People and Jigsaw Puzzles


People are like jigsaw puzzles. Just as a puzzle is a picture assembled by putting various pieces together in a certain way, a person is composed of various attributes fitted together in a particular manner. And just as puzzles have pieces that fit together to form a whole, each of us has a unique set of attributes, or characteristics, that together represent the essence of who we are. Furthermore, although a person may resemble some people more than others, no two persons are exactly alike.

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.

Vicarious Learning


Vicarious learning, or modeling, is learning through the experiences of others. For example, a person can learn to do a new job by observing others or by watching videotapes. Several conditions must be met to produce various learning. First, the behavior being modeled must be relatively simple. Although we can learn by watching someone else how to push three or four buttons to set specifications on a machine, we probably cannot learn a complicated sequence of operations without also practicing the various steps ourselves. Second, the behavior being modeled usually must be concrete, not intellectual. We can learn by watching others how to respond to the different behaviors of a particular manager or how to assemble a few components into a final assembly. But we probably cannot learn through simple observation how to write a computer program or to conceptualize or think abstractly. Finally, to learn a job vicariously, we must possess the physical ability needed to do the job. Most of us can watch televised baseball games or tennis matches every weekend.

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.

Production Management


Production is the use of people and machines to convert materials into finished products and supply these products to customers. Production includes three key stages: product development, purchasing, and manufacturing.

The development of a new product involves six steps: idea generation, screening, business analysis, product development, test marketing, and commercialization. Roughly, one in 58 new product ideas becomes a commercial success.

When the product development department designs a new product, a make-buy decision determines which components will be bought from outside suppliers and which will be made by the firm itself.

The six steps in purchasing raw materials and semi-finished and finished parts are 1) recognizing what is needed, 2) developing specifications, 3) requesting bids and selecting a vendor, 4) following up with the vendor, 5) receiving the order, and 6) evaluating the vendor.

Mass production and automation have revolutionized manufacturing methods and have made higher quality, standardized products available at lower prices.

The three classifications of manufacturing operations are standard versus custom manufacture, continuous versus batch process, and analytic versus synthetic process.

Once final products are assembled, the transportation section must ship them to customers on time and in good condition. The managers here use one of the five modes of transportation: highway, rail, air, water, and pipeline. Developments such as piggyback service and containerization allow a business to use two or more transportation modes to move shipment over long distances.

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 Drive for Speed


The ‘time culture’ can impose unrealistic deadlines upon those who are charged with the responsibility for delivering improvements. When a supply chain is improved, the single company may be no more able to achieve a tangible impact upon the external environment than it can deliver all the value that is sought by a final customer. When others are involved, there is likely to be bargaining and negotiation.

Environmental initiatives should not result in the pressure for speed or ‘response’ driving out the long-term thinking that is required. Assuming ‘results’ are required, these might best be achieved as a result of flexibility within the framework of a longer term relationship.

Today’s craze can be tomorrow’s memory. Too many managers assume that trends will continue longer than subsequently turns out to be the case. With many environmental and social policies taking many years to have a significant impact, companies face a dilemma similar to that encountered by those seeking to change attitudes and behavior. By the time the outcomes initially sought have been achieved, the requirement may have changed. Will there be a backlash when people count the costs? Will they become bored?

Attempts to deal with ‘isms’ can open a Pandora’s box of dashed hopes and unfulfilled expectations, especially when initiatives are not thought through. Enough noise may be raised to alarm some, while not enough is done to appease or deliver to others. Companies should beware of cosmetic programs.

Winners assemble a comprehensive, complementary and coordinated set of initiatives, embracing all the parties involved, that are likely to have a significant impact upon an environmental or social issue. They achieve significant changes of attitude or behavior, because all the various change elements that are necessary have been put in place.

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 Transformation Process


At the heart of operations management is the transformation process through which inputs (resources such as labor, money, materials, and energy) are converted into outputs (goods, services, and ideas). The transformation process combines inputs in predetermined ways using different equipment, administrative procedures, and technology to create a product. To ensure that this process generates quality products efficiently, operations managers control the process by taking measurements (feedback) at various points in the transformation process and comparing them to previously established standards. If there is any deviation between the actual and desired outputs, the manager may take some sort of corrective action.

Transformation may take place through one or more processes. In a business that manufactures oak furniture, for example, inputs pass through several processes before being turned into the final outputs—furniture that has been designed to meet the desires of customers. The furniture maker must first strip the oak trees of their bark and saw them into appropriate sizes—one step in the transformation process. Next, the firm dries the strips of oak lumber, a second form of transformation. Third, the dried wood is routed into its appropriate shape and made smooth. Fourth, workers, assemble and treat the wood pieces, then stain or varnish the piece of assembled furniture. Finally, the completed piece of furniture is stored until it can be shipped to customers at the appropriate time.

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.

Knowledge Entrepreneurs


There depends a lot on the energy and imagination of knowledge entrepreneurs. They need to identify specific opportunities being created by the greater availability and accessibility of information and knowledge, and craft distinctive information and knowledge-based products and services.

All entrepreneurs have to identify opportunities to add value by meeting requirements that are not being addressed, and they must be focused and tenacious and possess a clear sense of direction. Most entrepreneurs need also to be tough, pragmatic and resilient. In addition, knowledge entrepreneurs need the following qualities:

  • They must know how to acquire, develop, share, manage, exploit and capitalize on information, knowledge and understanding, and be able to help and enable others to use and apply them effectively. This may require combinations of emerging technologies to connect relevant people and organizations together, and competencies to network with others, work and learn in new ways in order to create value, lead and manage virtual teams, and establish and manage knowledge businesses.
  • They need curiousity and drive to undertake intelligent searches and to be able to judge or determine the significance, relevance and value of what they uncover. Many more people can access information than assess it or use it effectively. Understanding where information has come from, the underlying assumptions and how it has been compiled can prevent an enterprise or a course of action from being built upon foundations of sand.
  • They require enough understanding of systems to be able to use an appropriate range of technologies to identify and access relevant sources of information, knowledge and understanding. However, technical expertise is unlikely to be enough. Communication and relationship-building skills are also required to interact with information providers and bring together the combination of experience and knowledge needed to assemble a package that has market value.

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

Marketing Communications


Marketing Communications is a systematic relationship between a business and its market in which the marketer assembles a wide variety of ideas, designs, messages, media, shapes, forms and colors, both to communicate ideas to, and to stimulate a particular perception of products and services by, individual people who have been suggested into a target market. The result of this process of assembling is referred to by marketers as the communications mix, and this is what is seen, heard and hopefully understood by the customers in the market. To assemble this mix, the marketer uses a number of marketing communication tools: personal selling, advertising, sales promotions, public relations, direct marketing and marketing design and much more.

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

Thinking about Processes


Many people don’t really think about the process they use, but why process planning is important:

  • You want to make products that satisfy customer demand;
  • The products must, in some way, be better than competitors;
  • The process makes the products;
  • To make better products you need a better process.

You can make most products by a number of different processes. If you make tables, you can use craftspeople to build them carefully by hand; you can buy parts and use semi-skilled people to assemble them; you can use automatic equipment on an assembly line; or you can mould complete tables from plastic. Each process gives a product with different characteristics. Process planning designs the best process for delivering any particular product.

It’s especially important to design the process for services, as you can’t really draw a line between the product and the process used to make it. How, for example, can you separate the service given by a bank, theatre or taxi from process used to deliver it?

There’s a huge variety of processes. It is easy to design a process for baking a cake; but if you want to bake 100 cakes for a garden party you will use a different process; and if you want to bake a million cakes every week, the best process is different again. Unfortunately, many managers don’t take their processes seriously, and can hardly describe them in coherent terms.

You can start thinking seriously about your processes by recognizing them and describing the details of each. Make everyone in the organization aware of the processes and their importance. Then you can see how well the processes are working and look for improvements. Your processes are at the heart of your organization, and you really should give them the attention they deserve. Emphasize your processes, which consist of all the operations needed to make your products.

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

Process Owner


The process owner, who is responsible for reengineering a specific process, should be a senior-level manager, usually with line responsibility, who cares prestige, credibility, and clout within the company. If the leader’s job is to make reengineering happen in the large, then the process owner’s job is to make it happen in the small, at the individual process level. It is the process owner’s reputation, bonus, and career that are on the line when his or her process is undergoing reengineering.

 Most companies lack process owners, because in traditional organizations people do not tend to think in process terms. Responsibility for processes is fragmented across organizational boundaries. That’s why identifying the company’s major processes is a crucial early step in reengineering.

 After identifying the processes, the leader designates the owners who will guide those processes through reengineering. Process owners are usually individuals who manage one of the functions involved in the process that will undergo reengineering. To do their reengineering jobs, they have to have the respect of their peers and a stomach for reengineering—they must be people who are comfortable with change, tolerant of ambiguity, and serence in adversity.

 An owner’s job is not to do reengineering but to see that it gets done. The owner must assemble a reengineering team and do whatever is required to enable the team to do its job. He or she obtains the resources that the team requires, runs interference with the bureaucracy, and works to gain the cooperation of other managers whose functional groups are involved in the process.

 Process owners also motivate, inspire, and advise their teams. They act as the team’s critic, spokesman, monitor, and liaison. When reengineering team members start to produce ideas that make coworkers in the organization unhappy, process owners shield them from the arrows that others will shoot their way. Process owners take the heat so that their teams can concentrate on making reengineering happen.

 The process owner’s job will not end when the reengineering project is completed. In a process-oriented company, process, not function or geography, will form the basis of organizational structure, so every process will continue to need an owner to attend to its performance.

 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

Leadership for Corporate Transformation


So how are boards performing as enablers and facilitators of corporate change? Many of them are most systematically assembling the building blocks. The board establishes the vision and wrings its hands as the gap between aspiration and achievement grows wider. The role of the board is the formulation and implementation of strategy. It puts its backs into the former, but when it comes to implementation it hands it over to management and hopes for the best.

 Top management commitment continues to be a major barrier to change. It is essential in view of the complex nature of the change task in many organizations, and the number of individuals and groups that must be involved.

 The widespread perception of a lack of commitment in the boardroom is understandable. How can they believe they are committed when they have not put in place all the actions that are necessary to make it happen?

 Many boards are abdicating their responsibility for leading the process of corporate transformation. Determining vision, mission and strategy appears to be perceived as ‘direction’ rather than as an aspect of ‘leadership’; while the term ‘leadership’ is applied to the ‘management’ process of motivating people to understand and achieve vision, mission and strategy, once these have been defined by the board.

 ‘Leadership’ appears to be seen by the chairmen of many boards as a management responsibility rather than a boardroom competence. It is not surprising that many management teams perceive a lack of commitment on the part of the boards of their companies.

 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