Truth and Reconciliation in Business


Access to the truth is a fundamental human right and as such it must form the foundation of any truly amazing organization capable of maintaining long-term, mutually respectful and beneficial relationships. This is as true of organizations as it is of nation states or families.

Truth and Reconciliation in business aims to achieve exactly what it says. It aims to get to the truth about the way relationships are being conducted and it aims to use the acceptance of that truth as the basis for reconciling the organization and building fresh new relationships.

If we want our organization to be amazingly successful we must confront and overcome the practice of having completely separate management, employee and stakeholder perspectives, dividing the way we see our organization’s current and future priorities.

We need to develop one working culture capable of uniting our un-reconciled and incompatible aspirations and goals. This requires us to focus not only on our systems and processes but to build strong, dynamic relationships based on dialogue, interaction, genuinely shared values, mutual respect, inclusiveness, openness and trust.

Truth and reconciliation, as practiced by nation states, such as, South Africa, is a detailed process used under the most extreme situations – far removed from anything or indeed any of us has probably seen in any organization.

But let’s not miss the lessons these experiences can teach us about unity and strength, and about how to create harmony in inharmonious situations. Truth and reconciliation in business is significantly scaled-down version with reduced scope based on a drastically reduced need. What it does do, however, is adhere to principles proven in the most extreme environments where demands for forgiveness take on monumental proportions.

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.

Product Development Process


The product development process involves analysis of the marketplace, the buyer, the company’s capabilities, and the economic potential of new product ideas. This process may be both expensive and time consuming. To accelerate the process, many companies create multidisciplinary teams so that manufacturing and marketing plans can be developed in tandem while the product is being designed.

  1. Generation and Screening of Ideas: The first step is to come up with ideas that will satisfy unmet needs. A producer may get new product ideas from its own employees or from external consultants, it may simply adapt a competitor’s idea, or it may buy the rights to someone else’s invention. Customers are often the best source of new product ideas.
  2. Business Analysis: A product idea that survives the screening stage is subjected to a business analysis. At this point the question is: Can the company make enough money on the product to justify the investment? To answer this question, companies forecast the probable sales of the product, assuming various pricing strategies. In addition, they estimate the costs associated with various levels of production. Given these projections, the company calculates the potential cash flow and return on investment that will be achieved if the product is introduced.
  3. Prototype Development: The next step is generally to create and test a few samples, or prototypes, of the product, including its packaging. During this stage, the various elements of the marketing mix are put together. In addition, the company evaluates the feasibility of large-scale production and specifies the resources required to bring the product to market.
  4. Product Testing: During the product testing stage, a small group of consumers actually use the product, often in comparison tests with existing products. If the results are good, the next step is test marketing, introducing the product in selected areas of the country and monitoring consumer reactions. Test marketing makes the most sense in cases where the cost of marketing a product far exceeds the cost of developing it.
  5. Commercialization: The final stage of development is commercialization, the large-scale production and distribution of those products that have survived the testing process. This phase requires the coordination of many activities—manufacturing, packaging, distribution, pricing and promotion. A classic mistake is letting marketing get out of phase with production so that the consumer is primed to buy the product before the company can supply it in adequate quantity. A mistake of this sort can be costly, because competitors may be able to jump in quickly. Many companies roll out their new products generally, going from one geographic area to the next. This enables them to spread the costs of launching the product over a longer period and to refine their strategy as the rollout proceeds.

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.

Traditional Manager Vs. Customer-focused Manager


A traditional manager focuses on current goals. Their time and their energy is preoccupied with a series of probably corporate internally focused objectives – whether this is making a sales target, budget, profitability or some other goal, such as market share. On the other hand a customer-focused manager is led and empowered by a vision. A vision based on quality as well as quantity and results. A vision that inherently has a customer satisfaction measure and a vision that creates a feeling of pride and satisfaction in working in that way.

A traditional manager is largely reactive – making decisions, implementing plans based on the input of those above them, around them or in the external environment. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ would be a common maxim. Today’s manager is largely proactive – ‘If it’s not broken, break it,’ because it’s going to be broken very soon. Today’s manager doesn’t wait for things to need a reason for change; they change things for the sake of it. Whether this is just simply the office layout, the times people take their lunch, company policies, prices, brochures, and markets – everything else has to be a proactive activity today. If you wait for the market to change you will probably always be one step behind. One step behind what the customers need and want and what your competitors are doing.

A traditional manager will often seek, either directly or indirectly, to limit other people’s participation. Typically, meetings between managers are excluded from input from other people, or they don’t involve other people perhaps as much as they should do – this is never seen as necessary. But today it is essential. Today’s manager has to promote involvement; they need opinions, thoughts, ideas, and feedback from all levels within the organization. The best way of achieving this is by one of two methods. The first is one we could loosely name ‘random communication,’ where just by simply creating the environment where people can mix and mingle, communicate, participate and share, ideas can be distributed. The other way is by doing something slightly more formal, by putting in place a series of waterfalls or communication falls where information and participation flows around the organization.

Traditional managers will probably reward people based on their qualifications or long service. A more customer-focused manager will reward and recognize people based on their ability to enhance customers and deliver excellence. For example, it is not uncommon for managers to regularly single out for some form of payment, or just simple recognition, those people in a customer service team who have gone beyond the normal levels and delivered something extraordinary during their job. Whether it was staying late sorting out a customer problem, coming up with an idea which helped the business move forward, making big improvements in their own work – these are the things that managers reward.

