Writer’s Checklist


When writing a technical report ask yourself following questions:

  • What is reader’s name and job title?
  • What are reader’s chief responsibilities on the job?
  • What is reader’s educational background?
  • What is your reader’s professional background (previous positions or work experience)?
  • What is reader’s attitude toward the subject of the document?
  • What will the reader do with the document: file it, skim it, read only a portion of it, study it carefully, modify it and submit it to another reader, attempt to implement recommendations?
  • What are the reader’s likes and dislikes that might affect his/her reaction to the document?
  • How will your reader’s physical environment affect how you write and package the document?
  • What is your purpose in writing?
  • What is the document intended to accomplish?
  • Is your purpose consistent with your audience’s needs?
  • How does your understanding of your audience and of your purpose determine your strategy: the scope, structure, organization, tone, and vocabulary of the document?
  • Are there any organizational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any informational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any time constraints?
  • Have you checked with your primary reader to see if he or she approves of your strategy for the document?

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.

Synthesis of Two Sciences


Biometrics is a field that integrates biological science and computer science. One application of this new field of knowledge involves identification procedures. Scientists know that no two persons have the same fingerprint. This makes fingerprints a nearly foolproof method of identification. In the past, an individual’s fingers were coated with ink, and impressions were made on paper, then compared with impressions made by others. Laboratories kept files containing thousands of fingerprints. In time, computers enabled researchers to digitalize fingerprints and reduce them on computer screens. This enabled searches to occur much faster once fingerprints were on the file. Biometrics has now made possible the next step in this evolution of identification science. New scanners enable a person to place his or her finger on an imaging surface and instantaneously receive confirmation that the fingerprint matched that of the owner of an identification card. This technology of identification has been used to speed healthcare identification, eligibility for welfare benefits, and credit-card approvals.

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.

Good Human Relations’ Spin-off


Most organizations and their managers realize the importance of maintaining good human relations. A climate of openness and trust can stimulate performance and foster loyalty. This kind of atmosphere can only have a positive effect on human relations.

Although many managers get a lift from knowing that they’re treating their workers right, there are practical benefits as well. When workers are satisfied with the interpersonal component of their jobs, they are usually more productive. They are also less likely to resign or to file a complaint with the personnel office, the union, or some other agency—both actions that could create additional expense and effort for the company.

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.

Principals for Defining Privacy Policy


Companies wishing to enact an internal privacy policy or code should consider as a starting point the three concepts that help define information privacy: data collection, data accuracy, and data confidentiality.

Data Collection: the following principles should be adhered to:

  • Data should be collected on individuals only to accomplish a legitimate business objective.
  • Data should be adequate, relevant, and not excessive in relation to the business objective.
  • Data should be obtained in a lawful manner.
  • Individuals must give their consent before data pertaining to them can be gathered. Such consent may be implied from the individual’s actions (e.g., when they apply for credit, insurance, or employment).

Data accuracy: to ensure that misleading information will not be distributed, the following principles apply:

  • Sensitive data gathered on individuals should be verified before it is entered in database.
  • Data should be accurate and, when necessary, kept up to date.
  • The file should be made available so the individual can ensure that the data is correct.
  • If there is disagreement about the accuracy of the data, the individual’s version should be noted and included in any disclosures of the file.

Data Confidentiality: the privacy policy should ensure confidentiality as follows:

  • Computer security procedures should be implemented to provide reasonable assurance against the unauthorized disclosure of data. These procedures should include physical, technical, and administrative security measures.
  • Third parties should not be given access to data without the individual’s knowledge or permission, except as required by law.
  • Disclosures of data, other than the most routine, should be noted and maintained for as long as the data is maintained.
  • Data should not be disclosed for reasons incompatible with the business objective for which it was collected.

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.

Statistical Analyses


The role of database is to help select names for modeling, implement the results of the modeling process by scoring names and assigning them to the appropriate decile, and selecting names by decile and other criteria for marketing programs. Most companies use statistical analysis for two principal reasons: a) segmentation, and b) predictive modeling.

Segmentation techniques are used to identify and profile groups of customers whose characteristics are similar. If the objective is to segment customers based on their performance, then the procedure is to group people according to their performance characteristics and then develop profiles of each performance group. Typical segmentation variables are performance measures such as recency, frequency, and monetary value of purchases; types of products purchased; or types of promotions responded to.

