Problem Solving


Problem solving is an important process in quality management. If quality has to be improved then the existing problems are to be solved. Having problems is considered as a stigma in many organizations. But it should be understood that existence of problems is normal and only the continuous existence is a stigma.

Often people live with the philosophy: “We are born in problems, so let us live with problems and die taking the problems with us.” This is quite detrimental to the quality movement. One should have the courage to accept the fact that he has problems and have the patience to identify the same and have the potential to solve them.

Once the problem is identified, it should be defined. Often people end up stating the problems. That should be avoided. Defining the problem gives a better understanding of the problem and on a few occasions the solution is located in the definition itself. The 12 steps involved in problem solving are:

  1. Problem identification.
  2. Problem definition.
  3. Problem analysis.
  4. Identifying causes.
  5. Finding the root cause.
  6. Data analysis.
  7. Solutions generation.
  8. Identifying resistances.
  9. Plan for solution implementation.
  10. Implementation.
  11. Observation
  12. Standardization.

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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The Changing World of Business


The poor performance of star companies in the 1980s and 90s, both MNCs and domestic, has amply demonstrated their susceptibility to under-perform in the face of rapid and marked changes in technology, competition and customer expectations. It is not that all these companies lacked resources, capabilities or competent managers to anticipate and assess the impending changes and initiate proactive action; what they lacked was concern on the part of their managers to enhance the shareholder value of their respective firms on a sustained basis. As a result, this value got diverted to the customers, employees, competitors and suppliers of the company. While it is well known that a firm needs to develop distinctive capabilities and also build a strong network with its key stakeholders to enhance its value creating potential and appropriation of value this created, what really happened in case of most of these unsuccessful firms was that one or more of the stakeholders gained at the expense of the shareholders. The proponsity of managers to take operating, investment and financial decisions without any concern as to how such decisions can affect their shareholders led them to pursue strategies and investments that were ill-conceived and poorly executed, thereby systematically destroying the capabilities and equity developed over the years.

We should argue how the outcome of such a tendency can be detrimental to not only the firms but also to the job and career of the managers, particularly in the light of the various new developments—such as economic liberalization and opening up of most economies to domestic and global competition, greater freedom to access and move capital, emergence of the market for corporate control, and rising shareholder, activism—which have brought the issue of enhancing shareholders’ wealth to the forefront.

It is clear that managers will need to take a fresh guard and revisit their strategies, business processes and organization in order to face this complex set of challenges and retain their firm’s ability to enhance wealth of their shareholders. Thanks to the contribution made by the academia and practising executives, managers now have access to various concepts based on experiences when it comes to facing such challenges. However, it must be stressed that the need of the hour is not another set of concepts and framework; rather what is required is a new “philosophy of business” that draws the attention of every employee of an organization, starting with the CEO, to the importance of creating, enhancing and sustaining shareholder value in everything that the company does—be it strategic, tactical or even routine matters. Needless to say, the employees will also need guidelines on how to operationalize this new philosophy and what actions are needed to sustain the same.

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

Leveraging better Payment Terms


Negotiating better payment terms is always easier if a company has some bargaining chips. The party with the most to lose or the most to gain is always on the defensive; therefore, the secret to successful negotiating is to develop leverage that forces the other party into one or the other of these positions. Other than not meeting payroll, only two conditions might create circumstances more detrimental to a company on the brink of failure than to a creator: (1) being evicted from the building that houses the business, and (2) not receiving critical materials and services to keep the business going.

 

Not much can be done about either situation. A business must be housed, and it must have materials and services to make and sell products. That’s why landlords and critical suppliers top the payment priority list. Some leverage can be achieved, however. Most lessors would rather work out an extended payment arrangement than go to the expense and aggravation of a formal eviction. As long as the renter’s market holds, deferring rent payments for at least several months should be a real possibility. That’s not a permanent solution, but it does provide some breathing space.

 

It might be possible to leverage critical suppliers to gain better terms. The threat to go to a competitor usually brings even the most recalcitrant supplier to terms. In most cases, a supplier has more to lose (the overdue amounts plus legal costs to sue) or gain (future sales) than a debtor company does. At least making suppliers think that’s the case is good negotiating ploy.

 

Assuming that you have taken reasonable precautions to safeguard your personal assets, the worst thing that can happen is that you will be forced to liquidate the business. Granted, this can be a blow to any entrepreneur’s ego. It might also reduce personal income for a while, however, once the liquidation is over, you can always begin again. As long as creditors believe that they have the most to lose, you’re in driver’s seat. The ultimate creditors’ threat is to force the company into bankruptcy. By making it clear that this won’t hurt and that other plans for the future are in the works anyway, such leverage vanishes abruptly.

 

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

Why we fail?


The results we intended occur, and we label the result a success. Failure, on the other hand, denotes an undesired outcome. The results we were looking for didn’t come through. To replace failure with success, we need to understand the way that different actions yield different results. In a sense, it’s simple as discarding actions and underlying thought patterns that lead to undesired results and replacing them with deeds and thoughts that lead to the right outcome. Of course, in practice, it’s much easier to say than to do.

Actions result from patterns of thought, and these patterns often form in order to justify the actions that are expected of us. In other words, it’s a cycle. The need for certain action dictates the development of a way of thinking, and that way of thinking leads to the desired actions. Now, if the results of those actions become undesirable, then it follows that you need to change the thought patterns.

Do people really tailor their thinking to accommodate their actions? In some ways this process can be very detrimental; for example, when we alter our beliefs so we can get away with doing things we were brought up to believe are wrong. Yes, our beliefs are fashioned by society, by our environment and culture, but anyone who denies that an individual can radically change his or her way of thinking is seriously underestimating the power we can exercise over our minds.

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