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.

Quality Insulation and Business Storms


Many companies are facing storms because they still have not learned the lesson. For these slow learners quality is regarded as something they can add to a badly designed, poorly made product to help hold it together until the buyer gets its home. However the key to survival in today’s competitive climate is real quality through every step of production and service. It is essential to the work by the lowest paid individual on the payroll or the chairman of the board. Without quality, things don’t get sent out properly or on time, and huge service departments are working flat out to repair flaws that should never have been allowed into the products in the first place.

 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.

Risking New Ideas


If we want people in the organization to start taking some risks, we need to replace no with yes and replace limits with encouragement. The key to the development of a risk-taking organizational climate lies in the ability of management to convey the attitude that new ideas are always a hot commodity. New ideas do not have to be perfect at birth. As the saying goes: “It doesn’t have to be right the first time. It just needs to be real.”

The best risk-takers are those who act without concentrating on all the jeopardies and instead work around the fears that hang up other people. That doesn’t mean that they don’t think before they act; it does mean that in this environment, they take some well-planned chances. I’ve watched associates get better month by month at learning how to make the right risks pay off for them, personally and professionally.

When we communicate that we expect mistakes to occur when people are putting out and working hard, we create an atmosphere of encouragement.  A lot of people in corporate life have made careers out of surviving rather than succeeding; they’ve had to cope with atmospheres laced with fear, suspicion, and blame. Get rid of the blame and start celebrating the efforts and new ideas. Plan to make mistakes and still make it through.

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.

Business Financial Strategy


Financial strategy examines the financial implications of corporate and business-level strategic options and identifies the best financial course of action. It can also provide competitive advantage through a lower cost of funds and a flexible ability to raise capital to support a business strategy. Financial strategy usually attempts to maximize the financial value of the firm.

The trade-off between advancing the desired debt-to-equity ratio and relying on internal long-term financing via cash flow is a key issue in financial strategy. Many small and medium-sized companies try to avoid all external sources of funds in order to avoid outside entanglements and to keep control of the company within the family. Many believe that only by financing through long-term debt can a corporation use financial leverage to boost earnings per share, thus raising stock price and the overall value of the company. Higher debt levels not only deter takeover by other firms (by making the company less attractive), but also leads to improved productivity and improved cash flows by forcing management to focus on core businesses.

A very popular financial strategy is the leveraged buy out—a company is acquired in a transaction financed largely by debt—usually obtained from a third party, such as an insurance company or an investment banker. Ultimately the debt is paid with money generated from the acquired company’s operations or by sales of its assets. The acquired company, in effect, pays for its own acquisition. Management of the leveraged buy out is then under tremendous pressure to keep the highly leveraged company profitable. Unfortunately the huge amount of debt on the acquired company’s books may actually cause its eventual decline by focusing management’s attention on short-term matters.

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.

Indicators of Poor Listening


In the customer service environment, you cannot afford the luxury of failing to listen to your customer. Periodically, you should do a self-check on your listening style to see if you need improvement. If any of the following events occur, you may need to refocus.

  • Customers  specifically request to speak to or be served by someone else.
  • You find yourself missing key details of conversations.
  • You regularly have to ask people to repeat information.
  • You walk away from phone calls or personal encounters not completely knowing what action is required of you.
  • Customers often make statements, such as, “Did you hear what I said?” Are you listening to me?” or “You are not listening.”
  • You find yourself daydreaming or distracted as the customer is speaking.
  • You miss accompanying nonverbal cues sent by the customer as the two of you communicate.

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 New Trend


Today, everything has changed. Globalization, the internationalization of markets and corporations, has changed the way modern corporations do business. To reach the economies of scale necessary to achieve the low costs, and thus the low prices, needed to be competitive, companies are now thinking of a global (worldwide) market instead of a national market. Instead of using one international division to manage everything outside the home country, large corporations are now using matrix structures in which product units are interwoven with country or regional units. International assignments are now considered key for anyone interested in reaching top management. As more industries become global, strategic management is becoming an increasingly important way to keep track of international developments and position the company for long term competitive advantage.

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.

Incremental Change Analysis


Most business focuses on the current situation, with changes defined on an iterative, cumulative basis. In this context, issues represent problems or opportunities for change from the current situation. The gaps represent ways that a company may achieve or enhance a competitive edge.

The most common way to define issues is to assess the changes that are expected t occur. These are derived from either internal or external changes, intended by management or occurring as a result of uncontrolled forces (as in workforce changes). Issues are identified in the way that people normally think—incrementally from the present toward future.

In this process, managers identify and evaluate human resource issues by sorting through available strategic planning, competitive, and environmental information for evidence of changes having human resource implications and then define human resource issues that may be addressed. Such analysis may examine employee productivity issues, service quality, staffing surpluses or shortfalls, succession needs, skill requirements, utilization, costs, turnover/retention patterns, or employee attitudes.

Managers also obtain and consider perspectives of relevant constituents, such as other managers and employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers. Companies solicit inputs from managers at various levels through their participation in the planning process or through interviews, focus groups, or surveys with key managers. Many companies survey employees, either specifically for planning inputs or more broadly as an assessment of organizational climate and human resource practices. Companies may involve employees through interviews or focus groups to help define issues and alternative strategies. Some also interview or survey customers, contractors, and other business partners regarding human resource issues to be addressed.

Environmental scanning is used to identify prospective human resource issues deriving from changing external conditions. Scanning the many changes occurring in social, political, legislative, demographic, economic, technological and other areas yields a wide array of issues that may be considered.

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.

Previous Older Entries