Entrepreneur


Most businesses start as a dream in somebody’s mind. An entrepreneur is a person with an idea. He or she also is someone with the energy and drive to turn that idea into a business. An entrepreneur needs these characteristics because in a young firm he or she must often do everything at once—manufacture the product, sell it, find enough money to keep going, and manage few employees.

The entrepreneur must be willing to take great risks, too, for most new businesses fail within a year. The odds against success are stiff, partly because many business ideas simply are not very good. After all, whoever wanted to buy paper dresses or quadraphonic sound. Factors that create special risks for new businesses are those over which entrepreneurs have little control. Also, technology has become highly complex and many new products—a filter to remove the salt from sea water, for example, require many years and teams of scientists and engineers to develop. Then, too, a vast array of government regulations creates additional burdens of time, energy, and expenses for owners of new 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.

Compliance and Integrity


In the earliest stages, organizational ethics centered on the narrow perspective of ethics—the notion of compliance. Are we following the laws? Are we at risk from litigation? If so, how do we minimize that risk?

Ethics programs matured and ethics officers, most of whom are selected from the managerial ranks with little, if any, special preparation, developed increased sophistication regarding the challenges facing their organizations. Both the ethics officers and their organizations began to embrace personal and corporate values in decision making (value-based decision making) as the logical expansion of the definition of what it means to be ethical. What has emerged is what many ethics officers today characterize as the “best practices” model of the ethics office and of a values-based corporation.

But change continues. What is emerging today is a more holistic definition of what it means to be a “good” corporation. This new, global view will again help to reshape the responsibilities and focus of the ethics officer.

The shift to a global perspective means another broadening of the definition of ethics. “Global Integrity” is the latest descriptor, and it embraces both compliance and ethics. It also adds concern for rule of law, human rights, good governance, labor/child labor concerns, anti-corruption/anti-bribery, concern for the environment, safety, social responsibility, good corporate citizenship, and respect for the whole diverse array of local cultures to the definition. This increases the organization’s obligation to reach beyond traditional company boundaries to consider how decisions would affect the surrounding community. One consequence of this new global definition of the organizational ethics is increased scrutiny by stakeholders, especially advocacy groups and the media.

Corporate ethics officers, especially those in multinational corporations and/or corporations with global suppliers/markets, are being challenged with fundamental questions in this expanded integrity area. Perhaps the most common, and most challenging, is how the corporation will balance the desire for global standards (consistency) against the need for local application of standards.

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.

The Constraints of Techno-stress


More than at any time in the history of our species, we are facing exploding levels of computerization and complication in our lives. Some of this seems beyond human control; for example, never being able to get through on the fax number because the system is programmed to the wrong mode. Offended by such a machine, many people naturally demand some satisfaction. Often a harmless oath, perhaps accompanied by a stiff thump, will satisfy our base urge for revenge.

On occasion, sterner punishments have been meted out. Childish retaliations against technology are doomed, and are wasteful of our limited time on this planet.

Of course, a lot of the techno-stress we encounter is self-inflicted by our unbridled love of gadget. With an array of office machines and household tools that would make the original James Bond seem a technological peasant, the average worker has invited a host of unnecessary mechanical inconveniences and breakdowns into his or her life to add to the overall levels of techno-stress.

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.

Not Right or Wrong, Cultures are Just Different


People around the world feel as strongly about their culture as we do about ours, even if they do occasionally feel ambivalence. It is pointless to argue whether a culture is “good” or “bad;” every nationality thinks its culture is the best. For every foreign peculiarity that assumes us, there is our national peculiarity that amuses others.

Cultures have their own logic. Anthropologists say cutures are different because various peoples had to deal with diverse circumstances to meet their common human needs: different climates, different climates, different resources, different terrain. Just as animal species evolved differently to adapt to different conditions, so mankind evolved diverse solutions to life’s problems. Over the years the complex array of solutions to problems (many of which disappeared long ago)  created a confusion of cultural behaviors. But there are patterns, and one can begin to understand them by considering the different past, present and future of the cultures of the world.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Guerrilla Marketing


Guerrilla mrketing is the type of all-out marketing necessary for entrepreneurial success. It is virtually unknown to the large corporations. And thank heavens it is. After all, the large corporations have the benefit of big bucks. You don’t. so you’ve got to rely on guerrilla marketing.

