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.

Computer Programming


The computer can do nothing toward solving a problem without a detailed set of instructions. It can follow instructions, but it cannot think. A computer program is a set of instructions that tells the computer what is to be done, how to do it, and the sequence of steps to be followed. The computer follows these directions step by step until the job is completed.

The computer programmer—the specialist who tells the computer what to do—must analyze the problem, break it down into its component parts, and outline the steps needed to arrive at the solution. An effective way to determine these steps is to make a flowchart—a pictorial description of the logical steps to be taken in solving a problem.

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.

Corporate Ghettos


When the personality of an organization breaks up, individuals develop their own cult following. A reaction common to many organizations is the establishment of corporate ghettos, where individuals gather together in the absence of proper leadership to form informal but fiercely defensive groups.

These separate ghettos become the mainstay of internal communication and loyalty switches from the organization to the ghetto. All socializing and as much working contact as possible is restricted to other members of the ghetto.

Ghettos can have amazing influence on the lives of all concerned and in time come to dominate the entire culture and effectiveness of an organization.

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.

Deming’s Service Quality Principles


  1. Maintain a constancy of purpose
  2. Adopt the new philosophy
  3. Cease dependence on mass inspection
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price alone
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service
  6. Institute training
  7. Institute leadership
  8. Drive out fear
  9. Break down barriers among staff
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets
  11. Eliminate work quotas
  12. Remove barriers to pride of workmanship
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement
  14. Put everyone to work on the transformation.

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.

Basic Thinking Patterns


Teamwork can be managed into existence by teaching people to use consciously and cooperatively four basic  patterns of thinking they already use unconsciously and individually. These four basic patterns of thinking are reflected in the four kinds of questions managers ask every day:

  1. What’s going on? It begs for clarification. It asks for a sorting out, a breaking down, a key to the map of current events, a means of achieving and maintaining control. It reflects the pattern of thinking that enables us to impose order where all had been disorder, uncertainty, or confusion. It enables us to establish priorities and decide when and how to take actions that make good sense and produce good results.
  2. Why did this happen? This indicates the need for cause and effect thinking. It is the pattern that enables us to move from observing the effect of a problem to understanding the cause so that we can take appropriate actions to correct the problem or lessen its effects.
  3. Which course of action should we take? This implies that some choice must be made. This basic pattern of thinking enables us to decide on the course of action most likely to accomplish a particular goal.
  4. What lies ahead? This pattern looks into the future. This is used for thinking when we attempt to assess the problem that might happen, the decision that might be necessary next month, next year, or in five years.

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.

Situation Appraisal


We may experience confusion and uncertainty over where to begin, how to recognize situations that require action, how to break apart overlapping and confusing issues into manageable components, how to set priorities, and how to manage a number of simultaneous activities efficiently.

Nearly every manager has entered the fantasy of starting fresh. Even on the first day in a new job, the manager is beset by issues that were chronic frustrations for the previous incumbent. Every manager must operate from a middle ground, surrounded by the accumulated problems of the past, a profusion of demands of the moment, and the certainty that future threats and opportunities await him not be ignored.

Situational analysis in this situation thus has a role. It consists of evaluative techniques that lead to proper selection and use of analytical techniques. This process builds the framework for daily use of rational process ideas. It enables managers to make best possible use of the technique of problem analysis, decision analysis, and potential problem analysis.

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.

Power to Act


An organization in tune with its workforce and customers not only senses problems and opportunities before they break, but also often has the cohesion and confidence to turn direction. For these organizations the ability to let things go is as important as the ability to pick things up.

In contrast there are organizations caught like rabbits in car headlights, paralyzed by the fear of changing market conditions. In the end they would rather waste half a year on despair and acrimony than act boldly whilst they can still make a difference.

Prevarication and hesitation are without doubt the scourge of organizations.

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.

 

Good Maintenance


Good maintenance is fundamental to productive manufacturing system; try running a production line with faulty equipment. Total productive maintenance is keeping the current plant and equipment at its highest productive level through cooperation of all areas of the organization. Generally, the first task is to break down the traditional barriers between maintenance and production personnel so they are working together. Individuals working together without regard to organizational structure, using their skills and ingenuity, have common objective—peak performance or total productivity.

