Checklist for Processes Improvement


Improvement is made by:

  • Viewing all work as a process, whether it is associated with production or business activities.
  • Making all processes effective, efficient, and adaptable.
  • Anticipating changing customer needs.
  • Controlling in-process performance using  measures such as scrap reduction, cycle time, control charts, and so forth,
  • Maintaining constructive dissatisfaction with the present level of performance.
  • Eliminating waste and rework wherever it occurs.
  • Investigating activities that do not add value to the product or service, with the aim of eliminating those activities.
  • Eliminating nonconformities in all phases of everyone’s work, even if the increment of improvement is small.
  • Using benchmarking to improve competitive advantage.
  • Innovating to achieve breakthroughs.
  • Incorporating lessons learned into future activities.
  • Using technical tools such as statistical process control, experimental design, benchmarking, quality function deployment, and so forth.

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 Norms


A norm is a standard against which the appropriateness of a behavior is judged. Thus, a norm is the expected behavior or behavioral pattern in a certain situation. Group norms usually are established during the second stage of group development (communication and decision making) and carried forward into the maturity stage. People often have expectations about the behavior of others. By providing a basis for predicting others’ behaviors, norms enable people to formulate response behaviors. Without norms, the activities within a group would be chaotic. Norms serve four purposes:

  1. Norms help the group survive. Groups tend to reject deviant behavior that does not contribute to accomplishing group goals or to the survival of the group if it is threatened. Accordingly, a successful group that is not under threat may be more tolerant or deviant behavior.
  2. Norms simplify and make more predictable the behaviors expected of group members. Norms mean that members do not have to analyze each behavior and decide on a response. Members can anticipate the actions of others on the basis of group norms. When members do what is expected of them, the group is more likely to be productive and to reach its goals.
  3. Norms help the group avoid embarrassing situations. Group members often want to avoid damaging other members’ self-images and are likely to avoid certain subjects that might hurt a member’s feelings.
  4. Norms express the central values of the group and identify the group to others. Certain clothes, mannerisms, or behaviors in particular situations may be a rallying point for members and may signify to others the nature of 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 Reasons for Outsourcing


  1. Improve business focus: For many companies, the single most compelling reason for outsourcing is that several “how” issues are siphoning off huge amounts of management’s resources and attention.
  2. Access to World Class capabilities: By the very nature of their specialization, outsourcing providers bring extensive worldwide, world-class resources to meeting the needs of their customers. Partnering with an organization with world class capabilities can offer access to new technology, tools, and techniques that the organization may not currently possess, better career opportunities for personnel who transition to the outsourcing provider; more structured methodologies, procedures, and documentation; and competitive advantage through expanded skills.
  3. Accelerated Reengineering benefits: Outsourcing is often a byproduct of another powerful management tool—business process reengineering. It allows an organization to immediately realize the anticipated benefits of reengineering by having an outside organization—one that is already reengineered to world-class standards—take over the process.
  4. Shared risks: When companies outsource they become more flexible, more dynamic, and better able to adapt to changing opportunities.
  5. Free resources for other purposes: Outsourcing permits an organization to redirect its resources from noncore activities toward activities that have the greater return in serving the customers.

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.

 

Inflation


Inflation is a rise in the general level of prices. The most commonly reported measure of inflation is the annual percentage change in the consumer price index (CPI). The consumer price index tracks changes in the prices of a group of goods and services that most consumers buy. Prices are increasing when the CPI is positive and decreasing when it is negative. One major cause of inflation is the relationship between wages and productivity. Productivity is the output per worker hour. When wages increase faster than productivity, the result is inflation. The amount we can consume of any product depends upon the amount we produce. When wages go up but output does not, we have more money income but not more purchasing power. This occurs because the total supply of goods available for purchase has not increased as rapidly as the amount of money in circulation. The combination of rising wages and constant or sagging output exerts an upward push on prices.

Wage increases in one industry often put pressure on other industries to increase wages. Another cause of inflation is the expectation that inflation will continue in the future. Labor unions demand wage increases in anticipation of expected increases in the cost of living. Manufacturers raise the prices of their products in anticipation of future labor and raw material; cost increases. Consumers borrow money to finance today’s purchases in the belief that prices will be higher tomorrow. Some economists argue that inflation subsides only when people believe that it will subside.

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.

Corporate Social Strategy


Doing business in international settings presents many challenges to managers. There is no magic solution to meeting these issues as they arise. Companies can prepare for the types of challenges by designing a corporate social strategy that matches and balances the company’s economic strategy. These questions are a good place to start the process:

  • Are we being socially responsible in what we do? Do we meet the expectations of our host country as well as our home country? Would stakeholders in either country question our behavior?
  • Are we responsible to the stakeholders in each country where we do business? Do we treat employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, and others in a fair and just way?
  • Do we recognize emerging issues, as well as, immediate social issues, in the countries and communities where we operate? Are we anticipating change rather than just reacting to it?
  • Do we abide by the host government’s regulations and policies? Do we have good systems for ensuring that our employees and the agents who represent us follow or corporate policies?
  • Do we conduct business in ways that respect the values, customs, and moral principles of each society? Do we recognize that there may be times when they conflict with principles of other societies? Are we ready to address these conflicts in thoughtful, positive ways?

