Reinforcement Theory and Learning


Reinforcement theory, also called operant conditioning, is generally associated with the work of B. F. Skinner. In its simplest form, reinforcement theory suggests that behavior is a function of its consequences. Thus, behavior that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behavior that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated.

Reinforcement theory further suggests that in any given situation, people will explore a variety of possible behaviors. Future behavioral choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviors. Cognitions also play an important role. Thus, rather than assuming a mechanical stimulus-response linkage suggested by the traditional classical view of learning, contemporary theorists believe that people consciously explore different behaviors and systematically choose those that result in the most desirable outcomes.

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.

Advertisements

Basic Organizational Structures


Although there is an almost infinite variety of structural forms, certain basic types predominate in modern complex organizations. There are three basic organizational structures. The conglomerate structure is a variant of divisional structure and is thus not depicted as a fourth structure. Generally speaking, each structure tends to support some corporate strategies over others.

  • Simple Structure has no functional or product categories and is appropriate for a small, entrepreneur-dominated company with one or two product lines that operates in a reasonably small, easily identifiable market niche. Employees tend to be generalists and jacks of all trades.
  • Functional structure is appropriate for a medium-sized firm with several related product lines in one industry. Employees tend to be specialists in the business functions important to that industry, such as manufacturing, marketing, finance, and human resources.
  • Divisional structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several related industries. Employees tend to be functional specialists organized.
  • Strategic business units (SBU)are a recent modification to the divisional structure. Strategic business units are divisions or groups of divisions composed of independent product-market segments that are given primary responsibility and authority for the management of their own functional areas. An SBU may be of any size or level, but it must have 1) a unique mission, 2) identifiable competitors, 3)an external market focus, and 4) control of its business functions. The idea is to decentralize on the basis of strategic elements rather than on the basis of size, product characteristics, or span of control and to create horizontal linkages among units previously kept separate.
  • Conglomerate structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several unrelated industries. A variant of the divisional structure, the conglomerate structure (sometimes called a holding company) is typically an assemblage of legally independent firms (subsidiaries) operating under one corporate umbrella but controlled through the subsidiaries’ boards of directors. The unrelated nature of the subsidiaries prevents any attempt at gaining synergy among them.

If the current basic structure of corporation does not easily support a strategy under consideration, top management must decide if the proposed strategy is feasible or if the structure should be changed to a more advanced structure.

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.

 

Company Demographics


For all customers or prospect records the following basic attributes will lay a solid foundation for numerous segmentations:

  1. Category code: A four-digit code is usually a sufficiently descriptive definition your market is concentrated in several Standard Industry Codes, then going to the six or eight digit level may be appropriate. Remember the SIC is currently undergoing revision, so be flexible with this field.
  2. Company size: There are two choices – sales volume or employee size. It is probably best to use employee size, as it is more easily obtained and more accurate than company revenue. Record employee numbers by site so that they can be rolled up to the corporate level.
  3. Site Type and Linkage: There are some standard definitions here such as branch, division and corporate headquarters. It is important that you take time to develop a site definition that fits your business as this might include plant, research center, etc. secondly, link the sites to a corporate structure, so that a roll-up to the enterprise level can be carried out to look at the customer picture.
  4. Financial year: For those selling situations that involve the customer needing to budget for your product or service, the knowledge of the fiscal year becomes critical, as this will drive the buying process and therefore your selling cycle. Most companies are on a calendar/fiscal year, but about 20 percent are on a different fiscal year basis. In the consumer market this might also be relevant – for example in acquiring expensive items.

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.

 

Idea Generators


Idea generators are individuals who have the ability to sift through jungles of market and technological information to find ideas that lead to new products or services. They possess the talent and knowledge to find new cost or time effective procedures, approaches, or problem-solving strategies. They possess skill that is deep expertise in one discipline combined with broad enough knowledge in others to see the linkages between them. Such skills are critical in integrating different functions (R&D, design, marketing, manufacturing, customer service) to synthesize a product or service, in seeing the connection between a technology and its applications, or in turning customer expectations into products.

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.

Levers of Change


While there are very few general rules in organizational change, some general principles hold true for all organizations. A good place to start for most organizations in competitive, dynamic environments is to look at the four levers of change. These are technology, quality, costs and marketing—four areas that can be targeted for change.

 

Technology does not refer only to tools, equipment and machinery. It also includes information, knowledge, and activities that are involved in the physical transformation of inputs into outputs. The outputs may be products or services. Any physical transformation task has a choice of technologies associated with it. In a business environment characterized by increased global competition, management of technology has become a major area of concern for organizations.

 

Quality is all about meeting or exceeding customer expectations. It is a critical element in any change effort because customers are the ultimate judge of the success of the change effort. If the change does not result in products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations, it has obviously not achieved its purpose.

 

Costs or productivity constitutes the third lever of change. In today’s business environment, customers are very cost-conscious and are unwilling to pay for products or services that do not meet their expectations. With increased competition, they have more choices. Consequently, they are no longer dependent on a single supplier or a few suppliers for products and services. Widening the choice has resulted in customers demanding more value for their money. A challenge for most organizations is to enhance quality while reducing costs. This requires carefully planned processes, systems and work habits.

 

Marketing refers to the mechanisms for delivering products and services to the customer. It includes: attracting new customers to your organization’s offerings; retaining existing and new customers; and examining your distribution channels, marketing structures and procedures.

 

Each of these levers is supported by a set of structures, processes and procedures such as human resource practices. Any changes in the levers will also require corresponding changes in these structures, processes and procedures. In the first phase of appreciation, it is not necessary to work out these details but you need to be aware of the linkages that need to be strengthened at the implementation stage.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight