Creating a Professional Persona


Your persona is how you appear to your readers. Demonstrating the following characteristics will help you establish an attractive professional persona:

  • Cooperativeness: Make clear that your goal is to solve a problem, not advance your own interests.
  • Moderation: Be moderate in your judgments. The problems you are describing will not likely spell doom for your organization, and the solution you propose will not solve all company’s problems.
  • Fair-mindedness: Acknowledge the strengths of opposing points of view, even as you offer counter-arguments.
  • Modesty: If you fail to acknowledge that you don’t know everything, someone else will be sure to volunteer that insight.

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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Acknowledging Conflict


Too many managers conceal problem rather than solve them. A range of tensions and conflicts sometimes exist within organization. The realities underlying confrontation need to be addressed. Beneath the symptoms, a latent conflict may be lurking. The drive to impose a change of culture, or a standard approach throughout a corporation, can bring issues to the surface. Under the pressures and demands of corporate transformation, the cracks may widen until the organizational structure blows apart. The managers must acknowledge existence of conflict.

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.

Formal Authority


Formal authority can be thought of as the right to command or compel another person to perform a certain act. Power is the ability to influence or cause a person to perform an act. It is possible for a manager to have formal authority without power, just as it is possible for a subordinate to have power without formal authority. The distinction between these terms may be significant for the manager, who may assume that his formal authority automatically gives him power but overlook the fact that his subordinates also have power, at times greater than his own. The manager in such a situation can encounter difficult and frustrating experiences without knowing why.

If formal authority were dependent upon physical power only, life would be even more difficult than it is. Ultimately, formal authority is dependent upon the law, but most frequently it results from a  shared perception that those with formal authority have rights that ought to be acknowledged. This “ought” is so widely believed that those with formal authority may very frequently have real power as a result.

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.

Knowledge Management: Sharing What is Known


One by one, employees learn what they need to know and develop areas of expertise that are called on when needed to perform a certain job. However, there are occasions in which somebody in an organization requires special expertise but doesn’t know how to find it within the company. When this occurs, the company may waste time and money by “reinventing the wheel,” developing expertise that already exists (if they only knew where to find it). In other cases, if the necessary expertise is not tapped or new expertise is not developed, then either something will get done improperly or it will not get done at all.

Acknowledging this situation, in recent years many companies have instituted what is known as knowledgement management programs. Knowledge management is defined as the process of gathering, organizing, and sharing a company’s information and knowledge assets. Typically, knowledgement programs involve using technology to establish repository databases and retreival systems. These are ways of using computers to sort through and identify the areas of expertise represented in the company—that is, its intellectual capital. But don’t misunderstand: Knowledgement relies on human skills for success. Computers merely organize what those skills are and where in the company they may be found. One-third of all companies and 80 percent of large multinational enterprises already have a knowledge management system in place, and most others expect to implement in the near future.

It’s important to note that simply having a knowledge management program does not ensure success. Employees also must use it, but too often they don’t. this is called knowing-doing gap—the tendency for employees to refrain from using the knowledge that’s available to them in the company, leading to poor performance. Although there are many possible reasons for not using a knowledge management system, the most dominant is the tendency for employees to be afraid of expressing their ideas (for fear of giving people in other parts of the company an advantage over them) or of seeking ideas from others (for fear of admitting that they don’t know something). Obviously, for knowledgement to be effective people in the company have to be willing to both donate and receive information. To ensure that their company’s knowledge resources are put to use, execuitives put various incentives in place to encourage the company’s many experts to add their expertise to the database and to encourage employees to use others’ expertise contained in the database. Given the success of the company’s system, it’s apparent that the knowing-doing gap may not be found in the company. In fact, on the heels of its success, similar systems need to be introduced in the company’s sales reps and its research and development unit.

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

The Dynamics of Social Responsibility


The various stakeholders of a firm can be divided into inside stakeholders and outside stakeholders. The insiders are the individuals or groups that are stakeholders or employees of the firm. The outsiders are all the other individuals or groups that the firm’s actions affect. The extremely large and often amorphous set of outsiders makes the general claim that the firm be socially responsible.

Perhaps the thorniest issues faced in defining a company mission are those that pertain to responsibility. The stakeholder approach offers the clearest perspective on such issues. Broadly stated, outsiders often demand that insider’s claims be subordinated to the greater good of the society; that is, to the greater good of the outrsiders. They believe that such issues as pollution, the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and the conservation of natural resources should be principal consideration in strategic decision making. Also broadly stated, insiders tend to believe that the competing claims of outsiders should be balanced against one another in a way that protects the company mission. For example, they tend to believe that the need of consumers for a product should be balanced against the water pollution resulting from its production if the firm cannot eliminate that pollution entirely and still remain profitable. Some insiders also argue that the claims of society, as expressed in government regulation, provide tax money that can be used to eliminate water pollution and the like if the general public wants this to be done.