Another thing that has to change if you are going to move forward and lead successfully in a customer-focused organization is that you have to let go of solving problem yourself. One very successful manager who ran a very effective customer service team had a big sign on their wall. You can come in here with any problem at all, so long as you have one idea for a solution.

A traditional manager also sees their role as controlling information. They will keep their staff and other people on a ‘need to know’ basis. This is not how it works. Information should be shared, but not broadcast. A good manager will communicate actively and pro-actively to all concerned. He or she will keep them informed of the information they need to deliver the best possible service to the customer. This means the information is timely, relevant and understood.

Managing in today’s environment, with the pressures of working with ever demanding customers, will invariably result in matters of conflict and disagreement. Rather that patching these over, ignoring them, or letting them sort themselves out, as is perhaps more traditionally done by managers, these should now be sought out and moderated to a successful outcome.

A customer-focused manager ‘walks the talk’. He or she must act congruently and with the same values and honesty that they want their staff to deliver to their customers. That means they keep commitments, it means they under promise and over deliver, and they make everyone of their employees feel special and a valuable member of the team. Nobody just does a job and goes home, there is a purpose, a value and a mission.

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.

Thinking Like a Beginner


It used to be, the bigger the nerd you were the better the researcher. That’s changed now. Some of the best advice comes from people who know the least about a specific operation.

This isn’t to belittle experience, information, or expertise. But the key to keeping ahead of change is to learn to think like a beginner. With a beginner’s mind you will be more open to what is emerging and better equipped to anticipate change.

The beginner isn’t attached to old ways of doing and seeing things and won’t spend a great deal of time “beating a dead horse” or accumulating sacred cows. Looking at the world with a fresh eye and an open mind , the beginner will see things that the expert will miss.

Thinking like a beginner is a state of curiosity where you see situations anew, not letting old information and the “benefits” of experience cloud your judgment. Experience, after all, took place in the past, and the thinking, strategies, and information that worked in the past are often outdated and obsolete.

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

Make Skills Transfer Easy


Make it easy to transfer new skills and behavior from the training site to the job site:

  1. maximize the similiarity between the training situation and the work situation.
  2. provide adequate practice.
  3. label or identify each feature of the machine and/or step in the process.
  4. direct the trainees’ attention, to important aspects of the job. For example, if you’re training customer service representatives how to handle incoming calls, first explain the different types of calls they will encounter and how to recognize such calls.
  5. provide “heads up,” prepatory information. For example, trainee learning to become first-line supervisors often face stressful conditions, high workload, and difficult subordinates back on the job. Studies suggest you can reduce the negative impact of such events by letting trainees know they might happen.

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

Manage for Consistency


Most companies would prefer to grow steadily at a healthy rate rather than doubling in size one year and losing money the next. No one can manage this kind of schizophrenia effectively with any long-term success, and no one should try. Next to profitability, the most important goal a company should strive for is consistency.

If flexibility is the means, then consistency—of performance and growth—is the end. This sounds like something of a contradiction. If one is being flexible how can one be consistent? In fact, not only are they compatible, but a flexible, responsive management virtually guarantees consistency. It is inflexibility that causes erratic behavior. A company goes on for too long adhering to all the old rules and outdated modes of performance. Then one morning someone wakes up, panics, overreacts, and throws out all the rules. That can make people nuts.

To manage consistently you have to behave consistently. Even if people don’t like what you are saying, they still want to know where you are coming from.

Inconsistency in management breeds all sorts of unnecessary anxieties in the people being managed. There are enough legitimate anxieties in business without adding to them by not letting people know where you are coming from.

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

What’s Your Opinion?


A key part of the optimum result method is to get people to express themselves. Everyone has an opinion about a lot of things: What the company is doing, right or wrong; what’s good and what’s bad about the economy; how the mayor or president is performing; and whether any policy will survive.

 

And many people in a business have opinions about how the enterprise could be better run. The problem is, in most organizations the people who do the work are never asked, “What is your opinion?” “Got any ideas for doing this better?” and “Can you suggest a way to do this in less time?” As a result, a large amount of intelligence is untapped, the people with ideas feel frustrated, and the organization’s performance suffers.

 

A number of things explain, but one thing you should be doing is to get the opinions of your people before making key decisions. The best intelligence often comes from front-line staff. We install the steel we fabricate all over the country. Make it a point to talk with installation crews; ask for their opinions about what our customers are thinking. Maintain a steady flow of opinions, gathering information from your installation and sales people.

 

All people think. Encourage them to tell you what they’re thinking about. When you ask for opinions from employees doing different functions, you accomplish two things. First, you win their cooperation because they’ve had a chance to give you their views. Second, you pick up a lot of good ideas you can turn into profit.

 

Nevertheless, there is a problem when you teach the what-is-your-opinion technique to few managers. Some of them are conditioned to believe that asking other people, particularly subordinates, for their ideas is a sign of weakness. Letting other people express their opinions is a sign of strength.

 

Use the optimum results. It works wonders in getting what you want—a sale, a better job, and cooperation and support.

  • Find out what is the ideal benefit the other person seeks.
  • Tailor what you have to offer to provide that ideal benefit.

 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