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.

Closing the Customer Gap


The gaps model says that a service marketer must first close the customer gap between customer perceptions and expectations. To do so, the provider must close the four provider gaps, or discrepancies within the organization that inhibit delivery of quality service. The gaps model focuses on strategies and processes that firms can employ to drive service excellence.

Customer perceptions are subjective assessment of actual service experiences. Customer expectations are the standards or reference points for performance against which service experiences are compared and are often formulated in terms of what a customer believes will or should happen.

The sources of customer expectations consist of marketer-controlled factor (such as pricing, advertising, and sales promises) as well as factors that the marketer has limited ability to affect (innate personal needs, word-of-mouth communications, and competitive offerings). In a perfect world, expectations and perceptions would be identical: customers would perceive that they receive what they thought they would and should. In practice these concepts are often separated by some distance. Broadly, it is the goal of service marketing to bridge this distance.

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.

Channel Management, & Physical Distribution Management


Channel management and physical distribution management together comprise the place variable of the marketing mix. Channel management and physical distribution management, though closely related, are quite distinct from each other. While physical distribution deals with logistics, warehousing, and inventory management channel management is much broader and is concerned with the entire process of setting up and operating the channel for meeting the company’s objectives. Channel management must be well underway before the physical distribution management can even be considered.

Under channel management, the company deals with external organizations. The company uses these external organizations. The company uses these external organizations also known as intermediaries, to achieve its objectives of profitability and customer satisfaction, and in turn ensure that the channel members’ objectives are also satisfied.

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

Exceeding Customer Expectations


We often focus on meeting customer expectations by closing the gap between customer perceptions and expectations. There’s a difficulty in meeting expectations because of all the factors that must be coordinated to deliver on the firm’s service promises. However, an increasingly popular service maxim urges companies to “exceed customer expectations.”—to delight, excite, surprise, and otherwise amaze. According to this formulated belief, merely meeting customer expectations is not enough; a company must exceed them to retain customers. This is an appealing slogan as well as one that sets a high performance standard for employees, but it holds the potential to overpromise to both customers and employees. In attempting to exceed customer expectations, a company must understand a) what type of expectations can and should be exceeded, b) what customer group or segment is to be targeted, and c) the impact exceeding  expectations has on future expectations of customers.

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.

Operating Leverage


It is a financial thought quite similar to break-even analysis. Both fixed and variable costs are used in the production and marketing of products. The higher the operating leverage, the faster the speed of increase of total profits after the sales crosses the break-even volume. Likewise, those firms with high operational leverage will suffer losses at a faster rate after the sales volume drops under the break-even point.

Organizations with high operating leverage gain more from sales from organizations that have low operating leverage. Organizations with high operating leverage are more responsive to drop in sales volume, losses will occur at a faster speed.

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.

Marketing Eras


  • Production Era:  Prior to 1925, most firms operating in highly developed economies focused narrowly on production. Manufacturers stressed production of quality products and then looked for people to purchase them.  The production era did not reach its peak until the early part of 20th century.
  • Sales Era: Manufacturers began to increase their emphasis on effective sales forces to find customers for their output. Firms attempted to match their output to the potential number of customers who would want it. Companies with a sales orientation assume that customers will resist purchasing products and services not deemed essential and that the task of personal selling and advertising is to convince them to buy. Although marketing departments began to emerge from shadows of production, finance, and engineering during the sales era, marketing dominated sales and other areas. Selling is thus a component of marketing.
  • Marketing: Personal incomes and consumer demand for products and services dropped rapidly thrusting marketing into a more important role. Organizational survival dictated that managers pay close attention to the markets for their goods and services. The trend ended with the outbreak of World War 11, when rationing and shortages of consumer goods became commonplace. The war years created only a pause in an emerging trend in business: a shift in the focus from products and sales to satisfying customer needs.
  • Relationship: It emerged during the 90s. Organizations carried the marketing era’s customer orientation one step further by focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships. This effort represented a major shift from the traditional concept of marketing as a simple exchange between buyer and seller. Relationship marketing by contrast, involves long-term, value-added relationships developed over time, strategic alliances and partnerships retailers play major roles in relationship marketing.

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.

Reinventing Leadership


Many people in today’s organizations are pretty miserable. Unhappy people don’t produce quality services and products. At some level, each one of us knows that. Yet, many leaders and managers have given up. They’ve accepted the idea that employees work forty hours a week only so they can do what they want to do on the weekend. That must be changed, and it can be changed. The realities of the deteriorating social fabric demand that we return self-esteem to workers. The realities of national and global competition demand that leaders start making a difference in their corporations—a difference that truly makes a difference.

There are better ways to run corporations than the old, autocratic, dehumanizing ways. Not only must we implement these better ways; we have to sustain them. You can’t do it with your eyes, head or heart closed. But it’s very simple stuff, and it’s very, very powerful.

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.

Change and Gain


The best schedule for your business is likely to be very different from your current schedule. Innovative schedules that require major changes are the most likely to give the biggest benefits. On the other hand, the closer the new schedule is to the current schedule, the easier it is for workers to accept. Implementing a current modified schedule is easier but has a limited impact. In some companies even a relatively simple change—new shift start times, changing the direction of rotation, or a new vacation selection method—can create considerable controversy while not solving fundamental scheduling problems. Changing schedules is an emotional event for your employees, so you might as well tackle all of your scheduling problems at the same time.

Ask whether you want to make a small change or a big change. As a rule of thumb, aim for the greatest change possible, because you are not going to get all the way there anyway. Most organizations have a built-in inertia that limits change. On a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being the current schedule and 100 being the perfect schedule, aim for 100, with the hope that your business will fall within the 80 to 90 range.

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.

Human Resource Strategies


Human resource strategies are functional strategies, like any other—financial, information, marketing, procurement. Any functional planning effort follows a pattern complete with its variations. In many companies, long-term functional planning (for human resources, finance, information systems, technology, etc) is a mandated element of the long range business planning process.

Human resources strategies are different, however, in that they are inter-twined with all other strategies’ management of people is not a distinct function but the means by which all business strategies are implemented. If anything, human resources planning ought to be an integral part of all other strategy formulation. Where it is separate, it needs to be closely aligned..

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.

Two-way HR Planning Process


Like other business strategies, human resource strategies are shaped through both top-down and bottom-up processes in an organization. A top-down processes provides the strategic context necessary for team and unit planning.

Through a focused company environmental assessment, it provides information on possible future trends and issues affecting  the business and influencing the shaping of plans and objectives. People close to the operating business may not readily take such a broad future view. It requires looking outside the company to external competitive practices, economic and social trends, and possible future conditions that may some day have an impact on the business.

A plan is strategic in character if it is focused on important issues raised in an environmental assessment. In today’s competitive organization, it is important that employees at all levels be attuned to external  forces and changes and to the strategic direction being taken to address them.

In a bottom-up approach, planning of human resource actions is a cumulative process. Instead of broad strategies being broken down into progressively greater detail, detailed strategies are aggregated and synthesized into  meaningful umbrella strategies. Each business unit or department is asked to identify the human resource issues of concern, taking into consideration the guidance of the long-term planning inputs. They are also asked to specific analyses, forecasts, and assessments regarding these issues. Specific action plans are selected and adopted. Both human resource staff and managers should participate in this effort.

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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