Planning a Research Strategy


If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

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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Supplier Partnership


An organization spends a substantial portion of every sales on the purchase of raw materials, components, and services. Therefore, supplier quality can substantially affect the overall cost of a product or service. One of the keys to obtaining high-quality products and services is for the customer to work with suppliers in a partnering atmosphere to achieve the same quality level as attained within the organization.

Customers and suppliers have the same goal—to satisfy the end user. The better the supplier’s quality, the better the supplier’s long-term position, because the customer will have better quality. Because both the customer and the supplier have limited resources, they must work together as partners to maximize their return on investment.

There have been a number of forces that have changed supplier reltions. Prior to the 1980s, procurement divisions were typically based on price, thereby awarding contracts to the lowest bidder. As a result, quality and timely delivery were sacrificed. It is stopped because price has no basis without quality. In addition, single suppliers for each item help develop a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust. These actions will lead to improved products and services.

Another factor changing supplier relations was the introduction of the just-in-time (JIT) concept. It calls for raw materials and components to reach the production operation in small quantities when they are needed and not before. The benefit of JIT is that inventory-related costs are kept to a minimum. Procurement lots are small and delivery is frequent. As a result, the supplier will have many more process setups, thus becoming a JIT organization itself. The supplier must drastically reduce setup time or its costs will increase. Because there is little or no inventory, the quality of incoming materials must be very good or the production line will be shut down. To be successful, JIT requires exceptional quality and reduced setup times.

The practice of continuous process improvement has also caused many suppliers to develop partnerships with 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 visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Fudges of Brainstorming


The term brainstorming has passed into common English usage. Invented by Alex Osborn, a versatile advertising executive, brainstorming has come now to mean freewheeling discussion.

The principles of brainstorming as a technique are deceptively simple:

  1. All evaluative or critical comments are taboo during the phase of generating ideas or solutions.
  2. The attempt is to generate a very large number of ideas or solutions. The logic is that at least a small proportion of ideas tend to be high quality that are both novel and useful, so that the larger the number of ideas generated the larger may be the number of quality ideas that are produced.
  3. Emphasize novelty, not correctness or appropriateness. The stranger the ideas solutions, the better. The reason is that strange ideas demolish existing mental frames and liberate the mind to generate and accept unconventional ideas.
  4. Participants in a brainstorm are encouraged to build on each other’s ideas.

Typically, in a brainstorm, a specific problem is first introduced. The problem must be quite specific, and capable of many alternative solutions. Thus, one cannot brainstorm on a vague problem like how to increase productivity, now on a problem with one right answer, such as what was worker productivity in the plant last month But how to increase worker productivity by 30% in a particular is quite appropriate for brainstorming. Gnenerally, brainstorming problems are preceded by how to …

After the problem is stated and clarified, the brainstorm begins.Each group member gives one . . . .

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.