The Changing World of Business


The poor performance of star companies in the 1980s and 90s, both MNCs and domestic, has amply demonstrated their susceptibility to under-perform in the face of rapid and marked changes in technology, competition and customer expectations. It is not that all these companies lacked resources, capabilities or competent managers to anticipate and assess the impending changes and initiate proactive action; what they lacked was concern on the part of their managers to enhance the shareholder value of their respective firms on a sustained basis. As a result, this value got diverted to the customers, employees, competitors and suppliers of the company. While it is well known that a firm needs to develop distinctive capabilities and also build a strong network with its key stakeholders to enhance its value creating potential and appropriation of value this created, what really happened in case of most of these unsuccessful firms was that one or more of the stakeholders gained at the expense of the shareholders. The proponsity of managers to take operating, investment and financial decisions without any concern as to how such decisions can affect their shareholders led them to pursue strategies and investments that were ill-conceived and poorly executed, thereby systematically destroying the capabilities and equity developed over the years.

We should argue how the outcome of such a tendency can be detrimental to not only the firms but also to the job and career of the managers, particularly in the light of the various new developments—such as economic liberalization and opening up of most economies to domestic and global competition, greater freedom to access and move capital, emergence of the market for corporate control, and rising shareholder, activism—which have brought the issue of enhancing shareholders’ wealth to the forefront.

It is clear that managers will need to take a fresh guard and revisit their strategies, business processes and organization in order to face this complex set of challenges and retain their firm’s ability to enhance wealth of their shareholders. Thanks to the contribution made by the academia and practising executives, managers now have access to various concepts based on experiences when it comes to facing such challenges. However, it must be stressed that the need of the hour is not another set of concepts and framework; rather what is required is a new “philosophy of business” that draws the attention of every employee of an organization, starting with the CEO, to the importance of creating, enhancing and sustaining shareholder value in everything that the company does—be it strategic, tactical or even routine matters. Needless to say, the employees will also need guidelines on how to operationalize this new philosophy and what actions are needed to sustain the same.

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

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Increasing Knowledge Intensity


Knowledge (information, intelligence, and expertise) is the basis of technology and application. In the 21st Century competitive landscape, knowledge is a critical organizational resource  and is increasingly a valuable source of competitive advantage. Because of this, many companies now strive to transmute the accumulated knowledge of individual employees into a corporate asset. Some argue that the value of intangible assets, including knowledge, is growing as a proportion of total shareholder value. The probability of achieving strategic competitiveness in the 21st Century competitive landscape is enhanced for the firm that realizes that its survival depends on the ability to capture intelligence, transform it into usable knowledge, and diffuse it rapidly throughout the company. Firms that accept this challenge shift their focus from merely obtaining the information to exploiting the information to gain a competitive advantage over rival firms.

 

Conditions in the 21st Century competitive landscape shows that firms must be able to adapt quickly to achieve strategic competitiveness and earn above average returns. The term strategic flexibility describes a firm’s ability to do this. Strategic flexibility is a set of capabilities firms use to respond to various demands and opportunities that are a part of dynamic and uncertain competitive environments. Firms should develop strategic flexibility in all areas of their operations. Such capabilities in terms of manufacturing allow firms to “switch gears—form, for example, rapid product development to low cost—relatively quickly and with minimum resources.

 

To achieve strategic flexibility, many firms have to develop organizational slack. Slack resources allow the firm some flexibility to respond to environmental changes. When the changes required are large, firms may have to undergo strategic reorientations. Such reorientations can drastically change a firm’s competitive strategy. Strategic reorientations are often the result of a firm’s poor performance. For example, when a firm earns negative returns, its stakeholders are likely to place pressure on the top executives to make major changes. To be strategically flexible on a continuing basis, a firm has to develop the capability to learn. The learning continuously provides the firm with new and current sets of skills. This allows the firm to adapt to its environment as it encounters changes.

 

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

Opportunities in the Developing World


Examination of opportunities in developing countries is appropriate for two reasons. First, more and more developing countries are pursuing the growth path. The developing world is beginning to rely on the market mechanism to attract investment and technology and become industrialized. Second, government plays a significant role in business decisions. The bureaucrats approach foreign investment with much less sophistication and confidence than to private sector executives.

 

These characteristics suggest that in analyzing opportunities in the developing countries, a company should be willing to lay more emphasis on long-term potential than on short-term gains. In addition, adequate treatment should be given to political and social variables. Further, business condition vary so much from one country to the other that a comparative (i.e., multi-country) analysis may be difficult. Availability of reliable and timely information makes the opportunity analysis more difficult in developing countries. Thus, there is no way to systematically evaluate such factors as sociopolitical conditions. Instead, a general feel for the situation is necessary, for which a trusted native could be of immense help.

 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

Psychic Profile of a Healthy Company


Just like a fine athlete is more than someone who isn’t sick, a healthy company embodies people and practices that combine and coordinate to produce an exceptional performance.

Healthy companies all possess and emanate a certain vitality and spirit  This spirit is not a religious fervor or a mindless cheerleader enthusiaism but a deep feeling of shared humanistic values at the core of the company. These values are the glue that binds healthy, successful employees with healthy, productive workplaces.  They influence the way people act and think at all levels of the company and form the foundation for corporate policies and practices. They define roles and responsibilities and dictate how business decisions are made. These principles are expressed and applied at every turn of the business, from receptionists and loading dock workers, through managers and executives, and into the board of directors.

These values are perpetually interacting, expanding, and contracting like a living entity. Each value depends on and determines the health of the others; sickness or disease that undermines one weakens all; robustness in one value strengthens all. The values at at the heart of the healthy company enable it to continuously grow, evolve, and renew itself, reinforcing what is productive and positive and sloughing off the unhealthy and unworkable. In short, the causes and effects between values, people, and companies are not linear but circular. Values are the center of the enterprise; they circulate through every cell and artery of a company, and a company and itsemployees either reinforce healthy values or bring about their decline.

Healthy company values bind people to their organizations. By creating a common language and appealing to principles of dignity, commitment, and growth, these values help to create an identity that connects thousands of people around a shared mission. Suddenly, the traditional hard values of business success and the nontraditional soft values of human development merge into one dream.

This convergence generates a synergy, producing something greater than the sum of their parts–a vital business that lives and breathes a humanistic philosophy, that treats people as more than profiot producers, views relationships as more than simply financial contracts, and regards the workplace as more than a setting for business. It is a holistic environment, one that nurtures, stretches, and empowers people. The result is an organizatipn that optimizes people, principles, and profits.

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

New Products and Corporate Strategy


Except in small organizations new products work is done by people scattered all over the organization chart. There are exceptions, of course, when strong minded executives interested in new products personally lead projects.

But, new product processes usually begin as corporate or strategic business unit strategies. Almost every organization has some overall guiding strategy, spelling out its sphere of activity, its long-term goals or purposes, and guidelines as to how they will achieve those goals. The guidelines may be general, or very specific. These strategy statements are sometimes called mission statements. As such, they set the framework for almost all product activity.

Today it’s very complicated, but evidence shows corporate strategy is necessary, and should do three specific things for new products operations. First, it should offer product strategies for segments of the operation. Second, corporate strategy should accept a risk/gain project portfolio view. Third, corporate strategy should require a technology base on every product.

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 Asif J. Mir.