“Is” and “Is Not”


Once we have identified “could be”  but “is not” data, we will also be able to identify the peculiar factors that isolate our problem: exactly what it is, where it is observed, when it is observed, and its extent or magnitude. These peculiar factors will lead us closer to the problem’s cause.

Suppose for a moment that you have two identical potted plants growing in your office. One thrives but the other does not. If you take the wilting plant out of the office and ask someone about the probable cause for its sorry appearance, you will get any number of educated guesses. But if the same person observes that two identical plants in your office have not been receiving identical treatment (the thriving plant is on a sunny window sill and the wilting one is in a dim corner), the speculations as to cause will be immediate and more accurate than they could have been without a basis of comparison. Regardless of the content of a problem, nothing is more conducive to sound analysis than some relevant basis of comparison.

The decision as to what is close and what is logical must rest with the judgment of the problem solver. In many cases it is extremely important to identify the malfunction that “could be” but “is not” in order to narrow the scope of the search for cause. Each problem analysis is unique to the content of each problem.

Once we have identified bases of comparison in all four dimensions, we are able to isolate key distinguishing features of the problem. It is as if we had been describing the outlines of a shadow. With the completion of the “is not” data in our specification, the outlines begin to suggest the components capable of having cast the shadow.

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.

Bid Decision-Making


Following tools and techniques are used:

  1. Risk Assessment: Sellers must identify, analyze, and prioritize the risks associated with a potential project. Many world-class companies have developed practical risk assessment tools—surveys, checklists, models, and reports-containing both qualitative and quantitative information. Software programs are increasingly being developed to help managers assess risks.
  2. Opportunity Assessment: Sellers must identify and analyze the opportunities that are potentially viable. Many successful companies have developed standard forms, surveys, checklists, or models to help managers assess opportunity.
  3. Risk Management Team Process: Sound business management requires a solid understanding of risks and the methods to identify, analyze, and mitigate them. Successful companies follow a designated risk management team process, not just a best guess individual assessment.

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.

New Product Concept


Webster’s says a concept is an idea or an abstract notion. Businesspeople use the term concept for the product promise, the customer proposition, and the real reason why people should buy. It is a stated relationship between product features (form of technology) and consumer benefits—a claim of proposed satisfactions. This promise is open to four interpretations:

  • The producer’s perception of the features of the new product.
  • The consumer’s perception of the features of the new product.
  • The producer’s estimate of the benefits delivered by that set of features.
  • The consumer’s estimate of the benefits delivered by that set of features.

These are only forecasts, guesses, at this time—not reality, even with a prototype in hand. They rest on expectations.

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.

Degrees of Uncertainty


Statistical decision theory is based on the idea that a manager may face three degrees of uncertainty in making a decision. Some decisions are made under conditions of certainty. Here, the manager knows in advance the outcome of decision. At the opposite extreme, some decisions are made under conditions of uncertainty. Here, the manager cannot even assign probabilities to the likelihood of the various outcomes. Conditions of complete uncertainty are also relatively infrequent. Most management decisions are made under conditions of risk. Under conditions of risk, the manager can at least assign probabilities to each outcome. In other words, the manager knows (either from past experience or by making an educated guess) the chance that each possible outcome will occur.

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.

 

Scientific Method and Marketing Research


Scientific method is a decision-making approach that focuses on being objective and orderly in testing ideas before accepting them. With the scientific method, managers don’t just assume that their intuition is correct. Instead, they use their intuition and observations to develop hypotheses—educated guesses about the relationships between things or about what will happen in the future. Then they test their hypotheses before making final decisions.

A manager who relies only on intuition might introduce a new product without testing consumer response. But a manager who uses the scientific method might say, “I think (hypotheses) that consumers currently using the most popular brand will prefer our new product. Let’s run some consumer tests. If at least 60 percent of the consumers prefer our product, we can introduce it in a regional test market. If it doesn’t pass the consumer test there, we can make some changes and try again.”

The scientific method focuses an orderly research process. Some managers don’t carefully specify what information they need. They blindly move ahead—hoping that research will provide “the answer.” Other managers may have a clearly defined problem or question but lose their way after that. These hit-or-miss approaches waste both time and money.

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.

Decision Tree


Probably the best known of all decision-making tools, a decision tree is a graphic representation of the options flowing from an initial decision or set of decisions. It is used to map out alternative courses of action and assess the implications of suh decisions. Probabilities (otherwise known as educated guesses) are assigned to the livelihood of the consequences that each decision is expected to generate.

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 Emotional


Unless you are more powerful than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, minding your own business will be emotionally taxing. The mental and physical energy you put into it will at times leave you quite spent. If you don’t know how to refuel and refresh properly you’ll find yourself constantly out of sorts, fuzzy-minded, and ripe for depression. Even when things are on track, if you’re the type who has a prosperity for “borrowing trouble” the mere responsibility of failure is enough to keep you skittish and in knots. Of course, when problems arise matters can become all the worse since the buck both starts and stops with you. If you have only yourself to kick for a problem and lack a healthy sense of self, you could end up abusing yourself. Needless to say, when things go away through no fault of your own, the frustration, if not properly handled, can be devastating. Moreover, until your business begins to pay off you will be susceptible to bouts of doubt and second-guessing that can be debilitating.

 If after having counted all the costs you’re still undaunted about starting a business either immediately or in the near future, then it’s time to get all your ideas and expectations down in black and white by drawing up a comprehensive business plan.

 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

Financial Analysis: Real Problems


The term financial analysis  when applied to new products conjures up visions of sales forecasts and profit calculations. By using traditional financial analysis, we can get a good read on the current proposal.

 Actually, sales forecasts and financial analysis systems are no problem as such. We have an immense warhead of forecasting methodologies, most based on many years of experience. We know, for example, what makes for sales. This model does an excellent job and serves as the basis for some very advanced mathematical systems used by some of the most sophisticated new product marketers in the world. And every firm has people who can make an income-statement-based net present value calculation (using discounted cash flow methods). We have had years of experience with it.

 The financial model requires product cost, prices, the current value of money, probable taxes on the future income, the amount of further capital investments that will be required between now and when we close the books on the product and much more.

 They will never be certain, even after living out the product’s life cycle. Sales will be known, but we might have had a better marketing strategy. Costs are always just estimates. We will never know the true extent to which a new item cannibalized sales from another product. If we had not marketed the new item a competitor probably would have. And on and on.

 The fact is, we rely on estimated. Management’s task is ot to make the estimates as we can and then manage around the areas of uncertainty in a way that we do’t get hurt too badly.

 On minor product improvements we do this pretty well. On near line extensions, we also do well, but with more misses. Totally new products, using technologies never so applied before, are pure guessing games.

 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