Problem-solving at the Upper Management Level


Full step-by-step application of the process, documented on chartpad or notepad, is required most often for concrete problems whose identity can be directly observed or easily visualized. These largely are mechanical, tangible situations.

At the upper management level, however, application of the process often consists of use of the ideas of the process. This includes discussion of a situation in al l its dimensions rather than formulation of hypotheses based on experience; attention to distinctions of identity, location, timing and magnitude rather than informed speculation alone; and testing of possible causes against the facts surrounding a situation rather than immediate action directed at the cause suggested by informed speculation. Data may be recorded and notes taken, but use of the process at upper levels of management is usually observable in the character of the questioning and the nature of the investigation. We observe people using the common language of Problem Analysis to organize their information, communicate it, and put it in perspective. They are sharing information through the channels of a systematic process. They are using words that will clarify each individual’s contributions.

Busy managers are not avoiding responsibility when they tell subordinates, “I want you to solve your own problems.” They have neither the time nor the specific skills to personally guide their subordinates’ problem-solving efforts. The truth of the matter is that managers who become directly involved in problem solving are subject to criticism for failing to set priorities on their own time or to delegate appropriately—in short, for failing to manage their operations. Managers need not have all the right answers. What is required of them are the ability and willingness to ask the right questions. The kind of questioning we use in specifying, in identifying distinctions and change, and in testing possible causes lends itself well to the process of assessing the logic and the work that other people have contributed to resolving 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.

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Contractual Relationship


A contractual relationship exists when employers and employees have a legal agreement regarding how employee issues are handled. Under such contractual arrangements, discharge may occur only if it is based on just cause. Inasmuch as a distinct definition of just cause does not exist, they are guidelines derived from labor arbitration of collective bargaining relationships under which just cause can be shown as follows:

  • Was there adequate warning of consequences of the worker’s behavior?
  • Are the rules reasonable and related to safe and efficient operations of the business?
  • Before discipline was rendered, did a fair investigation of the violation occur?
  • Did the investigation yield definite proof of worker activity and wrong doing?
  • Have similar occurrences, both prior and subsequent to this event, been handled in the same way and without discrimination?
  • Was the penalty in line with the seriousness of the offense and in reason with the worker’s past employment record?

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.

Developing Audience’s Profile


If you’re communicating with someone you know well, perhaps your boss or a co-worker, audience analysis is easy. You can predict their reactions pretty well without a lot of research. On the other hand, if your audience is made up of strangers, you have to do some investigation to learn about them before you can use common sense to anticipate their reactions.

  • Determine audience size and composition.
  • Indentify the primary audience.
  • Estimate the audience’s probable reaction.
  • Guage the audience’s level of understanding.
  • Define your relationbship with the audience.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Characteristics of Analysis


Analysis uses scientific methodology: a systematic, rational, critical appraisal of the phenomenon under investigation based on emperical facts. Analysis in the social sciences is different in some respects from analysis in the natural sciences, which take a much narrower view of what can be measured and known. However, the basic motivation—to understand and to establish control over the environment—is the same, as are the essential methods. The distinction between analysis in the natural and social sciences lies in the kinds of questions explored.

The intellectual activities of analysis are directed toward practice issues and practical application. Assessment of the data and the search for relevant research and theoratical constructs are part of a progression toward action. The goal is to enable the change agent to make informed choices.

In addition, analysis is carried out within a social context and involves subjective judgments, preferences, and values. Naturality and disinterested inquiry are not characteristics of social science analysis. Ideologies, beliefs, and assumptions affect both the perception and the interpretation of imperical data.

The purpose of analysis in the planned change process is to facilitate decision-making. Analysis clarifies the nature and dynamics of the change opportunity and the relevance of possible responses. However, it is not realistic to expect analysis to provide “the answer.”

Different planners can assess the same situation and produce quite different analyses insofar as each shapes the problem in terms of his background, training, experience, and values. The reality of competing views of human service conditions, problems, needs, issues, and change opportunities in no way lessens the importance of analysis.

Analysis, then, may be expected to clarify options, trace implications, and provide grounding for judgments. Useful analysis will be critical, thorough, and systematic and will be oriented toward practical application.

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

Handling Classified Information


Systems for classified material handling have been developed by professionals in this field and perfected over the past 100 years. Mainly, this work was performed at the US government level. As the need increased for similar controls, business borrowed the techniques and adapted them to a somewhat less restrictive environment.

 The first step in the process of limiting access to information is to identify thespecific information to be protected and decide how  limited that access will be.

 In business, three classifications are sufficient for almost every need. Reference to these “levels” of secrecy will be according to their government names—restricted, secret, and top secret. Those in the public sector also classify information according to type, which groups financial data, real estate appraisals, research and development programs, production schedules, and so on.

 One production document might be “restricted,” while another is “top secret.” No matter what the level of classification or the topic caegory under which it is classified, leaks are possible. But because the number of individuals with access to the material shrinks at each classification stage, so that far fewer managers are able to see top secret documents than restricted matter, leaks in higher classifications are usually more easily detected, and those responsible more easily defined.

Make certain your group understands this. While all material which has been classified must be treated with care, documents in the highest secrecy category will most likely cause greater concern of revealed. So these will receive the greatest amount of checking and investigation after a leak is discovered.

 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