Computer Programming


The computer can do nothing toward solving a problem without a detailed set of instructions. It can follow instructions, but it cannot think. A computer program is a set of instructions that tells the computer what is to be done, how to do it, and the sequence of steps to be followed. The computer follows these directions step by step until the job is completed.

The computer programmer—the specialist who tells the computer what to do—must analyze the problem, break it down into its component parts, and outline the steps needed to arrive at the solution. An effective way to determine these steps is to make a flowchart—a pictorial description of the logical steps to be taken in solving a problem.

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.

Off-the-Job Training


Off-the-job training covers a number of techniques—classroom lectures, films, demonstrations, case studies and other simulation exercises, and programmed instruction. The facilities needed for  each technique vary from a small, makeshift classroom to an elaborate development center with large lecture halls, supplemented by small conference rooms with sophisticated instructional technological equipment.

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.

Service Culture


Any policy, procedure, aspect, action, or inaction of an organization contributes to the service culture. This includes employee appearance, the way employees interact with customers, and their knowledge, skill and attitude levels. It also encompasses the physical appearance of the organization’s facility, equipment, and any other aspect of  the organization with which the customer comes into contact.

Service culture has following elements:

  • Service philosophy:  Direction or vision of the organization that gives you day-to-day interactions with the customer.
  • Employee roles and expectations: Specific communications or measures that indicate what is expected of you in customer interactions and define how your performance will be evaluated.
  • Policies and procedures: Guidelines that define how various situations or transactions will be handled. These can help or hinder service delivery depending on your flexibility in interpreting and applying them.
  • Management support: Availability of management to answer questions and assist you in customer interactions, when necessary.
  • Motivators and rewards: Monetary, material items or feedback that prompts you to continue to deliver service and perform at a high level.
  • Training: Instruction or information provided through a variety of techniques that teach knowledge or skills, or attempt to influence your attitude toward excellent service delivery

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.

Direct-mail Marketing: Checklist


  • Is there a perceived need for the product or service?
  • Is it practical?
  • Is it unique?
  • Is the price right for your customers or prospects?
  • Is it a good value?
  • Is the markup sufficient to assure a profit?
  • Is the market large enough? Does the product or service have broad appeal?
  • Are there specific smaller segments of your list that have a strong desire for your product or service?
  • Is it new? Will your customers perceive it as being new?
  • Can it be photographed or illustrated interestingly?
  • Are there sufficient unusual selling features to make your copy sizzle?
  • Is it economical to ship? Is it fragile? Old shaped? Heavy? Bulky?
  • Can it be personalized?
  • Are there any legal problems to overcome?
  • Is it safe to use?
  • Is the supplier reputable?
  • Will backup merchandise be available for fast shipment on reorders?
  • Might returns be too huge?
  • Will refurbishing of returned merchandise be practical?
  • Is it, or can it be, packaged attractively?
  • Are usage instructions clear?
  • How does it compare to competitive products or services?
  • Will it have exclusivity?
  • Will it lend itself to repeat business?
  • Is it consumable, so that there will be repeat orders?
  • Is it faddish? Too short-lived?
  • Is it too seasonal for direct mail selling?
  • Can an add-on to the product make it more distinctive and salable?
  • Will the number of stock keeping units – various sizes and colors – create problems?
  • Does it lend itself to multiple pricing?
  • Is it too readily available in stores?
  • Is it like an old, hot item, so that its success is guaranteed?
  • Is it doomed because similar items have failed?
  • Does your mother, wife, brother, husband, sister, or kid like it?
  • Is direct mail the way to go with it?
  • Does it fill an unfilled niche in the marketplace?

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.

 

Writing Useful Instructions


When you need to explain in writing how to do something, a set of step-by-step instructions is your best choice. By enumerating the steps, you make it easy for readers to perform the process in the correct sequence. Your goal is to provide a clear, self-sufficient explanation so that readers can perform the task independently.

