Knowledge Expands Enthusiasm


An old truism tells us the more we know about something the more we don’t know. Each new discovery in medicine or engineering or physics raises more questions than it answers. Knowledge also increases enthusiasm.

The more we explore space, the deeper our cameras see, and the more we discover about the structure of matter, the greater is our enthusiasm to learn still more. Enthusiasm comes with knowledge. Most people are bored with the idea of collecting stamps until they know answers to questions such as who decides what image appears on a stamp and why, how many stamps are issued each year, what makes some stamps exceptionally valuable, who invented stamps, and why all stamps are not the same size.

Knowledge does supply motivation and enthusiasm to learn more. We take an important step toward developing enthusiasm when learning more about a person, a thing, or an idea. Ignorance inhibits enthusiasm; knowledge expands it.

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.

 

Training and Community Colleges


The power of images and names deceives us into picturing big companies as big concentrations of people. They rarely are. Most of the work of any major organization goes on at a multiplicity of small to medium-sized shops, offices, or factories, often widely separated from one another as well as from the head office. Each work site may be no longer than an independent small or medium-sized enterprise in its neighborhood.

Since the operations performed at one work site may bear little resemblance to those at another in the same company, work sites may differ in their training needs as widely as they differ in geography. Accordingly, each work site normally administers most of its own training, with the exception of specifically managerial subjects or skills so company-specific, important, and widely needed that it is more cost effective to conduct them at a central location.

By the same token, each work site has finite resources of staff, space, equipment, and money available for training. One point it must therefore decide about any particular need is whether it is more cost-effective to conduct the training in-house or outside. More and more work sites have turned to community and junior colleges to run training programs for them. So community colleges have evolved various arrangements for working with employers. They have thus employed business-industry coordinators, who learn what services the employers need tell them what the colleges can do to help. Some colleges hire and train industry people to execute the colleges’ training assignments.

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.

Analyzing Current Situation: Checklist


Phase 1: The Environment

  1. What is the state of the economy and are there any trends that could affect the industry, firm, or marketing strategy?
  2. What are current trends in cultural and social values and how do these affect the industry, firm, or marketing strategy?
  3. What are current political values and trends and how do they affect the industry, firm, or marketing strategy?
  4. Is there any current or pending federal, state, or local legislation that could change the industry, firm, or marketing strategy?
  5. Overall, are there any threats or opportunities in the environment that could influence the industry, firm, or marketing strategy?

Phase 2: The Industry

  1. What industry is the firm in?
  2. Which firms are the major competitors in the industry and what is their annual sales, market share, and growth profile?
  3. What strategies have competitors in the industry been using, and what has been their success with them?
  4. What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of competitors in the industry?
  5. Is there a threat of new competitors coming into the industry, and what are the major entry barriers?
  6. Are there any substitute products for the industry, and what are their advantages and disadvantages compared to this industry’s products?
  7. How much bargaining power do suppliers have in this industry, and what is its impact on the firm and industry profits?
  8. How much bargaining power do buyers have in this industry, and what is its impact on the firm and industry profits?

Phase 3: The Firm

  1. What are the objectives of the firm? Are they clearly stated? Attainable?
  2. What are the strengths of the firm? Managed expertise? Financial? Copyrights or patents?
  3. What are the constraints and weaknesses of the firm?
  4. Are there any real or potential sources of dysfunctional conflict in the structure of the firm?
  5. How is the marketing department structured in the firm?

Phase 4: The marketing Strategy

  1. What are the objectives of the marketing strategy? Are they clearly stated? Are they consistent with the objectives of the firm? Is the entire marketing mix structured to meet these objectives?
  2. What marketing concepts are at issue in the current strategy? Is the marketing strategy well planned and laid out? Is the strategy consistent with sound marketing principles? If the strategy takes exception to marketing principles, is there a good reason for it?
  3. To what target market is the strategy directed? Is it well defined? Is the market large enough to be profitably served? Does the market have long-run potential?
  4. What competitive advantage does the marketing strategy offer? If none, what can be done to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace?
  5. What products are being sold? What is the width, depth, and consistency of the firm’s product lines? Does the firm need new products to fill out its product line? Should any product be deleted? What is the profitability of the various products?
  6. What promotion mix is being used? Is promotion consistent with the products and product images? What could be done to improve the promotion mix?
  7. What channels of distribution are being used? Do they deliver the product at the right time and right place to meet customer needs? Are the channels typical of those used in the industry? Could channels be made more efficient?
  8. What pricing strategies are being used? Hw do prices compare with similar products of other firms? How are prices determined?
  9. Are marketing research and information systematically integrated into the marketing strategy? Is the overall marketing strategy internally consistent?

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.

Entrepreneurial Success


Successful entrepreneuring is not and never has been reducible to a set of formulas or rules. Without exception, the experience is a profoundly personal process. Entrepreneurial success begins with a single individual’s intense commitment to customers, and it involves according to that person’s distinctive capabilities and temperament. The Ted Turners and Fred Smiths of this world don’t just build companies, they shape them in original, subjective, and sometimes peculiar ways.

No matter how many business courses you take or how many business books you read, you can never plan success. Fortunately, you can invite it. It comes to those who are deeply and personally engaged in the process of following a vision of what they and their enterprises can becom. Successful ideas, innovations, and new directions reveal themselves a bit at a time. They are discovered in the process of “doing,” of living out an emerging vision. Successful companies evolve, as do the people who dream them.

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

Is this Meeting Genuinely Necessary?


A “maybe” response indicates only limited need for the meeting and shows that further thought is required. Only a “yes” is a positive justification for calling a meeting.

 

The same question needs to be asked before attending a meeting. If the meeting is not necessary and you can avoid it, do so. If you have to attend, try to use the time to shorten your workload to compensate for the lost hours.

 

Many managers find it hard to judge if a meeting is needed or superfluous. There are some guidelines:

1.    Is the meeting being called to exchange information or viewpoints?

a.       If the meeting is to discuss viewpoints, it is probably a necessary conference. If the meeting is strictly to distribute information, the meeting is probably unnecessary. Meetings are most effective when used to find solutions or resolutions to conflicts. A meeting held for the sole purpose of imparting information had better have some pretty spectacular revelations. This in all likelihood should be classed as an inspirational conference, because important news is seldom passed along without editorializing or explanations. Inspirational meetings are difficult to conduct, because they are based on emotion, but there are times when the troops need boosting or, conversely, deflating.

b.      Training meetings appear to be an exception to the don’t-meet-to-exchange-information concept. They are not. Distributing information in advance allows the meeting to be used for developing concepts and testing individual understanding. This is a better use of everyone’s time. This is not to downplay the importance of instructional sessions. It is just to set this category of communications apart from other meetings.

c.       Information, facts, figures, sales data, market intelligence, production numbers, personnel reviews, and more, can be disseminated more effectively by memo than meeting. Chances are, the memo is going to be written anyway passed out at the meeting. Distributing a memo is okay if there is other business on hand, but calling a meeting solely as a means of handing paper to other managers is inappropriate.

d.      Meetings are at their best when used to generate expressions of viewpoints or concepts, or to develop a policy.

e.       Meetings are at their worst when used to check individual progress on various projects. There are few more mind-dulling experiences than to sit at a conference table and hear about the status of tasks that are not even remotely connected with yours. These sections often turn into excuse contests with rambling dissertations on the reasons behind delays or problems.

f.        Meetings are generally not an efficient way to dispense information. If this is the primary reason for the gathering, then rethink the need for convening.

2.    Can one-on-one conversations or even one-on-two conversations accomplish what needs to be done? Or is a larger group necessary?

a.       There’s a difference between a meeting and a conversation between two or three people. A conversation is relaxed, informal, and rarely has the time constraints posed by a meeting. Those present sense the difference.

b.      Decisions are rarely made in conversations. In fact, some managers and executives become agitated when two or three members of a committee converse and come to a consensus without the others present. This nervousness is not assuaged by a follow-up memo which details the conversation or even by the fact that the decision may be nothing more than a unified front, in no way binding upon the group.

c.       If conversation will suffice to avoid another meeting, then have the talk. Inform the other committee members or interested parties. Those smart enough to advance in management will welcome one less meeting on their schedule.

3.    Is this meeting being called because someone or some group doesn’t have enough to do? It happens all the time. Workloads in an organization can be unbalanced. This week, Production has more than it can handle, while Sales is costing. One way to fill the day for Sales is to call a meeting. This is more common than anyone dares admit.

4.    Is the agenda for the called-meeting vague? Or worse, is there no agenda at all?

a.       As a basic rule of meeting skill, do not go to a meeting where there is no agenda. If you have to attend, go prepared for the worst.

b.      If a manager cannot express on paper what the meeting is about, there probably shouldn’t be a meeting at all.

c.       If you are asked to a meeting and no agenda is given to you in advance, find the person who called the meeting and ask for one. If it is verbal, take notes.

d.      Many times, the person discovers he or she has vague ideas about why the meeting is needed. This experience can benefit both of you.

5.    Is there any reason to meet other than the fact that your group has a set, regular, once-a-week mandatory meeting? Top management often wants certain employees to get together each and every week, to discuss items of importance, or to match timing, balance workloads, and do ongoing, necessary house-keeping.

a.       After a few sessions, these meetings fall into a routine and small talk dominates.

b.      The day before, the manager should do a little checking. Is there actually a need to convene? Could a more limited gathering accomplish the same thing? Would a memo suffice? Could matters be handled by a phone call? If the answer is yes, skip the meeting.

 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

Reengineering and Workers’ Decision-making


Companies that undertake reengineering not only compress processes horizontally by having case workers or case teams perform multiple, sequential tasks but vertically as well. Vertical compression means that at the points in a process where workers used to have to go up the managerial hierarchy for an answer, they now make their own decisions. Instead of separating decision-making from real work, decision-making becomes part of the work. Workers themselves now do that portion of a job that formerly managers performed.

 Under the mass-production paradigm, the tacit assumption is that the people, actually performing work, have neither the time nor the inclination to monitor and control it and that they lack the depth and breadth of knowledge required to make decisions about it. The industrial practice of building hierarchical management structures follows from this assumption. Accountants, auditors, and supervisors check, record, and monitor work. Managers supervise the worker bees and handle the exceptions. This assumption, and its consequences need to be discarded.

 The benefits of compressing work vertically as well as horizontally include fewer delays, lower overhead costs, better customer response, and greater empowerment for workers.

 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