The Deliberate Innovation Strategy


The strategic choice view argues that if an incumbent is not the first to introduce an innovation, it may not be because it has no incentive to invest, its competence has been destroyed, it has not recognized the potential of the innovation, it does not have the complementary assets, it did not use the right adoption mechanism, or it is an environment that is not conducive to innovation. It may be because of the firm’s innovation strategy—its goals, timing, actions, and resource allocation in using new knowledge to offer new products or services. By making the right choices early, a firm can build the right competences and complementary assets, or even shape the kind of environment in which it is going to operate.

There are several innovation strategies: offensive, defensive, imitative, dependent, traditional, and optimistic. A firm with an offensive strategy is the first to introduce new products. If the strategy is to be the first to innovate, it will invest in the innovation and build the capabilities to do so.  In a defensive innovation strategy, a firm waits for a competitor with an offensive strategy to introduce a product first and resolve some of the uncertainties confronting the innovation. The defensive firm then introduces its own product, correcting any mistakes that pioneers may have made.

Firms pursuing a defensive strategy normally have very strong complementary assets—capabilities such as marketing, manufacturing, distribution channels, and reputation which allow a firm to commercialize an invention—and when they decide to move, they do so very quickly. They usually have a strong R&D since it takes knowledge to absorb knowledge. The product is not an imitation of the pioneer’s version but rather a differentiated product, often with better features and lower cost. The firm, in effect, catches up with or leapfrogs the pioneer. Thus not being the first to introduce an innovation may not be a sign of a lack of incentive to invest, competence destruction, absence of appropriate complementary assets, inappropriate adoption mechanism, or being in the wrong environment. It may be because the firm in question has a defensive strategy.

While a firm with a defensive strategy would like to differentiate its products, one with an imitative strategy would like to produce a clone of the pioneer’s product. It has very little attention of catching up with or leapfrogging the pioneer. It usually has such low-cost capabilities as lower labor costs, access to raw materials, and strong manufacturing. In the dependent strategy the firm accepts a subordinate role to a stronger firm. It imitates product changes only when requested by the customer or superior. Many large Japanese firms have these satellite firms. The traditional strategy makes very few changes to products, only striving to offer the lowest cost possible. In the opportunistic strategy the firm looks for some unique needs of a market segment that are not being met—it looks for a niche market. The point in all these other strategies is that a firm’s failure to introduce a product first can be due to its deliberate strategy.

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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Organizational Mandates


The formal and informal mandates placed on an organization consist of the various “musts” that it confronts. Actually, it is surprising how few organizations know precisely what they are (and are not) formally mandated to do. Typically, few members of any organization have ever read, for example, the relevant legislation, ordinances, charters, articles, and contracts that outline the organization’s formal mandates. Many organizational members also do not clearly understand what informal mandates—typically political in the broadest sense—their organization faces. It may not be surprising, then, that most organizations make one or all of the following three fundamental mistakes. First, not knowing what they must do, they are unlikely to do it. Second, they may believe they are more tightly constrained in their actions than they actually are. Third, they may assume that if they are not explicitly told to do something, they are not allowed to do it.

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

Coping with Frustration


There are three general approaches to coping with frustration: 1) to ignore it, 2) to recognize it, and 3) to attack a non-related target, and a fourth is to change strategies for reaching the goal by going around the barrier, developing new skills, or acquiring new resources. The third general approach—attacking a non-related target—is normally dysfunctional and utilized by those unable or unwilling to accept their frustration and confront their sources directly.

We may respond unconsciously to frustration with one or more of a variety of psychological defences. We utilize these, usually unconsciously, to protect our self-concepts. These defences help us block all the force of more reality than we can take at a particular time. They can also be dysfunctional if they are used too frequently or block us from coping with our problems in more direct and effective ways. A desirable learning goal is to become more aware of the defenses we use and to avoid those that prevent us from dealing with our frustrations as well as we might.

Mild frustration may not lead to anger and aggression, although intense frustration always does. A more pessimistic view would imply that little can be done about choosing when and how we express our frustration. We think much can be learned.

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

The Bottomless Pit


For many companies the networked enterprise vision became the reality for what appeared to be a bottomless pit into which money was poured with little prospect of achieving the ‘benefits’ that were originally sought. The returns from early investment in IT were problematic. The potion turned those with aspirations to become princesses and fairies into frogs and goblins.

Much of past ‘investment’ in IT has been used to shore up existing ways of working. We have used IT to set our organization in concrete. We have worked hard and spent millions consolidating a bureaucratic form of organization which we are now trying to break down.

IT suppliers, with a mixture of cheek and bravado, have long been in the business of offering solutions to the many problems which their own products have created. They suggest that this or that upgrade may yet turn the lead boots they have supplied into winged slippers.

While overall the introduction of early generations of IT may have had little beneficial impact, it does appear to have widened the gap between the more and less efficient companies. There are ‘winners,’ but for many IT from its origins to the dotcom era has been an ‘honest mirror’ that has confronted them with their own warts and wrinkles.

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

Purchasing: Risk Reduction Strategies


Individuals are motivated by a strong desire to reduce the level of risk in purchase decisions. The perceived risk concept includes two components: 1) uncertainty about the outcome of a decision, and 2) the magnitude of consequences associated with making the wrong choice. Research highlights the importance of perceived risk and the purchase type in shaping the structure of the decision-making unit. Individual decision-making is likely to occur in organizational buying for straight rebuys and for modified rebuy situations when the perceived risk is low. In these situations, the purchasing agent may initiate action. Modified rebuys of higher risk and new tasks seem to spawn a group structure.

In confronting “risky” purchase decisions, how do organizational buyers behave? As the risk associated with an organizational purchase decision increases:

  • The buying center will become larger and will comprise members with high levels of organizational status and authority.
  • The information search will be active and a wide variety of information sources will be considered to guide and support an important purchase decision. As the decision process unfolds, personal information sources (for example, discussions with managers at other organizations that have made similar purchasees) become more important.
  • Buying center participants will be motivated to invest greater effort and to deliberate more carefully throughout the purchase process.
  • Sellers who have a proven track record with the firm will be favored. The choice of a familiar supplier helps reduce the perceived risk associated with a purchase.

Rather than price, product quality and after-sale service are typically most important to organizational buyers when they confront “risky” decisions. When introducing new products, entering new markets, or approaching new customers, the marketing strategist should evaluate the impact of alternative strategies on perceived risk.

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

The Three Kinds of Talent


There are three basic categories: striving talents, thinking talents, and relating talents.

 Striving talents explain the why of a person. They explain why he gets out of bed every day, why he is motivated to push and push just that little bit harder. Is he driven by his desire to stand out, or is good enough good enough for him? Is he intensely competitive or intensely altruistic or both? Does he define himself by his technical competence, or does he just want to be liked?

 Thinking talents explain the how of a person. They explain how he thinks. How he weighs up alternatives, how he comes to his decisions. Is he focused or does he like to leave all his options open? Is he disciplined and structured, or does he love surprises? Is he a linear, practical thinker, or is he strategic, always playing mental “what if?” games with himself?

 Relating talents explain the who of a person. They explain whom he trusts, whom he builds relationships with, whom he confronts, and whom he ignores. Is he drawn to win over strangers, or is he at ease only with his close friends? Does he think that trust must be earned, or does he extend trust to everyone in the belief that most will prove worthy of it? Does he confront people dispassionately, or does he avoid confrontation until finally exploding in an emotional trade?

 Striving, thinking, and relating: these are the three basic categories of talent. Within each you will have your own combination of four-lane highways and barren wastelands. No matter how much you might yearn to be different, your combination of talents, and the recurring behaviors that it creates, will remain stable, familiar to you and to others throughout your life.

 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

Hiring Happy Employees


With all the apptitudes, skills, and traits for which managers can test applicants, there is still one thing that’s usually not tested for but that perhaps should be—at least if some recent research findings are valid. Particularly in companies being rocked by downsizings and competitive pressures, there’s something to be said about hiring people who are inclined to remain happy even in the face of unhappy events.

Basically, happiness seems to be largely determined by the person’s genetic makeup—that, in other words, some people are simply born to somewhat happier than others. The theory, in nutshell, says that people have a sort of “set point” for happiness, a genetically determined happiness level to which the person quickly tends to gravitate, no matter what failures or successes he or she experiences. So confront a high-happiness-set-point person with the prospect of a demotion or an unattractive leteral transfer, and he or she will soon return to being relatively happy once the short blip of disappointment has dissipated. On the other hand, send an inherently low-set-point, unhappy person off on a two-week vacation or give him or her a sizable raise or a new computer, and chances are he or she will soon be as unhappy as before the reward.

Like testing employees for any traits, coming up with a set of tests or interview questions to identify happier, high-set-point people requires careful consideration and probably the help of a qualified psychologist. However, the following might provide some insight into the tendency to be relatively happy:

Indicate how strongly (high, medium, low) you agree with the following statements:

  • “When good things happen to me, it strongly affects me.”
  • “I will often do things for no other reason than they might be fun.”
  • “When I get something I want, I feel excited and energized.”
  • “When I am doing well at something, I love to keep at it.”

Agreeing with more statements and agreeing with them more strongly may correlate with a higher happiness-set-point.

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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