Gather Equipment

  1. Writing materials (pen and paper, typewriter, computer)
  2. Background materials (previous memos, policy manuals, manufacturer’s booklets, etc.)
  3. When necessary, the apparatus being explained (machine, software package, or other equipment)

Prepare

  1. Perform the task yourself, or ask experts to demonstrate it or describe it to you in detail.
  2. Analyze prospective readers’ familiarity with the process so that you can write instructions at their level of understanding.

Make your Instructions Clear

  1. Include four elements: an introduction, a list of equipment and materials, a description of the steps involved in the process, and a conclusion.
  2. Explain in the opening why the process is important and how it is related to a larger purpose.
  3. Divide the process into short, simple steps presented in order of occurrence.
  4. Present the steps in a numbered list, or if presenting them in paragraph format, use words indicating time or sequence, such as first and then.
  5. If the process involves more than ten steps, divide them into groups or stages identified with headings.
  6. Phrase each step as a command (“Do this” instead of “You should do this”); use active verbs; use precise, specific terms (“three weeks” instead of “several weeks”).
  7. When appropriate, describe how to tell whether a step has been performed correctly and how one step may influence another. Warn readers of possible damage or injury from a mistake in a step, but limit the number of warnings so that readers do not underestimate their importance.
  8. Include diagrams of complicated devices, and refer to them in appropriate steps.
  9. Summarize the importance of the process and the expected results.

Test your Instructions

  1. Review the instructions to be sure they are clear and complete. Also judge whether you have provided too much detail.
  2. Ask someone else to read the instructions and tell you whether they make sense and are easy to follow.

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.

 

Factors Impacting Customer Loyalty


Many factors will affect the relationship between you and your customers. Following are some of the most common:

  • Adaptiveness: Taking measures to adapt your own personality style to that of your customers in order to communicate with and serve them effectively.
  • Communication: Getting and giving information, listening, writing and speaking effectively, and dealing with emotional situations.
  • Decisiveness: Being able and willing to make a decision and take necessary actions to fulfill customer needs.
  • Enthusiasm: Attaining and maintaining level of excitement about your customers, product, service, organization, and job that says, “I am happy to help you.”
  • Ethics: Establishing and maintaining high level, social, and moral standards in all interactions with customers.
  • Initiative; Acting on issues that relate to your job or customer service without having to receive instructions from others.
  • Knowledge: Taking time to learn about policies, procedures, resources, products, services, and other information that can help in providing total customer satisfaction.
  • Perceptiveness: Recognizing the need to play close attention to verbal and nonverbal clues, cultural factors, and the feelings or concerns of others.
  • Planning: Taking the time to logically think about customer needs and develop strategies for satisfying them before customer interactions occur.
  • Problem solving: Gathering and analyzing information in order to help resolve a variety of customer concerns or satisfy needs.

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.

The Intangibility and Measurement of Learning


An important aspect of learning is its intangibility. Learning is non-observable; it takes place within people and can only be inferred from actual behavior. For this reason, it is called an intervening variable. Because it must be inferred from behavior, it is often difficult to measure: other factors influence behavior, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish what part of the behavior is attributable to learning. Two men may be assigned a task and given instructions on how to accomplish it. One may achieve much better results than the other, but that does not necessarily mean he has learned more. He may have had more ability to begin with, or he may have had a greater motivation to succeed than the other.

Performance is the result of learning, ability, motivation, and a variety of external factors. One man may produce more even having learned less because his ability or motivation enables him to perform more effectively. A student who works hard in a course and learns a great amount may see another student work less hard, appear to learn less, but receive a high grade. Such situations are common both in school and in the business world. The factor sometimes overlooked is the initial degree of skill or knowledge brought to the task, and the resultant effect on performance. Often it is performance that is observed, judged, and rewarded.

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.

What Strategic Planning is not?


Clearly, strategic planning is no panacea. Strategic planning is simply a set of concepts, procedures, and tools designed to help leaders, managers, and planners think and act strategically. Used in wise and skillful ways by a “coalition of the willing,” strategic planning can help organizations focus on producing effective decisions and actions that further the organization’s mission, meet in mandates, and satisfy key stakeholders. But strategic planning is not a substitute for strategic thinking and acting. Only caring and committed people can do that. And when used thoughtlessly, strategic planning can actually drive out precisely the kind of strategic thought and action it is supposed to promote.

Furthermore, strategic planning is not a substitute for leadership. There is simply no substitute for leadership when it comes to using strategic planning to enhance organizational performance. At least some key decision makers and process champions must be committed to the strategic planning process, or any attempts to use it are bound to fail.

In addition, strategic planning is not synonymous with creating an organizational strategy. Organizational strategies have numerous sources, both planned and unplanned. Strategic planning is likely to result in statement of organizational intentions, but what is realized in practice will be some combination of what is intended and what emerges along the way. Strategic planning can help organizations develop and implement effective strategies, but they should also remain open to unforeseen opportunities. Too much attention to strategic planning and excessive reverence for strategic plans can build organizations to other unplanned and unexpected—yet incredibly useful—sources of information, insight, and action.

The discipline necessary for strategic planning can be of two sorts. The first harkens back to Latin root of the word “discipline,” emphasizing instruction, training, education, and learning. The second embodies later interpretations of the word, emphasizing order, control, and punishment. Emphasis should be placed on education and learning, although there clearly are occasions when imposing order, taking control, and enforcing appropriate sanctions are appropriate. Certainly, key leaders, managers, and planners can best use strategic planning as an educational and learning tool, to help them figure out what is really important and what should be done about it. Sometimes this means following a particular sequence of steps and preparing formal strategic plans, but not necessarily. The ultimate goal of strategic planning should not be a rigid adherence to a particular process or an instance on the production of plans. Instead, strategic planning should promote wise strategic thought and action on behalf of an organization and its key stakeholders. What steps to follow, in what sequence, and whether or not to prepare formal plans are subsidiary concerns.

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.

Principles of Visionary Leadership


The breakthrough leaders should stand at the organization’s boundary and bring in outside information. They must also communicate their company’s philosophy to the outside world. In their book Breakthrough Management, Shoji Shiba and David Walden have defined the eight principles of visionary leadership as follows:

1)      Principle 1: The visionary leader must do on-site observation leading to personal perception of changes in societal values from an outsider’s point of view.

2)      Principle 2: Even though there is resistance, never give up; squeeze the resistance between outside-in pressure in combination with top-down inside instruction.

3)      Principle 3: Transformation is begun with symbolic disruption of the old or traditional system through top-down efforts to create chaos within the organization.

4)      Principle 4: The direction of transformation is illustrated aimed by a symbolic visible image and the visionary leader’s symbolic behavior.

5)      Principle 5: Quickly establishing new physical, organizational and behavioral systems is essential for successful transformation.

6)      Principle 6: Real change leaders are necessary to enable transformation.

7)      Principle 7: Create an innovative system to provide feedback from results.

8)      Principle 8: Create a daily operation system, including a new work structure, new approach to human capabilities and improvement activities.

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

Sales Rep—Role Playing


A popular technique used in most companies has the trainee act out the part of a sales rep in a simulated buying session. The buyer may be either a sales instructor or another trainee. Role-playing is widely used to develop selling skills, but it can also be used to determine whether the trainee can apply knowledge taught via other methods of instruction. Immediately following the role-playing session, the trainee’s performance is critiqued by the trainee, the trainer, and other trainees.

 Role-playing where a sales trainee performs in front of others and where that performance is subsequently critiqued can be harsh. Some problems disappear if the critique is conducted only in the presence of the sales trainee and then only by the sales instructor. When handled well, most trainees can still identify their own strengths and weaknesses.

 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