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.

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Death of a Wonder Youngster


Arfa Karim (born 1995 – January 14, 2012), was a student from an under-developed village of Pakistan, who in 2004 at the age of 9 years, became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) in the world. She was invited by Bill Gates to visit the Microsoft Headquarters in USA. She also wrote a poem about Bill Gates.

On returning to Pakistan, Arfa had numerous interviews on almost all of the country’s known television channels and newspapers. In August 2005, Arfa Karim received the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology, presented by the Prime Minister of Pakistan at that time. She also received the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award again in August 2005 by the President of Pakistan. Arfa Karim is also the recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance. This is a very high level civil award granted to people who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time. Arfa is till now the youngest recipient of that award ever.

Arfa Karim has also represented Pakistan on various international forums, she was invited by the IT Professionals of Dubai for a stay of two weeks in Dubai. A dinner reception was hosted for her there, which was attended by the diagnostics of Dubai including the Ambassador of Pakistan. During that trip, Arfa was presented with various medals and awards. She also flew a plane in a flying club in Dubai at the age of 10, and received the first flight certificate.

In November 2006, Arfa was invited by Microsoft to be a part of the keynote session in the Tech-Ed Developers conference held in Barcelona. The theme of the conference was “Get ahead of the game” and Arfa was presented as a true specimen of being ahead of the game. She was the only Pakistani among over 5000 developers in that conference.

As of 2011, at the age of 16, Arfa Karim was studying at Lahore Grammar School Paragon Campus in her second year of A Levels. She suffered from cardiac arrest after an epileptic seizure on December 22, 2011 and was admitted to Lahore’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in critical condition.

On January 2, 2012 Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited the hospital with his daughter Fiza Batol Gilani to inquire about the health of Arfa Karim.

On January 9, 2012, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, has made contact with Arfa’s parents, and directed his doctors to adopt “every kind of measure” for her treatment.

On January 13, 2012, The condition of world’s youngest MCP Arfa Karim was improving and some parts of her brain showed signs of improvement. Arfa fell desperately ill last month and doctors said she had suffered brain damage, leaving her in a coma at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Lahore. Her father, Amjad Karim, said Microsoft had raised the possibility of flying Arfa to the US for care.

On January 14, 2012 16 years old Arfa Karim died at 9:50 PM (Pakistan Standard Time) at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Lahore. (Wikipedia)

Arfa wrote some poems. Specimens include:

I would like to be …..

Like a bird in the sky
Flying freely and so high
Like a fish in the water
And the kings beautiful daughter

Like a tiny little mouse
Eating cheese around the house
Like a bear in the mountain
And the water in the fountain

Like a lion in the jungle
Roaring loudly with hunger
Like a monkey in the zoo
All the time copying you
. . . . Arfa Karim

White Rose

In the storm
Stands the white rose
tumultuous waves
of destruction abound her

Yet tall is the white rose
strong in the face
Of the sensed doom around her
And she does not bow down

Pure is the white rose
In the compost earth
growing eternal strength
in the nights that so hurt

I see not the white rose
She is so far away
But I long to protect her
But only the words can I say

So I send her my words
And my poets heart
To help her when
there is hope to see her through

Be Strong little flower
Your heart will guide true
And as long as you want
I will always talk to you
. . . Arfa Karim

Stars

  I look to the sky at night and admire the beauty of the stars.
I stand in awe of their brilliance;
They are as shining and constant
and they have been since the beginning of time.

They light the heavens and fill our hearts with wonder.
When one burns out, another takes its place;
for they are eternal.
Wherever you are, they guide you from their home high above the earth.
At times, they seem close enough to touch,
as they transport your dreams far away.

Their magic compels us to offer up wishes for their consideration.
They make us realize that even when the sky is the darkest,
a tiny beacon of light still shines through.
They are God’s reminder to us that some things really do go on forever.
. . . Arfa Karim

I have no daughter, but Arfa Karim was a daughter figure.  Till 3:30 am and despite my perpetual efforts I was unable to have a snooze. The news about her death made me so upset that my eyes welled up tears and my heart filled up with gloom. Arfa, was the shine of the moon and the breeze of morning; she bestowed her colors to rainbow; she left behind her wings for her fellow daughters to scale the heights of knowledge. Arfa was a complete person: she was not just a book worm, she used to play games, watch cartoon programs, fly planes, play music, and sing folk songs. Above all she memorized some verses of Qur’an and practiced high moral character. She can be a role model—an inspiration—to our younger generation. With tears in its eyes, I pay rich tribute to Arfa. Nevertheless, I feel her saying:

Don’t cry for me,
I’m right here.
Although you can’t see me
I can see your tears

Group Leader


As leader of a group, you are responsible for creating an environment in which discussing leads to recommendations, recommendations develop positions, and compromise between positions brings decision.

