Routines


Routines take the same route to work each day, to see the same familiar faces and tasks waiting when we get there, and to collapse into the same easy chair after the day is done. Although routines in themselves are harmless, the inertia they cultivate can interfere with our ability to cope with new stresses. Unless we actively fight back, there is a natural human tendency to divide our lives into two discrete periods: our learning years and our earning years. The former period ends, many think, when the later begins.

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.

Good Maintenance


Good maintenance is fundamental to productive manufacturing system; try running a production line with faulty equipment. Total productive maintenance is keeping the current plant and equipment at its highest productive level through cooperation of all areas of the organization. Generally, the first task is to break down the traditional barriers between maintenance and production personnel so they are working together. Individuals working together without regard to organizational structure, using their skills and ingenuity, have common objective—peak performance or total productivity.

This approach does not mean that such basic techniques as predictive and preventive maintenance are not used; they are essential to building a foundation for successful total productive maintenance environment. Productive maintenance is the process of using data and statistical tools to determine when a piece of equipment will fail, and preventive maintenance is the process of periodically performing activities such as lubrication on the equipment to keep it running.

The total maintenance function should be directed towards the elimination of unplanned equipment and plant maintenance. The objective is to create a system in which all maintenance activities can be planned and not interfere with the production process. Surprise equipment breakdowns should not occur. Before the advent of computer-aided manufacturing, operators in some organizations were responsible for their machines and took a certain pride of ownership. With the help of maintenance technicians, operators spent part of their work time keeping their equipment in good running order. Recent technical advances have given us more tools to perform the maintenance function.

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.

 

Speaking the Body Language


About 60 to 70 percent of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. More important than speaking the language is what you communicate without words. Many travelers trust that if they don’t speak the language, there are a hundred gestures to get across almost any meaning. But gestures have quite different meanings in different parts of the world; body language is not universal. Subtleties are noticed, like the length of time you hold on while shaking hands. On a very unconscious level we can turn people off even when we are on good behavior. Thumbs up is considered vulgar in Iran and Ghana, equivalent to raising the middle finger in the United States. Touching a person’s head, including children’s, should be avoided in Singapore or Thailand. In Yugoslavia, people shake their heads for yes—appearing to us to be saying no.

In general, avoid gesturing with the hand. Many people take offense at being beckoned this way, or pointed out, even if only conversationally. In parts of Asia, gestures and even slight movements can make people nervous. If you jab your finger in the air or on a table to make a point, you might find that your movements have been so distracting that you have not made your point at all. Unintentionally, Americans come across as aggressive and pushy. Yet, in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America or Italy, gesturing is important for self-expression, and the person who does not move a lot while talking comes across as bland or uninteresting. As always, watch what local people do. Or ask.

Body language is more than gestures. You communicate by the way you stand, sit, tense facial muscles, tap fingers, and so on. Unfortunately, these subtler body messages are hard to read across cultures; mannerisms don’t translate. In many parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is disrespectful.

In Japan a person who looks a subordinate in the eye is felt to be judgmental and punitive, while someone who looks his superior in the eye is assumed to be hostile or slightly insane. The Arabs like eye contact—the eyes are windows to soul—but theirs seem to dart about much more than Americans. We don’t trust “shifty-eyed” people.

Subtle differences in eye contact between the British and North Americans can be confusing. English listening behavior includes immobilization of the eyes at a social focal distance, so that either eye gives the appearance of looking straight at the speaker. On the other hand, an American listener will stare at the speaker’s eye, first one, then the other, relieved by frequent glances over the speaker’s shoulder.

Eye contact during speaking differs too. Americans keep your attention by boring into you with eyes and words, while the British keep your attention by looking away while they talk. When their eyes return to yours, it signals they have finished speaking and it is your turn to talk. These almost imperceptible differences in eye contact interfere with rapport building and trust.

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.

Deming’s 14 Obligations


Many people helped develop quality management, and some of the early ones are called the ‘quality gurus.’ Perhaps Edwards Deming was one of the best known. He did a lot to publicize TQM. But was concerned that organizations did not get the benefits they expected. To help them on the way, he compiled a list of guidelines called his ’14 obligations.’ They are:

  1. Create constancy of purpose towards product quality.
  2. Adapt the new philosophy of higher quality, refusing to accept customary levels of defects and errors.
  3. Stop depending on mass inspection, build quality into your product.
  4. Don’t award business on the basis of price only – reduce the number of of suppliers and insist on meaningful measures of quality.
  5. Develop programs for continuous improvement of your products and processes.
  6. Train all your employees.
  7. Focus supervision on helping employees to do a better job.
  8. Drive out fear by encouraging two-way communication.
  9. Break down barriers between departments and encourage problem solving through teamwork.
  10. Don’t use posters and slogans that demand improvements without saying how to achieve them.
  11. Eliminate arbitrary quotes and targets that interfere with quality.
  12. Remove barriers that stop people having pride in their work.
  13. Have programs for lifelong education, training and self-improvement.
  14. Put everyone to work on implementing these 14 points.

