Process Engineering


Although continuous improvement methods are positive starts in many of our organizations, they generally focus on incremental change. Such action—a constant and permanent search to make things better—is intuitively appealing. Many organizations, however, operate in an environment of rapid and dynamic change. As the elements around them change so quickly, a continuous improvement process may keep them behind the times.

The problem with a focus on continuous improvements is that it may provide a false sense of security. It may make organizational members feel as if they are actively doing something positive, which is somewhat true. Unfortunately, ongoing incremental change may prevent a company from facing up to the possibility that what the organization may really need radical or quantum change, referred to as work process engineering. Continuous change may also make employees feel as if they are taking progressive action while, at the same time, avoiding having to implement quantum changes that will threaten certain aspects of organizational life. The incremental approach of continuous improvement, then, may be today’s version of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is imperative in today’s business environment that all organizational members consider the challenge that work process engineering may have for their organizational processes. This is because work process engineering can lead to “major gains in cost, service, or time,” as well as an organization in preparing to meet the challenges technology changes foster.

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 Useful Instructions


When you need to explain in writing how to do something, a set of step-by-step instructions is your best choice. By enumerating the steps, you make it easy for readers to perform the process in the correct sequence. Your goal is to provide a clear, self-sufficient explanation so that readers can perform the task independently.

Gather Equipment

  1. Writing materials (pen and paper, typewriter, computer)
  2. Background materials (previous memos, policy manuals, manufacturer’s booklets, etc.)
  3. When necessary, the apparatus being explained (machine, software package, or other equipment)

Prepare

  1. Perform the task yourself, or ask experts to demonstrate it or describe it to you in detail.
  2. Analyze prospective readers’ familiarity with the process so that you can write instructions at their level of understanding.

Make your Instructions Clear

  1. Include four elements: an introduction, a list of equipment and materials, a description of the steps involved in the process, and a conclusion.
  2. Explain in the opening why the process is important and how it is related to a larger purpose.
  3. Divide the process into short, simple steps presented in order of occurrence.
  4. Present the steps in a numbered list, or if presenting them in paragraph format, use words indicating time or sequence, such as first and then.
  5. If the process involves more than ten steps, divide them into groups or stages identified with headings.
  6. Phrase each step as a command (“Do this” instead of “You should do this”); use active verbs; use precise, specific terms (“three weeks” instead of “several weeks”).
  7. When appropriate, describe how to tell whether a step has been performed correctly and how one step may influence another. Warn readers of possible damage or injury from a mistake in a step, but limit the number of warnings so that readers do not underestimate their importance.
  8. Include diagrams of complicated devices, and refer to them in appropriate steps.
  9. Summarize the importance of the process and the expected results.

Test your Instructions

  1. Review the instructions to be sure they are clear and complete. Also judge whether you have provided too much detail.
  2. Ask someone else to read the instructions and tell you whether they make sense and are easy to follow.

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.

 

Meaning Transfer


The culture and social systems in which marketing communications takes place are loaded with meaning. Through socialization, people learn cultural values, beliefs, and become familiar with the artifacts that are associated with these values and beliefs. The artifacts of culture are charged with meaning, and this meaning is transferred from generation to generation.

Marketing communicators attempt to draw meaning from the culturally constituted world and transfer that meaning to consumer goods. Advertising is an especially important instrument of meaning transfer. The role of advertising in transferring meaning has been described in this fashion.

When exposed to advertising, the consumer is not merely drawing information from the ad but is actively involved in assigning meaning to the advertised product.

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 Ideal Customer


Before you begin to pick up phone, or write a letter, the starting point is to target the ideal customers, or ideal potential customers.

One of the best places to start in finding your ideal customer is with your existing customers. List down those 10 to 30 customers who are current, active and successful. Think about what kind of company, organization or individuals that they are.

If you sell to businesses consider the size, nature and location of the company. Whereabouts are they based geographically? What kind of business are they in? What are their size, turnover and other factors that may influence their suitability?

What sort of attitude must they have towards your products or services? What facts would you need to check for to make them a suitable prospect? Who would it be best to contact within that organization? Is there anybody else that you could also contact who may be easier to get through to on an initial call?

If you sell to individuals or consumers, you may want to consider what time of day is best to catch your potential prospects in, what are their ages, hobbies, background, social status, and income etc?

The importance of carefully targeting ideal customers twofold. The first is that we make greater use of our time; by not wasting time with people or companies who can’t or won’t buy, we can increase our chances that our time spent prospecting will pay off.

We can also protect ourselves from some of the rejection that may come with telephoning for appointments. It is no secret that when you are prospecting by telephone, you are going to get a lot more ‘nos’ than you might do when you are seeing people 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.

 

Public Relations (PR)


Public Relations is the management function that evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. In other words a good public relations program has three steps:

  1. Listen to the public: Public relations starts with good marketing research (evaluates public attitudes).
  2. Develops policies and procedures that are in the public interest: One does not earn understanding by bombarding the public with propaganda; one earns understanding by having programs and practices in the public interest.
  3. Inform people of the fact that you are being responsive to their needs: It is not enough to simply have programs that are in the public interest. You have to tell the public about those programs so that they know you are being responsive.

