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.

Collective Bargaining


Collective bargaining is the process by which representatives of labor and management negotiate an agreement governing pay scales and terms of work. The negotiations leading to a labor contract are often time consuming, difficult, and heated. A contract between a large union and an industry is of considerable economic consequence, involving thousands of workers and billions of dollars in wages.

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.

Intervention Currency


Intervention currency is a currency used by a country to intervene in the foreign currency exchange markets. Thus it uses some of its U.S. dollar revenue to buy and therefore strengthen its own currency.

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 Sales Potential and Profitability


An essential activity in opportunity evaluation is the determination of market sales potential and profitability. Estimating market’s sales potential for offerings is a difficult task even for a seasoned marketing executive. Markets and offerings can be defined in numerous ways that can lead to different estimates of market size and dollar sales potential. For innovative offerings or new markets, marketing analysts must often rely almost entirely on judgment and creativity when estimating market sales potential. Therefore, it is understandable that market sales potential estimates very greatly for high definition television  (HDTV) and hybrid (gasoline and battery powered) automobiles. The underlying technology for both offerings is still evolving as is the physical form. In such dynamic settings, measures for identifying prospective market segments are uncertain.

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.

 

Attitude and Customer Liaison


Attitude is not always easy to understand, train or instill. It is generally defined as a positive, enthusiastic and helpful attitude – somebody that seems more alive and dead, it means somebody who seems to enjoy what they do or enjoys dealing with customers, not just somebody who happens to do this as a job to earn a living. Even though this may be true, a good customer service experience is one where the customer service person pretends if nothing else, that they enjoy their job – they like doing what they do and they are pleased to see the customer. If the customer representative can do this, the customer will pretend to enjoy buying from them and pretend enough that they will probably come back.

One of the most important aspects of attitude is when the customer is dissatisfied. The customer will then seem to view life through a telephoto lens and every detail or every aspect of the interaction will come under scrutiny. Therefore, the attitude must be to look at a glass of water as half full, instead of half empty.

One of the most important and outward expression of attitude is the verbal and non-verbal behavior that people use at critical times. Simple expressions, such as: ‘I can do that’ or ‘There’s nothing I can do’ or ‘That’s our company policy’ or ‘I only work here’ or ‘You’ve come through to wrong extension,’ only frustrate the customer. Some of these factors, of course, may not be because of anything the person can do; however, it is their attitude that will often create more of an annoyance with the customer than the policy itself. A simple solution to this is that whenever somebody has to be told they can’t do something, within the same sentence they have to know what they can do or may do.

The attitude that will work, if you can instill it, is that every single customer is your most important customer. Instead of seeing a customer for the transaction value that they spend at that time or for the nature of their enquiry, see the customer as a million dollar customer, somebody who has access to large revenue, either through their direct spending or indirectly through referrals and repeat 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.

The Workload


The workload may vary from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, season to season or from department to department or job to job. Workloads may be as simple to measure as, “We need one security guard on duty every hour of the year,” or as complex as, “We manufacture and ship over 300 different customer products, and our customer orders come in at the last minute.” Companies that do not routinely measure their workload practice backward scheduling, fit the workload into their current schedule even though that schedule may be the wrong one. The result is often a big gap between the master schedule (the one that’s posted in the employee handbook or printed in the union contract) and the actual schedule (the one that is really worked). Many companies become experts at backward scheduling and are able to stretch their master schedule to the limits, keeping customers satisfied, but the negative impact on productivity, safety, overtime, and morale can cost millions of dollars every year.

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 Essence of Competition


Competition, the rivalry among businesses for consumers’ dollars, is a vital element in free enterprise. Competition fosters efficiency and low prices by forcing producers to offer the best products at the most reasonable price; those who fail to do so are not able to stay in business. Thus, competition should improve the quality of the goods and services available.

Within a free enterprise system, there are four types of competitive environments:

  1. Pure competition exists when there are many businesses selling one standardized product. No one business sells enough of the product to influence the product’s price. And, because there is no difference in the products, prices are determined solely by the forces of supply and demand.
  2. Monopolistic competition exists when there are fewer businesses than in a pure-competition environment and the differences among the goods they sell is small. The products differ slightly in packaging, warranty, name, and other characteristics, but all satisfy the same consumer need. Businesses have some power over the price they change in monopolistic competition because they can make consumers aware of product differences through advertising. Consumers value some features more than others and are often willing to pay higher prices for a product with the features they want.
  3. Oligopoly exists when there are very few businesses selling a product. individual businesses have control over their products’ price because each business implies a large portion of  the products sold in the marketplace. Nonetheless, the prices charged by different firms stay fairly close because a price cut or increase by one company will trigger a similar response from another company. Oligopoly exists when it is expensive for new firms to enter the marketplace.
  4. Monopoly exists when there is one business providing a product in a given market. Utility companies are monopolies. The government permits such monopolies because the cost of creating the good or supplying the service is so great that new producers cannot compete for sales. Government-granted monopolies are subject to government-regulated prices.

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.

Just About Money


Strictly defined, money is anything generally accepted in exchange for goods and services. To be used as a medium of exchange, money must be acceptable, divisible, portable, stable in value, durable, and difficult to counterfeit.

Acceptability: To be effective, money must be readily acceptable for the purchase of goods and services and for the settlement of debts. Acceptability is probably the most important characteristic of money: If people do not trust the value of money, businesses will not accept it as a payment for goods and services, and consumers will have to find some other means of paying for their purchases.

