Sentence Making


Words are like building blocks—we can put them together in all sorts of different ways in order to make many different kinds of sentences. When we write, it is very important to make complete sentences. It is a common goof  to write incomplete sentences—also called sentence fragments.

Punctuation marks do the same thing for a sentence that road signs o for a highway. Punctuation marks tell the reader when to speed up, when to slow down, when to stop, and what to expect up the road.

The ultimate separator is the period. It says, “Stop here.”  Question marls and exclamation marks are usually periods with special missions. The comma is then most common separator. It says “slow down.” Without commas we wouldn’t know when to pause. There are five other separators: colons, semicolons, parentheses, dashes, and brackets.

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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Job Restructuring


Job restructuring comprises an important group of work organization methods which aim at increasing both productivity and job satisfaction. Increased job satisfaction itself can also result in higher productivity and better motivation. Many managers and workers feel that job restructuring , covering job enrichment and job enlargement, is a promising strategy for improved job satisfaction.

Job restructuring can build up the content of jobs, so as to enhance skills, interest, initiative and range of responsibility while reducing frustration and monotony. Job enrichment and job enlargement are concerned with job and work changes through modification of the workers’ tasks. Restructuring, the addition of further similar tasks, is often referred to as job enlargement and can be viewed as horizontal change. One variation of job enlargement is job rotation. Workers are “rotated” between various fragmented activities with some degree of choice. Vertical change involves increased individual involvement through the addition of different tasks and duties; such changes are generally referred to as job enrichment.

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.

 

Barriers to Team Progress


  • Insufficient training. Teams cannot be expected to perform unless they are trained in problem-solving techniques, group dynamics, and communication skills.
  • Incompatible rewards and compensation. In general, organizations make little effort to reward team performance. Because of a strong focus on individual rewards it is difficult for individuals to buy into the team concept. Similarly, performance appraisals do not accept input from peers or team members.
  • First-line supervisor resistance. Supervisors are reluctant to give up power, confident that they can do the work better and faster, are concerned about job security, and are ultimately held responsible.
  • Lack of planning. A lack of common direction or alignment on the use of collaborative efforts, internal competition, redundancy, and fragmented work processes all prevent team progress.
  • Lack of management support. Management must provide the resources and “buy into” the quality council/sponsor system.
  • Access to information systems. Teams need access to organizational information such as business performance, competitive performance, financial data, and so forth.
  • Lack of union support. Organizations need union support for the team to be successful.
  • Project scope too large. The team and organization are not clear on what is reasonable, or management is abdicating its responsibility to guide the team.
  • Project objectives are not significant. Management has not defined what role the team will play in the organization.
  • No clear measures of success. The team is not clear about its charter and goals.
  • No time to do improvement work. Values and beliefs of the organization are not compatible with the team’s work. Individual departmental politics interfere with the team’s progress. Management has not given the team proper resources.
  • Team is too large. The organization lacks methods for involving people in ways other than team membership.
  • Trapped in groupthink. Team members all have a mind-set that no actions are taken until everyone agrees with every decision.

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

Consumers of Advertising


It is vital, from the outset, to guard against the normal psychological tendency to impose your advertising “pattern” on a rather complex reality. Consider, for example, that the advertisements you may encounter through television, radio, the campus newspaper, magazines, direct mail, billboards, and the like are only a fraction of all the forms that advertising takes in other places in other times, for different purposes, and among different audiences. Yet, there is a tendency to equate that fragmented reality with the whole. Advertising is bad (good) for children; advertising is good (bad) for the economy; advertising helps us make wise (unwise) purchase decisions; advertising makes goods cost more (less); and so on. Simply, some advertising may be (or do) any of these things. All advertising is however far too complex to permit such over-simplifications.

By way of further example, one of the frequently voiced complaints of advertising critics is that advertising is not informative enough. Now, if we wish to point to some specific advertisements, it would not be difficult to accept such a premise. An advertisement for an expensive car may tell us that the car offers greater “class” than its competitors but nothing of its performance or life expectancy. Or a message for a cereal may feature a talking tiger, telling us of his adventures, but little of nutrition.

But there is other grist for this mill as well. A classified ad for a refrigerator may tell us its make, age, capacity, operating efficiency, and the reasons the seller has put it on the market. A message on drill bits for all rigs inundates its readers with performance data concerning the cost efficiencies to be accrued through the use of this bit compared with those of traditional composition. Do these ads also lack information?

To understand advertising then, you must first develop some knowledge of its more prominent functions. One way of getting a realistic picture of the landscape of advertising is to ask a simple question: Who uses advertising to reach what audiences through what media for what purpose? The pursuit of the answer not, of course, reveals all the nuances of advertising. It may, however, after a reasonable of some of the major species and subspecies and—not incidentally—serve to discourage embracing, “Advertising does …” thinking.

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

Process Owner


The process owner, who is responsible for reengineering a specific process, should be a senior-level manager, usually with line responsibility, who cares prestige, credibility, and clout within the company. If the leader’s job is to make reengineering happen in the large, then the process owner’s job is to make it happen in the small, at the individual process level. It is the process owner’s reputation, bonus, and career that are on the line when his or her process is undergoing reengineering.

 Most companies lack process owners, because in traditional organizations people do not tend to think in process terms. Responsibility for processes is fragmented across organizational boundaries. That’s why identifying the company’s major processes is a crucial early step in reengineering.