By linking this data with customer performance data, marketers can analyze who buys what and use the profiles of customers in each segment as a means of finding other customers like them.

Once the segments have been created, individual customers will be assigned to segments and these assignments will be recorded in the database. This makes subsequent selection of individuals for promotion based on the segmentation criteria relatively simple.

Predictive Modeling, based on previous purchase history, based on recency, frequency, and monetary value, models can be developed to predict who is most likely and least likely to purchase at the next opportunity. This scoring model would be used to determine who should be promoted and what they should be promoted with.

Once scoring models have been executed and customers assigned to deciles, this information is recorded in the database so that subsequent selection of customers who have the highest probability of responding to a promotion is easily accomplished.

End users would use a selection menu in which they would indicate which scoring model they wish to use and either a specific cutoff score or a desired number of names to select. The database would then perform the selection and produce an output file to the specific medium. This would either be a file, a magnetic tape, or mailing labels. A file could either be used for further analysis, or in many cases, the file could be combined with a patterned letter file to produce personalized mailings.

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.

Primary Research Data


Primary data consists of data that is obtained directly from the source. It is generally captured through surveys, interviews, focus groups, or other direct interactions with individuals. The use of primary data has increased dramatically over the past few years, and with the advent of bar code scanners, home shopping, interactive television, and other electronic media, the number of channels through which primary data can be collected will increase exponentially.

Primary data consists of two major types:

  • Individual level demographic data such as age, income, and home value.
  • Attitudinal and behavioral data.

In the past, primary data was often the province of market research, and was used primarily to provide direction for marketing programs that addressed large groups of customers and prospects. Demographic data was used to get a better “fix” on the characteristics of the larger market, and attitudinal data was used to provide a sense of which issues were important to various groups of customers, and therefore should be emphasized in promotional materials.

Market researchers use primarily data to identify new product opportunities or new segments within the customer file. This is usually done by sending surveys to a representative sample of customers or prospects to determine what products and services they are interested in but do not currently purchase from the firm sending the questionnaire. In this way, primary data gathered through market research surveys can lead to the development of products that are either new to the firm or, in some cases, new to the industry.

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.

Improving your Planning Skills


All too often, managers develop elaborate plans only to have them collect dust on a shelf or in a file drawer. To be an effective management tool, a plan must be continually monitored and updated. Your goals and objectives must be a part of your monthly, weekly, and daily plans or they will become victims of the daily crises and interruptions that inevitably fight for your time. It’s important to spend some time every day working toward accomplishing your goals.

Evaluate and update your plan on a regular basis. If your plan is detailed and specific, it should be quite simple to manage by:

  • Using target dates for various phases of the project. Be sure that expectations, latitude, and due dates are clear and agreed upon with others.
  • Delegating responsibility (and appropriate decision-making authority) to the right person or people.
  • Requesting status reports from your employees on their progress toward goals.
  • Monitoring and following up on progress. By documenting performance against your plans (for example, budgeted vs. actual labor) you will be better able to evaluate results and develop realistic plans for future projects.
  • Intervening and adjusting plans when necessary.

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.

Re-inventing the Corporation: Bureaucracy Smashers


Sometimes, just a few key steps can start breaking down the barriers to effective communication and action within a company.

The following policies are a list of bureaucracy smashers, simple but effective steps which help replace the industrial “us vs. them” mentality with the “we are all in this together” attitude needed to re-invent the corporation.

  1. Set up a system of reverse reviews. Everyone who is evaluated gets to evaluate the boss, too (assuming there are bosses).
  2. Call everyone by first name.
  3. Try out the rule: Use little paper; keep no files.
  4. Call people associates, partners, managers—or just plain people—instead of employees (or workers).
  5. Decentralize authority absolutely.
  6. Eliminate executive dinning rooms, executive restrooms, special parking spots, and the like.
  7. Insist everybody answer his or her own phone. Preferably type your own letters.
  8. Get people to manage themselves: to set and monitor their own goals, to manage their work load and set their own priorities.
  9. Take a deep breath and throw out the old organization chart.

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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