Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the business.

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.

Employee Demand


Demand for workers is linked to the economic cycle increasing in boom times and decreasing in recession. Other factors include the adoption of new technology, productivity, improvements and changing skill requirements. Superficially, calculating employment supply and demand seems easy. In practice, the combination of variable consumer demand, development of new products and technology, and economic turbulence make it extremely problematic.

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.

Market-Driven Management


Market-driven management is a cross functional effort involving all levels of the organization. Properly followed, it ensures all activities are coordinated to meet the specific needs of target customer groups. All R&D projects are focused on developing solutions to identified customer problems, manufacturing is committed to meeting cost targets, quality standards, and delivery cycles, and sales focused on identifying and interpreting customer problems and then selling them solutions. If someone ask the individual managers within any of these functional areas how they operate, they would most likely say, “just as you described.” It is unlikely, however, that their counterparts in other functional areas would agree, and even more unlikely that there would be a consensus among all managers at all levels. Achieving this market driven focus with fully agreed upon objectives and priorities in each functional area requires the complete support of everyone in the organization. Market-driven management is much easier said than done because it flies in the face of the attitudes and actions of most managers.

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.

The Vicious Circle


Revenge tends to metastatize inside a company, organization, or family. Stepping on someone else rarely if ever occurs in a vacuum: it’s just one part of a potentially endless cycle. Even indirect retaliation leads to a vicious spiral. Repressed revenge can spread just as far and have even longer-lasting impact.

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.

Extending the Product Life Cycle


Marketers usually try to extend each stage of the life cycles for their products as long as possible. They can often accomplish this goal if they take action early in the maturity stage. Product life cycles can stretch indefinitely as a result of decisions designed to increase the frequency of use by  current customers, increase the number of users for the product, find new uses, or charge package sizes, labels, or product quality.

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.

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.

Company Demographics


For all customers or prospect records the following basic attributes will lay a solid foundation for numerous segmentations:

  1. Category code: A four-digit code is usually a sufficiently descriptive definition your market is concentrated in several Standard Industry Codes, then going to the six or eight digit level may be appropriate. Remember the SIC is currently undergoing revision, so be flexible with this field.
  2. Company size: There are two choices – sales volume or employee size. It is probably best to use employee size, as it is more easily obtained and more accurate than company revenue. Record employee numbers by site so that they can be rolled up to the corporate level.
  3. Site Type and Linkage: There are some standard definitions here such as branch, division and corporate headquarters. It is important that you take time to develop a site definition that fits your business as this might include plant, research center, etc. secondly, link the sites to a corporate structure, so that a roll-up to the enterprise level can be carried out to look at the customer picture.
  4. Financial year: For those selling situations that involve the customer needing to budget for your product or service, the knowledge of the fiscal year becomes critical, as this will drive the buying process and therefore your selling cycle. Most companies are on a calendar/fiscal year, but about 20 percent are on a different fiscal year basis. In the consumer market this might also be relevant – for example in acquiring expensive items.

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.

 

Checklist for Processes Improvement


Improvement is made by:

  • Viewing all work as a process, whether it is associated with production or business activities.
  • Making all processes effective, efficient, and adaptable.
  • Anticipating changing customer needs.
  • Controlling in-process performance using  measures such as scrap reduction, cycle time, control charts, and so forth,
  • Maintaining constructive dissatisfaction with the present level of performance.
  • Eliminating waste and rework wherever it occurs.
  • Investigating activities that do not add value to the product or service, with the aim of eliminating those activities.
  • Eliminating nonconformities in all phases of everyone’s work, even if the increment of improvement is small.
  • Using benchmarking to improve competitive advantage.
  • Innovating to achieve breakthroughs.
  • Incorporating lessons learned into future activities.
  • Using technical tools such as statistical process control, experimental design, benchmarking, quality function deployment, and so forth.

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.

Extending the Product Life Cycle


The concept of the product life cycle tells us that a sequence of actions is required to maintain a product’s sales and profits. The goal of the planning is to stretch out the life of the product, thus keeping it profitable longer. The following techniques are often effective in extending a product’s life cycle:

  1. New or extended uses: The sales of rugged four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles, ranging from inexpensive jeeps to Range Rovers, increased dramatically once they became accepted as family automobiles.
  2. b. Reduce price and build volume: Tylenol became a much more successful product after Johnson & Johnson reduced its price.
  3. c. Increased frequency of Use: Trade associations that are connected to the poultry and fish industries have been successful in informing the public that their products are low in cholesterol and should be eaten frequently as part of a healthy diet.
  4. d. Broaden the target market: As the ethical issue, American tobacco firms have successfully enlarged the market for American cigarettes by focusing on Japan. They have also been very successful in expanding the market for tobacco products in Europe and South America.

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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