Management of the Life Cycle


The traditional branching tree control structure within an organization is simply not designed to cope with the ever changing management requirements dictated by the life-cycle changes within a large project. The fact that various input and output measures vary over the project’s life suggests that project management must focus on universal project dimensions such as cost, time and performance (quality).

As an example of how interface problems vary over the life of a project, consider the two functions of R&D and production over the life-cycle of a given product. Before the introduction of the product, R&D must be closely matched with production. R&D may be doing reliability tests which will lead to engineering changes. Production will be doing production design and process planning, which may be affected seriously by engineering changes. Thus, good communication is essential to avoid wasted resources in production.

On the other hand, in the growth phase R&D is likely to be focusing on developing the next product, while production will be ramping up production and producing long runs to avoid production losses due to setups. Thus, there will be relatively little explicit conflict between R&D and production at this phase.

In the decline phase, R&D will be in the design phase on the new product and will withdraw all R&D from the declining product. Production will be heavily involved in cost control. Again there will tend to be no apparent conflict, but good managers will make sure production is adequately consulted on the new design.

It is clear from the example that a full project management structure which focuses on future products as well as current products can help R&D to interact in a more useful fashion.

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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Project Manager


Project manager is to meeting schedules what the innovation champion is to communicating his or her vision of the potential of the innovation to others. She or he is the “one-stop shop” for decision making, questions, and information on the project. An important question is, how much authority should a project manager have? Should he or she just collect information on the progress of the project and give it to those who want it, or should she or he have some decision-making authority?Product managers are classified as heavyweight or lightweight, based on manager’s span of control. A heavyweight product manager is one with extensive authority and responsibility for the product from concept creation through design to manufacturing. The lightweight product manager’s authority and responsibilities are not as extensive, being limited only to engineering functions, with no authority or responsibility over concept creation and other market related aspects of the product.

The use of heavyweight  product managers help reduce lead times, total engineering hours (and therefore cost, all else being equal), and improved design quality.

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

What’s Your Opinion?


A key part of the optimum result method is to get people to express themselves. Everyone has an opinion about a lot of things: What the company is doing, right or wrong; what’s good and what’s bad about the economy; how the mayor or president is performing; and whether any policy will survive.

 

And many people in a business have opinions about how the enterprise could be better run. The problem is, in most organizations the people who do the work are never asked, “What is your opinion?” “Got any ideas for doing this better?” and “Can you suggest a way to do this in less time?” As a result, a large amount of intelligence is untapped, the people with ideas feel frustrated, and the organization’s performance suffers.

 

A number of things explain, but one thing you should be doing is to get the opinions of your people before making key decisions. The best intelligence often comes from front-line staff. We install the steel we fabricate all over the country. Make it a point to talk with installation crews; ask for their opinions about what our customers are thinking. Maintain a steady flow of opinions, gathering information from your installation and sales people.

 

All people think. Encourage them to tell you what they’re thinking about. When you ask for opinions from employees doing different functions, you accomplish two things. First, you win their cooperation because they’ve had a chance to give you their views. Second, you pick up a lot of good ideas you can turn into profit.

 

Nevertheless, there is a problem when you teach the what-is-your-opinion technique to few managers. Some of them are conditioned to believe that asking other people, particularly subordinates, for their ideas is a sign of weakness. Letting other people express their opinions is a sign of strength.

 

Use the optimum results. It works wonders in getting what you want—a sale, a better job, and cooperation and support.

  • Find out what is the ideal benefit the other person seeks.
  • Tailor what you have to offer to provide that ideal benefit.

 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

Closed-loop Teams


For years, banks have taken several days, and even weeks and sometimes months to get a decision to a personal loan applicant. The application would be passed around the various departments, traveling at its own pace. A series of supervisors, clerks, and internal mailpeople handled it. Today, aggressive banks take the application directly into a focused, coordinated group—a credit analyst, a collateral appraiser, and a senior personal banker—who decide and respond to the customer sometimes in thirty minutes and always inside a day. This is a small closed-loop team.

 

A closed-loop team includes everyone who is necessary to make the deliverable flow. The team includes all the needed functional people and decision-makers and is self-scheduling. Everyone the team is working for the same objective—to provide the deliverable on time. The team is empowered to make decisions and to act. It has all functions inside it with short lines of communication. Its leader is responsible for its overall performance and for seeing that it gets all the capability, both technicall and human, it needs. All of these are essential to flexibility.

 

The old bank loan approval process was open loop. There was no continuity in the process, no visible standard, little learning between the principles, only occasional feedback on the process, and no one responsible for making it better.

 

In order for the loop to close on a process it must be tightly organized around the deliverable; the same core group must be involved in the process every day; and there must be a working leader on the team.

 

Small teams work better than large ones because large groups create communication problems of their own. It’s best to include only essential functions and to exclude people whose job is peripheral to the deliverable. For example, the bank loan team excludes accounting and records people. Teams have to be self-managing and empowered to act because referring decisions back up the line wastes time and often leads to poor decisions. So the team ioncludes a bank officer because if the officer were not on the team, he or she would be prone to second-guess the group’s decisions. Its better if all the questions are asked and answers are exchanged just once.

 

Closd-loop teams handle variety better than open-loop teams because they can create new information and flexibility.

 

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

Increasing your Sociability


The ability to meet new people and feel comfortable on social situations can be important to. If you have difficulty in social situations, you may want to deverlop your social skills. The following suggestions can help:

  • Over the next month, set goals to take the initiative in forming social contacts, particularly in informal settings. For example, you might set goals related to speaking up more often, attending more social events, or meeting new people at these functions. Make an effort to become more involved.
  • Broaden your circle of acquaintainces. Introduce yourself to people you have wanted to meet but were too busy or too shy to talk to. Consider setting a goal to become acquainted with a certain number of people per week.
  • Learn more about each of your acquaintances’ onterests. This is especially helpful if you have difficulty thinking of things to talk about: other people’s interests often provide excellent opportunities for small talk.