Deming’s 14 points are not a program that has fixed duration, but the give a new way of thinking in your organization. They are certainly not the only possible view, but they do give some useful guidelines.

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, www.youtube.com/asifjmir, Line of Sight

Barriers to Team Progress


  • Insufficient training. Teams cannot be expected to perform unless they are trained in problem-solving techniques, group dynamics, and communication skills.
  • Incompatible rewards and compensation. In general, organizations make little effort to reward team performance. Because of a strong focus on individual rewards it is difficult for individuals to buy into the team concept. Similarly, performance appraisals do not accept input from peers or team members.
  • First-line supervisor resistance. Supervisors are reluctant to give up power, confident that they can do the work better and faster, are concerned about job security, and are ultimately held responsible.
  • Lack of planning. A lack of common direction or alignment on the use of collaborative efforts, internal competition, redundancy, and fragmented work processes all prevent team progress.
  • Lack of management support. Management must provide the resources and “buy into” the quality council/sponsor system.
  • Access to information systems. Teams need access to organizational information such as business performance, competitive performance, financial data, and so forth.
  • Lack of union support. Organizations need union support for the team to be successful.
  • Project scope too large. The team and organization are not clear on what is reasonable, or management is abdicating its responsibility to guide the team.
  • Project objectives are not significant. Management has not defined what role the team will play in the organization.
  • No clear measures of success. The team is not clear about its charter and goals.
  • No time to do improvement work. Values and beliefs of the organization are not compatible with the team’s work. Individual departmental politics interfere with the team’s progress. Management has not given the team proper resources.
  • Team is too large. The organization lacks methods for involving people in ways other than team membership.
  • Trapped in groupthink. Team members all have a mind-set that no actions are taken until everyone agrees with every decision.

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 Blue-sky Laws


Government regulation and intervention is very pervasive in our daily lives, especially in business activities. That intervention is both supportive and restrictive. Also, it is constantly changing. The intent of government is generally to provide justice, orderliness, and fairness. A realistic observer may also perceive a governmental desire to play Robin Hood. Some entrepreneurs will find themselves the objects of Robin’s beneficence. Most owner-managers see too much of his ever-present Merry Men.

Entrepreneurs usually don’t concern themselves much with the creation and enforcement of government regulations. Being realistic, they just want to know the rules. They ask how it works and then go on about the business of building their enterprise. Because entrepreneurs need all the help they can get, they will use the rules and regulations that can in any way help the business. If the rules are not helpful they will avoid getting into a position where the rules interfere with the progress of the business. The problem for entrepreneurs is that the regulatory bureaucracy is so massive and complex that they have trouble understanding the rules.

The specialists who devote their professional lives to understanding rules and providing guidance to the rest of us must concentrate on a small segment of the rules to be able to keep up with the changes and the latest nuances in interpretation. This results in the need for many specialists. Despite the burden on time and financial resources, however, it is most prudent to obtain sufficient advice and guidance at least to avoid the wrath and interference of the regulators.

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

Behavior Products


Behavior products essentially refer to measurements of the effects or results of behaviors rather than the behaviors themselves. That is, rather than directly monitoring the actual behavior of the client, you would monitor any temporary or permanent effect (product) that can be seen as the result of a specific behavior. When the behavior product is simply deposited or left over from some ordinary set of client/system interactions, the “product” is synonymous with a type of “physical traces.”

 

Behavior products can be used when a more direct measure of the behavior might interfere with the behavior directly, or when the behavior itself is not available for measurement. Since the observer is not ordinarily present when behavior products are used, there is less chance for the measurement process to interfere with the natural occurrence of the behavior.

 

There are a number of advantages of using products. First, a product readily lends itself to precise counting and quantification for evaluation purposes. Second, the observer does not have to be present when a behavior is being performed. Third, using behavior products generally does not disturb or interrupt the ongoing flow of the client’s behavior. Finally, use of behavior products is relatively easy to implement, requires little or no special equipment, and can easily be taught to the client or relevant others.

 

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