Everything is Tentative


It’s easy to imagine that building a new product is like building a house—first the foundation, then the frame, then the first floor, and so on. Unfortunately, product aspects are rarely locked in that way. Occasionally they are, as when a technical process dominates development, or when a semifinished product is acquired from someone else, or when legal or industry requirements exist.

We usually assume everything is tentative, even up through marketing. Form can usually be changed, and so can costs, packaging, positioning, and service contracts. So can the marketing date and the reactions of government regulators. So can customer attitudes, as companies with long development times have discovered.

This means two long-held beliefs in new product work are actually untrue. One is that everything should be keyed to a single Go/No Go decision. Granted, one decision can be

Decisive—at times, for example, when a firm must invest millions of dollars in one large facility or when a firm acquires a license that commits it to major financial outlays. But many firms are finding ways to avoid such commitments, for example, by having another supplier produce the product for a while before making a facilities commitment, or by negotiating a tentative license, or by asking probable customers to join a consortium to ensure the volume needed to build the facility.

The other untrue truism is that financial analysis should be done as early as possible to avoid wasting money on poor projects. This philosophy leads firms to make complex financial analyses shortly after early concept testing, although the numbers are inadequate.

Still another tentative matter is the marketing date. Marketing actually begins very early in the development process—for example, when purchasing agents are asked in a concept test whether they think their firm would be interested in a new item. Rollouts are now so common it is hard to tell when all-out marketing begins.

Often no one pulls a switch and marketing instantly begins. We more often sneak up on it, which clearly affects the evaluation system.

What results in some cases is a sort of a rolling evaluation. The project is being assessed continuously, figures are penciled in, premature closure is avoided, and participants avoid mind-sets of good and bad.

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

Just about Cash Flow


Cash flow is different from profit. Profit is the difference between revenues and expenses. Cash flow is the difference between receipts and disbursements of cash. Profit may flow whether or not anybody has paid for anything. Cash flows only when somebody pays for something. Time after time, businesses with good sales and good profits go broke. It is surprisingly commonplace. The problem is the the cash doesn’t flow when the profit flows.

The explanations for the large number of new business failures, undercapitalization, inadequate management, and poor marketing, may be valid, but the overwhelming reason is that the managers did not understand cash flow. They behaved as if profit were cash, which is not. They acted as if all that is needed to win the business game is to make a profit, which is not true. Cash is different from profit. You need both to win the business game.

A business can survive and thrive only if it has both positive profit (not losses) and positive cash flow (more flowing into the bank than out of it). To win you must produce more than you consume, and you must do it in such a way that you can meet critical payments as they come due.

Profit may be the most common measure of whether a business is winning or losing, but cash flow is the most critical measure. Businesses can survive a surprisingly long time without profit. They die on the first payday there is no cash.

Your company’s bank is like a jar is a reservoir, so it is the gas tank. And what is in the reservoir is easy to measure. The amount in the reservoir is what was put in minus what was taken out. A convenient way to measure whether the supply is increasing or decreasing is to measure whether more was entering or leaving during the most recent period of time. Cash flow into the bank account is such a measure. How much is in the reservoir is of intetrest, of course, but it is changed by changing the cash flow.

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

Next Newer Entries