 Don’t expect to become comfortable in social situations immediately; changes like this don’t happen overnight. As time passes, however, you will find that you are beginning to enjoy social situations more and that they have become less threatening.

 

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

Public Management


There will be absolutely changed conditions under which public managers will operate in the future, some of the areas of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they will be required to possess, and some of the pathways public managers might explore in order to move toward the future.

There will be an extraordinary explosion of new knowledge and technological innovations, especially in the areas of information sciences, genetics, materials, instrumentation, automation, and space. Our public managers will wade into an age of extraordinary technological change and have to accommodate themselves and the institutions to dramatically different bodies of knowledge and technological innovations.

They will not only have to cope with and employ their expanded knowledge and technological capacity, they will have to learn to use this knowledge and technological capacity for the benefit of society. In the technological world of the future, there will be even greater temptations for them to be captured by technology, to fall prey to “technological imperative,” and to allow rational technical interests to supercede human concerns and those of values. Finding ways of employing advanced technologies so as to enhance rather than restrict their capacity for leadership, creativity, and personal responsibility will be a serious challenge.

In the future, knowledge and information will prevail. And if information is power, then those who have information will indeed have power. But who will have information? Information will be increasingly centralized, controlled and marketed through traditional economic and political processes. It will be widely distributed throughout society, so that increasing rather than decreasing numbers of people will have information and in turn have power. Such a possibility will lead to “the twilight of hierarchy,” to be inevitable.

Combining these issues, we can safely predict that the knowledge or information that our public managers will be able to access will be tremendous, to the point that the quantity of information will no longer be the most important issue. Rather the key question will be how to organize this information for human purposes. This means that public administration will have to learn to organize information in a fashion that will facilitate the pursuit of important public purposes. The great challenge will be to organize information so that we can enhance the process of democratic decision-making, of consensus building, and of dialogue and deliberation.

There’s no question that we will have the capacity to organize information for dramatic new public purposes, to restructure our structures of governance in dramatic ways. But what will our choices be? Imagine a computer in Islamabad that could reach out into every home, so that on any occasion that a major policy decision was required, an appropriate message could go out to all the citizens and their answers could guide public policy – a process that would approximate pure democracy.

The globalization of society is obvious today, though in twenty-five years or so, we may experience trans-globalization or beyond, as the frontiers of the oceans and space are extended even further. Already we are thinking more in global terms. However, our managers are still thinking in terms of traditional institutions operating in a new global context. They are not yet asking how they reconfigure businesses and governments so as to carry out a global vision. How do they encourage businesses and governments to assume global responsibilities rather than those defined in terms of one’s own self interest? For example, how can developing countries move toward sustainable development and environmental justice on a global basis?

One obvious casualty of the global age may be the nation-state, replaced not necessarily by a new global or interplanetary federation but possibly by new forms of governance far beyond those we can imagine today.

In future our public administration should know the importance of “responsibilities” rather than “functions” of government. While a large part of the current worldwide debate over privatization or outsourcing speaks to the question of which “functions” belong where, the new debate will necessarily focus on public responsibilities and speak in a language of ethics, citizenship and the public interest.

In reinvented government or the new public management, customers shall replace citizens – or, to put it differently, the integrative role of citizenship has been reduced to the narrow self-interest of customership – in government as in business.

Indeed, we think the job of all public managers will increasingly be more than directing or managing our public organizations. It will be not merely “steering” or “rowing” but “building the boat.” The new public manager will construct networks of varied interests that can work effectively to solve public problems. In doing so, it will be the job of the public administrator to promote pluralism, to create opportunities for constructive dissent, to preserve that which is distinctive about individuals and groups, and to provide an opportunity for diverse groups to share in establishing future directions for the community. The administrator will play a substantial role in diminishing polarization, teaching diversity and respect, building coalitions, resolving disputes, negotiating and mediating. The work of the top public managers will thus be – to build community.

There are two broad areas that public managers will need to explore in order to fashion a response to the trends. These emerging trends will turn public management both “inside-out” and “upside-down.” Public management will be turned “inside-out” as the largely internal focus of management in the past is replaced by an external focus, specifically a focus on citizens and citizenship. Public management will be turned “upside-down” as the traditional top-down orientation of the field is replaced – not necessarily by a bottom-up approach, but by a system of shared leadership.

In the past public administration has been largely focused on what happens within the public bureaucracy. The future will require that it dramatically refocus its attention on the world outside, particularly the world of citizens and citizenship.

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

Low-cost Differentiated Products


A product is differentiated if customers perceive it as having something valuable to them that other products do not have. A firm can differentiate its products by offering features that competitors’ do not have. A firm can also differentiate its products by being the first to introduce the products. Since such products are the only ones in the market, they are, by default, differentiated since no other product has their features.

Two products with identical features can still be differentiated by virtue of their locations. One differentiating factor may be the ease of access to the products.

A firm’s products may also be differentiated by the service the customer would get if such service were ever needed

The mix of products that a firm sells can also be a source of product differentiation. Customers who prefer one-stop shopping would find such product mixes valuable.

A firm’s reputation can go a long way toward making customers perceive its products as being different.

In order to deliver low-cost or differentiated products,  a firm must perform a series of activities. The different function s that perform each of these activities are called the firm’s value-chain.

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.