Imperfect Organizational Decision-making


Decision-making must be made in all organizations and actions must be taken. It is up to the appropriate people in the organization to select the actions, determine how to carry them out, and take responsibility for their successful implementation. But there is often confusion over decisions. People find it hard to think together about the choices they must make. They don’t agree on where to start or how to proceed. As a result they may overlook important information, fail to consult the proper people, and make mistakes. Organizational decision-making is often not as good as it should be.

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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Leadership Styles


An effective leader recognizes that there are variations in leadership styles. The three basic styles are autocratic, free rein, and democratic. Autocratic leaders make decisions on their own, without consulting others. Democratic leaders involve their subordinates in making decisions. Free-rein leaders believe in minimal supervision, leaving most decisions to their subordinates.

The best leadership style is one that varies with the circumstances, changing according to three elements: the leader, the followers, and the situation. Some leaders are simply unable to encourage or even allow subordinates to participate in decision making. And some followers do not have the ability or the desire to assume such responsibility. Furthermore, the particular situation helps determine which style will be most effective. Problem requiring immediate solutions may have to be handled without consulting subordinates. With less time pressure, participative decision making may be desirable.

A democratic leader may be forced by circumstance to be autocratic in making a particular decision. Managers are increasingly moving toward a more democratic style of leadership. They find that workers involved in decision making tend to be more interested in the overall organization and may be more motivated to contribute to organizational objectives that those not involved in decision making.

No single best style of leadership exists. The most effective leadership style depends on the power held by the leader, the difficulty of the tasks involved, and the characteristics of the workers. Extremely easy and extremely difficult situations are best handled by leaders who emphasize task accomplishment. Moderately different situations are handled by leaders who emphasize participation and good working relations with subordinates.

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.

Thinking Before Signing a Franchise Agreement


A franchise agreement is a legally binding contract that defines the relationship between the franchise and the franchiser. Because the Agreement is drawn up by the franchiser, the terms and conditions generally favor the franchiser. You don’t necessarily have to agree to everything on the first go-round. Maybe you can negotiate a better deal. Before signing the franchise agreement, be sure consult an attorney. Here are some tips you must consider before signing the agreement:

  1. Are your legal responsibilities as a franchisee clear? Are your family members similarly obligated?
  2. Who is responsible for selecting the location of your business?
  3. Is the name or trademark of your franchise legally protected? Can the franchiser change or modify the trademark without consulting you?
  4. Has the franchiser made any oral promises that are not reflected in the written franchise agreement?
  5. What are your renewal rights? What conditions must you meet to renew your agreement?
  6. Do you have exclusive rights to a given territory or could the franchiser sell to additional franchisees who would become your competitors?
  7. Under what terms are you allowed or required to terminate the franchise agreement? What becomes of the lease and assets if the agreement is terminated? Are you barred from opening a similar business?
  8. Under what terms and conditions are you permitted or required to sell some or all of your interests in the franchise?
  9. Are you required to buy supplies from the franchiser or other specified suppliers? Under what circumstances can you choose your own suppliers?
  10. Has your attorney studied the written franchise agreement? Does it conform to the requirements of Government rules?

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.

Selecting your Foreign Agent


  1. Your agent should be a national of the country where you aim to do business and should have experience in your industry or product line.
  2. The agent should not be involved with a competing company or product, but could be representing a complimentary line.
  3. Do your own checking of references. Have your banker check your agent’s bank references.
  4. Where credit is an issue, get a credit report from a local credit agency.
  5. Check at least five or six of the agent’s references: clients, customers or other business contacts relevant to your business.
  6. Visit your prospective agent in the foreign country and ask to come along on customer calls. Watch carefully how clients, secretaries, and purchasing agents respond to the agent.
  7. Since the personal relationship is so important in business abroad, the contact person must be someone who can negotiate for your company and who has authority to sign a contract on the spot.
  8. Make sure responsibilities are clear. The agent is typically responsible for promoting your interests and products, but it is no standard procedure as to who pays for what. For example, the agent can design local advertising campaign and pay for it, or bill you, or, conversely, you must provide advertising.
  9. If possible, make the written contract with your agent short-term and nonexclusive so that you have a safety valve. However, it is essential for you to treat it as an exclusive arrangement and to establish a strong mutual long-term commitment. Many agents will not consider a contract that is not exclusive or that does not continue for several years.
  10. Consult a local attorney before making any commitment to a national. It is difficult to get out of an agent agreement, so terms of termination and other “outs” should be established in the beginning. Agency laws in foreign countries are changing rapidly and legal problems arising from small mistakes can put you out of the market permanently

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.

Planning a Research Strategy


If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

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.

Management of the Life Cycle


The traditional branching tree control structure within an organization is simply not designed to cope with the ever changing management requirements dictated by the life-cycle changes within a large project. The fact that various input and output measures vary over the project’s life suggests that project management must focus on universal project dimensions such as cost, time and performance (quality).

As an example of how interface problems vary over the life of a project, consider the two functions of R&D and production over the life-cycle of a given product. Before the introduction of the product, R&D must be closely matched with production. R&D may be doing reliability tests which will lead to engineering changes. Production will be doing production design and process planning, which may be affected seriously by engineering changes. Thus, good communication is essential to avoid wasted resources in production.

On the other hand, in the growth phase R&D is likely to be focusing on developing the next product, while production will be ramping up production and producing long runs to avoid production losses due to setups. Thus, there will be relatively little explicit conflict between R&D and production at this phase.

In the decline phase, R&D will be in the design phase on the new product and will withdraw all R&D from the declining product. Production will be heavily involved in cost control. Again there will tend to be no apparent conflict, but good managers will make sure production is adequately consulted on the new design.

It is clear from the example that a full project management structure which focuses on future products as well as current products can help R&D to interact in a more useful fashion.

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

Creating Strategic Slack


In considering strategies for supporting or protecting core distinctive competences and growing new ones, the issue of resource demands has to be considered. One means of releasing resources is to review those distinctive competences that are no longer central to the strategic future. As is often the case in organizations, competences and distinctive competences emerge, and become embedded into the culture/conciousness of the organization. However, as organizations change their strategic direction, the utility of these competences may reduce, sometimes with them becoming completely irrelevant. Identifying these will free up resources—creating strategic slack. Where competences (or the activities supporting them) are to be withdrawn, careful considration of how this is to be achieved is necessary (who needs to be consulted? What needs to be put into place?) so as to ensure that the resources are freed up rather than covertly protected.

 

An obvious means of freeing up resources is through outsourcing. Through building the business model, those areas that are considered potential candidates for outsourcing will have been scrutinized. Often organizations outsource units, departments and tasks without considering the overall impact on the business model, or on a distinctive competence. Understanding how the particular area or task to be outsourced fits in with the overall model can thus ensure a more sustainable and coherent approach.

 

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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