Product Development Strategy


A product development strategy dictates that the organization create new offerings for existing markets. The approach taken maybe to develop totally new offerings (product innovation) to enhance the value to customers of existing offerings (product augmentation) or to broaden the existing line of offerings by adding different sizes, forms, flavors,  and so forth (product line extension).

Companies successful at developing and commercializing new offerings lead their industries in sales growth and profitability. The likelihood of success is increased if  the development effort results in offerings that satisfy a clearly understood buyer need.

Important considerations in planning a product deployment strategy concern the market size and volume necessary for the effort to be profitable, the magnitude and timing of competitive response, the impact of the new product on existing offerings, and the capacity (in terms of human and financial investment and technology) of the organization to deliver the offerings to the market(s). more importantly, successful new offerings must have a significant point of difference reflected in superior product or service characteristics that deliver unique and wanted benefits to consumers.

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.

Benefits of Teams


Teams are good because many heads are more knowledgeable than one. Each member of the team has special abilities that can be used to solve problems. Many processes are so complex that one person cannot be knowledgeable concerning the entire process. Second, the whole is greater than the sum of its members. The interaction within the team produces results that exceed the contributions of each member. Third, team members develop a rapport with each other that allows them to do a better job. Finally, teams provide the vehicle for improved communication, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful solution.

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.

 

Degrees of Uncertainty


Statistical decision theory is based on the idea that a manager may face three degrees of uncertainty in making a decision. Some decisions are made under conditions of certainty. Here, the manager knows in advance the outcome of decision. At the opposite extreme, some decisions are made under conditions of uncertainty. Here, the manager cannot even assign probabilities to the likelihood of the various outcomes. Conditions of complete uncertainty are also relatively infrequent. Most management decisions are made under conditions of risk. Under conditions of risk, the manager can at least assign probabilities to each outcome. In other words, the manager knows (either from past experience or by making an educated guess) the chance that each possible outcome will occur.

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.

 

Managerial Accounting


Managerial accounting refers to the internal use of accounting statements by managers in planning and directing the organization’s activities. Perhaps management’s greatest single concern is cash flow, the movement of money through an organization over a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Obviously, for any business to succeed, it needs to generate enough cash to pay its bills as they fall due. However, it is not at all unusual for highly successful and rapidly growing companies to struggle to make payments to employees, suppliers, and lenders because of an adequate cash flow. One common reason for a so-called “cash crunch” or short fall is poor managerial planning.

Managerial accounting is the backbone of an organization’s budget, an internal financial plan that forecasts expenses and income over a set period of time. It is not unusual for an organization to prepare separate daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly budgets. Think of a budget as a financial map, showing how the company expects to move from Point A to Point B over a specific period of time. While most companies prepare master budgets for the entire firm, many also prepare budgets for smaller segments of the organization such as divisions, departments, product lines, or projects. “Top-down” master budgets begin at the top and filter down to the individual department level, while “bottom-up” budgets start at the departments or project level and are combined at the chief executive’s office. Generally, the larger and more rapidly growing an organization, the greater will be the likelihood that it will build its master budget from the ground up.

Regardless of focus, the major value of a budget lies in its breakdown of cash inflows and outflows. Expected operating expenses (cash outflows such as wages, materials costs, and taxes) and operating revenues (cash inflows in the form of payments from customers and stock sales) over a set period of time are carefully forecast and subsequently compared with actual results. Deviations between the two serve as a “trip wire” or “feedback loop” to launch more detailed financial analysis in an effort to pinpoint trouble spots and opportunities.

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.

Stakeholder Analysis


A stakeholder analysis is a valuable prelude to a mission statement, a SWOT analysis, and the formulation of effective strategies. Indeed, if an organization has time to do only one thing when it comes to strategic planning, that one thing ought to be a stakeholder analysis. Stakeholder analyses are so critical because the key to success is the satisfaction of key stakeholders. If an organization does not know who its stakeholders are, what criteria they use to judge the organization, and how the organization is performing against those criteria, there is little likelihood that the organization will know what it should do to satisfy its key stakeholders.

