Organization Health


Implicit is a concept towards organizations that needs to be made explicit; namely, that we are viewing organizations as dynamic cooperative systems. Their survival involves change and adaption, as well as, economic performance and the distribution of  incentives to members.

The presentation is organized to help the exercise understand the dimensions of his job in contributing to organizational survival. We hold that the manager should have awareness of how organizations in general function, as well as, an understanding of the character of his specific organization. The organization is thus seen as a system with needs for its own security, stability, and continuity. Managers perform the functions of organizing, directing, and controlling within the system.

The criteria for judging managers (i.e., organizational health or effectiveness) are not measures such as performance, morale, lack of conflict, or profit per se. These are important but insufficient criteria. Rather, we have to evaluate managers in terms of the total dynamic system represented by the organization. In this framework, it is more important to judge managerial effectiveness upon the basis of how the organization handles its problems (i.e., adapts and changes to pressures), rather than whether or not it has problems.

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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Business Goals


Business goals or objectives convert the organization’s mission into tangible actions and results that are to be achieved, often within a specific time frame. Goals or objectives divide into three major categories: production, financial, and marketing. Production goals or objectives apply to the use of manufacturing and service capacity and to product and service quality. Financial goals or objectives focus on return on investment, return on sales, profit, cash flow, and shareholder wealth. Marketing goals or objectives emphasize marketing share, marketing productivity, sales volume, profit, customer satisfaction, and customer value creation. When production, financial, and marketing goals or objectives are combined, they represent a  composite picture of organizational purpose within a specific time frame, accordingly, they must complement one another.

Goal and objective setting should be problem-centered and future-oriented. Because goals or objectives represent statements of what the organizations wishes to achieve in a specific time frame, they implicitly rise from an understanding of the current situation. Therefore, managers need an appraisal of operations or a situation analysis to determine reasons for the gap between what was or is expected and what has happened or will happen. If performance has met expectations, the question arises as to future directions. If performance has not met expectations, managers must diagnose the reasons for this difference and enact a remedial program.

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.

Estimation of Demand


Potential and forecast are distinct concepts, but they become blurred when estimates of demand are developed. The techniques used to estimate demand differ in their emphasis on the proposed marketing effort. For example some techniques neglect the level of marketing effort and concentrate on the maximum amount of commodity that might be demanded from an industry or company. Estimates produced with the emphasis are closer to being market or sales potential estimates than they are sales forecasts.

Other techniques give great weight to the marketing effort planned for the period and are sales forecasts in the true sense of the word. Still other techniques use historic sales as a basis for future demand estimates. They rely on the implicit assumption that marketing effort in the future period will be similar to what it was in the past.

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.

 

Generic and Grand Strategies


Many businesses explicitly and all implicitly adopt one or more generic strategies characterizing their competitive orientation in the marketplace. Low cost, differentiation, or focus strategies define the three fundamental options. Enlightened managers seek to create ways their firm possesses both low cost and differentiation competitive advantages as part of their overall generic strategy. They usually combine these capabilities with a comprehensive, general plan of major actions through which their firm intends to achieve its long-term objectives in a dynamic environment. Called the grand strategy, this statement of means indicates how the objectives are to be achieved. Although every grand strategy is, in fact, a unique package of long-term strategies, some basic approaches can be identified: concentration, market development, product development, innovation, horizontal integration, vertical integration, joint venture, strategic alliances, consortia, concentric diversification, conglomerate diversification, turnaround, divesture, and liquidation.

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.

 

Negligence


Negligence is a failure to use ordinary care in the performance of an action. Businesses have an implicit duty to use reasonable care in designing and creating the product, as well as, in informing consumers about any potential hazards associated with the product. Labels, salespersons’ claims, and advertisements must tell consumers what they need to know about the product to avoid using it in ways that could lead to personal injury.

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.

Policy Structures


One of the major purposes of organizations is to relate and coordinate individuals and groups separated by task and space. The authority structure helps accomplish this by defining, at least partially, who can tell whom to do what, and who has the authority to make what kinds of decisions and to take what actions. This authority structure is supplemented with a structure of explicit and implicit policies, procedures, methods, and rules, which channel and direct many decisions and actions.

A policy is a statement of intent that is made to guide others in their decision making without being so specific as to specify decisions. Theoratically, the top executives of any company, but especially the larger ones, necessarily determine policies that help guide the behavior of people within the organization. However, in fact, people at lower levels often have an important hand in fashioning policy. This happens in two ways. First, people at lower levels make recommendations to those at upper levels. Second, people in upper levels sometimes formalize policies to fit behavior patterns that have already emerged at lower levels. In the latter case, policy follows practice.

A frequent characteristic of policy statements is that they are vague enough to permit managers to select among specific decesions, depending upon the managers’ view of the specific conditions surrounding the decision.

