Five Economic Eras


Economic era is a historic period of time in which the commerce of the time is dominated by, but not exclusively limited to, one particular activity, whether that be hunting and gathering, farming, manufacturing or information processing. We have waded through five economic eras:

  1. Hunting and gathering: primeval, from the dawn of human history
  2. Agricultural: approximately 8,000 BC
  3. Industrial: 1776—the year  the Watt steam engine was invented and Adam Smith’s ideas first appeared
  4. Information: 1946—the year of the first electronic computer, the ENIC
  5. Knowledge: 1994—the year of the release of Netscape.

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.

Response to Failure


What happens when someone makes a mistake that sends you through the roof? What happens when you want to rip a person apart for having made a mistake, even when he or she acted within the established guidelines?

First of all, it is important to recognize that those feelings are not a sign of weakness, they simply mean that you are human. The important thing is what you do with those feelings.

If you act on them immediately, more than likely you will destroy any trust you have established between the person and you. Any progress you have made in convincing people that it is okay to fail can be undone in an instant.

You will be better able to accomplish your objectives if you will abide by this unwritten rule: Never reprimand a person unless you are in full control of your own thoughts and emotions. This way you won’t say or do things that may result in momentary satisfaction in the short term but regret in the long term.

I am not suggesting that you never show emotion to your people that you let them know you are angry or upset. Showing your people how you feel can be quite beneficial at times, provided it is shown in an appropriate way and for the right reasons.

When you respond constructively to people’s failures you are doing the single most important thing you can do to let them know that it is okay to fail.

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.

Equal Employment Opportunity


For the last 5-6 decades, women and ethnic minorities have sought equal employment opportunities. These include the desire for a) equal pay for equal work; b) jobs for women and minorities in high-pay, high-prestige occupations—in approximate proportion to their members in the general population; c) a fair chance for women and minorities to be promoted to better jobs based on merit; and d) recognition of the special problems women and minorities face.

Even though the number of working women has grown many times faster than the number of working men, they are concentrated in clerical and service jobs, where they earn less than men for the same work—even when education and work experience are equal. Women also suffer from untrue stereotypes and absenteeism and emotional instability. And they sometimes have to do much better work than their male colleagues to be promoted.

Business can help create equal employment opportunity by providing women with role models—examples of productive and successful women—and by promoting them when they deserve it. Business can also offer flexible work schedules, day-care facilities, and leaves of absence for child-care when necessary.

Business can help minorities to achieve equal employment opportunities by actively seeking them as employees, by redesigning job requirements so as to rely more on skills and less on traditional backgrounds, by financially supporting minorities who want more education, and by placing minority employees in mainstream jobs where rapid promotion based on ability is customary. Many businesses are also helping minorities by buying some of their supplies from minority-owned small businesses.

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 Management


There will be absolutely changed conditions under which public managers will operate in the future, some of the areas of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they will be required to possess, and some of the pathways public managers might explore in order to move toward the future.

There will be an extraordinary explosion of new knowledge and technological innovations, especially in the areas of information sciences, genetics, materials, instrumentation, automation, and space. Our public managers will wade into an age of extraordinary technological change and have to accommodate themselves and the institutions to dramatically different bodies of knowledge and technological innovations.

They will not only have to cope with and employ their expanded knowledge and technological capacity, they will have to learn to use this knowledge and technological capacity for the benefit of society. In the technological world of the future, there will be even greater temptations for them to be captured by technology, to fall prey to “technological imperative,” and to allow rational technical interests to supercede human concerns and those of values. Finding ways of employing advanced technologies so as to enhance rather than restrict their capacity for leadership, creativity, and personal responsibility will be a serious challenge.

In the future, knowledge and information will prevail. And if information is power, then those who have information will indeed have power. But who will have information? Information will be increasingly centralized, controlled and marketed through traditional economic and political processes. It will be widely distributed throughout society, so that increasing rather than decreasing numbers of people will have information and in turn have power. Such a possibility will lead to “the twilight of hierarchy,” to be inevitable.

Combining these issues, we can safely predict that the knowledge or information that our public managers will be able to access will be tremendous, to the point that the quantity of information will no longer be the most important issue. Rather the key question will be how to organize this information for human purposes. This means that public administration will have to learn to organize information in a fashion that will facilitate the pursuit of important public purposes. The great challenge will be to organize information so that we can enhance the process of democratic decision-making, of consensus building, and of dialogue and deliberation.

There’s no question that we will have the capacity to organize information for dramatic new public purposes, to restructure our structures of governance in dramatic ways. But what will our choices be? Imagine a computer in Islamabad that could reach out into every home, so that on any occasion that a major policy decision was required, an appropriate message could go out to all the citizens and their answers could guide public policy – a process that would approximate pure democracy.

The globalization of society is obvious today, though in twenty-five years or so, we may experience trans-globalization or beyond, as the frontiers of the oceans and space are extended even further. Already we are thinking more in global terms. However, our managers are still thinking in terms of traditional institutions operating in a new global context. They are not yet asking how they reconfigure businesses and governments so as to carry out a global vision. How do they encourage businesses and governments to assume global responsibilities rather than those defined in terms of one’s own self interest? For example, how can developing countries move toward sustainable development and environmental justice on a global basis?

One obvious casualty of the global age may be the nation-state, replaced not necessarily by a new global or interplanetary federation but possibly by new forms of governance far beyond those we can imagine today.

In future our public administration should know the importance of “responsibilities” rather than “functions” of government. While a large part of the current worldwide debate over privatization or outsourcing speaks to the question of which “functions” belong where, the new debate will necessarily focus on public responsibilities and speak in a language of ethics, citizenship and the public interest.

In reinvented government or the new public management, customers shall replace citizens – or, to put it differently, the integrative role of citizenship has been reduced to the narrow self-interest of customership – in government as in business.

Indeed, we think the job of all public managers will increasingly be more than directing or managing our public organizations. It will be not merely “steering” or “rowing” but “building the boat.” The new public manager will construct networks of varied interests that can work effectively to solve public problems. In doing so, it will be the job of the public administrator to promote pluralism, to create opportunities for constructive dissent, to preserve that which is distinctive about individuals and groups, and to provide an opportunity for diverse groups to share in establishing future directions for the community. The administrator will play a substantial role in diminishing polarization, teaching diversity and respect, building coalitions, resolving disputes, negotiating and mediating. The work of the top public managers will thus be – to build community.

There are two broad areas that public managers will need to explore in order to fashion a response to the trends. These emerging trends will turn public management both “inside-out” and “upside-down.” Public management will be turned “inside-out” as the largely internal focus of management in the past is replaced by an external focus, specifically a focus on citizens and citizenship. Public management will be turned “upside-down” as the traditional top-down orientation of the field is replaced – not necessarily by a bottom-up approach, but by a system of shared leadership.

In the past public administration has been largely focused on what happens within the public bureaucracy. The future will require that it dramatically refocus its attention on the world outside, particularly the world of citizens and citizenship.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight