Glass Ceiling


Glass ceiling is a term used to reflect why women and minorities aren’t more widely represented at the top of today’s organizations. The glass ceiling is not, however, synonymous with “classic” discrimination. Rather, the glass ceiling is indicative of “institutional and psychological practices, and the limited advancement and mobility of men and women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

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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Meaningless Corporate Values


The desire to go through a long-winded process to develop corporate values that are meaningless to everyone except those involved in their creation is a classic symptom. Incredibly, common in large corporations, it is not only a waste of time but can actually be damaging. This type of badge engineering puts a gloss over deep-rooted problems and causes employees to become not only ineffective but also disenchanted.

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.

Product Development Process


The product development process involves analysis of the marketplace, the buyer, the company’s capabilities, and the economic potential of new product ideas. This process may be both expensive and time consuming. To accelerate the process, many companies create multidisciplinary teams so that manufacturing and marketing plans can be developed in tandem while the product is being designed.

  1. Generation and Screening of Ideas: The first step is to come up with ideas that will satisfy unmet needs. A producer may get new product ideas from its own employees or from external consultants, it may simply adapt a competitor’s idea, or it may buy the rights to someone else’s invention. Customers are often the best source of new product ideas.
  2. Business Analysis: A product idea that survives the screening stage is subjected to a business analysis. At this point the question is: Can the company make enough money on the product to justify the investment? To answer this question, companies forecast the probable sales of the product, assuming various pricing strategies. In addition, they estimate the costs associated with various levels of production. Given these projections, the company calculates the potential cash flow and return on investment that will be achieved if the product is introduced.
  3. Prototype Development: The next step is generally to create and test a few samples, or prototypes, of the product, including its packaging. During this stage, the various elements of the marketing mix are put together. In addition, the company evaluates the feasibility of large-scale production and specifies the resources required to bring the product to market.
  4. Product Testing: During the product testing stage, a small group of consumers actually use the product, often in comparison tests with existing products. If the results are good, the next step is test marketing, introducing the product in selected areas of the country and monitoring consumer reactions. Test marketing makes the most sense in cases where the cost of marketing a product far exceeds the cost of developing it.
  5. Commercialization: The final stage of development is commercialization, the large-scale production and distribution of those products that have survived the testing process. This phase requires the coordination of many activities—manufacturing, packaging, distribution, pricing and promotion. A classic mistake is letting marketing get out of phase with production so that the consumer is primed to buy the product before the company can supply it in adequate quantity. A mistake of this sort can be costly, because competitors may be able to jump in quickly. Many companies roll out their new products generally, going from one geographic area to the next. This enables them to spread the costs of launching the product over a longer period and to refine their strategy as the rollout proceeds.

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.

Primitive Organizations


Primitive organizations exhibit all the classic features of any start-up. Energy and anticipation are usually high and the right startup can almost run on pure adrenalin.

Primitive organizations naturally perform the things that other types of organizations have to work hard to achieve. Formal structure and communication is not yet necessary, as enthusiasm and team spirit can carry the organization along.

In the early stages most primitive organizations manage to operate under one working culture and build effective internal and external relationships. This state of affairs can’t last, however, as primitive organizations are naturally transient. When the initial honeymoon period passes, the culture of the organization will change of its own accord.

All that is up for debate is how much it will change, how fast it will change and whether that change will be managed or if nature will be allowed to take its own course.

As is the case with all organizations, primitive organizations face the choice of managing their culture from the word go, or leaving it to chance. Unfortunately too many organizations rely on the natural spirit associated with being a primitive startup and de-prioritize cultural investment, choosing to concentrate on what they see as operational necessities.

To a point this is understandable, but this attitude reflects some common misconceptions.

  • An organization’s honeymoon period or primitive stage can be incredibly short, which catches a lot of organizations out – and once the damage is done, it’s done. Remedial work is always harder and significantly more draining and time-consuming than positive effort.
  • Proactive cultural and relationship management right from the start can be achieved at minimal cost in terms of time and money, and will deliver benefit for years to come. It is worth remembering that managing a working culture does not mean over-engineering it: in fact, it should mean quite the opposite. Good practice from day one is what creates long-term amazing relationships and long-term success.

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.

Decision-making in Crisis Situations


Corporate transformation often occur in situations of crisis. Classic studies of crisis decision making have highlighted the tendency to focus on the short term, and to concentrate upon fewer options, when the ‘going gets tough.’ There is a danger that a sense of balance and perspective might be lost just when it is most needed.

Members of board can experience a tension between the requirement to become more deeply involved in order to demonstrate commitment, and the desirability of maintaining a distance in order to preserve a degree of independence and objectivity. A corporate change program can increase this schizophrenic pressure upon the individual director.

