Customer Orientation


  • Do you know the objectives of your customers (and their customers)?
  • Is your service offer designed with the customer in mind?
  • Are your internal systems (ordering, billing, shipping, computers, financial, etc.), geared toward how the customers prefer doing business with you?
  • Do you constantly measure customer satisfaction?
  • Do you continually meet with your customers to determine their needs today and tomorrow?
  • How is value created, delivered, monitored, and maximized in your organization?

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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Rationale for Innovation


Understanding the rationale for an innovation consists of determining just what the components (and the core concepts underlying them) that go into the product are, and how they are linked together to deliver the new low-cost or differentiated features to consumers. For a firm facing an innovation, understanding the rationale behind it may involve asking the question: can the new mousetrap be built using the new knowledge?

When the idea of building an electronic cash register first surfaced in 1960s, the question was: can a firm actually build a cash register using transistors instead of the gears, levers, ratchets, and motors that have been used all these years? How do transistors work, and how does linking them result in calculations? Would such a register actually get people through a supermarket line faster than existing ones? What will it take to build and deliver the new product to customers?  What kind of service do customers want?

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

Shifting Attitudes


One of the most difficult issues facing many high-tech and industrial companies is how to overcome the lack of strategic thinking about market segments that has historically been a serious deficiency. For years, and in many cases generations, the management of these companies has looked for ways to strengthen R&D, sales, and/or production activities without a clear focus on defined market needs. Now these same managers must reorient their thinking first to define specific segments and then to determine what it takes to serve these segments more effectively than the competition. This attitudinal shift is much more fundamental than it sounds. For the many executives who have talked a good game of marketing without doing much different must now provide the leadership and direction to ensure that R&D, production, and sales activities are specifically geared to the requirements of selected market segments.

To change the corporation’s mind-set to strategic market segmentation, multiple-level and intensive management development programs are usually necessary. When managers have typically advanced through engineering and manufacturing or “operations,” a strategic market segment orientation is even more needed. These managers must learn that market segmentation and market selection are the starting points for all decisions and action programs.

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

Realigning the Organization


Organization or reorganization schemes have been proposed ad nauseam as solutions to many business problems. As a general rule, organizational changes, especially those that simply reshuffle the same names into different boxes on the organization chart, don’t improve anything. This does not mean suggesting some new organization approach that is better suited for these turbulent times. However, many organizations are too top-heavy, over-structured, and over-satisfied to be responsive to market needs and too costly to be competitive. The structure and staffing of any organization must be rigorously challenged to ensure it is really geared to accomplish the fundamental objectives of the business in as cost-effective a manner as possible. An honest evaluation of the answers to the following critical questions will provide a good function for action.

a)        Is the organization structured to serve markets or simply to manage functions and sell products? Have priority markets been identified? Does someone have primary responsibility for ensuring that the product/service package is tailored to each target market? Do mechanisms exist to ensure cross-markets? Is there any kind of a market focus in the selling organization?

b)        Are there enough discrete profit centers? Do enough managers feel the burden of full profit responsibility? Is the business unit larger than its most successful smaller competitors? Are there any big cost centers that are not assigned or allocated to someone who has a profit and loss responsibility?

c)        Are there corporate group or division staff redundancies? Do the same titles exist at different levels (e.g., corporate controller, group controller, division controller, plant controller)? If so, does it make sense? Can staff position or groups show how they actively contribute to profit results? If so, do line managers agree that these functions are worth the cost?

d)        Are there too many layers? Are there more than five layers between the business unit manager and first level workers? Are there managers with assignments limited to managing one, two, three or four people? Why? Can any of these activities be combined under one manager? Why not?

e)        Is the ratio of supporters to actual results producers satisfactory? How many people actually make a direct contribution to results (e.g., first-line sales personnel, direct hourly workers, sales order engineering and order entry workers, handlers of incoming materials, and storing and shipping personnel)? How many managers, staff, and support personnel are cheering them on? If there is more than one support person for every two producers, what do they do? How do they contribute to profits?

The questions are not new, but the answers are more important now than ever. Traditional or experience-based answers are probably wrong because conditions have changed so dramatically. Moreover, it is doubtful whether existing management can or will ever come up with the right answers, because they have vested interests and the changes needed are simply too tough for them to swallow. These organization structure questions are not as serious for many small to medium-size companies since they are not as likely to be troubled with highly structured, functionally focused organizations lacking a dedicated market orientation. However, even managers in these companies must constantly fight the natural tendency to become more structured, bureaucratic, and lethargic.

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