 Your size is an ally when it comes to marketing. If you are a small company, a new venture, or a single individual, you can utilize the tactics of guerrilla marketing to their fullest. You’ve got the ability to be fast on your feet, to employ a vast array of marketing tools, to gain access to the biggest marketing brains and get them at bargain-basement prices. Now you may not need to use every weapon in your potential marketing arsenal, but you’re sure going to need some of them. So you’d best know how to use tham all.

 It may be that you will require no advertising at all. But you will require marketing. It may be that word of mouth is so favorable, and spreads so rapidly, that your venture can reap a fortune just because of it. If so, you can be sure that the word of mouth was motivated by effective marketing in the first place.

 In fact, a strong word of mouth campaign is part of marketing, and so are business cards, stationery, matchbooks, the clothes you wear. And certainly your location is important in marketing. Every component that helps you sell what you are selling is part of the marketing process. No detail is insignificant to be included. The more you realize that the better your marketing will be. Its not about sales, its about profits—the dear old bottom line.

 That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: One of these days, you’re going to be an entrepreneur no longer. If you successfully put into practice the principles of guerrila marketing, you’ll become fat and rich and famous and will no longer have the lean, hungry mentality of the entrepreneur.

 Once you’re reached that stage, you wll have to resort to the textbook forms of marketing, for you’ll be too encumbered with employees, traditions, paperwork, management levels, and necessary bureaucracy to be flexible enough for gurella marketing.

 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

Antiquated Strategic Planning


At one time, the view from the top of most corporations was strongly influenced by their leaders planning doctrine. Executives were taught that the best way to plan for a complex company into discrete components, called strategic business units. For a time this practice provided a helpful way to unbundle the corporation and to select strategies most appropriate to each unit’s individual situation.

Companies were best thought of as a portfolio of individual businesses: some brand-new and unproven, some growing rapidly and consuming great amounts of cash, some growing rapidly and generating the cash needed by the up-and-comers, and some out and out losers.

Strategic planners eventually carried the idea one step further. They developed formulas that appeared to identify the contribution each business unit was making to the company’s overall stock price. Called value-based planning (as in shareholder value), its application, along with techniques such as junk-bond-driven leveraged buyouts, helped de-conglomerate many corporate dinosaurs in the financial go-go years.

These planning techniques are logical and quantifiable, descriptive as well as perspective. They provide a seemingly attractive way for the head of an enterprise to put arms around what might have become an increasingly diverse array of businesses. But thinking of a corporation as if it were similar to a portfolio of stocks or other investments can also be very limiting and one dimensional.

This kind of thinking tends to overemphasize the uniqueness of each business and often assumes that all the competition in which the corporation is engaged occurs when its business units do battle with their counterparts in other companies. It suggests that the role of top corporate management is either secondary or passive with regard to competition. It also implies that top management’s role is primarily that of a banker to the individual strategic business unit, concerned chiefly with financial resource allocation, and that it adds value mainly through “balancing the portfolio” by buying or selling the strategic business units that make up the company.

This approach encourages a “trader’s mentality” on the part of top management. Traders like to buy and sell, conglomerate and de-conglomerate. But they do not know how very much about how to grow the company from within.

Decentralization, sometimes extreme decentralization, is also encouraged, because each business is expected to stand on its own, containing most of the resources it needs for its operations. This simplifies the job of top management. It has only to focus on each strategic business unit’s bottom line and consider the details of its operations on an exception-only basis.

But this simplification comes to a great cost. Stressing stand-alone uniqueness and managing through the blinders of short-term earnings results in living, growing business entities treated almost as if they were fragments of the company’s stock certificate. The disease of the stock markets—perspective that seldom extends beyond next quarter’s financials—is passed along to the company.

There is another danger when strategic business unit framework dominates corporate decision-making. This is the tendency to grow redundant resources in the company as each strategic business unit, over time, builds up all the functions and staffing it feels it needs to operate as autonomously as possible. At times headquarters management tries to check the emergence of this costly duplication by mandating resource sharing across strategic business units, by using central service groups, or both. But these well-meaning attempts at cost containment send mixed signals to the strategic business units and they also can impose heavy coordination costs in terms of time and loss of flexibility.

Many intelligently managed companies led down the paths and took a seemingly attractive shortcut in their thinking. They confused a framework for planning with a basis for organizing power and resources. They used a perspective that directs to management’s attention to the financial scorekeeping aspects of the business at the cost of neglecting the underlying mechanisms that create value for their 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight