Communities of Practice


One of the most successful uses of the Internet has been the emergence of informal knowledge communities or a community of interest. It is an environment usually outside of conventional organizational structures, where people can converse with each other about the common problems they face in their workplace or in their professional life, a common passion for some subject or a common mission. Most communities of practice are contained within a single organization but sometimes they cross institutional boundaries.

A community of practice does not necessarily have to be transacted solely on the Internet and in fact the most successful ones almost always have a face-to-face meeting component to them. As good a tool as the Internet is, it can never replace the intimacy and fullness of communication of face-to-face meetings of individuals. The importance of the internet to a community of practice js that it provides a link beyond the times when people can physically meet and hence sustains the group. It also permits a community of practice to develop among people who are not co-located.

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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Ego Meetings


What about the manager who purports to believe the only way to get information from subordinates is by meeting? This manager may be seeking ego satisfaction.  Meetings are not for holding court. It may be a pleasant way to get reports, but it is far from efficient. Any career-minded individual caught in such a situation needs to seriously consider his or her position and prospects.

Evaluate your meeting schedule. If a memo will serve, write a memo. If an informal conversation will work, converse. If a meeting is the only, or best, solution, hold a meeting, but make sure it is a good one.

Avoid being caught in the meeting  cycle. Help stamp out meeting mania. Don’t be part of the problem.

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.

Acute Corporate Stress


Acute corporate stress is the most easily diagnosed. Something is clearly wrong and this will be evident in its financial performance. In the worst cases, a type of organizational schizophrenia takes hold, with conflicting decision making criteria and behavior very much in evidence.

Many small organizations are run by two partners that hardly converse despite spitting distance of each other, both ordering the same people to do different things. There are also giant PLCs and governments where supposed colleagues direct whole divisions as if they were private armies in pursuit of incongruent goals.

The good news in these situations is that this type of crisis is hard to ignore, that there is little alternative to taking action and that there are several courses of action that are proven to help.

The bad news is that if action is not taken the organization is on a fast track of failure.

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.

 

Training and Development


Mr. President, and Director Training:

Spring has arrived with flowers. The buds have reappeared on bare branches again. Indeed! The March winds are the morning yawn of the year.

All and every little thing tell us
That once again ’tis Spring

Please accept my best wishes for a bright and beautiful season.

 

This time spring has brought along the advent of cricket season. And the current cricket series with India has caused a sort of fever to cricket lovers. Today is a crucial day for all of us. An important and decisive match between traditional rival teams is about to start and we are here participating in a learning exercise. You are not alone missing the glimpses of the match. My heart also joins the curious thumping of your heartbeat.

 

I have the opportunity to talk to you, the learned managers under the new system of local government, and I will avail it with honor talking relevant or maybe some irrelevant things.

 

Overtly or covertly, the district government system is new and complex. Its managers face requirements that are different from their federal, provincial, or private sector counterparts. Because of the complexity and range of those requirements, it is important for DDOs to understand the requirements specific to the district.

 

Friends! We use management and professional development to refer to those processes directed towards equipping professional managers with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to achieve administrative objectives both now and in the future.

 

Any human development must be aligned with the entity’s mission and strategic goals in order that, through enhancing the skills, knowledge, learning ability and enthusiasm of people at every level, there will be continuous organizational and individual growth.

 

The perspectives of management and professional development are interpreted here as including the terms education, learning, training, and development which are seen as an integral part of the wider professional development framework.

 

I have the reason to believe, my dear officers, that if the training and development of managers of any department is not accorded high priority, if training is not seen as a vital component in the realization of government policies, then it is hard to accept that we have committed ourselves to management and professional development.

 

Those departments where there is a chronic under-investment in management and professional development that is the prime reason for the poor performance of the financial management or economy at large. The critique that can be constructed is disturbingly pervasive. At the macro level the education and training infrastructure, particularly when subjected to international comparisons is the major basis for consistently failing to address the needs of economic development. Training initiatives failing to provide consistent direction; concentrating on the certainties of vocational relevance rather than longer-term knowledge demands relevant to an imperfect future, and, simply, a lack of overall investment.

 

At the micro level, despite the relevance placed on bureaucratic system by successive governments, the practice of individual departments is similarly disturbing. Under-investment in management and professional development, whether measured in terms of budgets or training days, is regularly reported. All too frequently management and professional development fails to be regarded as a managerial priority or something that should be fully integrated through a learning culture into everyday practice. The traditional practice of public service, dominance of accountancy traditions and short-term-ism that characterize our bureaucratic inheritance arguably provide infertile conditions for what is essentially a long-term commitment.

 

While acknowledging the pessimistic construction that I have made, I would argue that investment in management and professional development could play a key role in initiating and facilitating change. You can thus adapt to whatever comes along and to take advantage of it, turning threats into challenges, and rising to these challenges in ways that produce increased benefit to the government and employees.

 

If I were to prescribe one process in the training of men, which is fundamental to success in any direction, it would be thoroughgoing training in the habit of accurate observation. It is a habit which every one of us should be seeking ever more to perfect.

 

All organizations, entities, and departments require some form of organizational structure to implement their strategies. Principally, structures are changed when they no longer provide the coordination, control, and direction managers, and entities require implementing strategies successfully. The ineffectiveness of structure typically results from increases in department’s revenues and levels of diversification. In particular, the formulation of strategies involving greater levels of diversification demands structural change to match each strategy. Some strategies require elaborate structures and strategic control, while others focus on financial control.

 

Allow me to briefly converse about strategic leadership. If you are a strategic leader, you have the ability to anticipate, maintain flexibility, and empower others to create strategic change as necessary. Multifunctional in nature, strategic leadership involves managing through others, managing an organization rather than a functional subunit, and coping with change that seems to be increasing exponentially in the current administrative landscape. Because of the complexity and global nature of this landscape, as a strategic leader, you must learn how to influence human behavior effectively in an uncertain environment. By word or by personal example, and through your ability to envision the future, as effective strategic leader you can meaningfully influence the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of those with whom you work. The ability to manage human capital may be the most critical of your leadership skills.

 

From now on, in the 21st century, many managers working in government across country will be challenged to alter their mind-sets to cope with the rapid and complex changes occurring in the global economy.

 

A managerial mind-set is the set of assumptions, premises, and accepted wisdom that bounds—or frames—a manager’s understanding of the department and the core competencies it uses in the pursuit of strategic role. Your continuous success depends on your willingness to challenge continually your managerial frames.

 

Today competition means not product versus product, company versus company, or department versus department. It is a case of mindset versus mindset, managerial frame versus managerial frame. Competing on the basis of mindsets demands that strategic leaders learn how to deal with diverse and cognitively complex situations. One of the most challenging changes is overcoming your own successful mindset.

 

As effective leaders you should always be willing to make candid and courageous, yet pragmatic decisions—decisions that may be difficult, but necessary in light of internal and external conditions. You should solicit corrective feedback from peers, superiors, and employees about the value of your difficult decisions. Unwillingness to accept feedback may be key reason talented executives fail. This highlights the need for you to solicit feedback consistently from those affected by your decisions.

 

Because strategic leadership is a requirement of strategic success, and because departments may be poorly led and over-managed, working in the 21st century competitive landscape you are challenged to develop effective strategic leaders.

 

At district level you are the top administrative managers. And top-level mangers are an important resource for departments seeking to formulate and implement strategies effectively. A key reason for this is that the strategic decisions made by top managers influence how the department is designed and whether goals will be achieved. Thus, a critical element of your organizational success is having a team with superior managerial skills.

 

You often use your discretion (or latitude for action) when making strategic decisions, including those concerned with the effective implementation of strategies. You must therefore be action oriented: thus, the decisions that you make should spur the department to action.

 

Since you are top executives, you have a major effect on your department’s culture. Your values are critical in shaping your department’s cultural values. Accordingly, you have an important effect on organizational activities and performance. The significance of this effect should not be underestimated. Permit me to remind you that acquiring of culture is the development of an avid hunger for knowledge and beauty.

 

 

Add innovation and creativity in all your endeavors. It will certainly pay off. Effective leaders focus their work on the key issues that ultimately shape department’s ability to perform effectively.

 

And in the words of Charles de Gaulle, “Every man of action has a strong dose of egotism, pride, hardness, and cunning. But all those things will be forgiving him, indeed, they will be regarded as high qualities, if he can make them the means to achieve great ends.” To get others to come into your ways of thinking, you must go over to theirs; and it is necessary to follow, in order to lead.

 

While concluding, let me ask: do you know how do geniuses come up with ideas? What is common to the thinking style that produced “Mona Lisa,” as well as the one that spawned the theory of relativity? What characterizes the thinking strategies of the Einsteins, Edisons, da Vincis, Darwins, Picassos, Michelangelos, Galileos, Freuds, and Mozarts of history? What can we learn from them?

 

“Much learning does not teach man to have intelligence.”

This is the quotation from the philosopher Heraclitus, who spanned the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Twenty-five hundred years later, he’s still right. You might spend most of your life going to school, reading, looking up facts, acquiring information, and memorizing it. But, although you’ll become more informed, in the end it won’t make you any smarter. Is a reference library smart? Is a computer with a vast storehouse of voluminous data smart? Is the simple act of digesting and then disgorging information either smart or impressive? My answer is simple: “No.”

 

Anyway, I hereby formally inaugurate this training course.

Thank you for your time and patience.

Thank you for listening.

God bless you!

 

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