Traditional Control Systems


Traditional Control Systems are based on setting standards and then monitoring performance. These systems include three categories of controls: diagnostic controls, boundary systems and interactive controls.

  • Diagnostic Control Systems (such as budgets) allow managers to determine whether important targets have been met and if necessary, to figure out why they haven’t been.
  • Boundary Control Systems are policies that identify the boundaries within which employees are to operate. Ethical rule against accepting gifts from suppliers are an example.
  • Integrative Control Systems involve controlling employees interactively, by questioning them face to face.

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.

Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the business.

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.

Soft Customer Standards


Not all customer priorities can be counted, timed, or observed through audits. As Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.” Understanding and knowing the customer is not a customer priority that a standard that counts, times, or observes employees can adequately capture. In contrast to hard measures, soft measures are those that must be documented using perceptual measures. We call the second category of customer-defined standards soft standards and measures because they are opinion-based measures that cannot be observed and must be collected by talking to customers, employees, or others. Soft standards provide direction, guidance, and feedback to employees in ways to achieve customer satisfaction and can be quantified by measuring customer perceptions and beliefs. These are especially important for person-to-person interactions such as the selling process and the delivery process for professional services.

Exceeding Customer Expectations


We often focus on meeting customer expectations by closing the gap between customer perceptions and expectations. There’s a difficulty in meeting expectations because of all the factors that must be coordinated to deliver on the firm’s service promises. However, an increasingly popular service maxim urges companies to “exceed customer expectations.”—to delight, excite, surprise, and otherwise amaze. According to this formulated belief, merely meeting customer expectations is not enough; a company must exceed them to retain customers. This is an appealing slogan as well as one that sets a high performance standard for employees, but it holds the potential to overpromise to both customers and employees. In attempting to exceed customer expectations, a company must understand a) what type of expectations can and should be exceeded, b) what customer group or segment is to be targeted, and c) the impact exceeding  expectations has on future expectations of 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, and my Lectures.

Ethical Climate


The unspoken understanding among employees of what is and is not acceptable behavior is called an ethical climate.

In most companies, a moral atmosphere can be detected. People can feel the way the ethical winds are blowing. They pick up subtle hints and clues that tell them what behavior is approved and what is forbidden. Ethical climate is part of the corporate culture that sets the ethical tone in a company. There are three different types of ethical yardsticks: egoism (self-centeredness), benevolence (concern for others), and principle (respect for one’s own integrity, for group norms, and for society’s laws). These ethical yardsticks can be applied to dilemmas concerning individuals, a company, or society at large.

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.

Termination of Employees


Most employees are hired for an indefinite period. If no length of employment is agreed upon, employment is “at will.” This means that an employer can discharge such an employee at any time for any reason or without giving any reason. Unions generally negotiate a change in this rule for the employees they represent. Most union contracts contain a clause that permits discharge only for good cause.

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.

Reinventing Leadership


Many people in today’s organizations are pretty miserable. Unhappy people don’t produce quality services and products. At some level, each one of us knows that. Yet, many leaders and managers have given up. They’ve accepted the idea that employees work forty hours a week only so they can do what they want to do on the weekend. That must be changed, and it can be changed. The realities of the deteriorating social fabric demand that we return self-esteem to workers. The realities of national and global competition demand that leaders start making a difference in their corporations—a difference that truly makes a difference.

There are better ways to run corporations than the old, autocratic, dehumanizing ways. Not only must we implement these better ways; we have to sustain them. You can’t do it with your eyes, head or heart closed. But it’s very simple stuff, and it’s very, very powerful.

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.

Change and Gain


The best schedule for your business is likely to be very different from your current schedule. Innovative schedules that require major changes are the most likely to give the biggest benefits. On the other hand, the closer the new schedule is to the current schedule, the easier it is for workers to accept. Implementing a current modified schedule is easier but has a limited impact. In some companies even a relatively simple change—new shift start times, changing the direction of rotation, or a new vacation selection method—can create considerable controversy while not solving fundamental scheduling problems. Changing schedules is an emotional event for your employees, so you might as well tackle all of your scheduling problems at the same time.

Ask whether you want to make a small change or a big change. As a rule of thumb, aim for the greatest change possible, because you are not going to get all the way there anyway. Most organizations have a built-in inertia that limits change. On a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being the current schedule and 100 being the perfect schedule, aim for 100, with the hope that your business will fall within the 80 to 90 range.

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.

Productivity—the Japanese Way


Economists are forever telling us that we need to increase productivity in order to improve our standard of living. Productivity is one of those concepts that are so loaded with meaning and implications that is very difficult to define, much less explain. Not surprisingly then, improving “it” is one of the most difficult tasks facing business. More to the point, the time for improvement is quickly running out. Industrial performance is being outstripped at a frightening pace by the Japanese. In fact, it has reached the point where their productivity performance is so superior that they can literally pick any product and any market and quickly come to dominate it.

The idea that Japanese are uniquely gifted in only a few related areas has been debunked by their proven successes in industries as diverse as automobiles and semi-conductors. As well, the facile suggestion that the Japanese are somehow culturally inclined to be productive doesn’t wash. Japanese managers have taken over factories in Europe and the US and greatly improved productivity records. Productivity has also been high in their North American plants.

If corporate managers believe that their workers can be as competitive as anyone else in the world, and technically, there’s no valid reason why they can’t be, then they must find better ways to help their employees realize their potential. In that sense, study of Japanese methods is a jumping-off point that can lead to adaptations that will produce unique ways of improving productivity.

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 Dark Side of Technology


Although there is clearly great potential for technology to support brand new product concepts, provide new ways of delivering service, and enable consumers and employees in achieving better quality products and services, there are potential negative outcomes as well. There are many paradoxes of technology products and services for consumers. Technology can assimilate people while isolating them; it can provide a sense of control and at the same time feelings of ineptitude.

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.

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