 After identifying the processes, the leader designates the owners who will guide those processes through reengineering. Process owners are usually individuals who manage one of the functions involved in the process that will undergo reengineering. To do their reengineering jobs, they have to have the respect of their peers and a stomach for reengineering—they must be people who are comfortable with change, tolerant of ambiguity, and serence in adversity.

 An owner’s job is not to do reengineering but to see that it gets done. The owner must assemble a reengineering team and do whatever is required to enable the team to do its job. He or she obtains the resources that the team requires, runs interference with the bureaucracy, and works to gain the cooperation of other managers whose functional groups are involved in the process.

 Process owners also motivate, inspire, and advise their teams. They act as the team’s critic, spokesman, monitor, and liaison. When reengineering team members start to produce ideas that make coworkers in the organization unhappy, process owners shield them from the arrows that others will shoot their way. Process owners take the heat so that their teams can concentrate on making reengineering happen.

 The process owner’s job will not end when the reengineering project is completed. In a process-oriented company, process, not function or geography, will form the basis of organizational structure, so every process will continue to need an owner to attend to its performance.

 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

The Era of Fragmentation


Driven by a combination of capital-intensive new technologies, newly emerged mass markets, and global trade based on national competitive advantage, in industrial era production was organized around the idea of division of labor instead of craft specialization. The work formerly done by one artisan was broken down into its component parts, which in turn were mechanized where possible, and semi-skilled workers were hired to do part of the job or to tend the machines. New roles, those of supervisor, middle manager, and production planner, were created to provide the oversight and coordination that were formerly the responsibility of individual journeymen or masters. In brief, authority over the content of jobs was given to people who, themselves, were not actually doing this work. The newly created managerial authority took “from workers the right to define their own job, their own skill level, and their own standards of quality.”

The division of labor, originally intended to create a rapid growth economy based on a low-skill work force, did help assimilate nineteenth century agricultural workers into industry. But once there, it imprisoned them.

Division of labor is an addictive practice. Work breakdown—promoted by those whose authority and careers tend to benefit from it—tends to beget more work breakdown, taking the pressure off the employer or the educational system to continually upgrade employee skills. Once started, the practice tends to be self-reinforcing, producing a de-skilled work force.

By the mid-twentieth century, most corporate organizations were based on the concept of functional specialization. Work that was once whole had become fragmented. The focused skill of an individual was diffused into the skill of an entire factory. The common view was that mechanics check their brains at the gate when they come to work.

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

Antiquated Strategic Planning


At one time, the view from the top of most corporations was strongly influenced by their leaders planning doctrine. Executives were taught that the best way to plan for a complex company into discrete components, called strategic business units. For a time this practice provided a helpful way to unbundle the corporation and to select strategies most appropriate to each unit’s individual situation.

Companies were best thought of as a portfolio of individual businesses: some brand-new and unproven, some growing rapidly and consuming great amounts of cash, some growing rapidly and generating the cash needed by the up-and-comers, and some out and out losers.

Strategic planners eventually carried the idea one step further. They developed formulas that appeared to identify the contribution each business unit was making to the company’s overall stock price. Called value-based planning (as in shareholder value), its application, along with techniques such as junk-bond-driven leveraged buyouts, helped de-conglomerate many corporate dinosaurs in the financial go-go years.

These planning techniques are logical and quantifiable, descriptive as well as perspective. They provide a seemingly attractive way for the head of an enterprise to put arms around what might have become an increasingly diverse array of businesses. But thinking of a corporation as if it were similar to a portfolio of stocks or other investments can also be very limiting and one dimensional.

This kind of thinking tends to overemphasize the uniqueness of each business and often assumes that all the competition in which the corporation is engaged occurs when its business units do battle with their counterparts in other companies. It suggests that the role of top corporate management is either secondary or passive with regard to competition. It also implies that top management’s role is primarily that of a banker to the individual strategic business unit, concerned chiefly with financial resource allocation, and that it adds value mainly through “balancing the portfolio” by buying or selling the strategic business units that make up the company.

This approach encourages a “trader’s mentality” on the part of top management. Traders like to buy and sell, conglomerate and de-conglomerate. But they do not know how very much about how to grow the company from within.

Decentralization, sometimes extreme decentralization, is also encouraged, because each business is expected to stand on its own, containing most of the resources it needs for its operations. This simplifies the job of top management. It has only to focus on each strategic business unit’s bottom line and consider the details of its operations on an exception-only basis.

But this simplification comes to a great cost. Stressing stand-alone uniqueness and managing through the blinders of short-term earnings results in living, growing business entities treated almost as if they were fragments of the company’s stock certificate. The disease of the stock markets—perspective that seldom extends beyond next quarter’s financials—is passed along to the company.

There is another danger when strategic business unit framework dominates corporate decision-making. This is the tendency to grow redundant resources in the company as each strategic business unit, over time, builds up all the functions and staffing it feels it needs to operate as autonomously as possible. At times headquarters management tries to check the emergence of this costly duplication by mandating resource sharing across strategic business units, by using central service groups, or both. But these well-meaning attempts at cost containment send mixed signals to the strategic business units and they also can impose heavy coordination costs in terms of time and loss of flexibility.

Many intelligently managed companies led down the paths and took a seemingly attractive shortcut in their thinking. They confused a framework for planning with a basis for organizing power and resources. They used a perspective that directs to management’s attention to the financial scorekeeping aspects of the business at the cost of neglecting the underlying mechanisms that create value for their customers.

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