Creative Abuse


A tactic involves Candid Camera-like observations of how your product is actually used by the customer. You may have a wonderful product, created for one thing, but it may end up being used for an entirely different purpose.

Some don’t find real product until they understand with little unexpected help that they are selling the right product to the right customers for the wrong purpose. Their products don’t really take off until customers tell that they misuse it as partial substitute.

You can see creative abuse all the time in the world of fashion: women wearing men’s shirts, and men sporting women’s earrings, sport coats made out of heavily starched wallpaper, evening gowns patterned after lingerie.

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.

Drive


A person’s drive is not changeable. What drives him is decided by his mental filter, by the relative strength or weakness of the highways in his mind. His drives are, in fact, his striving talents.

Take the striving talent of competitiveness as an example. Some people have a four-lane highway for competition. Show them scores and they will instinctively try to use these scores to compare their performance with that of their peers. They love scores, because what you can measure you can compare, and if you can compare, you can compete.

However, people with a wasteland for competition will see the same scores and not feel any jolt of energy at all. Putting themselves on a level playing field, putting their best efforts against their peers, and winning means nothing to them. They rationalize their behavior by opining, “I don’t like competition; I prefer win-win scenarios,” or the classic, “I prefer to compete with myself.” But these comments are just signs that their filter is, understandably, trying to describe itself in the most positive light.

The truth is that they are not competitive. There is nothing good or bad about this. It is simply who they are. And there is not much that either they or you, their manager, can do about it.

Similarly some people have a four-lane highway for constant achievement, a striving talent we call achiever. They may not have to win, but they do feel a burning need to achieve something tangible every single day. And these kind of people mean, “every single day.” For them every day—workday, weekend, vacation—everyday starts at zero. They have to rack up some numbers by the end of the day in order to feel good about themselves. This burning flame may dwindle as evening comes, but the next morning it rekindles itself, spurring its host to look for new items to cross off his list. These people are the fabled “self-starters.”

Not all roles require employees to possess this striving talent of achiever. Nurses, for example, do not have to generate all of their drive from within. Instead they have to respond caringly and efficiently to the urgent needs that face them everyday—for nurses the altruistic striving talent mission is much more important than achiever. But if you manage roles that do require achiever—like an insurance agent, a pharmaceutical salesperson, or any role where the person must initiate rather than respond—then remember; You had better select for it. Because if a person does not feel this burning fire, you cannot light it for him.

The same applies to all striving talents: the need to be of service, the need to be on stage, the need to be seen as competent, the need to help others grow. All of these drives are talents, and therefore they have the same characteristics as other talents. Namely, they are part of each person’s mental filter. They are unique and enduring.

A manager can never breathe motivational life into someone else. All she can do is try to identify each employee’s striving four-lane highways and then, as far as is possible, cultivte them.

When describing human behavior, stick to the clarity of skills, knowledge, and talents. Tread carefully when using habits or competencies—they lump too much together rather haphazardly. Likewise, if you feel a need to use attitude or drive, be cautious. Remember that a person’s drive and his prevailing attitudes are talents, and as such, they are very hard to change. When you hear yourself berating the person to “get a better attitude,” watch out. You might be asking him to tackle the impossible.

None of this implies that a person cannot change. Everyone can change. Everyone can learn. Everyone can get a little better. The language of skills, knowledge, and talents simply helps a manager identify where radical change is possible and where it is not.

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

Price-earnings Ratio


Price-earnings ratios are published daily in newspapers for stock market-listed companies, along with the gross dividend yield, dividend cover and other information about the shares of each company. The method of calculation is what the name suggests:

Price-earnings ratio = stockmarket share price divided byEarnings per share

The stockmarket share price used is the one published in the financial newspapers at the close of business in the stock exchange for the previous evening.

As a generalization, when the price earnings ratio of a company is higher than the average for other companies in the same business sector, the stockmarket expects the company to achieve higher than average earnings per share in the foreseeable future to justify the above-average valuation of the shares.

In certain circumstances, the explanation may be quite different. For example, a takeover bid for the company may be widely expected, and the share price has already increased significantly in anticipation of the price to be offered by the bidder.

It must never be forgotten than the analysis of share prices, and especially the prediction of future changes, cannot be done simply by calculating the various ratios. If this was possible, making a fortune on the stockmarket would be easy. In practice, even the most experienced investment-fund managers would make costly errors of judgment from time to time.

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

Peak Versus Off Peak Operation


An important practical problem in many industries is how to deal with sharp variations between peak and off-peak demands. Telephones are more heavily used during business hours than during evenings or weekends; local transit demands are greatest in the morning and afternoon commuting hours; in the arid areas water is more intensely demanded in summer than in winter months; restaurants are busiest at regular mealtimes, and so on. For a firm facing both peak and off-peak demands for its product, the optimization problem is how to divide its efforts between the two.

Assume for simplicity that the peak and off-peak periods are equal duration. Under pure competition the firm would be a price-taker in both the peak and off-peak markets. In the peak market it would face a higher price and in the off-peak market a lower price—but, in either market, the price will be independent of the firm’s own level of output. An example might be a city served by a number of competing taxicab suppliers, daytime hours being the peak demand period and evening hours the off-peak demand period. The quoted taxicab fares do not usually vary with time of day. However, the effective price of taxicab service does vary. In peak periods taxi earn a higher effective price, since there is less “dead time” waiting for a customer. And similarly, the customers have to pay a higher effective price in peak periods, since on average they have to wait longer for taxi to become available.

In analyzing the peak/off-peak situation, it is essential to distinguish between “common costs” and “saparable costs.” Common costs are those that apply to both peak and off-peak service. On the case of taxicabs they would include the costs of providing the casbs themselves, of running the central dispatching system,, and so on. Saparable costs are those incurred in serving each specific market. For taxicabs they might include gasoline and drivers’ wages. The distinction between common and saparable costs is quite apart from the distinction between fixed and variable costs. Common costs can be fixed or variable, and the same holds for saparable costs.

The following additional assumptions are employed: 1) There are no common fixed costs at all; the marginal common costs (MCC) is a constant magnitude. 2) The separable costs include both fixed and variable elements, but the cost function is the same in either market. However the firm may want to operate at different points along the cost curves in serving the two markets. A taxicab firm, for example, may chose to put a larger number of cabs on the road during peak period.

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

Just about Vision


Vision implies imagery, and the outstanding leaders do create a world inside their heads, a vision of the future, which guides their day to day actions; it provides the coherent model. This is an ability that we all have but few of us employ. The vision is not an attainable end state, but rather a continuing process. There is no complete description—the patterns of our minds unfold beyond our ability to describe them. There is enough substance to make it almost tangible, yet sometimes it lurks in shadows. Sometimes it is alive with sound and brightness, and sometimes it is tranquil. But it is always connected at a deep level with the heart and with the gut.

Vision grows in the feedback-feedforward relationship between what might be (the word in the mind) and the present potential (the sensitive perception of the environment), and it thrives on difference. Indeed, vision seems ever elusive like the rainbow—wherever one moves, it is just beyond reach. Yet like the guiding star, it is powerfully reliable guide.

Since vision is systematic, it sees the parts and the whole in a way that the linear progression of words can never achieve. It can map the flow of the links of value from the heart of the business to the customer, and through the business to the stakeholders. It emphasizes the patterns that are the life of the business.

In order to build this hologram called vision, it is absolutely necessary to take a step back from the day-today issues. It is a qualitatively different mode of thinking than that of everyday management but will produce a level of certainty that informs each management decision. Allow some quite time in which you can really reflect in a relaxed state of mind. An easy walk in the country or a quiet evening alone provides suitable settings for most people.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight