Losers’ Description of Capabilities


Corporate losers describe their capabilities in terms of the physical and financial resources they own and control and the individuals whom they employ and can manage. Their markets are places. Their people are more comfortable with tangible assets that can be seen, smelt and touched, and easily counted, measured and valued.

Because their activities depend on the availability of physical resources some losers can operate only in certain geographical areas. It may be difficult for people living elsewhere to access them and work with them. Buildings become prisons and those excluded from participation become outsiders.

In general, losers prefer more rather than less. Some consider the accumulation of resources as an end in itself. Recruiting more staff and moving to a larger property is viewed as evidence of progress. Losers focus upon the individual items of capital rather than their relevance use, and the flow of benefits that they provide. The more losers succeed in accumulating fixed overheads, the more vulnerable they become to economic forces, commercial constraints and financial pressures.

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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Economies of Scale


You get economies of scale when the unit cost falls as the number of units made increases. There are three reasons for the lower unit costs:

  • Fixed costs are spread over a larger number of units;
  • You can use more efficient processes, perhaps including more automation;
  • More experience with the product raises efficiency.

Economies of scale encourage you to concentrate operations and make as many units as possible in the same facilities. Another benefit from larger operations comes from the ‘learning curve.’ The more often you repeat something, the easier it becomes.

Obviously, you can’t expand facilities for ever, and there is no point in having more capacity than likely demand. More realistically, if you expand beyond a certain size the organization gets too complex – making communications, support functions and management more difficult. Beyond this point you get dis-economies of scale. You can see these in many large organizations, such as governments, which aim for the efficiencies that come from centralization, but actually get bogged down in bureaucracy and red tape.

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.

The Profit Economics


The following information is required, at a minimum, to understand the profit economics of a business:

  1. How many dollars of assets are committed in each stage of each product/market business (e.g., R&D, materials, plant and equipment, finished stock, post-sale support)?
  2. What is the fixed/variable cost relationship for each product/market business, that is, for each dollar of sales, how many cents are attributable to bedrock fixed costs, how many to structured or discretionary costs, and how many to out-of-pocket costs?
  3. How do costs and profit change with swings in volume?
  4. What is the break-even point at current volume and what actions could be taken to bring that break-even point down should volume potential decline?
  5. What is the rate of incremental profit on each added increment of volume? What are the volume points where new increments of structured cost must be added?

A net profit and loss statement (after all allocations) and a balance sheet for each product line are essential for generating answers to these questions. Despite their claim that “we know all that,” very few managers actually have this information readily available.

Actually, most accounting systems are not designed to provide these kinds of statements and the accountants will argue that you can’t get them because many products run over the same machines, a lot of indirect costs can’t be allocated, and so on. To which we say, baloney! Shared fixed and indirect charges often represent the most serious cost problems in business situations where a cost disadvantage exists. And they are impossible to attack in the aggregate. They must be broken down and assigned to a discrete business unit even if done arbitrarily. Then a manager with hands-on responsibility can argue about fairness and whether there is value received for the costs involved. Although this is obviously not a precise exercise, it is effective and essential. Without full cost profit and loss and balance sheet statements managers cannot really understand the profit economics of their business. Further, they can’t make the types of intelligent business decisions and plans so important in today’s environment.

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

Fixed and Variabl Costs


The study of cost behavior in physical distribution is quite similar to that in manufacturing because most of the activities are repetitive in nature. Under such conditions physical measurements such as man-hours, units handled, and orders processed can be used to measure the activity. Changes in the level of cost incurred usually are caused by changes in the level of activity experienced.

The first step in understanding the cost behavior of physical distribution activities is to establish the relationship between the amount of each cost and an appropriate measurement of the level of activity. Variable costs are those costs that change in proportion to changes in volume and fixed costs. Examples of variable costs include the handling charges in a public warehouse and the cost of packing material used in a shipping department. Fixed costs include depreciation, security costs and taxes on company-owned warehouses, and the salary of transportation manager.

Some costs are mixed, that is, they contain both a fixed and a variable component. An example might be a warehouse labor. A basic crew of three may be required to cover the normal range of activity. However, if the volume of activity exceeds a certain amount, overtime or part-time employees may be necessary.

In some cases costs may be fixed over a relevant range but may increase in steps. These costs may be referred to as step variable cost or step fixed costs. The major distinction is the size of the steps. For example, in an order-processing department of twenty people labor may be considered a variable cost without making a serious error. This is because a relatively small percentage change in the number of orders could result in a change in the number of employees. However, in a department of three people the cost should be considered a fixed cost since a large percentage change in the number of orders processed usually would be required in order to eliminate an employee. Other examples of step fixed costs include the costs of management salaries, depreciation, and taxes associated with each warehouse that the company owns and operate.

Effective planning and control require that the total costs be separated into the fixed and variable components.

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

Costs: Short Run and Long Run


In the short run costs are fixed; in the long run they become variable. This is the fundamental difference between long run and short run. The distinction is a matter of degree. The longer the run contemplated, the greater the range of costs regarded as variable rather than fixed.

Consider a manufacturing firm. Toward the variable cost end are the expenses of inputs like electric power, supplies of material, and ordinary labor services; toward the fixed end are costs associated of supplies or breakdown of machinery calls for a very short, say an hour’s, reduction of output. Some electric power would be saved in the slowdown, and there would be reduced usage of materials, but little else could or would be changed. If output were to be cut back over a period as long as a day, some labor might also be laid off. Over a period like a month a large function of the labor force might be furloughed (their wages would become a variable cost), and perhaps some leased equipment like trucks would be dispensed with. Finally, for a permanent reduction in output the firm will sell off machinery and scale down its real-estate commitments.

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

Organizational Compassion


Although little, if anything can be done to avoid certain disasters, fortunately, there is something that leaders and managers can do to help everyone involved return to business as usual. Specifically, company officials should create an environment in which people can express their emotions in which they can do something to alleviate their own and others’ suffering. In other words, they should express organizational compassion.

 

To be as compassionate as possible, organizational officials should pay attention to the four dimensions: greater scope, more generous scale, more rapid speed, and greater specialization of response are indications of an organization’ compassion competence. This is important insofar as it helps employees heal emotionally when times are tough. For example, an organization would show compassion when it (1) treats an ill employee by doing lots of things to help, such as sending flowers, delivering meals, providing financial support, helping with child care, and so on (broad scope); (2) does these things generously, such as providing the amount of help needed as opposed to only limited amounts (extensive scale); (3) acts quickly, such as by leaping into action to provide help right away (rapid speed); and (4) specializes its action, such as by catering to the unique needs of this particular sick individual instead of offering a fixed, standard package of benefits (greater specialization).

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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