Divisibility: Given the widespread use of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies in the United States, it is no surprise that the principle of divisibility is an important one. With barter, the lack of divisibility often makes otherwise preferable trades impossible, as would be an attempt to trade a steer for a loaf of bread. For money to serve effectively as a measure of value, all items must be valued in terms of comparable units—dimes, for a piece of bubble gum, quarters for laundry machines, and dollars (or dollars and coins) for everything else.

Portability: Clearly, for money to function as a medium of exchange, it must be easily moved from one location to the next. Large colored rocks could be used as money, but you couldn’t carry them around in your wallet. Paper currency and metal coins, on the other hand, are capable of transferring vast purchasing power into small, easily carried bundles.

Stability: Money must be stable and maintain its declared face value. The principle of stability allows people who wish to postpone purchases and save their money to do so without fear that it will decline in value. Money declines its value during periods of inflation, when economic conditions cause prices to rise. Thus, the same amount of money buys fewer and fewer goods and services.

Durability: Money must be durable. The crisp new dollar bills you trade at the music store for the hottest new CD will make their way all around town for about 18 months before being replaced. Were the value of an old, faded bill to fall to line with the deterioration of its appearance, the principles of stability and universal acceptability would fail. Although metal coins, due to their much longer useful life, would appear to be an ideal form of money, paper currency is far more portable than metal because of its light weight. Today, coins are used primarily to provide divisibility.

Difficulty to Counterfeit: To remain stable and enjoy universal acceptance, it almost goes without saying that money must be very difficult to counterfeit—that is, to duplicate illegally. Every country takes steps to make counterfeiting difficult. Most use multicolored money, and many use specially watermarked papers that are virtually impossible to duplicate.

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.

Focusing on Customers


Without customers you have no sales, no income, no profit, no business—and soon no organization. Unfortunately, when you meet other managers they often seem to forget this, and talk about profits, productivity, return on investment, data ratios and personnel problems. Sometimes customers are clearly an irritant, getting in the way of smooth operations, asking awkward questions and making unreasonable demands.

The purpose of your organization is to supply a product that satisfies customer demand. This should be the focus of the whole organization. To sustain competitive advantage requires a total commitment to your customer. If it is good for your customers, do it! The dollars will follow.

This consideration on customers involves:

  • Finding out exactly what customers want;
  • Designing products to meet these demands;
  • Doing research and development so that your product range responds to changing demands;
  • Aiming for complete customer satisfaction;
  • Getting a reputation for outstanding quality and value;
  • Doing after-sales checks to make sure that customers remain satisfied;
  • Looking outwards so that you are always in touch with customers, potential customers, competitors, alternative products, etc.
  • Allowing customers easy access to your organization and making them welcome;
  • Discussing customer service widely, so that everyone knows your aims, and shares thoughts on customer satisfaction.

Some say that you should go further than merely satisfying customers, and should exceed their expectations – delighting or crossing them. Whatever you call it, you depend on satisfied customers coming back with repeat business. It typically costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one – and someone who gets good service will recommend you to four or five other people, while someone who gets poor service will warn a dozen potential customers to go somewhere else.

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.

Calculating Market Share


Market share is the ratio of the competitor’s annual sales to the total annual sales of competitive products in the market being served by the competitors. It is usually measured by dividing the  competitor’s sales in dollars by the total sales volume in dollars for the industry. Dollars are used in the calculation because monetary value is usually easy to obtain.

As may be seen from the dimensions describing the horizontal axis of the economic experience curve. It would make more sense to measure the market share in units sold during the year. Dollar volume does not double when volume in units shipped doubles if price decreases with experience.

The dimensions of the experience curve are fully allocated unit expense in constant dollars and cumulative number of units produced. The reference to doubling sales is measured in units shipped. Because this kind of measure could be counted off on the horizontal axis of the curve, it is possible to relate the growth in shipments to fully allocated expense in constant dollards, a reasonable profit margin, and the resulting dollar volume of sales.

The difficulty in obtaining the information needed to calculate market shares in terms of units shipped is often resolved by trade association data, which reports in both units and dollars. Still the associations may not include every possible competitor among their membership. In almost all cases, however, the non-members are not big enough to be significant. Even without the non-member data, the trade association information is a good approximation to the actual figures.

Given that sufficient data is available, it is not entirely necessary to know a competitor’s exact market share. The information most meaningful to a manager is market share compared to that of the nearest competitor. This gives rise to the concept of a market share ratio.

A proposed ratio that has special meaning when used in conjunction with the economic experience curve. The ratio may be best understood as:

Market Share Ratio =   Your Market Share __________

Market Share of Your Biggest Competitor

The interesting result of defining the ratio this way is that only one competitor has a ratio greater than one. All the others have functional ratios, less than one. For instance, if you the largest market share your biggest competitor will have a smaller share than you, and your ratio will be a number greater than one. If your biggest competitor has a market share larger than yours, your ratio will be less than one.

Because only one competitor has market share ratio greater than unity, the dominant competitor is identified by a number greater than one. Also, the degree of the biggest competitor’s dominance is indicated by the size of the number.

Typically, when a new business concept arises that can be represented by an economic experience curve, several competitors enter the marketplace within a very short span of time. There is an initial market penetratiuon in which market shares are established. Managers have learned how difficult it is to change the market share of the competitors once they have been established. Market shares among suppliers who are competing forcefully tend to remain reasonably constant. Cummulative experience relative to other competitors tends to be aligned with the market share ratios.

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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