In addition to policies, certain procedures and methods are usually designed to facilitate work. For example, there may be eight discrete steps in a particular work process, and a sequence established for each step. Step three might involve notifying two departments that the first two steps are completed. Such a suggested process is called a procedure. It tells people when they should do something. How they do it is the method they use. The method is formally prescribed in some cases and is left to the operant’s discretion in others. Anyone who fails to follow the prescribed procedures and methods is usually open to censure if problems result. Yet much of life in organizations involves evading required procedures and methods, or redesigning them, and again the reasons are usually people-problems rather than errors in the logic of the design of the procedures and methods.

Most organizations have rules and regulations to supplement policies, procedures, and methods. Rules and regulations say what one must do or not do and often specify penalties for infractions. “No one is to punch another’s third card” is an example. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It says “no one,” period.

So there is a sliding scale from guides (policies) to suggestions (procedures) to requirements (rules and regulations). Nearly all organizations include the entire svcale, but different companies may vary widely in their relative emphasis upon various parts of the scale. At the less specific end of the scale, there is more freedom but less certainty, and the reverse is true of the more specific end. Knowing where a particular organization stands on the scale is thus important in understanding how it functions.

Furthermore, there is wide variability between organizational units (eg., research division versus accounting department) in the reliance placed upon or the attention paid to the policy structure.

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

Knowledge Engineering


In the traditional approach to systems design, a system analyst, together with the ultimate end-users, or clients, for the project, will complete a functional specification of the system. At that point, the project is essentially in the hands of professional project management and programming staff, because that group possesses the knowledge and skill required to deliver the agreed upon features and functions. In the development of knowledge systems, this is simply not the case. Following the specification of function, a new problem arises. This is because it is not an algorithm that is being developed but knowledge that is being encoded for machine use.

 

The immediate problem is that traditional applications developers do not have sufficient knowledge of the applications area to complete the project from the starting point of a functional specification. This information generally exists in a variety of forms, depending on the application area. In some cases an individual or group of individuals may uniquely possess the relevant knowledge. In other cases, the knowledge may exist in the form of published materials like manuals or textbooks. In still other cases, the knowledge does not presently exist at all, and must be created and developed along with the system itself. This is an extremely difficult circumstance. Further compounding this problem is a critical factor: Regardless of the form in which the knowledge currently exists, it is not in a form that is ready for use by a knowledge system. Someone must decide what knowledge is relevant and desirable for inclusion, acquire the knowledge, and represent it in a form suitable for a knowledge system to apply. In all but trivial applications the task of representing the knowledge requires not only coding individual “chunks” of knowledge, but also organizing and structuring these individual components.

 

Historically, owing to the remoteness and enigmatic quality of artificial intelligence technologies, the person doing the actual systems development and the “expert,” or source of knowledge, were not the same. The availability of tools, in place of enigmatic technologies, has had an impact on reducing this problem. Even if one can imagine the case in which the “expert” whose knowledge is to be modeled is also an “expert” with the use of artificial intelligence development tools, there still remains a sizable problem.

 

In case where knowledge resides with some practitioner or expert, it does not exist explicitly as a series of IF …THEN rules, ready to be encoded. Most practitioners and experts find it difficult to explain explicitly what they are doing while solving problems. They are not cognizant of the underlying rules they are applying. Their expertise has been developed from numerous experiences and involves highly developed pattern recognition skills and heuristics.

 

In the case where the knowledge to be included is contained in text material like manuals, regulations, procedures, and the like, the information is still not in a form ready for inclusion in an expert system. It must be remembered that one of the most often cited advantages of expert systems is that they make explicit the knowledge that is most often implicit and unavailable for review, evaluation, dissemination, and modification. The task of making knowledge both explicit and available for systems application is that of knowledge engineering. Most literature on the development and application of knowledge systems has identified the need for individuals skilled in knowledge engineering as a critical factor to widespread use of technology.

 

Knowledge engineering involves acquiring, representing, and coding knowledge. The representation and coding aspects of systems development have been greatly impacted by these newly available tools. The speed with which prototyping can be accomplished has also helped reduce some of the difficulty in acquiring or refining knowledge. The knowledge engineer now finds it much less costly in time and effort to represent, code, and test early approaches to systems development, providing a more efficient feedback loop. This feedback loop is critical in the development of knowledge systems. The end-user/client for the project is, by nature, going to be much more involved in the systems design process. The “programmer” often is incapable of deciding if the system is behaving properly, owing to a lack of fundamental knowledge about the application area. This is simply not as strong a factor, where the programmer is capable of evaluating the accuracy and efficiency of algorithms. When the product is actionable knowledge rather than algorithms, the ability to evaluate project progress shifts to the end-user/client. This creates the increased emphasis on the feedback loop.

 

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