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.

Be Inquisitive in Customer Service


Desire quality, efficiency, and precision

  • Focus on the customer’s need for accuracy and efficiency by methodically outlining steps, processes, or details related to a product or service.
  • Communication should be tied into facts, not feelings.
  • Have details and information prepared in advance and be thoroughly familiar with them
  • Approach encounters in a direct, businesslike, low-key manner.
  • Avoid small talk and speaking about yourself.
  • Ask specific open-ended questions about customers’ background or experiences related o the product or service.
  • Present solutions in a sequential fashion stressing advantages, value, quality, reliability and price. Also, be prepared to point out and discuss disadvantages.
  • Have documentation available to substantiate your claims.
  • Don’t pressure customer decisions and follow through on promises.

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

Equality, Inequality


Some people don’t think of you as an equal. Before they can accord you with the honor of being treated as an equal, they feel you need to prove yourself. You’ve run into these people before – you can probably spot them right away. And, try as you might, you probably have a difficult time respecting them, because you know that, deep down, they don’t respect you.

By nature, we are organizers, and sometimes we fall into the trap of organizing people. One of the most persistent downfalls of human society has been the urge to rank people according to worth. Even today, many cultures that now enjoy political freedom are still tarnished with the vestiges of a class system – a declaration that people are inherently unequal.

On a social level, this tendency is nothing more than a reflection of how we often behave in our personal lives. For whatever reason, we conclude that some type of people is better than others, and we make decisions based on this conclusion. If you think about it, all complaints of discrimination are essentially protests against decisions based on the notion of inherent inequality.

Another brand of inequality that has plagued history is the inequality of opportunity. Some people have a head start over others. Some people have more opportunities open to them than others do. It’s easy to say that ‘achievers create their own opportunities,’ but the fact is, life isn’t fair. Some people do have an advantage when it comes to opportunity. in life, there are few level playing fields, and there is very little any of us can do to change this.

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.

Res Judicata


The old Latin legal phrase, res judicata, means a thing already decided and settled. Res judicata is a legal principle quite consistently followed by almost all courts. It is the rule that a final judgment or decree on the merits of a matter by a court of competent jurisdiction will be final and conclusive as to any later lawsuit on all points or matters determined in the former suit. This means that between the parties themselves the dispute is closed at the conclusion of trial. However, this does not prevent a lower court decision from being appealed to a higher court.

This principle of res judicata prevents  an unsuccessful litigant from taking an unfavorable decision to another trial court for a second lawsuit on the same complaint or same set of facts. Res judicata applies between the parties in a civil lawsuit, affecting those parties and no others.

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.

Consumer Sovereignty


Mainstream economics uses some simple starting points; it believes that they are the best possible. First is that agents have more wants than they can attain, so that they feel scarcity; in fact, for practical purposes, wants are assumed to be endless. Second, third and fourth are that agents are self-interested, rational, and the best judges of their own well-being. These four assumptions are indeed usually good starting points, rather than starting by assuming that agents are completely fulfilled, altruistic, irrational, and not well-placed to evaluate their own situation. They are not equally good as finishing points. Sometimes good arguments exist for not accepting them.

An assumption that agents are the best judges of their own well being is less questionable for businesspeople and corporations, given the resources they have for analysis. Debate focuses more on consumers. The phrase consumer sovereignty is sometimes read descriptively, to mean that consumers are sovereign, in that procedures are induced via profit-seeking and competition  to provide what consumers want. Sometimes it is read normatively, to mean that consumers should be sovereign, their wishes should prevail concerning what is good for them. The normative claim can rest on three different bases: that consumers do make good choices; that the alternative stance is worse – to use someone else’s judgments and estimates of what is good for a person and how good it is; or quite differently, that people have the right to make their own choices and mistakes.

Consumers will not make good choices automatically and unconditionally. Our wants are not simple; for example, some are wants to not to have other wants (such as the desire to smoke or a compulsion to gamble). Establishing a mature balance between wants involves skills. Choice is also unlikely to bring satisfaction if taken on the basis of weak information. Markets often do not provide consumers with full and reliable information, for it is hard to exclude people from information and therefore to ensure payment for it, so its market supply is weakened. Instead, in a commerce-dominated society, one of the main types of information that adults get will be images that say the good life is obtained through high consumption of commodities; there is too little counteracting public information.

The issue of consumer sovereignty goes beyond whether choices are good for the chooser. Other people are affected. Some wants may thus be unacceptable, notably wants that bring harm to others, including even wants to harm others. Mainstream economists have unfortunately often taken a don’t-want-to-know approach to ethics in which they confuse acceptance of all wants with a value-neutral stance.

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.

Mistake


The term mistake is used in contract law to describe the situation in which one or both of the parties to an agreement acted under an untrue belief about the existence or nonexistence of a material fact. In mistake cases, unlike fraud and misrepresentation cases where the victim is also acting under a mistaken belief about the facts, the mistaken belief about the facts is not the product of a misstatement by the other party. Mistaken in this sense does not include errors of judgment, ignorance, or a party’s mistaken belief that he or she will be able to fulfill certain obligations under a contract. The things that were said about materiality and fact in the law misrepresentation hold true in mistake cases.

In deciding mistake cases, courts often seem to be trying more obviously to do justice than in other kinds of cases. This is why decisions in mistake cases sometimes seem to depart from the announced rules of law dealing with mistake.

Mistake cases are classified as mutual or unilateral, depending on whether both or only one of the parties was acting under a mistaken belief about a material fact. Mutual mistake is always a basis for granting rescission of the contract at the request of either party. Clearly, no meeting of the minds took place and therefore no true contract was ever formed.

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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