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

The General, Industry, and Competitive Environment


Through an integrated understanding of the external and internal environments, firms gain the information they need to understand the present and predict the future.

 The general environment is composed of elements in the broader society that influence an industry and the firms within it. These elements can be grouped into six environmental segments: demographic, economic, political/legal, sociocultural, technological, and global. Firms cannot directly control the general environment’s segments and elements. Accordingly, successful companies gather the types and amounts of data and information that are required to understand each segment and its implications so that appropriate strategies can be selected and used.

 The industry environment is the set of factors—the threat of new entrants, suppliers, buyers, product substitutes, and the intensity of rivalry among compititors—that directly influences a firm and its competitive actions and responses. In total, the interactions among these five factors determine an industry’s profit potential. The challenge is to locate a position within an industry where a firm can favorably influence those factors or where it can successfully defend against their influence. The greater a firm’s capacity to favorably influence its industry environment, the greater is the likelihood that the firm will earn above-average returns.

 How companies gather and interpret information about their competitors is called competitor analysis. Understanding the firm’s compititor environment complements the insights provided by studying the general and industry environments.

 In combination, theresults of the three analyses that are used to understand the external environment influence the development of the firm’s strategic intent, strategic mission, and strategic actions. Analysis of the general environment is focused on the future; analysis of the industry environment is focused on understanding the factors and conditions influencing a firm’s profitability; and analysis of competitors is focused on predicting the dynamics of compititors’ actions, responses, and intentions. Although we discuss each analysis separately, performance improves when the firm integrates the insights gained analysis of the general environment, the industry environment, and the compititor environment.

 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

Conducting an Interview


You may not have the time or inclination to create structured situational interviews. However, there are several things you can do to increase the standardization of the interview or otherwise assist the interviewer to ask more consistent and job relevant questions. They include:

  1. Base questions on actual job duties. This will minimize irrelevant questions based on beliefs about the job’s requirements. It may also reduce the likelihood of bias, because there’s less opportunity to ‘read’ things into the answer.
  2. Use job knowledge, situational, or behaviorally oriented questions and objective criteria to evaluate the interviewee’s responses. Questions that simply ask for opinions and attitudes, goals and aspirations, and self-descriptions and self-evaluations allow candidates to present themselves in an overly favorable manner or avoid revealing weaknesses. Structured interview questions can reduce subjectivity and therefore the chance for inacurate conclusions, and bias. Examples of structured questions include: (a) situational questions like, “Suppose you were giving a sales presentation and a difficult technical question arose that you could not answer. What would you do?”; (b) past behavior questions like, “Can you provide an example of a specific instance where you developed a sales presentation that was highly effective?”; (c) background questions like, “What work experiences, training, or other qualifications do you have for working in a teamwork environment?”; (d) job knowledge questions like, “What factors should you consider when developing a TV advertising campaign?”
  3. Train interviewers. For example, review laws with prospective interviewers and train them to avoid irrelevant or potentially discriminatory questions and to avoid stereotyping minority candidates. Also train them to base their questions on job-related information.
  4. Use the same questions with all candidates. When it comes to asking questions, the prescription seems to be “the more standardized, the better.” Using the same questions with all candidates can also reduce bias “because of the obvious fairness of giving all the candidates the exact same opportunity.”
  5. Use rating scales to rate answers. For each question, provide a range of possible ideal answers and quantative score for each. Then you can rate each candidate’s answers against this scale. This ensures that all interviewers are using the same standards.
  6. Use multiple interviewers or panel interviews. Doing so can reduce bias, by diminishing the importance of one interviewer’s idiosyncratic opinions, and by bringing in more points of view.
  7. If possible, use structured interview form. Interviews based on structured guides usually result in the best interviews. At the very least, list your questions before the interview.
  8. Control the interview. Limiting the interviewers’ follow-up questions (to ensure all interviewees get the same questions), using a larger number of querstions, and prohibiting questions from candidates until after the interview are other “structuring” techniques.

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

Is this Meeting Genuinely Necessary?


A “maybe” response indicates only limited need for the meeting and shows that further thought is required. Only a “yes” is a positive justification for calling a meeting.

