Factors of Production


Each business has its own mix of the four factors of production, vis-à-vis, natural resources, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship.

Natural resources refers to everything useful in its natural state as a productive input including agricultural land, building sites, forests, mineral deposits, and so on. Natural resources are basic resources required in any economic system.

Labor is critically important. It refers to everyone who works for a business, from the company president to the production manager, the sales representative, and the assembly line worker.

Capital is defined as the funds necessary to finance the operation of a business. These funds can be provided in the form of investments, profits, or loans. They are used to build factories, buy raw materials, hire workers, and so on.

Entrepreneurship is the taking of risks to set up and run a business. The entrepreneur is the risk taker in private enterprise system. In some situations the entrepreneur actively manages the business; in others this duty is handed over to a salaried manager.

All four factors of production must receive a financial return if they are to be used in a private enterprise system. These payments are in the form of rent, wages, interest, and profit. The specific factor payment received varies among industries, but all factors of production are required in some degree for all 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.

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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.

Employee Satisfaction


Employees expect more from their jobs now than they used to. Today’s affluent employees often demand work that provides some self-fulfillment, whether it is on the assembly line, in middle management at a multinational corporation, or in managing a fast-food franchise.

Business pays attention to these needs—and to the problems that can occur when they are not met. Poor productivity, high absenteeism, and sloppy workmanship are expensive by-products of worker dissatisfaction. So all sizes of businesses are making efforts to improve employee performance and satisfaction. Involving employees in key decisions, making jobs more interesting, and providing employee counseling are several of the ways in which they are doing it.

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 Oligopoly


An oligopoly is a form of competition in which a market is dominated by just a few sellers. Generally, oligopolies exist in industries that produce products such as steel, cereal, automobiles, aluminum, and aircraft. One reason some industries remain in the hands of a few sellers is that the initial investment to enter an oligopolistic industry is usually tremendous. Think what it would cost to build a steel mill or an automobile assembly plant. In an oligopoly, prices tend to be close to the same. Note, for example, how most credit cards charge very similar rates. The reason for this is simple. Intense price competition would lower profits for all the competitors, since a price cut on the part of one producer would most likely be matched by others. Product differentiation, rather than price differentiation, is usually the major factor in market success in a situation of oligopoly.

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.

 

Fuse Knowledge to Power


Architects are concerned with flows. When designing a building, their paramount considerations are how occupants will move in it and how light and air will circulate around it. Equally important for organizational architects is how information, know-how, decisions, and careers will flow in the structure being shaped.

When the work of the corporation was primarily the organizing of manual labor, markets were local and slow to change, and the knowledge base upon which competitive success depended was stable, a unitary hierarchy of manager atop manager made a lot of sense. The information needed to run the business was limited and could be easily channeled in one upward or downward flow. Workers did the work, and managers did the thinking.

But this is a reality that has disappeared from most industries. Markets are dimensioned globally, rules change faster than some competitors can master them, and brainpower counts for much more than brawn. Most organizations, though, remain keyed to the old realities. Few hierarchies have even kept up with the need to build in change by linking each of their limited number of levels with the time horizons of greatest importance to the company.

A more serious problem, though, is the lack of rethinking about how a business needs to organize its intellectual capital, its knowledge workers. It is ironic, and wasteful, that while “knowledge workers” (technical professionals and other holders of graduate or postgraduate degrees) are making up an increasing proportion of the work force in many industries, the organization structures in which they work remain more the products of Industrial Revolution than of the information age.

Knowledge, especially which can affect the company’s future competitiveness, used to be confined to the research and development lab or to the strategic planning department. Now, as information systems-driven service industries assume a larger share of many economies, knowledge about the capabilities that provide competitive advantage is much more widely dispersed than was ever necessary in traditional manufacturing companies. No single information channel can contain it all. And even traditional product makers are changing. Fewer manufacturing jobs are directly involved in making something; more are concerned with planning what to make, how to make it, and how to keep customers happy after the product has been purchased. The intellectual demands on front-line workers have increased tremendously. The narrowly skilled assembly jobs have been replaced by the more knowledge-intensive positions of the factory automation technician.

Requirements for more intellectual value added have escalated up many organization hierarchies. Networked data bases, expert systems, and almost never-ending flow of new personal computer software have significantly expanded the scope and the nature of the contribution possible from many mid-level employees. This is not an unmitigated blessing, though. It has also seriously polluted the management role in many companies, making many into high-level doers instead of managers, increasing the role’s fragmentation, and making it brittle rather than strong and load-bearing.

This situation will only worsen as economic pressures lead to increased management delayering. Companies with eight to ten tiers of management will find it necessary to organize around four or five. The number of subordinates per manager will have to sharply increase. Middle managers will find themselves with less and less time to master these new white-collar productivity enhancers and to make the intellectual contribution their businesses increasingly need.

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

Facing up to Deficiencies


Many companies fail to objectively evaluate their products against competitive offerings in a rigorous manner. If they do go through some kind of an evaluation process, it is often superficial or biased, leading to a continuation of “business as usual” rather than dramatic cost or performance improvements. In some cases, management is not presented with the real facts because it is easier not to “rock the boat.” In other cases, management may see the facts but not accept or face them squarely, since it is not easy to admit that a product is no longer competitive. As a result, a surprising number of companies continue to try to get by with products that are not competitive and they fail to make the fundamental, essential changes in design or cost.

There are two important points that successful companies always follow. First, it is essential to ensure that products are designed for efficient manufacturing and assembly. Second, “me too” parity is never a solid basis for gaining or regaining position. Technical programs should always be designed to leapfrog the competition rather than play “catch up” against moving competitive targets.

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

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