Writer’s Checklist


When writing a technical report ask yourself following questions:

  • What is reader’s name and job title?
  • What are reader’s chief responsibilities on the job?
  • What is reader’s educational background?
  • What is your reader’s professional background (previous positions or work experience)?
  • What is reader’s attitude toward the subject of the document?
  • What will the reader do with the document: file it, skim it, read only a portion of it, study it carefully, modify it and submit it to another reader, attempt to implement recommendations?
  • What are the reader’s likes and dislikes that might affect his/her reaction to the document?
  • How will your reader’s physical environment affect how you write and package the document?
  • What is your purpose in writing?
  • What is the document intended to accomplish?
  • Is your purpose consistent with your audience’s needs?
  • How does your understanding of your audience and of your purpose determine your strategy: the scope, structure, organization, tone, and vocabulary of the document?
  • Are there any organizational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any informational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any time constraints?
  • Have you checked with your primary reader to see if he or she approves of your strategy for the document?

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.

Meeting Minutes


Minutes of a meeting are a contemporaneous history of your activities. Good minutes are valuable. They serve a number of purposes and have uses beyond recording events and decisions.

Periodic review of minutes of past meetings can reveal a variety of useful information, providing you know what to seek. Minutes can quickly reveal direction of consideration, equality of leadership, and dominant personalities in the group. If you are a leader, minutes have special value and are, in a way, a report on your leadership abilities. Here below are uses of minutes:

i.          Review of past activities;

ii.          Providing evidence of factions;

iii.          Measuring Group Productivity;

iv.          Measuring participation;

v.          Measuring Leadership;

vi.          Measuring Management Confidence;

vii.          Summarizing Proceedings;

viii.          Recognizing individuals;

ix.          Giving insight into the Group.

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.

Strategic Marketing & Budgeting


A phase in the strategic marketing management process is budgeting. A budget is a formal, quantitative  expression of an organization’s planning and strategy initiatives expressed in financial terms. A well-prepared budget meshes and balances an organization’s financial, production, and marketing resources so that overall organizational goals or objectives are attained.

An organization’s master budget consists of two parts: 1) an operating budget, and 2) a financial budget. The operating budget focuses on an organization’s income statement. Since the operating budget projects future revenue and expenses, it is sometimes referred to as a pro forma income statement or profit plan. The financial budget focuses on the effect that the operating budget and other initiatives (such as capital expenditures) will have on the organization’s cash position.

In addition to the operating and financial budget, many organizations prepare supplemental special budgets, such as an advertising and sales budget, and related reports tied to the master budget. Budgeting is more than an accounting function. It is an essential element of strategic marketing management.

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.

Span of Control


The number of people reporting to any one manager represents that manager’s span of control. A manager should not have too many subordinates. An acceptable span of control is often set at four to eight people. More people can be supervised effectively if their jobs are routine ones.

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.

Writing Tips


  • When writing consider the recipients. What do they know already? What can you tell them?
  • Outline your memos and letters before beginning to write.
  • When writing reports, summarize key points or conclusions on the first page and document them with more information on subsequent pages.
  • Write like you speak to make your writing as readable as possible.
  • Learn the writing style of your organization and follow it. Don’t use flowery language (many adjectives and verbs) when inappropriate.
  • Have your secretary or assistant edit and proofread your correspondence for sentence structure and grammatical errors.
  • Keep dictionary thesaurus on hand to check spelling and word usage.
  • Use variety of sentence structures—simple, complex, and compound—to add interest to your writing.
  • When writing for a non-ethical audience, have a non-technical person identify jargon. Then either eliminate it or include a glossary defining the terms.
  • Use charts and tables wherever possible to present numerical information.
  • Use “action verbs” to add punch to your message.
  • Eliminate weak words like “very,” “interesting,” “often,” and other bland adjectives or adverbs.
  • Keep paragraphs short. Make sure the content of a paragraph revolves around only one thought—the topic sentence.
  • If you do a large amount of routine correspondence, standardize it as much as possible.
  • If procrastination is a problem, start writing a rough draft early so you have time to reverse it at least once.
  • When allocating blocks of time for writing, set aside periods of one to one-and-a-half hours, rather than trying to do it in segments of 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Develop a flash card system to work in your own common misspellings.
  • Dictate correspondence, memos, and so forth, to save time.
  • Seek immediate and specific feedback on reports you write.
  • Take a second or third look at your memos before sending them.
  • Use a grammar checking software program on your computer to identify errors you frequently make, and use that feedback to focus your efforts to improve your writing.

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.

A Line Organization


A line organization is one in which there are direct two-way lines of responsibility, authority, and communication running from the top to the bottom of the organization, with all people reporting to only one supervisor. The most obvious example is the army, which has a clear line of authority going from general to colonel to major to lieutenant to sergeant to corporal to private. A private reports to a corporal, the corporal to a sergeant, and so on back up to the generals. A line organization has the advantages of having clearly defined responsibility and authority, of being easy to understand, and of providing one supervisor for each person. The principles of good organizational design are met.

Disadvantages include for being too flexible, of having few specialists or experts to advise people along the line, of having lines of communication that are too long, and of being unable to handle the complex decisions involved in an organization with thousands of sometimes unrelated products and literally tons of paperwork.

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.

Elaboration


Taking an idea or a thing and bending and stretching it in interesting ways is elaborative ability. Management is full of tools and techniques. Each of these is an elaboration of an insight. The idea that if management gets vital information about the performance and operations of the organization, then remedial action can be faster has led to computerized management information systems, which can be highly elaborate, with periodic reports running into dozens of pages. The idea that money is a motivator of effort has led to all sorts of elaborative incentive systems. The idea that in a market economy the customer is the king has led to all sorts of market research models to find out what the customer wants and what he or she is willing to pay for it.

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.

Financial Statement


A financial statement is a snapshot taken of your business at a given time. Usually this picture is taken at a month end. It will tell you what the business owns, what it owes, your capital and equity in the business, what the sales were, what it cost to make those sales, what the business overhead was, and how much profit (or loss) the business made.

A financial statement follows a set format, consisting following sections:

  • Notice to reader or review engagement report
  • Balance sheet
  • Statement of retained earnings (if incorporated)
  • Statement of income and expenses
  • Notes to financial statements
  • Statement of changes in financial position.

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.

Writing a Marketing Plan


  • Use a direct, professional writing style. Use appropriate business and marketing terms without jargon. Present and future tenses with active voice are generally better than past tense and passive voice.
  • Be positive and specific. At the same time, avoid superlatives (such as terrific, wonderful). Specifics are better than glittering generalities. Use numbers for impact, justifying computations and projections with facts or reasonable quantitative assumptions where possible.
  • Use bullet points for succinctness and emphasis. As with the list you are reading, bullets enable key points to be highlighted effectively and with great efficiency.
  • Use “A level” (the first level) and “B level” (the second level headings under major section headings to help readers make easy transitions from one topic to another. This also forces the writer to organize the plan more carefully. Use these headings liberally, at least once every 200 to 300 words.
  • Use visuals where appropriate. Illustrations, graphs, and charts enable large amounts of information to be presented succinctly.
  • Shoot for a plan 15 to 35 pages in length, not including financial projections and appendices. An uncomplicated small business may require only 15 pages, while a new business startup may require more than 35 pages.
  • Use care in layout, design, and presentation. Laser or ink-jet printers give a more professional look than  do dot matrix printers or typewriters. A bound report with a cover and clear title page adds professionalism.

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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