In situations of crisis there is a tendency to cut out information and individuals who do not fit, and to concentrate power in the hands of a smaller group of people. This prospect can pose problems for directors who have genuinely reservations which they feel duly bound to express.

A chairman should think twice before ‘wielding the knife’. It is important to probe the reasons for hesitency. Enthusiasm could be the product of sycophancy, and caution the result of thought. Team players are not those who just go along without thinking. Some colleagues are cautious. They are not obstructive. They are realistic.

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

Drive


A person’s drive is not changeable. What drives him is decided by his mental filter, by the relative strength or weakness of the highways in his mind. His drives are, in fact, his striving talents.

Take the striving talent of competitiveness as an example. Some people have a four-lane highway for competition. Show them scores and they will instinctively try to use these scores to compare their performance with that of their peers. They love scores, because what you can measure you can compare, and if you can compare, you can compete.

However, people with a wasteland for competition will see the same scores and not feel any jolt of energy at all. Putting themselves on a level playing field, putting their best efforts against their peers, and winning means nothing to them. They rationalize their behavior by opining, “I don’t like competition; I prefer win-win scenarios,” or the classic, “I prefer to compete with myself.” But these comments are just signs that their filter is, understandably, trying to describe itself in the most positive light.

The truth is that they are not competitive. There is nothing good or bad about this. It is simply who they are. And there is not much that either they or you, their manager, can do about it.

Similarly some people have a four-lane highway for constant achievement, a striving talent we call achiever. They may not have to win, but they do feel a burning need to achieve something tangible every single day. And these kind of people mean, “every single day.” For them every day—workday, weekend, vacation—everyday starts at zero. They have to rack up some numbers by the end of the day in order to feel good about themselves. This burning flame may dwindle as evening comes, but the next morning it rekindles itself, spurring its host to look for new items to cross off his list. These people are the fabled “self-starters.”

Not all roles require employees to possess this striving talent of achiever. Nurses, for example, do not have to generate all of their drive from within. Instead they have to respond caringly and efficiently to the urgent needs that face them everyday—for nurses the altruistic striving talent mission is much more important than achiever. But if you manage roles that do require achiever—like an insurance agent, a pharmaceutical salesperson, or any role where the person must initiate rather than respond—then remember; You had better select for it. Because if a person does not feel this burning fire, you cannot light it for him.

The same applies to all striving talents: the need to be of service, the need to be on stage, the need to be seen as competent, the need to help others grow. All of these drives are talents, and therefore they have the same characteristics as other talents. Namely, they are part of each person’s mental filter. They are unique and enduring.

A manager can never breathe motivational life into someone else. All she can do is try to identify each employee’s striving four-lane highways and then, as far as is possible, cultivte them.

When describing human behavior, stick to the clarity of skills, knowledge, and talents. Tread carefully when using habits or competencies—they lump too much together rather haphazardly. Likewise, if you feel a need to use attitude or drive, be cautious. Remember that a person’s drive and his prevailing attitudes are talents, and as such, they are very hard to change. When you hear yourself berating the person to “get a better attitude,” watch out. You might be asking him to tackle the impossible.

None of this implies that a person cannot change. Everyone can change. Everyone can learn. Everyone can get a little better. The language of skills, knowledge, and talents simply helps a manager identify where radical change is possible and where it is not.

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

Impact of Time-based Competition on Employees


The level of financial performance improvements achieved by companies as they become time-based competitors is difficult to match with conventional cost-cutting techniques. For example, the improvements are completely out of the range of what is achievable by the following methods:

  • Cutting direct labor wages through renegotiation or going offshore.
  • Reducing overheads by de-layering management structures and/or narrowing the line of products and services offered
  • Automation short of the
  • ‘people-less’ factory
  • Obtaining superior economies of scale.

The only way to achieve this degree of performance improvement is by transforming the company into a time-based competitor. Furthermore, the transformation must be made before a competitor makes it.

 

Probably as important, and maybe even more important than the profit improvements, though, are the intangible rewards to the organization of being a time-based competitor. People like to believe they are winners. Growth and improvements in financial indicators clearly tell an organization and the world that that they are winners.

 

Competitors of time-based competitors are often frustrated by their inability to match the growth and returns of their rivals. But they may misjudge the competitive factors contributing to their difficulties. Many complain that their industry is one where no one can make money because of cut-throat competition by companies that do not know how to make money. On two points they are correct: the competition is cut-throat and it is their throats that are being cut. This is the classic case of the retreating competition not understanding the strategy and capability of the advancing competitor.

 

Management should look to time-based competition not only as a source of above-average returns but also as opportunity to make their people feel like winners.

 

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