Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the business.

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.

Business Financial Strategy


Financial strategy examines the financial implications of corporate and business-level strategic options and identifies the best financial course of action. It can also provide competitive advantage through a lower cost of funds and a flexible ability to raise capital to support a business strategy. Financial strategy usually attempts to maximize the financial value of the firm.

The trade-off between advancing the desired debt-to-equity ratio and relying on internal long-term financing via cash flow is a key issue in financial strategy. Many small and medium-sized companies try to avoid all external sources of funds in order to avoid outside entanglements and to keep control of the company within the family. Many believe that only by financing through long-term debt can a corporation use financial leverage to boost earnings per share, thus raising stock price and the overall value of the company. Higher debt levels not only deter takeover by other firms (by making the company less attractive), but also leads to improved productivity and improved cash flows by forcing management to focus on core businesses.

A very popular financial strategy is the leveraged buy out—a company is acquired in a transaction financed largely by debt—usually obtained from a third party, such as an insurance company or an investment banker. Ultimately the debt is paid with money generated from the acquired company’s operations or by sales of its assets. The acquired company, in effect, pays for its own acquisition. Management of the leveraged buy out is then under tremendous pressure to keep the highly leveraged company profitable. Unfortunately the huge amount of debt on the acquired company’s books may actually cause its eventual decline by focusing management’s attention on short-term matters.

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 Human Context of Management


In addition to understanding the ongoing behavioral processes inherent in their own jobs, managers must understand the basic human element of their work. Organizational behavior offers three major perspectives for understanding this context: people as organizations, people as resources, and people as people.

Above all, organizations are people, and without people there would be no organizations. All organizations differ from each other dramatically in size, purpose, and structure, they have one thing in common: people. Thus, if managers are to understand the organizations in which they work, they must first understand the people who make up the organizations.

As resources, people are one of an organization’s most valuable assets. People create the organization, guide and direct its course, and vitalize and revitalize it. People make its decisions, solve its problems, and answer its questions. People are at the core of many of the possible contributors to this trend. To reverse declining productivity, many organizations have taken steps to boost the contribution from their human resources. Some companies have encouraged management and labor to cooperate better; others have increased employee participation in decision-making and problem-solving.

There is another perspective—people as people. People spend a large part of their lives in organizational settings, mostly as employees. They have a right to expect something in return beyond wages and employee benefits. Employees seek satisfaction, and many want the opportunity to grow and develop and to learn new skills. An understanding of organizational behavior can help managers better appreciate these needs and expectations.

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.

Pricing Management


Pricing is the process by which a firm decides how to charge customers for its goods and services. Demand and supply information is a fundamental input into the pricing decision. A firm must understand the impact of price and competition on demand and the cost of supply when deciding whether to run a price promotion. Information on the availability of supply chain assets and the demand for these assets is needed for a firm to decide the best pricing strategy.

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.

Who Innovates?


Schumpter first suggested that small entrepreneurial firms were the sources of most innovations. Later he changed his view and suggested that large firms with some degree of monopoly power were more likely to be the sources of technological innovation. He argued that large firms have the production and other complementary assets that are necessary to commercialize an invention; have the size to exploit the economies of scale that are prevalent in R&D; are more diversified and therefore more willing to take the kind of risk that is inherent in R&D projects; have better access to capital that smaller firms; and, as monopolists, do not have competitors ready to imitate their innovations and therefore are more likely to invest in them. By shifting the focus to the type of innovation, however, whether incumbents or new entrants are able to introduce and exploit innovation is a function of whether the innovation is incremental—a function of how new knowledge and the new product are.

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.

Code of Ethics


Best companies have a written code of ethics.  Such codes list principles of appropriate behavior. Code of ethics generally addresses such topics as conflicts of interest, confidentiality of corporate information, misappropriation of corporate assets, bribes and kickbacks, and political support.

If code of ethics is to make a real difference, it must be carefully designed and implemented. Employees are more likely to accept a code if managers and others affected by it are involved in its development.

The code of ethics should be revised to reflect changes in the company’s product line or competitive practices. The code must be internally consistent.

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 Concept of Service


If we open a new business, the key issue is how long we are planning. If all we want to do is make a quick buck and move on, there is absolutely no point spending a single penny we don’t absolutely need to. But that is not the route to creating an amazingly successful organization.

The only approach for an organization to take if it wants to become amazingly successful is to become highly effective and highly focused. And that doesn’t pay dividends overnight.

But no single working culture is right for every situation. Why should anyone spend money to create a future that they do not expect to be part of?

Why invest in intangible assets that are hard to value on the balance sheet such as staff, improving team moral, developing customer focus and lifting competence levels, if you expect to be moving on soon?

A working culture centered around the concept of service generally and customer service specifically is the most likely to deliver long-term amazing success.

An organization that wants to adopt a service-based working culture must however be ready for the long haul. It must have both the patience and the resources to get through the early stages in a market where market dominance and being the largest are critical whatever the future price?

Some organizations are better off starting with one working culture and then migrating to another when scale and success allow or demand it.

Planning to evolve or change our working culture is fine as an idea when those in charge are sufficiently switched on to the challenges of changing an organization’s culture: to act at the appropriate time and effectively instigate a culture shift in line with new market conditions.

Let’s not forget that the larger an organization is, the more careful it must be in choosing its working culture in the first instance. Larger organizations are always going to be harder to change; they are clumsy and less fleet of foot than their smaller counterparts. Larger organizations must change their working culture less often and less dramatically, so must put more time and effort into avoiding problems in the first 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.

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