The issues are numerous, complex, and contingent on specific situations. Thus, rigid rules of business conduct cannot deal with them. Each firm regardless of size must decide how to meet its perceived social responsibility. While large, well-capitalized companies may have easy access to environmental consultants, this is not an affordable strategy for smaller companies. However, the experience of many small businesses demonstrates that it is feasible to accomplish significant pollution prevention and waste reduction without big expenditures and without hiring consultants. Once a problem area has been identified, a company’s line employees frequently can develop a solution. Other important pollution prevention strategies include changing the materials used or redesigning how operations are bid out. Making pollution prevention a social responsibility can be beneficial to smaller companies. Publicly traded firms also can benefit directly from socially responsible strategies.

Different approaches adopted by different firms reflect differences in competitive position, industry, country, environmental and ecological pressures, and a host of other factors. In other words, they will reflect both situational factors and differing priorities in the acknowledgement of claims. Obviously, winning the loyalty of the growing legions of consumers will require new marketing strategies and new alliances in the 21st Century. Many marketers already have discovered these new marketing realities by adopting strategies called the “4 Es.” 1) make it easy for the consumer to be green, 2) empower consumers with solutions, 3) enlist the support of the consumer, and 4) establish credibility with all publics and help to avoid a backlash.

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

The Role of Experience


It is necessary to understand how knowledge is transferred to a novice. Textbooks provide novices with a background in a given area and a familiarity with the terminology used by other individuals in the field, but books alone usually do not produce an expert in a specific field. It is important to consider the type of experience that will be obtained and its role in developing expertise.

Certain difficulties exist when people try to gain experience from working with experts. Experts may be able to solve problems well may not be able to verbalize their techniques for solving them. Another difficulty in assessing the development from novice to expert concerns those problem areas that require creativity to generate solutions. For example, in the formulation of new products or new information systems, it is not always productive to look at past situations to find an appropriate method to solve a current problem. Sometimes new solutions are needed. Whether creativity can be learned is certainly open to debate, and there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue. If creativity can be learned, the issue of how to develop it and how to judge when creativity has been learned becomes important.

Overall, if the problem can be solved as a result of experience in the field and there are acknowledged experts available with sufficient agreement on the nature of the solutions, the problem can be attacked through the development of an expert system.

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

Managing Cash and Liquidity


In a turbulent environment, cash returns are important, if not more important, than reported profit returns. Cash returns lead to liquidity, and liquidity is a top priority consideration whenever risks and uncertainties surround a business situation, as they do in so many cases today. Cash and liquidity put any company in a better position to withstand a surprise blow, adapt to sudden changes, and capitalize on the narrower windows of opportunity that are commonplace in a turbulent environment.

This doesn’t mean that profits and profit growth are not important. The whole purpose of any business enterprise is to maximize profits and profit growth, but this objective will  not be achieved if business unit managers do not focus more time and attention on managing their cash and liquidity. Any entrepreneur that has lived through a start-up knows the importance of cash and liquidity. The entrepreneur knows from experience that a business can go bankrupt even while it is reporting profits. But it will never go bankrupt as long as its cash and liquidity positions are strong. Most corporate executives understand this point also, but many do not follow through to make sure it is sufficiently stressed or understood at the operating level. This is where the problem lies. Most business unit managers who operate under a corporate umbrella tend to overlook the importance of managing their own cash and liquidity and look instead to the corporation as a never ending source of funds.

The results are apparent in most corporations. Capital expenditure proposals tend to be a “wish list” often justified on project volume gains or cost savings that never occur. Working capital is allowed to build without adequate regard for carrying costs on the cash commitment. In short, overinvestment in plant and equipment, and working capital often serves as a buffer to cover sloppy business practices and control. These are practices that inevitably lead to an investment base that is too big for the business and to marginal profit returns.

Many operating managers in a corporation are not even aware of the costs incurred while excess capital is tied up in the business. This is not an exaggeration. Just ask any four or five business unit managers how much it costs to carry their inventory. Most of them will acknowledge an interest cost of, say 7—8 percent, but few will recognize that total carrying costs, which include storage, taxes, obsolescence, and shrink, actually run closer to 30 percent in today’s environment. We would also bet that none of them have such charges against their earnings, even though it is a very legitimate cost of doing business.

Not every company operates this way. Most corporate executives are not tough minded or rigorous enough in challenging cash commitments, and most business unit managers have more cash tied up in their business than required.

Ideally, every manager should think like a small business entrepreneur with his or her own money at risk. If this were the case, we would not see so many companies with bloated balance sheets and marginal returns. Left on their own, most business unit managers do not think this way, however. Life is not easier when you can draw almost at will on coroprate resources to meet the payroll, build inventories, and buy supplies, tooling and a lot of equipment. Under such conditions you don’t have to worry very much about how to make ends meet.

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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