Increasing Knowledge Intensity


Knowledge (information, intelligence, and expertise) is the basis of technology and application. In the 21st Century competitive landscape, knowledge is a critical organizational resource  and is increasingly a valuable source of competitive advantage. Because of this, many companies now strive to transmute the accumulated knowledge of individual employees into a corporate asset. Some argue that the value of intangible assets, including knowledge, is growing as a proportion of total shareholder value. The probability of achieving strategic competitiveness in the 21st Century competitive landscape is enhanced for the firm that realizes that its survival depends on the ability to capture intelligence, transform it into usable knowledge, and diffuse it rapidly throughout the company. Firms that accept this challenge shift their focus from merely obtaining the information to exploiting the information to gain a competitive advantage over rival firms.

 

Conditions in the 21st Century competitive landscape shows that firms must be able to adapt quickly to achieve strategic competitiveness and earn above average returns. The term strategic flexibility describes a firm’s ability to do this. Strategic flexibility is a set of capabilities firms use to respond to various demands and opportunities that are a part of dynamic and uncertain competitive environments. Firms should develop strategic flexibility in all areas of their operations. Such capabilities in terms of manufacturing allow firms to “switch gears—form, for example, rapid product development to low cost—relatively quickly and with minimum resources.

 

To achieve strategic flexibility, many firms have to develop organizational slack. Slack resources allow the firm some flexibility to respond to environmental changes. When the changes required are large, firms may have to undergo strategic reorientations. Such reorientations can drastically change a firm’s competitive strategy. Strategic reorientations are often the result of a firm’s poor performance. For example, when a firm earns negative returns, its stakeholders are likely to place pressure on the top executives to make major changes. To be strategically flexible on a continuing basis, a firm has to develop the capability to learn. The learning continuously provides the firm with new and current sets of skills. This allows the firm to adapt to its environment as it encounters changes.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Corporate Structure in the Global Economy


Corporate structures will be increasingly expected to deal with tension-producing forces, as well as compressive ones. Among them is the tendency for companies to become increasingly spread thin as they respond to an expanding multitude of masters. And it is likely that both employees and their governments will take their turn demanding greater attention to their particular needs and requirements. On top of these whiplash-inducing pressures will be the ongoing operational tensions arising from the continuing use of speed as a competitive weapon.

 

As if these ongoing pushes and pulls will not be enough of a challenge, most businesses will also face the requirement to be more flexible than ever in deploying and redeploying resources to mact the moving targets provided by customers’ requirements and competitors’ advances. The globalizing marketplace tends to be unforgiving when corporate inertia or bureaucracy limits flexibility. This degree of organizational elasticity—stretching to accommodate special situations, then returning to the original shape to meet regular demands—is already a necessity in many industries. Soon it will be mandatory in most.

 

A measure of plasticity will be needed, as well. The ability to change an organization’s shape, to adapt to new markets or to reconfigure around emerging capabilities, will be another dynamic quality in the repertoire of the new corporation. This attribute—the ability to reorganize completely every several years without succumbing to terminal brittleness—is a rarity in most companies today. But it will be common among those that thrive into this 21st Century.

 

Just as architects have never found a single, always appropriate building block for every structure, organization designers are also unlikely to find one. But the old building blocks of narrowly defined jobs used in tandem with traditional supervision are not working. Perhaps the lead of the architect can be followed, and companies can learn to select organizational building blocks that can be adjusted to cope with the forces they face at a particular time. In keeping with what has worked for the architect, organization planners can:

  • Reinforce jobs to ensure they have the strength to resist the tensions and compressions they must increasingly cope with.
  • Use the organizational equivalent of composites—teams—when job reinforcement alone is insufficient to provide the company with an appropriate degree of flexibility.
  • Make sure that the company’s managers are in load-bearing roles—ones vital to the organization’s structural integrity—and act as drivers of the business’s ongoing adaptability, rather than mere definers of unneeded internal walls.

