The New Trend


Today, everything has changed. Globalization, the internationalization of markets and corporations, has changed the way modern corporations do business. To reach the economies of scale necessary to achieve the low costs, and thus the low prices, needed to be competitive, companies are now thinking of a global (worldwide) market instead of a national market. Instead of using one international division to manage everything outside the home country, large corporations are now using matrix structures in which product units are interwoven with country or regional units. International assignments are now considered key for anyone interested in reaching top management. As more industries become global, strategic management is becoming an increasingly important way to keep track of international developments and position the company for long term competitive advantage.

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.

Self-Directed Work Teams


A self-directed work team is a group of employees responsible for an entire work process or segment that delivers a product to an internal or external customer. Sometimes called self-managed teams or autonomous work groups, self-directed work teams reduce the need for extra layers of management and thus can help control costs. Such teams are designed to give employees a feeling of ownership of a whole job. With shared team responsibility for work outcomes, team members often have broader job assignments and cross-team to master other jobs, thus permitting greater team flexibility.

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.

Translating Information into Action


Information must be actionable, if it is to be of value to you. That means it must include a customer profile (most often consisting of demographics and buying behavior—psycho-graphics—that enables you to assign all of your customers to one or another of your defined segments. Unless you’re both ready and able to use the results of all this effort to alter your marketing strategy, your money is probably better spent elsewhere. Segmentation only pays off if you use it to fine tune your marketing program.

If you have computed the lifetime value for each segment, you can now make a very scientific assignment of resources to customer groups. You can be selective in this process. If you choose, focusing on just a few segments—or even one. In fact, that may be a good way to validate your ideas before you institute any large-scale changes in your marketing strategy. The important thing is that you use the information to adapt marketing into a more customer-focused and less product-centered approach.

Often you can finance new marketing initiatives by re-deploying the budgets previously spent in pursuit of unprofitable business, because you can now recognize it for what it is. Screening out can be as important as targeting.

You can then assign an appropriate percentage of your marketing budget to each segment which merits pursuit, echoing the percentage of profits that segment has the potential to generate. Consider members with lower grades within a well-defined, profitable segment as areas of opportunity. You know that companies with a given cluster of needs and buying behaviors can be profitably attracted to your offerings and way of doing business. All that remains is to focus on expanding penetration there.

Put your marketing imagination to work. Because you now understand the priorities of each segment so well, you’ll also know how to determine the most potent messages for each, and the media mix that can best deliver it. In addition, because the economics of each segment are clear, you can develop a plan that matches communications alternatives to allotted budget on a cost-per-contract basis.

As a result, most of your money will be invested where the profit potential for developing loyal customers is the greatest. Whilst this strategy appears to be self-evident, it too seldom happens in real life decision-making, since quantification of potential profitability by market segment is sadly lacking.

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.

Reforming Personnel Policies


If women are to be treated equally in the workplace, all jobs and occupations must be open to them so that they may compete on the same terms as all others. A company’s recruiters need to seek qualified workers and not assume that women are unqualified. Rates of pay and benefits need to be matched to the work to be done not to the gender of the jobholder. Pay rises for doing a current job well, along with promotions to more attractive jobs, also require equal treatment. Job assignments should be made on the basis of skills, experience, competence, capability, and reliability—in other words, proven ability to get the job done, not whether women have traditionally worked at one task rather than another.

Career ladders, whether short ones going only a few steps or longer ones leading into the higher reaches of corporate authority, should be placed so that both men and  women can climb them as high as their abilities can carry them.

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.

What Employees Need to Learn


What employees need to learn, beyond their immediate assignments, depends on what the employer wants them to contribute. Leading companies want employees to consider themselves members of the organization, to recommend and implement ways of making the company more successful. Consequently, they tell them a great deal about corporate goals and plans, the operation of the job site, the jobs of peers and managers, the functions of adjacent work units, the technology in use, effective problem-solving methods, and actual costs.

A handful of companies encourage employees to learn the act of technological adaptation, an art whose importance is destined to grow. Potential new uses of flexible automation, robots, or end-user office automation are limited only by the ingenuity of the users. Continuous learning centers are a good example of how to stimulate adaptation.

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.

Training and Community Colleges


The power of images and names deceives us into picturing big companies as big concentrations of people. They rarely are. Most of the work of any major organization goes on at a multiplicity of small to medium-sized shops, offices, or factories, often widely separated from one another as well as from the head office. Each work site may be no longer than an independent small or medium-sized enterprise in its neighborhood.

Since the operations performed at one work site may bear little resemblance to those at another in the same company, work sites may differ in their training needs as widely as they differ in geography. Accordingly, each work site normally administers most of its own training, with the exception of specifically managerial subjects or skills so company-specific, important, and widely needed that it is more cost effective to conduct them at a central location.

By the same token, each work site has finite resources of staff, space, equipment, and money available for training. One point it must therefore decide about any particular need is whether it is more cost-effective to conduct the training in-house or outside. More and more work sites have turned to community and junior colleges to run training programs for them. So community colleges have evolved various arrangements for working with employers. They have thus employed business-industry coordinators, who learn what services the employers need tell them what the colleges can do to help. Some colleges hire and train industry people to execute the colleges’ training assignments.

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.

