Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the business.

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.

Management Responses to Inflation


Businesspeople must deal with the rising price spiral. Higher costs must be absorbed or passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Management needs to adopt innovative responses to the problems of inflation and tight budgets. Inflation does not have a negative impact on all firms. Consumers are adapting to inflation, and businesses must make similar adaptations to remain in operation.

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.

Economic Truths


Although there are few truisms that apply universally in the business world, there are four related economic truths that are valid in every business situation:

  1. Over the long term, it is absolutely essential to be a lower cost supplier or profit margins will erode.
  2. To stay competitive, inflation-adjusted costs of  producing and supplying any product or service must continuously trend downward.
  3. The true cost and profit picture for each discrete product/market segment is often obscured by traditional accounting practice.
  4. Real business winners concentrate as much or more on cash flow and balance sheet strength as they do on reported profits.

These points have always been valid, but they are far more serious today because there is much less margin for error in our more turbulent environment.

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.

Inflation and the Rule of 72


No formula is more useful for understanding inflation than the rule of 72. Basically, the idea is to compute quickly how long it takes the cost of goods and services to double at various compounded rates of growth. For example, if houses were increasing in cost at 9 percent a year, how long would it take for the price of a home to double? The answer is easy to calculate. Simply divide the annual increase (9 percent) into 72 and you get a number of years it takes to double the price (eight years). If houses go up in price by 12 percent, it only takes six years to double in price (72 divided by 12 = 6), and so on. Of course, the same calculation can be used to predict how high food prices or car prices will be 10 years from now.

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.

Changing Buying and Selling Processes


Winning companies are all focused on speed to market, cost reduction, and customer satisfaction—whether buying or selling goods, services, and solutions. Today, many leading companies are changing their selling processes and tools, including the following actions:

  • Expanding self-service sales via Web-based sales catalogs of products and related services available to buyers.
  • Creating customized electronic interfaces between themselves and their strategic customers to facilitate rapid order receipt and order processing. Typically, sellers provide their most favored customers with preferred pricing or large discounts.
  • Offering multinational companies global pricing policies for products and services with economic-related adjustments, i.e., variations due to labor rates in specific countries or regions, inflation or deflation, value-added taxes, etc.
  • Developing standard statements of work, acceptance criteria, and standards intervals for consistent on-time delivery worldwide.
  • Understanding the buyer’s business needs and budget in order to develop customized solutions priced to fit the buyer’s desired business case.
  • Providing financing to buyers to help them purchase products when required.
  • Offering extended payment terms to customers, well beyond the usual net—15 days, or net—30 days to net—90 days or net—180 days.
  • Developing Web portals to facilitate rapid and direct communications between sellers and their strategic partners.
  • Providing countertrade, offsets, or counter purchases, in order to secure large purchases.

These actions are just a few of the many innovative process changes, tools, or unique business arrangements that sellers are using to build successful partnerships with their best buyers.

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.

Forces in the Environments


Environment is the sum of all the forces surrounding and influencing the life and development of the firm. The forces themselves can be classified as external or internal. Management has no direct control over them, though it can exert influences. The external forces are commonly called uncontrollable forces and consist of the following:

  1. Competitive: kinds and numbers of competitors, their locations, and their activities.
  2. Distributive: national and international agencies available for distributing goods and services.
  3. Economic: variables (such as GNP, unit labor cost, and personal consumption expenditure) that influence a firm’s ability to do business.
  4. Socio-economic: characteristics and distribution of the human population.
  5. Financial: variables such as interest rates, inflation rates, and taxation.
  6. Legal: the many kinds of foreign and domestic laws by which international firms must operate.
  7. Physical: elements of nature such as topography, climate, and natural resources.
  8. Political: elements of nations’ political climates such as nationalism, forms of government, and international organizations.
  9. Socio-cultural: elements of culture (such as attitudes, beliefs, and opinions) important to international businesspeople.
  10. Labor: consumption, skills, and attitudes of labor.
  11. Technological: the technical skills and equipment that affects how resources are converted to products.

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.

 

Inflation


Inflation is a rise in the general level of prices. The most commonly reported measure of inflation is the annual percentage change in the consumer price index (CPI). The consumer price index tracks changes in the prices of a group of goods and services that most consumers buy. Prices are increasing when the CPI is positive and decreasing when it is negative. One major cause of inflation is the relationship between wages and productivity. Productivity is the output per worker hour. When wages increase faster than productivity, the result is inflation. The amount we can consume of any product depends upon the amount we produce. When wages go up but output does not, we have more money income but not more purchasing power. This occurs because the total supply of goods available for purchase has not increased as rapidly as the amount of money in circulation. The combination of rising wages and constant or sagging output exerts an upward push on prices.

Wage increases in one industry often put pressure on other industries to increase wages. Another cause of inflation is the expectation that inflation will continue in the future. Labor unions demand wage increases in anticipation of expected increases in the cost of living. Manufacturers raise the prices of their products in anticipation of future labor and raw material; cost increases. Consumers borrow money to finance today’s purchases in the belief that prices will be higher tomorrow. Some economists argue that inflation subsides only when people believe that it will subside.

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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