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.

Talking about Bookkeeping


Everyone knows intuitively, if not experientially, that good bookkeeping is good business. If you don’t keep track of your business’s money matters—what comes in and what goes out—you will be in the dark as to how well or poorly your business is doing, and hence how well or poorly you’re handling certain aspects of the business. After all numbers do not lie. If they indicate that all is well, you’ll be able to capitalize on your success by, if nothing else, continuing to do with confidence whatever you’re doing right. If the numbers reveal that all is not well, you will be able to take appropriate measures to solve problems which if left unchecked could land you in failure zone. Just as with certain physical diseases, early detection means early cure and increased chance of survival. Lastly, it goes without saying that slipshod recordkeeping can cost you time, anxiety and even money when tax time rolls around. In sum, while its understandable that people are inclined to avoid and neglect bookkeeping matters, its fundamentally inexcusable.

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.

Involving Employees


To be successful when facing multiple tasks, often on multiple projects, more employees at all levels will need to delegate some of their activities and responsibilities to other organizational members. This means that employees are going to have to be give certain amounts of authority to make decisions that directly effect their work. Even though delegation was once perceived as something that managers did with lower levels of management, delegation will be required at all levels of the organization—in essence, peer delegation, or using influence without authority.

In addition to being required to take on more responsibilities, employees will be expected to make decisions without the benefit of the tried-and-true decisions of the past. And because all these employees are part of the process today, there is more of a need for them to contribute to the decision-making process. In most organizations, the days of autocratic management are over. To facilitate customer demands and fulfill corporate expectations, today’s employees need to be more involved. Group decision-making enables these employees to have more input into the processes, and greater access to needed information. Such actions are also consistent with work environments that require increased creativity and innovation.

Another phenomenon of involving employees will be an emphasis on work teams. The bureaucratic structure of yesterday—where clear lines of authority existed and the chain of command was paramount—is not appropriate for many of today’s companies. Workers from different specializations in an organization are increasingly required to work together to successfully complete complex projects. As such traditional work areas have given way to more of a team effort, building and capitalizing on the various skills and backgrounds that each member brings to the team.

Involving employees allows them an opportunity to focus on the job goals. By giving them more freedom, employees are in a better position to develop the means to achieve the desired results.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Preparing an Effective Presentation


The first step in preparing for a presentation is to analyze the needs of the audience. You can then tailor your presentation to their interests and expectations.

As you analyze your audience, consider the following questions:

  • What need or opportunity prompted the presentation?
  1. What is the general purpose of the presentation (for instance, a ceremonial occasion, information, persuasion, entertainment)?
  2. What kind of response or specific outcome do I want as a result of the presentation?
  • Who specifically, will be attending the presentation?
  1. What are the relevant demographic characteristics (such as educational backgrounds, ages, gender) of audience members?
  • What do audience members already know about the subject?
  1. What has been their exposure to, or experience with, the particular subject I am addressing?
  2. What background information is necessary for the group?
  • What is the audience’s attitude toward me, the presenter?
  1. What is the level of my credibility?
  2. How does the audience perceive my role in the meeting?
  • What is important to the audience?
  1. What do they want and need to know from my presentation?
  2. Of the information I have, what do they most need to know?
  3. How can I capitalize on the audience’s interests and expectations to reach my objective?
  • What are the physical arrangements?
  1. When will I be presenting? How much time do I have?
  2. How many people will be there?
  3. How will the audience be seated?
  4. What equipment is available for visual aids?
  • How will I improvise if my best-laid plans fall through?
  1. What if I have only a portion of the time that I expected?
  2. What if the audiovisual equipment I counted on is not available?

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

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

Developing a Goals System


The process of identifying and structuring the goals system that is emerging from an exploration of strategic issues helps clarify what the strategic direction of the organization will be if no deliberate actions are taken to change it. Through understanding the potential impact of the issues and opportunities facing the organization, steps can be taken to position the organization in such a way as to resolve or capitalize upon these. As such, it provides a valuable benchmark against which to consider the strategic future. Thus, the process involves identifying the goals and understanding how they impact on one another. However, we usually find that a developing understanding of the nature of a goal comes from working on your own material.

Although not being absolutely dependent on the previous activities of issue surfacing, or interviewing using cognitive maps, the goal surfacing activity powerfully extends both the initial activities and takes the strategic thinking process one step further towards realizing a strategic intent and direction. An alternative means of surfacing goals can be achieved through starting with a blank wall (or computer screen if using the computer-supported mode of working). However, this form of the process does not recognize the role of existing problem identification (surfacing the issues) in suggesting real goals of the organization are and can be distracted from, through discussing those that are espoused. Starting with a description of apparent goals can miss the reality of the organization and provides an idealistic view of what the organization can and will achieve.

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

Great Managers Rely on Steps


The best managers know that their challenge is not to perfect people, but to capitalize on each person’s uniqueness. They select for talent, no matter how simple the role. Their first instinct is to trust the people they have selected. And they believe that, with enough thought, even intangibles like “customer satisfaction” and “employee morale” can be defined in terms of outcomes.

However, this does not mean they dismiss the need for steps. They don’t. A manager’s basic responsibility is to turn talent into performance. Certain required steps can often serve as the platform for that performance. These managers, in a survey, described how and when they use required steps to drive 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

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