Traits of Team Members


Personal

  • Non-egoistic
  • Integrity
  • Extrovert
  • Unselfish
  • Patience

Social

  • Mutual acceptance
  • Mutual trust
  • Understanding others
  • Standing above social barriers
  • Equality

Professional

  • Knowledge about the assignment
  • Skill to do the job
  • Problem solving ability
  • Conflict managing capability
  • Adopting win-win strategy

Success criteria for teams

  • Group decision making
  • Free flow of communication
  • Harmonious culture
  • Skilled members
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Creative problem solving
  • Synergic effect

Metrics for team effectiveness measurement

  • Improvement in net income
  • Interdependency level of members
  • Morale of members
  • Frequency of meetings
  • Communication flow

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.

Opportunity Analysis


Opportunity analysis consists of three interrelated activities:

  • Opportunity identification
  • Opportunity-organization matching
  • Opportunity evaluation

Opportunity arise from identifying new types or classes of buyers, uncovering unsatisfied needs of buyers, or creating new ways or means for satisfying buyer needs. Opportunity analysis focus on finding markets that an organization can profitably serve.

Opportunity-organization matching determines whether an identified market opportunity is consistent with the definition of the organization’s business, mission statement, and distinctive competencies. This determination usually involves an assessment of organization’s strengths and weaknesses and an identification of the success requirements for operating profitably in a market. A SWOT analysis is often employed to assess the match between identified market opportunities and the organization.

For some companies, market opportunities that promise sizable sales and profit gains are not pursued because they do not conform to an organization’s character.

Opportunity evaluation typically has two distinct phases—qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative phase focuses on matching the attractiveness of an opportunity with the potential for uncovering a market niche. Attractiveness is dependent on 1) competitive activity; 2) buyer requirements; 3) market demand and supplier sources; 4) social, political, economic, and technological forces; and 5) organizational capabilities. Each of these factors in turn must be tied to its impact on the types of buyers sought, the needs of buyers, and the means for satisfying these needs.

Opportunity identification, matching, and evaluation are challenging assignment because subjective factors play a larger role and managerial insight and foresight are necessary. These activities are even more difficult in the global arena, where social and political forces and uncertainties related to organizational capabilities in unfamiliar economic environments assume a significant role.

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.

Using Administrative Skills


  • Identify the three to five critical success factors that you and your group must accomplish to achieve your goals. Then develop plans to achieve them.
  • Set aside “quiet time” each day for reviewing plans and updating planning activities.
  • To balance attention to detail with broader planning, ask for feedback to ensure that you are not stressing on area over the other.
  • Build your annual department goals and objectives around the strategic plan. Then develop monthly, weekly, and daily plans to accomplish your strategic goals and objectives.
  • Have employees submit an annual work plan for your review. Ask them to include specific objectives, priorities, and time tables. Seek opportunities for assignments, requiring strategic planning.
  • Study the long-range plan for your company or division and  consider its implications for your department.
  • Break large projects into several smaller steps, with deadlines for each step. Ask for feedback regarding the adequacy of your project plan.
  • Set definite deadlines with your manager when taking on tasks.
  • Add more details to your plans.
  • Ask your manager to let you know of instances when your planning could be more effective.
  • Request assignments that require careful planning and attention to detail.
  • After your plan is developed, ask others to identify potential problems. Then determine your contingency plans.
  • Make it a habit to do an environmental scan when doing strategic planning.
  • If your specialty is strategy, use your team and peers to help develop tactics.

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.

Realigning the Organization


Organization or reorganization schemes have been proposed ad nauseam as solutions to many business problems. As a general rule, organizational changes, especially those that simply reshuffle the same names into different boxes on the organization chart, don’t improve anything. This does not mean suggesting some new organization approach that is better suited for these turbulent times. However, many organizations are too top-heavy, over-structured, and over-satisfied to be responsive to market needs and too costly to be competitive. The structure and staffing of any organization must be rigorously challenged to ensure it is really geared to accomplish the fundamental objectives of the business in as cost-effective a manner as possible. An honest evaluation of the answers to the following critical questions will provide a good function for action.

a)        Is the organization structured to serve markets or simply to manage functions and sell products? Have priority markets been identified? Does someone have primary responsibility for ensuring that the product/service package is tailored to each target market? Do mechanisms exist to ensure cross-markets? Is there any kind of a market focus in the selling organization?

b)        Are there enough discrete profit centers? Do enough managers feel the burden of full profit responsibility? Is the business unit larger than its most successful smaller competitors? Are there any big cost centers that are not assigned or allocated to someone who has a profit and loss responsibility?

c)        Are there corporate group or division staff redundancies? Do the same titles exist at different levels (e.g., corporate controller, group controller, division controller, plant controller)? If so, does it make sense? Can staff position or groups show how they actively contribute to profit results? If so, do line managers agree that these functions are worth the cost?

d)        Are there too many layers? Are there more than five layers between the business unit manager and first level workers? Are there managers with assignments limited to managing one, two, three or four people? Why? Can any of these activities be combined under one manager? Why not?

e)        Is the ratio of supporters to actual results producers satisfactory? How many people actually make a direct contribution to results (e.g., first-line sales personnel, direct hourly workers, sales order engineering and order entry workers, handlers of incoming materials, and storing and shipping personnel)? How many managers, staff, and support personnel are cheering them on? If there is more than one support person for every two producers, what do they do? How do they contribute to profits?

The questions are not new, but the answers are more important now than ever. Traditional or experience-based answers are probably wrong because conditions have changed so dramatically. Moreover, it is doubtful whether existing management can or will ever come up with the right answers, because they have vested interests and the changes needed are simply too tough for them to swallow. These organization structure questions are not as serious for many small to medium-size companies since they are not as likely to be troubled with highly structured, functionally focused organizations lacking a dedicated market orientation. However, even managers in these companies must constantly fight the natural tendency to become more structured, bureaucratic, and lethargic.

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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