Doughnut Structure


Although most organization charts are constructed in the shape of a pyramid, extending downward from the board of directors or president, some firms have doughnut structure—an organization chart made up of concentric circles that represent top management, staff personnel, and functional areas and that reflect a more flexible structure—people see themselves working in a circle as if around one table. One of the positions is designated chief executive officer, because somebody has to make all those tactical decisions that enable an organization to keep working. The doughnut design is made up of concentric circles, in which the center ring consists of top management. The second ring is composed of important staff personnel, such as legal, personnel, research and development, and electronic data processing, whose services are used by all departments. The third ring consists of managers of functional areas, while remaining rings comprise department and other supervisory 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.

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Good Pricing Decisions


Pricing decisions draw on many areas of marketing expertise. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape the market, including competitive  interactions, technology and consumer psychology. Sometimes these forces interact and are likely to put downward pressure on prices, such as substitutes, technological advances, price-driven competition, customer experience, and changes in internal focus, such as sales forecasts. Customer makes it difficult to raise prices, as repeat customers’ ability to perceive incremental value of a company’s product or service diminishes over time, especially as substitute or competitive products emerge. Increased internal expectations in the form of expected sales increases or new budgets can send prices on a downward spiral. Customer price sensitivity may also serve  to keep prices in check, especially in the presence of available competitive substitutes or among a company’s marginal customers.

Even in a deflationary economy, there are opportunities for keeping prices from dropping or even for raising prices. However, customers must perceive that these enhancements deliver a genuine, meaningful benefit, or they will continue to seek lower cost alternatives.

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.

Competitive Marketing Theories


Competitive market theories are derived from the neo-classical economic concepts of rational choice and maximization of utility. The assumption is that individuals choose jobs which offer them maximum benefits. The utility or value of these benefits – money, vacation time, pension entitlement and so on – vary for different individuals according to their personal preferences. People move from one organization to another if improved benefits are available. At the same time, employer organizations attempt to get the most from their employees for the lowest possible cost.

The outcome of this process is a dynamic and shifting equilibrium in which both employees and organizations compete to maximize benefits for themselves. Within a specific region or industry there is a balance between supply and demand for human resources. Pay and conditions for employees are determined by the relative scarcity or abundance of skills and abilities in the employment market. Competitive forces push wages up when demand for products – and hence employees – increases, and downwards when the economy is in recession. In the latter case a market clearing wage is eventually arrived at which is sufficiently low to encourage employers to increase recruitment and eliminate unemployment. This discourse reinforces the view that employees are objects to be traded like any other commodities in the market – human resources in the hardest possible sense. Supposedly, they offer themselves – their skills and human qualities – for sale to the highest bidders. Within this mindset they could just as well be vegetables on a market stall.

Competition theories assume that job-seekers have perfect knowledge of available jobs and benefits. Job-searching is an expensive and time consuming business. The unemployed do not have money and those in work do not have time. The result is that few people conduct the extensive searches required to find jobs which meet their preferences perfectly. In practice, most individuals settle for employment which is quickly obtained and which exceeds the reserve minimum wage they have in mind. There is a considerable element of luck involved. Moreover, the job-seeker does not make the choice: in most cases the decision is in the hands of employer.

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.

Economic Truths


Although there are few truisms that apply universally in the business world, there are four related economic truths that are valid in every business situation:

  1. Over the long term, it is absolutely essential to be a lower cost supplier or profit margins will erode.
  2. To stay competitive, inflation-adjusted costs of  producing and supplying any product or service must continuously trend downward.
  3. The true cost and profit picture for each discrete product/market segment is often obscured by traditional accounting practice.
  4. Real business winners concentrate as much or more on cash flow and balance sheet strength as they do on reported profits.

These points have always been valid, but they are far more serious today because there is much less margin for error in our more turbulent environment.

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.

Fuse Knowledge to Power


Architects are concerned with flows. When designing a building, their paramount considerations are how occupants will move in it and how light and air will circulate around it. Equally important for organizational architects is how information, know-how, decisions, and careers will flow in the structure being shaped.

When the work of the corporation was primarily the organizing of manual labor, markets were local and slow to change, and the knowledge base upon which competitive success depended was stable, a unitary hierarchy of manager atop manager made a lot of sense. The information needed to run the business was limited and could be easily channeled in one upward or downward flow. Workers did the work, and managers did the thinking.

But this is a reality that has disappeared from most industries. Markets are dimensioned globally, rules change faster than some competitors can master them, and brainpower counts for much more than brawn. Most organizations, though, remain keyed to the old realities. Few hierarchies have even kept up with the need to build in change by linking each of their limited number of levels with the time horizons of greatest importance to the company.

A more serious problem, though, is the lack of rethinking about how a business needs to organize its intellectual capital, its knowledge workers. It is ironic, and wasteful, that while “knowledge workers” (technical professionals and other holders of graduate or postgraduate degrees) are making up an increasing proportion of the work force in many industries, the organization structures in which they work remain more the products of Industrial Revolution than of the information age.

Knowledge, especially which can affect the company’s future competitiveness, used to be confined to the research and development lab or to the strategic planning department. Now, as information systems-driven service industries assume a larger share of many economies, knowledge about the capabilities that provide competitive advantage is much more widely dispersed than was ever necessary in traditional manufacturing companies. No single information channel can contain it all. And even traditional product makers are changing. Fewer manufacturing jobs are directly involved in making something; more are concerned with planning what to make, how to make it, and how to keep customers happy after the product has been purchased. The intellectual demands on front-line workers have increased tremendously. The narrowly skilled assembly jobs have been replaced by the more knowledge-intensive positions of the factory automation technician.

Requirements for more intellectual value added have escalated up many organization hierarchies. Networked data bases, expert systems, and almost never-ending flow of new personal computer software have significantly expanded the scope and the nature of the contribution possible from many mid-level employees. This is not an unmitigated blessing, though. It has also seriously polluted the management role in many companies, making many into high-level doers instead of managers, increasing the role’s fragmentation, and making it brittle rather than strong and load-bearing.

This situation will only worsen as economic pressures lead to increased management delayering. Companies with eight to ten tiers of management will find it necessary to organize around four or five. The number of subordinates per manager will have to sharply increase. Middle managers will find themselves with less and less time to master these new white-collar productivity enhancers and to make the intellectual contribution their businesses increasingly need.

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

Good Management


Good planning and good management are probably the best protection against most of the other risks. Price fluctuations of any normal retail inventory may be upward or downward. Good management will keep itself informed of price trends. Study of population trends and business activity will warn merchants early if their location is losing its value. Good accounting records and study of operations against a budget will warn of any developing adverse trends.

 To handle the risks of dishonest employees, good management will provide devices such as internal security guards and signal systems for detecting pilferers. A reputation for prosecuting pilferers and training all employees to be alert to the problem will help to reduce pilferage. Tags in merchandise which act of alarms at the entrance unless removed by the sales person are now common. These methods are often expensive but necessary. Personnel policies will provide means of checking employees whose honesty is questioned. Inspection of employees of checkout time is being used by manufacturing firms, some airlines, and other type of firms. It is recommended for wholsalers and retailers when losses in this area are deemed a high risk. Fidelty bonds may be purchased to protect the firm from losses by dishonest employees.

 The risk of financial hardship can best be coped with by proper financial planning and financial management. This common risk has caused the downfall of many firms which otherwise had a most profitable future. Over and above good planning along the lines, watching the key financial ratios in the financial statements, the cash adequacy rule, and investment in receivables, and having a cash flow statement are devices to protect against this risk. Having a good performance record for honesty and fair dealing will help the business secure financial help when it is needed.

 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