Principles of Crisis Management


What does one do when a crisis comes? There are some principles, not rules that can be useful to managers facing a crisis:

Define the real problem: Crises tend to face managers to think short term and focus on the narrow problem at hand. The crisis management team should ask several reflective questions: What would constitute a good job in managing this crisis? What can we accomplish? What is impossible?

Set Goals and Define the Crisis Strategy in Light of Those Goals: The urge to act first, think later is hand to resist when facing a crisis. The better the course is to have some managers actively thinking about the goals—What do we want to accomplish? How do we want to be perceived by the media? By our shareholders? By our employees and customers?

Manage the flow of Information: Experts advise managers to tell the story their way, consistently, and frequently. Because electronic media repeat crisis stories quite frequently in a typical news day, managers have an opportunity to correct errors and should not permit an erroneous statement to stand unchallenged.

Adopt a Team Approach: It is important to have one spokesperson designated at the outset and available to act on the company’s behalf immediately. Successful companies have thought in advance about the skills each crisis team should possess. Legal, media, and government relations skills are essential in many crisis situations.

Plan for the worst case: A crisis always has the potential to worsen, and managers need to anticipate the worst case possibility. It is tempting to assume a crisis will pass and the world will return to normal. It is wise to prepare for the worst.

Plan on the Situation Getting Worse: By doing so, an organization can begin to see ahead and create contingency plans for communicating with key stakeholders, deploying resources, and organizing other companies and people for action.

Follow up after the Crisis is Over: Many contacts with stakeholders occur during a crisis. A company can restore its image and reputation by dedicated follow-up to stakeholders.

Use Technology: Information technology can be a powerful aid to a company facing a crisis and needing to communicate with stakeholders. A company should measure the effectiveness of communication message through polling, surveys, and focus-group interviews.

Don’t Give up: As bad as it can be for an organization, a crisis rarely destroys a well-managed business. Leadership is vital if an organization’s internal and external stakeholders are to believe that there is a bright future beyond the crisis.

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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Managerial Practices


  • One of the most important responsibilities of management is to lead the organization to develop a hierarchy of strategic intent that incorporates and mutually supportive set of vision, mission, goals, and objectives.
  • As a leader developing a vision, seek out the ideas and ideals that will inspire an organization and motivate its members to work toward greatness.
  • In developing a mission statement, remember that organization serve multiple stakeholder groups and identify how your organization will address the needs of its most important stakeholders.
  • Develop goals that support the organization’s mission, that address the need for balance among various stakeholder groups, and that “stretch” the organization.
  • In identifying objectives, develop measurable targets, but be mindful of the possible unintended consequences of such measurement.
  • Remember the difference between an intended strategy and a realized strategy and be careful not to confuse the two in your consideration and discussion of strategy.
  • Strategies for simple, stable business may be successfully implemented using strategic programming, while strategies for organizations facing complex and/or unpredictable situations will usually require organizational learning, and overwhelming complexity and dynamism may force adoption of an incrementalist approach.
  • Remember the key distinguishing feature between strategic programming and organizational learning: in strategic programming, the firm can realistically separate planning and doing, strategy formulation and implementation. In organizational learning, a firm assumes that it cannot realistically tell in advance how the future will unfold or what will work, and it therefore intertwines formulations and implementation, continually adjusting its strategy as it gains new insights through a trail-and-error process of learning by doing.
  • Do not assume that either a pure strategic programming approach or a pure organizational learning approach is right for your organization. Most organizations need a blend of the two and, consequently, managers need to understand both.
  • You should recognize that although there is nothing inherently wrong with strategic programming, the incidence of “mechanistic” organizations that can successfully depend on this approach is shrinking. Shifts in the nature of business have made it more important for organizations to become more “organic” and to place greater emphasis on organizational learning.
  • Remember the limitations of each of the three major perspectives on strategic management,: rational planning, incrementalism, and organizational learning. Develop a willingness to draw from all three perspectives to improve your effectiveness.

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.

Setting Standards


Having standards is not enough. They must be the correct standards. By correct means not too low, not too high. If you set them too low you will lose productivity; valuable resources will be wasted. Low standards are also demotivating. Challenge and job satisfaction go hand in hand. When standards are too low people become sloppy in their work. When they can do their jobs with their eyes closed, their attention is lost and needless errors are made.

Standards that are too high are a problem as well. When standards are unrealistically high, the manager has no yardstick for determining how well the people performed. The standard is meaningless. Standards that are too high are also demotivating. If people know that the standards are impossible, they will reason “Why try at all? We can’t reach them anyway.” The standards become a source of frustration. If people consistently strive to meet the standards without success, they will feel like failures which will eventually affect their morale and performance.

The goal is to set standards high enough so that people have to work exceptionally hard to reach them and low enough so that they are attainable.

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.

Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

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.

Writing Business Summaries


Businesspeople are bombardedwith masses of information, and at one time or another, everyone in business relies on someone else’s summary of a situation, publication, or document. To write a summary, gather the information (whether by reading, talking with others, or observing circumstances), organize that information, and then present it in your own words. Although many pople assume that summarizing is a simple skill, it’s actually more complex than it appears. A well written summary has at least three characteristics..

First, as in writing any business document, be sure the content is accurate. If you’re summarizing a report or a group of reports, make sure you present the information without error. Check your references, and then check for typos.

Second, make your summary comprehensive and balanced. The purpose of writing your summary is usually to help colleagues or supervisors make a decision, so include all the information necessary for your readers to understand the situation, problem, or proposal. If the issue you’re summarizing has more than one side, present all sides fairly and equitably. Make sure you include all the information necessary. Even though summaries are intended to be as brief as possible, your readers need a minimum amount of information to grasp the issue being presented.

Third, make your sentence structure clear, and include good transitions. The only way your summary will save anyone’s time is if your sentences are uncluttered, use well-chosen words, and proceed logically. Then, to help your readers move from one point to the next, your transitions must be just as clear and logical. Basically, when writing your summary be sure to cut through the clutter. Identify those ideas that belong together, and organize them in a way that’s easy to understand.

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

Memos and Letters


When people have accomplished something extraordinary, put your praise in writing. Words are easy to say but it takes time and effort to write them down. Even if it is a two- or three-liner, people will appreciate it.

Letters on your personal stationery should be reserved for those special occasions when a person has worked exceptionally hard and has accomplished something truly outstanding.

Memos and letters can also be effective when a person has made a major error or has made the same error on numerous occasions.. when you want a person to think long and hard about what he has done wrong, put it in writing. This should only be done on rare occasions.

There are two rules that should never be violated when giving people feedback via memos and letters:

  1. Make sure the memo or letter is sent very close to the time of the event or accomplishment. A thank-you note or a note of raprimand sent two or three weeks after the fact defeats the purpose of the memo in the first place. In either case, the memo or letter ahould be marked “Confidential.”
  2. Always personalize the memo or letter. If a group of people has worked exceptionally hard, don’t send the individuals a memo addressed to the group. Sending an individual a memo addressed to the group is like throwing a crumb to a hungry person. When a person has given his all to a project he needs to be recognized as an individual, regardless of how many people were involved in making it happen.

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

Deming’s 14 Obligations


Many people helped develop quality management, and some of the early ones are called the ‘quality gurus.’ Perhaps Edwards Deming was one of the best known. He did a lot to publicize TQM. But was concerned that organizations did not get the benefits they expected. To help them on the way, he compiled a list of guidelines called his ’14 obligations.’ They are:

  1. Create constancy of purpose towards product quality.
  2. Adapt the new philosophy of higher quality, refusing to accept customary levels of defects and errors.
  3. Stop depending on mass inspection, build quality into your product.
  4. Don’t award business on the basis of price only – reduce the number of of suppliers and insist on meaningful measures of quality.
  5. Develop programs for continuous improvement of your products and processes.
  6. Train all your employees.
  7. Focus supervision on helping employees to do a better job.
  8. Drive out fear by encouraging two-way communication.
  9. Break down barriers between departments and encourage problem solving through teamwork.
  10. Don’t use posters and slogans that demand improvements without saying how to achieve them.
  11. Eliminate arbitrary quotes and targets that interfere with quality.
  12. Remove barriers that stop people having pride in their work.
  13. Have programs for lifelong education, training and self-improvement.
  14. Put everyone to work on implementing these 14 points.

Deming’s 14 points are not a program that has fixed duration, but the give a new way of thinking in your organization. They are certainly not the only possible view, but they do give some useful guidelines.

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, www.youtube.com/asifjmir, Line of Sight

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