Organization Structure and Innovations


Organizational structure fulfils many functions—everyone in the organization knows who he or she reports to; how various repetitive/routine activities are to be discharged; who has what authority and responsibility; how personnel are grouped together (e.g., by departments or divisions); which individuals/groups have decision-making authority and which have primarily advisory functions (line versus staff functions); and what mechanisms are deployed primarily for reducing decision-making uncertainty, for ensuring differentiated or specialized responses to the operating environment, and for coordinating and integrating these differentiated or specialized responses. A well-designed structure that is compatible with strategy or is internally coherent and compatible with the organization’s operating environment tends to contribute to superior organizational performance.

Can organizational structure facilitate innovations? Possibly. Relatively flat managerial hierarchy and extensive decentralization or delegation of authority, including extensive use of profit centers and SBUs.

Certain kinds of structural changes, notably creating many self-contained, substantially autonomous units with stretch targets, extensive delegation of authority to lower level decision-makers, and delayering (removal of some of the managerial levels to reduce the number of approving authorities for innovation)  may increase the potential innovations of the organization.

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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Effective Market Segmentation


Market segmentation is a means to an end: to identify and profile distinct groups of buyers who differ in their needs, preferences, and responsiveness to an organization’s marketing programs. Effective market segmentation should provide answers to six fundamental buyer-related questions for each market segment:

  1. Who are they?
  2. What do they want to buy?
  3. How do they want to buy?
  4. When do they want to buy?
  5. Where do they want to buy?
  6. Why do they want to buy?

More often than not, the answers should be expressed in a narrative form documented with quantitative and qualitative research.

From a managerial perspective, effective market segmentation means that each segment identified and profiled satisfies four fundamental requirements. Each market segment should be:

  1. Measureable. The size and buying power of market segmentation can be quantitatively determined.
  2. Differentiable. A market segment is distinguishable from other segments and responds differently to different marketing programs.
  3. Accessible. A segment can be effectively reached and served through an economically viable marketing program.
  4. Substantial. A segment should be large enough in terms of sales volume potential to cover the cost of the organization serving it and return a satisfactory profit.

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.

 

Core Competency


Competences vary in the extent to which they are at the center of a firm’s ability to offer low cost or differentiated products or services. To be at the center, competences must meet three criteria: customer value, competitor differentiation, and extendability. The customer value criterion requires that a core competence must make an unusually high contribution to the value that customers perceive. A competence is a competitor differentiating if it is uniquely held or, if widely held, the firm’s level of the competence is higher than that of its competitors. A competence is extendable if it is used in more than one product area.

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.

 

Loss of Purpose


If your organization is ploughing on regardless of an agreed direction, beware. It is amazing how many organizations are unable to articulate what their core purpose is with any crispness and in a way that differentiates them from their competition. When you come across an organization that can, the difference is amazing.

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.

Value Chain Analysis


The term value chain describes a way of looking at a business as a chain of activities that transform inputs into outputs that customers value. Customer value derives from three basic sources: activities that differentiate the product, activities that lower its cost, and activities that meet the customer’s need quickly. Value chain analysis (VAC) attempts to understand how a business creates customer value by examining the contributions of different activities within the business to that value.

VCA takes a process point of view: it divides (sometimes called disaggregates) the business into sets of activities that occur within the business, starting with the inputs a firm receives and finishing with the firm’s products (or services) and after-sales service to customers. VCA attempts to look at its costs across the series of activities the business performs to determine where low-cost advantages or cost disadvantages exist. It looks at the attributes of each of these different activities to determine in what ways each activity that occurs between purchasing inputs and after-sales service helps differentiate the company’s products and services. Proponents of VCA believe it allows managers to better identify their firm’s strengths and weaknesses by looking at the business as a process—a chain of activities—of what actually happens in the business rather than simply looking at it based on arbitrary organizational dividing lines or historical accounting protocol.

Judgment is required across individual firms and different industries because what may be seen as a support activity in one firm or industry may be a primary activity in another. Computer operations might typically be seen as infrastructure support, for example, but may be seen as a primary activity in airlines, newspapers, or banks.

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 Deliberate Innovation Strategy


The strategic choice view argues that if an incumbent is not the first to introduce an innovation, it may not be because it has no incentive to invest, its competence has been destroyed, it has not recognized the potential of the innovation, it does not have the complementary assets, it did not use the right adoption mechanism, or it is an environment that is not conducive to innovation. It may be because of the firm’s innovation strategy—its goals, timing, actions, and resource allocation in using new knowledge to offer new products or services. By making the right choices early, a firm can build the right competences and complementary assets, or even shape the kind of environment in which it is going to operate.

There are several innovation strategies: offensive, defensive, imitative, dependent, traditional, and optimistic. A firm with an offensive strategy is the first to introduce new products. If the strategy is to be the first to innovate, it will invest in the innovation and build the capabilities to do so.  In a defensive innovation strategy, a firm waits for a competitor with an offensive strategy to introduce a product first and resolve some of the uncertainties confronting the innovation. The defensive firm then introduces its own product, correcting any mistakes that pioneers may have made.

Firms pursuing a defensive strategy normally have very strong complementary assets—capabilities such as marketing, manufacturing, distribution channels, and reputation which allow a firm to commercialize an invention—and when they decide to move, they do so very quickly. They usually have a strong R&D since it takes knowledge to absorb knowledge. The product is not an imitation of the pioneer’s version but rather a differentiated product, often with better features and lower cost. The firm, in effect, catches up with or leapfrogs the pioneer. Thus not being the first to introduce an innovation may not be a sign of a lack of incentive to invest, competence destruction, absence of appropriate complementary assets, inappropriate adoption mechanism, or being in the wrong environment. It may be because the firm in question has a defensive strategy.

While a firm with a defensive strategy would like to differentiate its products, one with an imitative strategy would like to produce a clone of the pioneer’s product. It has very little attention of catching up with or leapfrogging the pioneer. It usually has such low-cost capabilities as lower labor costs, access to raw materials, and strong manufacturing. In the dependent strategy the firm accepts a subordinate role to a stronger firm. It imitates product changes only when requested by the customer or superior. Many large Japanese firms have these satellite firms. The traditional strategy makes very few changes to products, only striving to offer the lowest cost possible. In the opportunistic strategy the firm looks for some unique needs of a market segment that are not being met—it looks for a niche market. The point in all these other strategies is that a firm’s failure to introduce a product first can be due to its deliberate strategy.

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.

Rationale for Innovation


Understanding the rationale for an innovation consists of determining just what the components (and the core concepts underlying them) that go into the product are, and how they are linked together to deliver the new low-cost or differentiated features to consumers. For a firm facing an innovation, understanding the rationale behind it may involve asking the question: can the new mousetrap be built using the new knowledge?

When the idea of building an electronic cash register first surfaced in 1960s, the question was: can a firm actually build a cash register using transistors instead of the gears, levers, ratchets, and motors that have been used all these years? How do transistors work, and how does linking them result in calculations? Would such a register actually get people through a supermarket line faster than existing ones? What will it take to build and deliver the new product to customers?  What kind of service do customers want?

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

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