Publicity is one of the major functions of the public relations department. Publicity is any information about an individual, a product, or an organization that is distributed to the public through the media and that is not paid for, or controlled by, the sponsor.

Other activities include:

  • Establishing contact with civic groups, consumer organizations, and other concerned citizens to learn their views of the organization, to answer their questions, and to provide information (or education).
  • Opening lines of communication with customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, stockholders, government agencies, educators, and community leaders.
  • Conducting studies to find the economic, environmental, and social consequences of organizational practices and to learn how to make a more positive contribution to customers, stakeholders, and society.
  • Providing any assistance needed to adjust the goals, policies, practices, personnel policies, products, and programs of the organization to meet the needs of changing markets.
  • Assisting all members of the firm in developing effective programs of consumer information and education.
  • Sending speakers to schools, clubs, and other such groups to maintain an open dialogue with students and other socially active members of society.
  • Creating incentives for employees to participate in public-affairs activities such as raising funds for charitable groups.
  • Answering consumer and other complaints promptly and correcting whatever it was that caused the complint.
  • Training employees or volunteers to provide prompt, friendly, courteous, and helpful service to anyone who contacts the organization in person, by phone, or written correspondence.
  • Demonstrating to society the organization is listening, reacting, adjusting, and progressing in its attempt to satisfy its diverse publics.
  • Opening two-way communications with employees to generate favorable employee opinion and to motivate employees to speak well of the organization to others.

This is an incomplete description of all the activities and responsibilities of the PR people, but it at least gives some feeling for what they do.

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.

 

Industrial Competitiveness


The European Management Forum defines industrial competitiveness as “the immediate and future ability of, and opportunities for, entrepreneurs to design, produce and market goods within their respective environments whose price and non-price qualities form a more attractive package than those of competitors.”

The major factors affect competitiveness:

  • The dynamism of the economy measured by criteria such as growth rates, monetary strength, industrial production and per capita performance.
  • Industrial efficacy, which involves direct and indirect employee costs, per capita output, employee motivation, turnover and absenteeism.
  • The dynamics of the market, when efforts to improve competitiveness are increased and better directed to more intensive market forces.
  • Financial dynamism that is the strength and importance of the commercial banking sector, stock and bond markets and their ability to provide capital.
  • Human resources that is the dynamism of the population and the labor force, employment, unemployment, executive quality and motivation.
  • The role of the state in fiscal policies and other regulations.
  • Resources and infrastructure (transport and communications facilities), domestic energy and raw material sources.
  • Outward orientation, the will to promote trade actively, buying and selling goods, service-related investments or any other form of international exchange.
  • Innovative forward orientation which emphasis national research and development efforts, corporate and government attitudes to exploiting new ideas, products and production processes.
  • Socio-political consensus and stability, the degree to which strategies and policies reflect a society’s aspirations.

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.

Openness to Criticism


Criticism of any decision not only reflects on the actual appropriateness of the decision itself, but also on the decision-maker as well. When making a difficult decision, it is very  tempting to quickly move past it in order to avoid the questions and doubts the disapproval causes. However, the failure to adequately engage the objection becomes its own ethical dilemma with costs to both the individual and the organization when the ethical dimension is ignored. Openness to the criticism and the lessons it contains can be a key indication that the professional is actively integrating ethics and value reflection into his or her professional life.

When one’s decisions are criticized, one needs practical tools and processes to effectively learn from the reproach and to engage the ethical issues the disapproval presents. there are four fundamental steps in such examination described per herebelow:

  1. Accept the discomfort of the criticism and honestly confront the temptation to ignore it. An important incentive for this honest self-reflection is an understanding of the negative consequences of ignoring the ethics of one’s decisions and their consequences.
  2. Identify personal core values, listing them and examining them in light of the criticism being encountered.
  3. Cultivate openness to the ethical dimension of the business life and of business decisions. The role of the moral imagination and reflection will be examined.
  4. The need for practical tools to identify and audit the core values at work in the decision-making process will be reviewed.

These elements will enable the professional to effectively engage the ethical dimension of decisions and their aftermath. Openness to criticism, developing the moral imagination, having practical tools for ethical decision-making, and understanding the need to integrate one’s values into business goals, perspectives, and decisions are fundamental ingredients in integrating both vision and reality.

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.

Principles of Crisis Management


What does one do when a crisis comes? There are some principles, not rules that can be useful to managers facing a crisis:

Define the real problem: Crises tend to face managers to think short term and focus on the narrow problem at hand. The crisis management team should ask several reflective questions: What would constitute a good job in managing this crisis? What can we accomplish? What is impossible?

Set Goals and Define the Crisis Strategy in Light of Those Goals: The urge to act first, think later is hand to resist when facing a crisis. The better the course is to have some managers actively thinking about the goals—What do we want to accomplish? How do we want to be perceived by the media? By our shareholders? By our employees and customers?

Manage the flow of Information: Experts advise managers to tell the story their way, consistently, and frequently. Because electronic media repeat crisis stories quite frequently in a typical news day, managers have an opportunity to correct errors and should not permit an erroneous statement to stand unchallenged.

Adopt a Team Approach: It is important to have one spokesperson designated at the outset and available to act on the company’s behalf immediately. Successful companies have thought in advance about the skills each crisis team should possess. Legal, media, and government relations skills are essential in many crisis situations.

Plan for the worst case: A crisis always has the potential to worsen, and managers need to anticipate the worst case possibility. It is tempting to assume a crisis will pass and the world will return to normal. It is wise to prepare for the worst.

Plan on the Situation Getting Worse: By doing so, an organization can begin to see ahead and create contingency plans for communicating with key stakeholders, deploying resources, and organizing other companies and people for action.

Follow up after the Crisis is Over: Many contacts with stakeholders occur during a crisis. A company can restore its image and reputation by dedicated follow-up to stakeholders.

Use Technology: Information technology can be a powerful aid to a company facing a crisis and needing to communicate with stakeholders. A company should measure the effectiveness of communication message through polling, surveys, and focus-group interviews.

Don’t Give up: As bad as it can be for an organization, a crisis rarely destroys a well-managed business. Leadership is vital if an organization’s internal and external stakeholders are to believe that there is a bright future beyond the crisis.

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.

Traditional Manager Vs. Customer-focused Manager


A traditional manager focuses on current goals. Their time and their energy is preoccupied with a series of probably corporate internally focused objectives – whether this is making a sales target, budget, profitability or some other goal, such as market share. On the other hand a customer-focused manager is led and empowered by a vision. A vision based on quality as well as quantity and results. A vision that inherently has a customer satisfaction measure and a vision that creates a feeling of pride and satisfaction in working in that way.

A traditional manager is largely reactive – making decisions, implementing plans based on the input of those above them, around them or in the external environment. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ would be a common maxim. Today’s manager is largely proactive – ‘If it’s not broken, break it,’ because it’s going to be broken very soon. Today’s manager doesn’t wait for things to need a reason for change; they change things for the sake of it. Whether this is just simply the office layout, the times people take their lunch, company policies, prices, brochures, and markets – everything else has to be a proactive activity today. If you wait for the market to change you will probably always be one step behind. One step behind what the customers need and want and what your competitors are doing.

A traditional manager will often seek, either directly or indirectly, to limit other people’s participation. Typically, meetings between managers are excluded from input from other people, or they don’t involve other people perhaps as much as they should do – this is never seen as necessary. But today it is essential. Today’s manager has to promote involvement; they need opinions, thoughts, ideas, and feedback from all levels within the organization. The best way of achieving this is by one of two methods. The first is one we could loosely name ‘random communication,’ where just by simply creating the environment where people can mix and mingle, communicate, participate and share, ideas can be distributed. The other way is by doing something slightly more formal, by putting in place a series of waterfalls or communication falls where information and participation flows around the organization.

Traditional managers will probably reward people based on their qualifications or long service. A more customer-focused manager will reward and recognize people based on their ability to enhance customers and deliver excellence. For example, it is not uncommon for managers to regularly single out for some form of payment, or just simple recognition, those people in a customer service team who have gone beyond the normal levels and delivered something extraordinary during their job. Whether it was staying late sorting out a customer problem, coming up with an idea which helped the business move forward, making big improvements in their own work – these are the things that managers reward.

Another thing that has to change if you are going to move forward and lead successfully in a customer-focused organization is that you have to let go of solving problem yourself. One very successful manager who ran a very effective customer service team had a big sign on their wall. You can come in here with any problem at all, so long as you have one idea for a solution.

A traditional manager also sees their role as controlling information. They will keep their staff and other people on a ‘need to know’ basis. This is not how it works. Information should be shared, but not broadcast. A good manager will communicate actively and pro-actively to all concerned. He or she will keep them informed of the information they need to deliver the best possible service to the customer. This means the information is timely, relevant and understood.

Managing in today’s environment, with the pressures of working with ever demanding customers, will invariably result in matters of conflict and disagreement. Rather that patching these over, ignoring them, or letting them sort themselves out, as is perhaps more traditionally done by managers, these should now be sought out and moderated to a successful outcome.

A customer-focused manager ‘walks the talk’. He or she must act congruently and with the same values and honesty that they want their staff to deliver to their customers. That means they keep commitments, it means they under promise and over deliver, and they make everyone of their employees feel special and a valuable member of the team. Nobody just does a job and goes home, there is a purpose, a value and a mission.

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.

Low Corporate Libido


Have you seen an organization with its head down and all its bounce gone? It is sad as it gets in organizational terms.

You know what is going on the second you walk into the office. Everybody looks that bit scruffier than they have a right to look. Even the office looks tired. People walk more slowly than they need to and the hourly trip to the toilet is eagerly anticipated. The most active sign of life is always outside the fire exit where furtive smokers gather, regardless of the rain, to predict who will be next to leave.

Customer service descends to an all-time low and the only people recruiting will be the complaints department.

Everything is a problem under these conditions and cost cutting is more important than growth, regardless of the idea, those with initiative are considered to be actually rather annoying.

This is the day-to-day reality for thousands of employees working in organizations suffering low corporate libido.

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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