You are the person in charge of creating and maintaining conditions in which free discussion flourishes, arguments are quelled, and factions kept temporary. You are the one designated to get the most from each person; to build the contribution of each team-member into a powerful, decision-making force capable of solving problems.

Seen in this light, your task as a leader is a rather awesome responsibility—awesome, perhaps, but not necessarily intimidating.

Just as there are concepts for improving personal participation, there are also proven techniques for building leadership.

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.

Strategic Management


Strategic management is the set of decisions and actions that result in the formulation and implementation of plans designed to achieve a company’s objectives. It comprises nine critical tasks:

  1. Formulate the company’s mission, including broad statements about its purpose, philosophy, and goals.
  2. Conduct an analysis that reflects the company’s internal conditions and capabilities.
  3. Assess the company’s external environment, including both the competitive and the general contextual factors.
  4. Analyze the company’s options by matching its resources with the external environment.
  5. Identify the most desirable options by evaluating each option in light of the company’s mission.
  6. Select a set of long-term objectives and grand strategies that will achieve the most desirable options.
  7. Develop annual objectives and short-term strategies that are compatible with the selected set of long-term objectives and grand strategies.
  8. Implement the strategic choices by means of budgeted resource allocations in which the matching of tasks, people, structures, technologies, and reward systems is emphasized.
  9. Evaluate the success of the strategic process as an input for future decision-making.

As these nine tasks indicate, strategic management involves the planning, directing, organizing, and controlling of a company’s strategy-related decisions and actions.

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.

Organizational Paralysis


Within 6 months of life some organizations suffer a paralysis:

  1. Point zero minus six months: growing anticipation of the new organization is rife; most senior managers are preoccupied with networking amongst the organization’s rising stars in order to be well positioned for advancement.
  2. Point zero minus three months: the new organization is due shortly, so no one will do anything in case it is seen to be wrong in light of the new structure.
  3. Point zero minus one month: all senior managers desperately plead for a new job so the sin of the last year’s time wasting can be hoofed off onto another poor unsuspecting victim.
  4. Point zero: the planned reorganization is put back two months to accommodate the wishes of an intransigent director who keeps digging in his heels and refuses to listen.
  5. Point zero plus six months: senior mangers look forward to extremely generous takeover conditions and contemplating retirement

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.

 

Purchase Decision Process


The act of buying is a significant part of everyone’s life. It is such a routine activity that we rarely consider in detail the mental process involved in product purchases. Just what are the steps in the purchase decision? Buyers usually pass through five stage process when they buy a good or service:

  1. Stage 1: Problem Recognition. The buyer recognizes a need, desire, or problem. The marketer tries to determine which needs, desires, or problems stimulate the buyer to begin the purchase process.
  2. Stage 2: Information Search. The buyer collects information about purchase alternatives. The successful marketer knows the sources of buyer information and their relative importance to the buyer.
  3. Stage 3: Alternative Evaluation. The buyer evaluates purchase alternatives in light of various criteria. Since these criteria may differ in each purchase decision, the marketer determines which criteria are appropriate to that decision.
  4. Step 4: Purchase Decision. The buyer selects a product from among the purchase alternatives. Up to this point, the marketer has done as much as possible to influence the buyer to buy his or her product.
  5. Stage 5: Outcome. The buyer experiences some degree of satisfaction with the purchase decision. Knowledge of this satisfaction is crucial to the marketer.

Only when this decision process is understood can an effective marketing program developed. This analysis of the decision process in five distinct stages draws attention to the fact that the buying process begins before the purchase decision is made.

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.

 

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness


It is said that the difference between efficiency and effectiveness is the difference between’ doing things right’ and ‘doing right things.’ It should encompass both efficiency and effectiveness. That is ‘doing right things right.’

Imagine that you visit your friend. As you are chatting, your friend asks his wife to bring coffee. A little later a tray with milk, sugar, coffee powder and cup is placed before you to prepare coffee of your taste, light or strong, with or without sugar, etc. and you prepare coffee and drink it.

On some other occasion, you visit another friend. As you are chatting, your friend’s wife brings coffee in a cup (before being asked by your friend). Coffee is already prepared. As you take the first sip, she enquires if the sugar is enough. As you say, ‘its ok’ and drink coffee, she stands there. After you finish, she takes the cup and goes off.

In these two cases of serving coffee, it could be seen, that the purpose was served. In the first case it was done in a ‘5-star’ style. No one can find fault with it. But in the second case, there is an additional component attached to it, namely the personal touch. This definitely had its role in creating an ‘impact.’

The first can be said to be an efficient way of serving coffee and the second an effective way. Efficiency is all about how the ‘producer’ has felt and effectiveness is all about how the ‘user’ has felt.

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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