Companies that address these questions before trouble strikes are better prepared to meet global challenges to corporate responsibility. They are better prepared to prevent crises, anticipate change, and avoid situations that compromise the values and principles for which the company stands. A corporate social strategy helps managers achieve both the economic and the social goals of the company.

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.

Preparing for Implementation


The best participation for smooth and effective implementation is through work on the first phases of the change effort together with extensive communication among all participants about the intent and the direction of the change effort. Assuring that all participants know the expectations and parameters of the change episode enhances clarity and control. Concrete and specific objectives, planned design and structure, and resource commitments provide the basic blueprint for implementation.

Also helpful in preparing for implementation is attention to two facts of the context: change residue and overlap between planning and implementing systems. The change agent will find analysis of residue help in anticipating possible obstacles to the transition from planning to operation. Assessment of overlap—or the absence of it—will contribute to understanding communication needs.

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.

Handling Customer Objections, Queries and Concerns


Objections can arise in any sales situation, and at any point in the process. At the beginning, when you are phone prospecting, you may encounter resistance from ‘gatekeepers’ or from your intended contact person. At the end, when you are trying to close the sale, objections are typical.

In order to encourage long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty, dialogue about objections, queries and concerns must be conducted early and often. In essence, welcome complaints and concerns – seek them and anticipate them.

Objections must be resolved, or the customer may be lost. Many salespeople are uncomfortable about handling objections and feel threatened by them. However, objections should be viewed as potentially beneficial because they:

  • Are a natural part of the buying process. Getting answers to questions and resolving doubts is a normal behavior pattern in buying.
  • Present an opportunity for educating the customer, as well as for getting more information from the customer.
  • Reveal the customer’s concerns and give you a chance to encourage the customer to become more involved in the sales call.
  • Can result in enhanced trust and a better relationship, if handled well.
  • Show that the customer is actively interested, and not keeping objections a secret.

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 Master Plan


Many people assume that a formal business plan is only for big time businesses. Wrong. A business plan is for anyone who wants to give their enterprise their best possible shot. It is where you detail out all the operational, marketing, and money matters of your business. It is, in essence, a road map. With it, you will better be able to reach your goal. Without it, you run the risk of spending precious time and money traveling in circles or unwittingly wandering into danger zones.

In response to the question, what a business plan is, follow the following”

  • A business plan is written by the home-based business owner with outside help as needed.
  • It is accurate and concise as a result of careful study.
  • It explains how the business will function in the marketplace.
  • It clearly depicts its operational characteristics.
  • It details how it will be financed.
  • It outlines how it will be managed.
  • It is the management and financial “blueprint” for startup and profitable operation.
  • It serves as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

A study for “why” of creating it, note:

  • The process of putting the business plan together, including the thought that you put in before writing it, forces you to take the objective, critical, unemotional look at your entire business proposal.
  • The finished written plan is an operational tool, which, when properly used, will help you manage your business and work toward its success.
  • The complete business plan is a means for communicating your ideas to others and provides the basis for financing your business.

While you are to be the author of the document, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help when it comes to areas outside your ken, such as accounting, insurance, capital requirements, operational forecasting, and tax and legal requirements. Finally, in response to the question, “When should Business Plan be used?” note:

  • To make crucial startup decisions
  • To reassure lenders and backers
  • To measure operational progress
  • To test planning assumptions
  • As a basis for adjusting forecasts
  • To anticipate ongoing capital and cash requirements
  • As the benchmark for good operational management

If you have been doing your research and homework all along, you probably have most of the raw material for the business plan, so it won’t be such an awesome task.

Business plans differ greatly, depending on the nature and scope of the enterprise. Some elements a person in a retail sales business would need in his or her business plan may be totally irrelevant for your service business. Similarly, business plans vary in length—from five or six pages or a virtual booklet; some are written in an engaging narrative style while others take another approach—just the facts. However, while business plans may differ in style, tone, length, and components, there is some common ground. Below is a list of items that should be in almost every business plan:

  • A summary of the nature of your business and its principal activity with a detailed description of the product(s) or service(s) you will offer.
  • A statement as to the form your business will take (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation) and how it will be managed and operated (with information on employees or subcontractors if applicable).
  • A discussion of any extra-ordinary (and potentially problematic) matters revolving around such things as space requirements, production processes, and operating procedures.
  • A discussion of major trends in your trade or profession.
  • A discussion of your competition and the basis on which you will compete.
  • A description of your target market that might include a profile of a typical customer or client.
  • A discussion of your plans for pricing, sales terms, and distribution.
  • A discussion of how you intend to advertise and promote your products or services.
  • A detailed statement of startup and operating costs for at least the first year.
  • A discussion of how your business will be financed.
  • Profit and loss and cash flow statements for at least the first year of business.

If this list has made a business plan seem all the more scary and arduous a task, don’t panic. There are books on the market that will guide you through the process.

A clean attractive business plan is a sine qua non if you will be applying for a loan or looking for investors. But even if the document is for your eyes only, you owe it to yourself to produce a professional-looking document. Since it is your road map, the neater it is the better it will serve you when you refer to it at various stages of your entrepreneurial journey.

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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