activities and takes the strategic thinking process one step further towards realizing a strategic intent and direction. An alternative means of surfacing goals can be achieved through starting with a blank wall (or computer screen if using the computer-supported mode of working). However, this form of the process does not recognize the role of existing problem identification (surfacing the issues) in suggesting real goals of the organization are and can be distracted from, through discussing those that are espoused. Starting with a description of apparent goals can miss the reality of the organization and provides an idealistic view of what the organization can and will achieve.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Board: Checklist


  • Who is responsible for ensuring that the board is effective and composed of directors that individually and collectively are competent?
  • Does the board evaluate its own effectiveness at least once a year?
  • What does the board do to benchmark itself against other boards.
  • Is the nature of the board and how it conducts its operations appropriate to the situation and circumstances of the company?
  • Is the board aware of its accountabilities to various stakeholders?
  • Does the board fully understand the requirements of the various stakeholders in the company?
  • Have the cross-functional and inter-organizational processes that deliver these requirements been identified?
  • Are the individual members of the board aware of their legal duties and responsibilities as directors?
  • Has the board identified a distinctive purpose for the company, and agreed and shared a compelling vision?
  • Has the board agreed and shared clear goals and values, established measurable objectives and put a performance management teamwork in place?
  • Have the ‘vital few’ actions that must be done been identified, and roles and responsibilities relating to their achievement been allocated?
  • Does the board pay sufficient attention to the implementation of objectives and policies?
  • Are the enablers, critical success factors and resource requirements for implementation in place?
  • Are the people of the organization motivated, empowered and equipped with the necessary skills to make it happen?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Principles of Quality Management


Vision-based:

  • Vision will give a sense of direction.
  • Vision will motivate human resource.
  • Vision will help the organization to stay focused.
  • Without vision an organization will fail.
  • Absence of vision will lead to confusion.

 Customer-focused:

  • Open economy has given away monopoly. It is buyer’s market which is in existence now.
  • Without customers no business can exist.
  • Internal customer orientation will improve productivity.
  • One dissatisfied customer can create havoc by unprecedented actions.
  • Retention of customer is the key issue in business.

 Prevention oriented:

  • Prevention is better than cure is a well acknowledged phrase.
  • Prevention orientation will take one nearer to ‘Zero Defects’ status.
  • Foolproof prevention techniques such as ‘Poka Yoka’ are available.
  • Corrective approach calls for costly monitoring mechanism.
  • Correction does not stop recurrence.

 Scientifically approached:

  • Scientific methods are based on fundamental or derived laws of mathematics and science and hence the foundation is strong.
  • Scientific methods are well proved over the years and hence chances of going wrong is remote.
  • Use of scientific methods gives a sense of pride and improves the self esteem of workers.
  • Unscientific methods make one ti depend on the previous experience, which may bot be appropriate.
  • Logical reasoning which may not always be appropriate is avoided in scientific methods.

 Process given more importance than end results:

  • End does not justify means.
  • Proper means will ensure quality result.
  • Zero defect is possible only if the processes are perfect.
  • Process orientation will make workers more responsible.
  • Result orientation will end up with huge los as all the defects are to be rejected.

 Data-based analysis:

  • Data-based approach will always give the best insight to the problem and solution.
  • Information-based or knowledge-based approach may mislead at all times.
  • Data collection is a strenous process; however the returns will be higher.
  • In many situations the raw data themselves will provide solutions to problems or at least provide useful clues.
  • Data collected and documented for one specific purpose, can well be used for some other purpose, thus providing a databank or multiple applications.

 Continuous improvement strategies

  • No one at any point of time can say that ‘Perfection’ has been achieved. Even six sigma companies talk about 3 ppm defects. Hence there is always scope for improvement in everything. Quality improvement is a never ending process.
  • The world has become so competitive that dynamism should reflect in every facet of business, even in product development.
  • Crativity and innovation are the order of the day in business circles.
  • Established tools such as ‘benchmarking’ are available for continuous improvement.
  • Improved products will have a cutting edge in the market.

 Cost conscious attempt:

  • ROI (Return on Investment) is the performance index for any business enterprise.
  • The visible quality costs are like the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of hidden  costs that go unnoticed.
  • Quality is free, meaning poor quality costs can be offset by good quality profit margin.
  • Affordability is the key factor for customers and profit margin is the key factor for manufacturers.
  • Prevention which could be done with $1 is missed, the failure/defects due to that will cost the company $10. the cost ratios are so high.

 Documentation for traceability

  • Stakeholders ae assured of the quality through documentation.
  • Traceability is effective and easy with documented information.
  • Documentation will amount to standardization.
  • To err is human; documentation helps in curbing human errors.
  • Role clarity is ascertained which reduces workplace confusion.

 Reward/Recognition assured

  • Recognition is one thing that every human being long for.
  • Motivation is the key factor for sustaining quality initiatives.
  • Rewards may be helpful in motivating non-performers to join quality initiators.
  • Disinterest in the job being done is the main culprit for low productivity and poor quality.
  • Human component plays a major role as compared to system component in quality initiatives.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Customer Retention Program


To develop an effective customer retention (CR) program, organization can follow this five-step process:

  1. Determine your current CR rate. It is surprising how few companies know the percentage of customers that leave (the defection rate) or the percentage of customers that they are able to retain annually (the retention rate). There are many ways to measure customer retention. Choosing an appropriate measure provides a starting point for assessing a firm’s success in keeping customers.
  2. Analyze the defection problem. This is a three-pronged attack. First, we must identify disloyal customers. Second we need to understand why they left. There are six types of defectors. Customers go elsewhere because of lower price, superior products, better service, alternative technologies, market changes (they move or go bankrupt), and “political” considerations; (switching motives) can also provide insight here. Third, strategies must be developed to overcome the non-loyal purchasing behavior.
  3. Establish a new CR objective. Let’s assume that your company is currently retaining 75% of its customers. A realistic goal may be to improve client retention annually by at least 5%, to 80%, and to keep 90% of your clients within 5 years. Customer-retention objectives should be based on organizational cabalities (strengths, weaknesses, resources, etc.), customer and competitive analyses, and benchmarking with the industry or sector, comparable firms, and high performing units in your company.
  4. Invest in targeted CR plan to enhance customer loyalty. The cost (potential lifetime value) of a single lost customer can be substantial. This is magnified exponentially when we realize the overall annual cost of lost business.
  5. Evaluate the success of the CR program. As an iterative process, the final phase in designing a solid customer retention plan is to ensure that it is working. Careful scrutiny is required to assess the program’s impact on keeping existing customers. Upgrading current customer relationships may be a secondary business objective. At this point, we gather new information to learn to what extent our CR rate improved. We may need to revisit our benchmarks and further probe isolated causes of defection. CR strategies and tactics will be closely analyzed to determine which methods worked best and those that had little or no impact on keeping customers.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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