 

The same question needs to be asked before attending a meeting. If the meeting is not necessary and you can avoid it, do so. If you have to attend, try to use the time to shorten your workload to compensate for the lost hours.

 

Many managers find it hard to judge if a meeting is needed or superfluous. There are some guidelines:

1.    Is the meeting being called to exchange information or viewpoints?

a.       If the meeting is to discuss viewpoints, it is probably a necessary conference. If the meeting is strictly to distribute information, the meeting is probably unnecessary. Meetings are most effective when used to find solutions or resolutions to conflicts. A meeting held for the sole purpose of imparting information had better have some pretty spectacular revelations. This in all likelihood should be classed as an inspirational conference, because important news is seldom passed along without editorializing or explanations. Inspirational meetings are difficult to conduct, because they are based on emotion, but there are times when the troops need boosting or, conversely, deflating.

b.      Training meetings appear to be an exception to the don’t-meet-to-exchange-information concept. They are not. Distributing information in advance allows the meeting to be used for developing concepts and testing individual understanding. This is a better use of everyone’s time. This is not to downplay the importance of instructional sessions. It is just to set this category of communications apart from other meetings.

c.       Information, facts, figures, sales data, market intelligence, production numbers, personnel reviews, and more, can be disseminated more effectively by memo than meeting. Chances are, the memo is going to be written anyway passed out at the meeting. Distributing a memo is okay if there is other business on hand, but calling a meeting solely as a means of handing paper to other managers is inappropriate.

d.      Meetings are at their best when used to generate expressions of viewpoints or concepts, or to develop a policy.

e.       Meetings are at their worst when used to check individual progress on various projects. There are few more mind-dulling experiences than to sit at a conference table and hear about the status of tasks that are not even remotely connected with yours. These sections often turn into excuse contests with rambling dissertations on the reasons behind delays or problems.

f.        Meetings are generally not an efficient way to dispense information. If this is the primary reason for the gathering, then rethink the need for convening.

2.    Can one-on-one conversations or even one-on-two conversations accomplish what needs to be done? Or is a larger group necessary?

a.       There’s a difference between a meeting and a conversation between two or three people. A conversation is relaxed, informal, and rarely has the time constraints posed by a meeting. Those present sense the difference.

b.      Decisions are rarely made in conversations. In fact, some managers and executives become agitated when two or three members of a committee converse and come to a consensus without the others present. This nervousness is not assuaged by a follow-up memo which details the conversation or even by the fact that the decision may be nothing more than a unified front, in no way binding upon the group.

c.       If conversation will suffice to avoid another meeting, then have the talk. Inform the other committee members or interested parties. Those smart enough to advance in management will welcome one less meeting on their schedule.

3.    Is this meeting being called because someone or some group doesn’t have enough to do? It happens all the time. Workloads in an organization can be unbalanced. This week, Production has more than it can handle, while Sales is costing. One way to fill the day for Sales is to call a meeting. This is more common than anyone dares admit.

4.    Is the agenda for the called-meeting vague? Or worse, is there no agenda at all?

a.       As a basic rule of meeting skill, do not go to a meeting where there is no agenda. If you have to attend, go prepared for the worst.

b.      If a manager cannot express on paper what the meeting is about, there probably shouldn’t be a meeting at all.

c.       If you are asked to a meeting and no agenda is given to you in advance, find the person who called the meeting and ask for one. If it is verbal, take notes.

d.      Many times, the person discovers he or she has vague ideas about why the meeting is needed. This experience can benefit both of you.

5.    Is there any reason to meet other than the fact that your group has a set, regular, once-a-week mandatory meeting? Top management often wants certain employees to get together each and every week, to discuss items of importance, or to match timing, balance workloads, and do ongoing, necessary house-keeping.

a.       After a few sessions, these meetings fall into a routine and small talk dominates.

b.      The day before, the manager should do a little checking. Is there actually a need to convene? Could a more limited gathering accomplish the same thing? Would a memo suffice? Could matters be handled by a phone call? If the answer is yes, skip the meeting.

 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