 Reinforced jobs, composite teams, and load-bearing managers—these may well be the most useful raw materials from which the structure of the corporation is shaped.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Public-private partnership


In this era of modernization in many aspects of public administration, most developing countries continue to follow century-old concepts and structures. They seriously need structural adjustment thereby launching legislative and administrative reforms, which stress a reconsideration of the role of the public administration in the conditions of democratization and market-economy. A greater emphasis needs to be placed on effectiveness of the public administration. The practice and legislation of such countries should affect patterns of the role of public sector and influence fundamental features of the system of governance. A common goal should be to introduce a more contractual, participative, discretionary style of relationship: between different levels and agencies in administrative apparatus; between the decision-making authorities and operating units; and between administrative agencies and producing units, public or private.

A major reform objective in public sector management should be to increase, within the framework of democratic accountability, cost effectiveness in the public provision of goods and services. Both citizens and public administration accept the need for improved quality in the public sector.

They need to hold high the aim of structuring an effective mechanism for achieving policy objectives, determined at central, provincial and local levels for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in providing public services.

The legality and the efficiency of providing such public services are of great concern. Local authorities are empowered to do something that is intended to assist the carrying out any role.

Outsourcing is a way of contracting out one or more functions to specialist companies. This allows the public entity to concentrate on its core activities. There are three primary reasons for the public administration to outsource. The first is to achieve cost-effective provision of services. The second is to provide a choice for the citizens of producing and supplying public services of different qualities and kinds. The third is simply because there is no alternative due to a lack of staff with the requisite skills; need of relaxing the administrative burden, which somebody other could deal with even better and concentrating the attention on the core administrative matters; short deadlines for implementation. This last reason for outsourcing is to meet the needs, which exceed the capability of the public administration staff, because of a shortage of either staff or skills, or which give added flexibility to the administrative organization.

Thus, the outsourcing can be seen as a process through which relationships are managed and adjusted according to arrangements specified and conditions planned by the administrative authority in the contract documentation. The focus here is not on the legal issues of the contract rather than on the quality of contracting as a mechanism for achieving policy objectives determined at all levels of government for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. From this perspective the outsourcing by public administration can be considered as a joint commitment to partnership between public and private sector operating as a co-operative device for providing public goods and services.

The trend towards greater satisfaction of public needs and consumer empowerment underlies the role of outsourcing by public administration. The outsourcing is encouraged to secure higher quality of public works and services, whereby contracting managers are located closer to the consumer and so are better able to respond to their needs in actual delivery. The role of consumers and end-clients with respect to outsourcing can thus be increased. The strategies of improving responsiveness through outsourcing on the one hand, and hierarchical distribution of the administrative functions on the other, can be combined in a successful model of public service delivery. The administrative authorities – at federal, provincial and local levels – might participate in the specification of services and in the determination of contractual standards and terms of agreement.

As part of administrative reform outsourcing by public administration should be a high priority. The corresponding legislation should be based on three main principles—transparency, non-discrimination involving open selection criteria and open standards, specifications and standards regulated by law; and open competition.

The framework agreements are significant for ensuring the execution of the administrative power intent of the outsourced functions. The federal, provincial or local governments can use outsourcing as a tool for providing public services when carrying out their functions. They use outsourcing to get public results, which should be achieved when the governments exercise their administrative powers.

The outsourcing in some way can replace the direct administrative action. Such outsourcing has the compulsory nature same as this of the executive action which it replaces. The administration can use administrative or seek lawmaking authority to bring about the result it desires, if it is nonetheless outsourcing. A realistic view is that the process of deciding to outsource as well as the very process of outsourcing is a valid exercise of administrative power. The offered and agreed terms of the contract are also exercising of the administrative power. Once the contract signed, however, the particular relationships issued by outsourcing are moved under the regulations of the private law.

The government functioning can be improved by redefining its role: Policy-making instead of operative decision-making. It should stimulate tools for establishment of working, efficient, rational and fair practice, design of efficient allocation of financial and administrative wherewithal; transparency and control. The government must also realize that developing a training strategy for skills and incentives is badly needed.

