Writing Tips


  • When writing consider the recipients. What do they know already? What can you tell them?
  • Outline your memos and letters before beginning to write.
  • When writing reports, summarize key points or conclusions on the first page and document them with more information on subsequent pages.
  • Write like you speak to make your writing as readable as possible.
  • Learn the writing style of your organization and follow it. Don’t use flowery language (many adjectives and verbs) when inappropriate.
  • Have your secretary or assistant edit and proofread your correspondence for sentence structure and grammatical errors.
  • Keep dictionary thesaurus on hand to check spelling and word usage.
  • Use variety of sentence structures—simple, complex, and compound—to add interest to your writing.
  • When writing for a non-ethical audience, have a non-technical person identify jargon. Then either eliminate it or include a glossary defining the terms.
  • Use charts and tables wherever possible to present numerical information.
  • Use “action verbs” to add punch to your message.
  • Eliminate weak words like “very,” “interesting,” “often,” and other bland adjectives or adverbs.
  • Keep paragraphs short. Make sure the content of a paragraph revolves around only one thought—the topic sentence.
  • If you do a large amount of routine correspondence, standardize it as much as possible.
  • If procrastination is a problem, start writing a rough draft early so you have time to reverse it at least once.
  • When allocating blocks of time for writing, set aside periods of one to one-and-a-half hours, rather than trying to do it in segments of 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Develop a flash card system to work in your own common misspellings.
  • Dictate correspondence, memos, and so forth, to save time.
  • Seek immediate and specific feedback on reports you write.
  • Take a second or third look at your memos before sending them.
  • Use a grammar checking software program on your computer to identify errors you frequently make, and use that feedback to focus your efforts to improve your writing.

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.

Delayed Performance


Delayed performance will always justify a claim of damage where it can be shown that loss was occasioned by the delay. Most courts hold, however, that delayed performance will not be a material breach justifying rescission unless performance by a certain date is a condition precedent in the contract. If the late performer has any reasonable excuse for delay, the courts may allow damages but will seldom agree to rescission.

In agreements for the sale of marketable merchandise, however, a contract calling for shipment or other performance within a designated time is generally held to be a condition precedent. The difference between merchandise contracts and other contracts is in the position of the injured parties. A delay of a week in obtaining possession of a new home would not likely be crucial to the average home buyer. But a merchant’s success depends on the prompt delivery of goods to customers. Often advertising and sales programs are scheduled around specific delivery dates. Consequently, a delay in the shipment of merchandise is usually held to be a material breach.

Delay cannot be tolerated indefinitely in any kind of contract, however. After the passage of a reasonable time without performance the courts will permit rescission in almost any kind of contract. What is a reasonable time will vary with the type of agreement and all the surrounding circumstances. If no date is specified in the agreement, the courts interpret this to mean that performance must be done within a reasonable time. When time is of great importance, the contract should always be drafted to read that “time is definitely of the essence in the performance of this contract.”

In a bilateral contract, the injured party cannot regard the other party as being in default until the injured party has offered to perform. In legal circles, this offer by the injured party is called a tender. Depending on the terms of the contract, the tender must be either an offer to pay or an offer to perform a service.

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.

Planning a Research Strategy


If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

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.

Writing the First Draft


When your outline is complete and you are ready to write your first draft, many writers make a common mistake at this point. They try to “get it right” the first time. They may work on a paragraph for hours, fine-tuning the words until they are perfect. Writers thus shut off their creativity by insisting on profession.

Remember, the first draft is a working draft. It should be written quickly without too much thought to elegant expressions or final order and paragraphing. Your object is to get the material on paper to flash out the structure of your outline. Let the words flow. Start wherever you can—in the middle, even near the end. The opening or introduction can be completed later. Any weaknesses in logic or gaps in information, any points that are out of place can be corrected in the final version.

As you write the first draft, keep your audience in mind. Doing so will help you stay focused on the purpose of your work. Keep writing until you have completed the first draft.

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.

Ideal-Candidate Profile


You don’t have the time or the resources to evaluate every applicant who strolls in. to guide your work, you should develop a profile of your “ideal” candidate. You may never find your ideal, but you will establish a basic framework that outlines the person you are looking for.

Developing an ideal candidate profile is similar to viewing a lineup of suspects after you’ve witnessed a bank robbery. The individual you pick out may not be the actual bank robber, but chances are the real criminal is strongly similar. Often, a lineup helps police establish the silhouette or basic framework of the person being sought. The police is clear even if the details are not. Likewise, your ideal candidate profile will give you a sharper idea of what you are really looking for, so that you can increase your odds of finding him or her.

Use the following outline to develop of profile of your ideal candidate:

  1. Must have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education
  1. Should have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Education
  1. Would be nice to have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education

Be specific when you draft your outline. If you want someone with strong follow-up skills, say so. If you want an assertive person who can handle high stress, say so. To create a good match between job and candidate, you need to define the person as closely as you define the job.

Keep your company culture in mind, too. If your company is team-oriented and flexible, you want a candidate who is comfortable with teamwork—and not everyone is. If your department is highly structured, you want someone who works well in a structured situation. Describe the qualities that your company values so that you can find compatible candidates.

Just remember that defining the candidate is a lot like shopping for groceries: the more you toss into your shopping cart, the more you’ll pay. The cost of filling a job is influenced by two factors: how long it takes to find the candidate, and the supply of qualified candidates. The greater the number of must have items on your list, the longer it’s going to take to find that person. The greater the experience, skills, or education requirements, the smaller the supply of candidates and the larger the compensation package required to hire the person.

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.

Functions of Goals


Goals have multiple functions. They are general guides or beacons for the change episode. They provide brief statements of the intended area of intervention.and in a political sense, abstract goal statements provide the umbrella under which individuals, groups, organizations, and interests holding diverse views can be mobilized to support activities in a general intervention area. Goals do not address the why (rationale) or how (methods) questions of change efforts.

 Goals should therefore describe the major directions of the change effort, be concise and clear to ensure comprehension by the intended audience, and be likely to elicit a positive response. Thus, content, clarity, and political attractiveness guide goal selection and formulation. The change agent needs to identify the parties and interests that must be involved, understand how each will react to various formulations, and tailor the statements to obtain approval of the necessary parties. The change agent often uses negotiating skills in helping the initiators, targets, clients, planners, and implementors to reach agreement on the goals of the change episode. Successive drafts may be circulated among the various participants until a version captures a direction acceptable to all parties.

 Goal statements are vital in the public debate about human service interventions. Goal statements are the public banners under which competing interests attempt to mobilize support the change efforts. Interest groups invoke strongly held values in their goal statements.

 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