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.

Focusing Organization


This focus begins when someone at top identifies a set of concerns that require correction. These concerns are of significant importance to the organization, rather than passing operational concerns. They are persistent, undesirable situations that have grown over time and have never been adequately addressed. It is clear that a major effort is required to solve them and that new skill and approaches have to be developed if the effort is to be successful.

 The entire project is planned as a taskforce attack on identified situations; objectives—analysis and correction of the target situations, objectives are defined. This planning cannot be delegated. It is done by top management, since responsibility for the project must reside with those who initiate it. By actively directing the project, top management makes its support of the ideas evident to everyone. By participating in the project throughout its life, top management returns control and ensures success.

 The management works out a comprehensive plan and schedule. The population of individuals who can contribute in solving the target situations is identified by name and position. Workshops are scheduled. It is in the workshops that the participants learn. They apply their skills to analysis of their assigned 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.

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.

Communities of Practice


One of the most successful uses of the Internet has been the emergence of informal knowledge communities or a community of interest. It is an environment usually outside of conventional organizational structures, where people can converse with each other about the common problems they face in their workplace or in their professional life, a common passion for some subject or a common mission. Most communities of practice are contained within a single organization but sometimes they cross institutional boundaries.

A community of practice does not necessarily have to be transacted solely on the Internet and in fact the most successful ones almost always have a face-to-face meeting component to them. As good a tool as the Internet is, it can never replace the intimacy and fullness of communication of face-to-face meetings of individuals. The importance of the internet to a community of practice js that it provides a link beyond the times when people can physically meet and hence sustains the group. It also permits a community of practice to develop among people who are not co-located.

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.

Equality, Inequality


Some people don’t think of you as an equal. Before they can accord you with the honor of being treated as an equal, they feel you need to prove yourself. You’ve run into these people before – you can probably spot them right away. And, try as you might, you probably have a difficult time respecting them, because you know that, deep down, they don’t respect you.

By nature, we are organizers, and sometimes we fall into the trap of organizing people. One of the most persistent downfalls of human society has been the urge to rank people according to worth. Even today, many cultures that now enjoy political freedom are still tarnished with the vestiges of a class system – a declaration that people are inherently unequal.

On a social level, this tendency is nothing more than a reflection of how we often behave in our personal lives. For whatever reason, we conclude that some type of people is better than others, and we make decisions based on this conclusion. If you think about it, all complaints of discrimination are essentially protests against decisions based on the notion of inherent inequality.

Another brand of inequality that has plagued history is the inequality of opportunity. Some people have a head start over others. Some people have more opportunities open to them than others do. It’s easy to say that ‘achievers create their own opportunities,’ but the fact is, life isn’t fair. Some people do have an advantage when it comes to opportunity. in life, there are few level playing fields, and there is very little any of us can do to change this.

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.

Moral Leaders


Moral leaders strive to be principled decision-makers. They think deeply about the great ethical principles of moral philosophy and work hard to employ these principles in their actions they think ethically because moral principles guide their outlook on organizational life. Many companies do not use, at least by name, the same principles that might be used by philosophers or business ethics practitioners, they may be principled nonetheless.

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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