The overall proportion of outsourcing in the field of public administration is generally expected to growing. Demand will increase for a variety of reasons.

Successful outsourcing, however, presupposes the existence of an efficient market. In

Pakistan the market for some categories of public goods and services is deficient of professionalism, integrity, and fair play. Such situation is creating conditions for corruption.

From another side, outsourcing itself contributes to developing the market.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Recovery of Loss-making Companies


A surprising number of large companies have one or more subsidiaries making losses at any time. The number of private companies which fail is further ample proof of loss-making businesses. One response is a desire to sell the loss-making business, which is really an attempt to walk away from a situation which is both a problem and an opportunity. Even if a buyer is found, the purchase price is likely to be lower than net asset value. If loss-making business is sold to the existing management interesting questions are raised. What will they do as owners of the business different from before? Why was this not done at the direction of the group previously? The opportunity is to turn the business into profit before considering selling it, because even if a sale makes sense, it will be easier to achieve and a much higher price should be obtained.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Ethos of Great Managers


Smart individual performers keep getting moved into manager positions without the slightest idea of what the manager role is, let alone the ability to play it. They are sent to leadership development courses, but they come back more impressed with their mini-executive status than with the day-to-day challenges of being a good manager.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the manager role is no longer very important. Apparently managers are now an impediment to speed, flexibility, and agility. Today’s agile companies can no longer afford to employ armies of managers to shuffle papers, sign approvals, and monitor performance. They need self-reliant, self motivated, self-directed work teams. No wonder managers are first against the wall when the reengineering revolution came.

Every manager should be a leader. He must seize opportunity, using his smarts and impatience to exert his will over a fickle world. In this world, the staid little manager is a misfit. It is too quick for him, too exciting, too dangerous. He had better stay out of the way. He might get hurt.

Today’s business pressures are more intense. Companies need self-reliant employees and aggressive leaders. But all this does not diminish the importance of managers. In turbulent times the manager is more important than ever because managers play a vital and distinct role, a role that charismatic leaders and self-directed teams are incapable of playing. The manager role is to reach inside each employee and release his unique talents into performance. This role is best played one employee at a time: one manager asking questions of, listening to, and working with one employee. Multiplied a thousand fold, this one-by-one role is the company’s power supply. In times of great change it is this role that makes the company robust enough to stay focused when needed, yet robust enough to flex without breaking.

Thus the manager role is the catalyst role. As with all catalysts, the manager’s function is to speed up the reaction between two substances, thus creating the desired end product. Specifically the manager creates performance in each employee by speeding up the reaction between the employee’s talents and the company’s goals, and between the employee’s talents and the customers’ needs. When hundreds of managers play this role well, the company becomes strong.

In today’s slimmed-down business world, most of these managers also shoulder other responsibilities. They are expected to be subject matter experts, individual superstars, and sometimes leaders in their own right. These are important roles, which great managers execute with varying styles and degrees of success. But when it comes to the manager aspect of the responsibilities, great managers all excel at this catalyst 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Corporate Restructuring


Corporate restructuring encompasses a broad range of activities and include acquisition and divestiture of lines of business and assets, acquiring controlling shares in other companies, alteration in capital structure through a variety of financial engineering initiatives, and also effecting internal streamlining and business process reengineering to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the firm. Corporate restructuring can thus lead to changes along one or more of the three directions, vis-à-vis, i) assets and portfolio, ii) capital structure, and iii) organization and management. Assets and portfolio structure can get significantly altered when a firm undertakes a series of acquisitions and divestitures to bring more focus to its lines of business or widen its activities to enter new fields. Capital structure can change due to corporate restructuring caused by infusion of large debt, change in equity due to either expansion of capital base or buyback of equity or composition of owners (e.g., participation of MNCs, and FIs in the equity of the firm). Organizational restructuring is also a part of the overall corporate restructuring and is designed to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the organization through changes in structure, systems and processes, people and culture.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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