Consumer Sovereignty


Mainstream economics uses some simple starting points; it believes that they are the best possible. First is that agents have more wants than they can attain, so that they feel scarcity; in fact, for practical purposes, wants are assumed to be endless. Second, third and fourth are that agents are self-interested, rational, and the best judges of their own well-being. These four assumptions are indeed usually good starting points, rather than starting by assuming that agents are completely fulfilled, altruistic, irrational, and not well-placed to evaluate their own situation. They are not equally good as finishing points. Sometimes good arguments exist for not accepting them.

An assumption that agents are the best judges of their own well being is less questionable for businesspeople and corporations, given the resources they have for analysis. Debate focuses more on consumers. The phrase consumer sovereignty is sometimes read descriptively, to mean that consumers are sovereign, in that procedures are induced via profit-seeking and competition  to provide what consumers want. Sometimes it is read normatively, to mean that consumers should be sovereign, their wishes should prevail concerning what is good for them. The normative claim can rest on three different bases: that consumers do make good choices; that the alternative stance is worse – to use someone else’s judgments and estimates of what is good for a person and how good it is; or quite differently, that people have the right to make their own choices and mistakes.

Consumers will not make good choices automatically and unconditionally. Our wants are not simple; for example, some are wants to not to have other wants (such as the desire to smoke or a compulsion to gamble). Establishing a mature balance between wants involves skills. Choice is also unlikely to bring satisfaction if taken on the basis of weak information. Markets often do not provide consumers with full and reliable information, for it is hard to exclude people from information and therefore to ensure payment for it, so its market supply is weakened. Instead, in a commerce-dominated society, one of the main types of information that adults get will be images that say the good life is obtained through high consumption of commodities; there is too little counteracting public information.

The issue of consumer sovereignty goes beyond whether choices are good for the chooser. Other people are affected. Some wants may thus be unacceptable, notably wants that bring harm to others, including even wants to harm others. Mainstream economists have unfortunately often taken a don’t-want-to-know approach to ethics in which they confuse acceptance of all wants with a value-neutral stance.

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.

Situation Appraisal


We may experience confusion and uncertainty over where to begin, how to recognize situations that require action, how to break apart overlapping and confusing issues into manageable components, how to set priorities, and how to manage a number of simultaneous activities efficiently.

Nearly every manager has entered the fantasy of starting fresh. Even on the first day in a new job, the manager is beset by issues that were chronic frustrations for the previous incumbent. Every manager must operate from a middle ground, surrounded by the accumulated problems of the past, a profusion of demands of the moment, and the certainty that future threats and opportunities await him not be ignored.

Situational analysis in this situation thus has a role. It consists of evaluative techniques that lead to proper selection and use of analytical techniques. This process builds the framework for daily use of rational process ideas. It enables managers to make best possible use of the technique of problem analysis, decision analysis, and potential problem analysis.

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.

Defining Knowledge Management


Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

— T. S. Eliot

It is important that we have a clear understanding of what we mean by knowledge and not confuse it with information. In the information age the focus was on the processing of data into information and the control of the flow of information, but in the knowledge era there is a shift in focus to knowledge because of the recognition that knowledge is now the primary source of wealth. Given the importance of this shift it is essential to understand the distinction between information and knowledge, which are often confused for each other. It is also useful to understand the way in which they relate to data and wisdom, therefore the following definitions of these terms:

  • Data are the pure and simple facts without any particular structure or organization, the basic atoms of information,
  • Information is structured data, which adds meaning to the data and gives it context and significance,
  • Knowledge is the ability to use information strategically to achieve one’s objectives, and
  • Wisdom is the capacity to choose objectives consistent with one’s values and within a larger social context.

These definitions lead to the definition of knowledge management:

Knowledge management is the collaborative organizational activity of creating the environment, both attitudinally and technologically, so that knowledge can be assessed, shared and created within an organization in a way that all the experiences and knowledge within the enterprise, including that of all its staff, customers, suppliers and business partners, can be organized to achieve the enterprise’s objectives and reinforce its values.

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.

 

Spirit of High Performance


An ability to instill strong individual commitment to strategic success and to create an atmosphere in which there is constructive pressure to perform is one of the most valuable strategy-implementing skills. When an organization performs consistently at or near peak capability, the outcome is not only more success but also a culture permeated with a spirit of high performance. Such a spirit of performance should not be confused with whether employees are happy or satisfied or what they get along well together. An organization with a spirit of high performance emphasizes achievement and excellence. Its culture is results-oriented, and its management pursues policies and practices that inspire people to do their best.

Companies with a spirit of high performance typically are intensely people-oriented, and they reinforce their concern for individual employees on every conceivable occasion in every conceivable way. They treat employees with dignity and respect, train each employee thoroughly, encourage employees to use their own initiative and creativity in performing their work, set reasonable and clear performance expectations, use the full range of rewards and punishment to enforce high performance standards, hold managers at every level responsible for developing the people who report to them, and grant employees enough autonomy to stand out, excel, and contribute. To create a results-oriented culture, a company must make champions out of the people who turn in winning performances.

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.

Managerial Practices


  • One of the most important responsibilities of management is to lead the organization to develop a hierarchy of strategic intent that incorporates and mutually supportive set of vision, mission, goals, and objectives.
  • As a leader developing a vision, seek out the ideas and ideals that will inspire an organization and motivate its members to work toward greatness.
  • In developing a mission statement, remember that organization serve multiple stakeholder groups and identify how your organization will address the needs of its most important stakeholders.
  • Develop goals that support the organization’s mission, that address the need for balance among various stakeholder groups, and that “stretch” the organization.
  • In identifying objectives, develop measurable targets, but be mindful of the possible unintended consequences of such measurement.
  • Remember the difference between an intended strategy and a realized strategy and be careful not to confuse the two in your consideration and discussion of strategy.
  • Strategies for simple, stable business may be successfully implemented using strategic programming, while strategies for organizations facing complex and/or unpredictable situations will usually require organizational learning, and overwhelming complexity and dynamism may force adoption of an incrementalist approach.
  • Remember the key distinguishing feature between strategic programming and organizational learning: in strategic programming, the firm can realistically separate planning and doing, strategy formulation and implementation. In organizational learning, a firm assumes that it cannot realistically tell in advance how the future will unfold or what will work, and it therefore intertwines formulations and implementation, continually adjusting its strategy as it gains new insights through a trail-and-error process of learning by doing.
  • Do not assume that either a pure strategic programming approach or a pure organizational learning approach is right for your organization. Most organizations need a blend of the two and, consequently, managers need to understand both.
  • You should recognize that although there is nothing inherently wrong with strategic programming, the incidence of “mechanistic” organizations that can successfully depend on this approach is shrinking. Shifts in the nature of business have made it more important for organizations to become more “organic” and to place greater emphasis on organizational learning.
  • Remember the limitations of each of the three major perspectives on strategic management,: rational planning, incrementalism, and organizational learning. Develop a willingness to draw from all three perspectives to improve your effectiveness.

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 Signs


Think of signs in two ways: those that appeal to people outside of your place of business and those that appeal to people who are within the place where you do business. The first category consists of billboards, small signs on bulliten boards, window signs, store signs, banners, signs on trees, and poster-type signs. Category two is made up of interior signs, commonly called point-of-purchase, or point of sale signs.

 Whichever you use, or if you use both, be certain that your signs tie in as directly as possible with your advertising. Your ads may have made an unconscious impression on your potential customers, and your signs may awaken the memory of that advertising and result in a sale. Many people will patronize your business because of your ads. Your signs must be consistent with your advertising message and identity or those people will be confused. If the signs are in keeping with your overall creative strategy, consumers’ momentum to buy will be increased.

 Most exterior signs are there to remind, to create a tiny impulse, to implant thoughts a wee bit deeper, to sharpen an identity, to state a very brief message. As a rule, exterior signs should be no more than six words long. Naturally, some successful signs have more than six words, but not many. Probably the most successful of all have just one to three words.

 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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