This approach does not mean that such basic techniques as predictive and preventive maintenance are not used; they are essential to building a foundation for successful total productive maintenance environment. Productive maintenance is the process of using data and statistical tools to determine when a piece of equipment will fail, and preventive maintenance is the process of periodically performing activities such as lubrication on the equipment to keep it running.

The total maintenance function should be directed towards the elimination of unplanned equipment and plant maintenance. The objective is to create a system in which all maintenance activities can be planned and not interfere with the production process. Surprise equipment breakdowns should not occur. Before the advent of computer-aided manufacturing, operators in some organizations were responsible for their machines and took a certain pride of ownership. With the help of maintenance technicians, operators spent part of their work time keeping their equipment in good running order. Recent technical advances have given us more tools to perform the maintenance function.

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.

 

Punishing Employees


Regardless of how well managed they are, virtually all organizations occasionally must resort to discipline or punishment. If workers, for example, are habitually late, break company rules about smoking, punishment may be the only alternative. If this is the case, how should managers proceed?

First, managers should use progressive discipline. This means that each instance of undesirable behavior results in a somewhat stronger disciplinary action than the one before. Thus, the first infraction might be followed by a verbal reprimand, the second by a written reprimand, the third by suspension, and the fourth by dismissal.

Second, many organizations are finding that allowing teams to handle their own discipline works well. Each team is responsible for scheduling to own work, hiring its own members, and so forth. Why, then, should it not also discipline its own members?

Third, managers need to walk a thin line between being equitable and recognizing situational differences. If two employees break the same rule, the discipline they receive should be comparable. At the sane time, a twenty-year veteran employee who comes in 10 minutes late for the first time ever and a new employee who comes in 30 minutes late on the first day almost certainly should be handled in very different ways.

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.

 

Improving Quality


Improving quality is a lot like taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Although the results may not be immediate, long-term benefits are significant. Quality is neither a quick fix nor the program of the month, but rather a way of life for companies who are serious about improvements.

Quality is a fundamental to creating value, yet it is a moving target and must meet the customers’ current definition of quality. Thus, we offer the following recommendations for improving service quality and ultimately delivering superior customer value:

  • Design services in cooperation with customers. Learn what customers truly value by incorporating the voice of the customer earlier in the service development process. Also, it is important to determine not only the customers’ preferred service attributes but their relative importance, as well.
  • Focus your improvement programs outward, on market break points. Only by defining those episodes, when the customer comes in contact with the organization, and by focusing on the ones most critical can you see things as the customer sees them. Also, visualize the complete sequence of the moments of truth a customer experiences in having some need met. Remember, the customer sees service in terms of a total experience, not an isolated set of activities. Mapping the service cycle helps companies see these activities as the customer sees them.
  • Create a triangle representation of service quality. Hotels and restaurants often advertise and display on their properties ratings by one of the major motor clubs, such as AAA or Mobil Oil, Hertz #1 Gold Club service communicates a premium, value-added bundle of services to business travelers seeking a hassle-free car rental experience.
  • Use teamwork to promote service excellence—service workers who support one another and achieve together can avoid service burnout.
  • Create a service bias based on each of the following service quality determinants: professionalism, attitudes and behaviors, accessibility and flexibility, reliability and trustworthiness, service recovery, and reputation and credibility. These criteria can be used as guidelines for influencing positive service quality perceptions.
  • Develop proper measurements. Use metrics that are specific on nature, such as 95% on-time-delivery, customer wait time, or order processing time. Benchmark the best practices for each service are being measured, such as wait time or order delivery.
  • Employee selection, job design, and training are absolutely crucial to building customer satisfaction and service quality. Structure the job of service workers to maximize their ability to respond quickly and competently to customer needs. Also, train service personnel in areas of service delivery and attitude. Role play different service scenarios, showing various service recovery strategies. Provide service workers with some basic tools to help control service quality variation and uncover service problems.
  • Reward total quality efforts in marketing. Look for opportunities to reinforce quality behaviors when they occur. Employees should be rewarded ob the basis of these behaviors (commitment, effort) rather than strictly on outcomes, such as sales quotas. Rewarding a salesperson for meeting or exceeding quota with a bonus while giving a nominal award such as a pin or plaque to the person who fixes the product or process sends a clear message about the importance of quality.
  • Think of service as a process, not a series of functions. Service quality occurs when the entire service experience is managed and the organization is aligned to respond accordingly.

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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