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.

Marketing Audit


Marketing audit is a comprehensive, systematic, independent, and periodic examination of company’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies and activities with a view of determining problem areas and opportunities and recommending a plan of action to improve the company’s marketing performance.

 The audit process directs the manager’s attention to both the strategic fit of the organization with its environment and the operational aspects of marketing program. Strategic aspects of the marketing audit address the synoptic question: “Are we doing the right things?” Operational aspects address an equality synoptic question: “Are we doing the things right?”

 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.

Focusing Organization


This focus begins when someone at top identifies a set of concerns that require correction. These concerns are of significant importance to the organization, rather than passing operational concerns. They are persistent, undesirable situations that have grown over time and have never been adequately addressed. It is clear that a major effort is required to solve them and that new skill and approaches have to be developed if the effort is to be successful.

 The entire project is planned as a taskforce attack on identified situations; objectives—analysis and correction of the target situations, objectives are defined. This planning cannot be delegated. It is done by top management, since responsibility for the project must reside with those who initiate it. By actively directing the project, top management makes its support of the ideas evident to everyone. By participating in the project throughout its life, top management returns control and ensures success.

 The management works out a comprehensive plan and schedule. The population of individuals who can contribute in solving the target situations is identified by name and position. Workshops are scheduled. It is in the workshops that the participants learn. They apply their skills to analysis of their assigned concerns.

 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.

Project Implementation


Clarify implementation goals and standards—what is the intended result of the project? How will we know when we have achieved it? To provide direction to the project the goal should be expressed in terms of performance or output. The goal should be specific, realistic, attainable, challenging, consistent with the available resources and the organization’s policies and procedures, measurable and should have a deadline. The implementation standards should address quality, quantity and timing. This should include a set of standards to identify what actions must be taken meet them.

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.

Two-way HR Planning Process


Like other business strategies, human resource strategies are shaped through both top-down and bottom-up processes in an organization. A top-down processes provides the strategic context necessary for team and unit planning.

Through a focused company environmental assessment, it provides information on possible future trends and issues affecting  the business and influencing the shaping of plans and objectives. People close to the operating business may not readily take such a broad future view. It requires looking outside the company to external competitive practices, economic and social trends, and possible future conditions that may some day have an impact on the business.

A plan is strategic in character if it is focused on important issues raised in an environmental assessment. In today’s competitive organization, it is important that employees at all levels be attuned to external  forces and changes and to the strategic direction being taken to address them.

In a bottom-up approach, planning of human resource actions is a cumulative process. Instead of broad strategies being broken down into progressively greater detail, detailed strategies are aggregated and synthesized into  meaningful umbrella strategies. Each business unit or department is asked to identify the human resource issues of concern, taking into consideration the guidance of the long-term planning inputs. They are also asked to specific analyses, forecasts, and assessments regarding these issues. Specific action plans are selected and adopted. Both human resource staff and managers should participate in this effort.

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.

Direct Sales Calls


  • Do sufficient research to identify potential customers who appear to need your product. This means pulling together names, addresses, and telephone numbers of companies in your market area that use the types of products you are trying to sell. Calling on companies that do not use your products only wastes time, energy, and money.
  • Get the name, address, and telephone number of the specific individual responsible for purchasing the  types of products you are selling. It won’t do much good to talk to the marketing manager if you’re trying to sell computer programs, or the general manager if you’re selling machine tools.
  • Know your sales pitch before calling. No one has time to chit-chat about superfluous subjects. No one cares about how you feel, nor do they care to tell you how they feel. One sentence describing your product and why the listener should buy it is all you’ve time for. If you continue beyond one sentence, either you’ll be thrown out or you’ll lose the interest of your  potential customer. When buyers want to hear more, they ask questions. If there are no questions, there’s no interest.
  • Don’t attempt to close an order at the first contact—either by phone or in person. If the person is interested, ask what would be convenient time and place for you to return and elaborate on your product offering, including prices, delivery schedules, and quality guarantees.
  • Focus on the benefits to be gained from using your product, not on its price. Explanations of product pricing and delivery options should wait for second contact. If you’re forced to the wall, try to keep your description of your pricing structure general.
  • Follow up all potential leads with another call, a letter, or a sample of your product. The scret to building a first-stage business base through direct sales is to continually follow up with any potential customer that seems the least bit interested in your 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.

Incremental Change Analysis


Most business focuses on the current situation, with changes defined on an iterative, cumulative basis. In this context, issues represent problems or opportunities for change from the current situation. The gaps represent ways that a company may achieve or enhance a competitive edge.

The most common way to define issues is to assess the changes that are expected t occur. These are derived from either internal or external changes, intended by management or occurring as a result of uncontrolled forces (as in workforce changes). Issues are identified in the way that people normally think—incrementally from the present toward future.

In this process, managers identify and evaluate human resource issues by sorting through available strategic planning, competitive, and environmental information for evidence of changes having human resource implications and then define human resource issues that may be addressed. Such analysis may examine employee productivity issues, service quality, staffing surpluses or shortfalls, succession needs, skill requirements, utilization, costs, turnover/retention patterns, or employee attitudes.

Managers also obtain and consider perspectives of relevant constituents, such as other managers and employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers. Companies solicit inputs from managers at various levels through their participation in the planning process or through interviews, focus groups, or surveys with key managers. Many companies survey employees, either specifically for planning inputs or more broadly as an assessment of organizational climate and human resource practices. Companies may involve employees through interviews or focus groups to help define issues and alternative strategies. Some also interview or survey customers, contractors, and other business partners regarding human resource issues to be addressed.

Environmental scanning is used to identify prospective human resource issues deriving from changing external conditions. Scanning the many changes occurring in social, political, legislative, demographic, economic, technological and other areas yields a wide array of issues that may be considered.

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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