Writing the First Draft


When your outline is complete and you are ready to write your first draft, many writers make a common mistake at this point. They try to “get it right” the first time. They may work on a paragraph for hours, fine-tuning the words until they are perfect. Writers thus shut off their creativity by insisting on profession.

Remember, the first draft is a working draft. It should be written quickly without too much thought to elegant expressions or final order and paragraphing. Your object is to get the material on paper to flash out the structure of your outline. Let the words flow. Start wherever you can—in the middle, even near the end. The opening or introduction can be completed later. Any weaknesses in logic or gaps in information, any points that are out of place can be corrected in the final version.

As you write the first draft, keep your audience in mind. Doing so will help you stay focused on the purpose of your work. Keep writing until you have completed the first draft.

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

Strategic Leadership’s View about Investment in Innovation


The strategic leadership view argues that the strategic incentive to invest in an innovation or the failure to exploit it as a result of destroyed competence come only after a firm’s top management has recognized the potential of the innovation. Top management makes the decisions to invest in an innovation, or if such decisions are made by lower level managers, they still reflect the beliefs and values of top management. But incentive to invest in an innovation or its ability to embrace and exploit the innovation is a function of the extent to which the firm’s top management recognizes the potential of the innovation. This ability of top management to recognize the potential of an innovation is a function of its managerial logic, or view of the world, which in turn depends on management experiences, organizational logic, and industry logic. Thus whether a firm is a new entrant or an incumbent may not matter much. What matters is the strategic leadership’s dominant logic.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Not Right or Wrong, Cultures are Just Different


People around the world feel as strongly about their culture as we do about ours, even if they do occasionally feel ambivalence. It is pointless to argue whether a culture is “good” or “bad;” every nationality thinks its culture is the best. For every foreign peculiarity that assumes us, there is our national peculiarity that amuses others.

Cultures have their own logic. Anthropologists say cutures are different because various peoples had to deal with diverse circumstances to meet their common human needs: different climates, different climates, different resources, different terrain. Just as animal species evolved differently to adapt to different conditions, so mankind evolved diverse solutions to life’s problems. Over the years the complex array of solutions to problems (many of which disappeared long ago)  created a confusion of cultural behaviors. But there are patterns, and one can begin to understand them by considering the different past, present and future of the cultures of the world.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Policy Structures


One of the major purposes of organizations is to relate and coordinate individuals and groups separated by task and space. The authority structure helps accomplish this by defining, at least partially, who can tell whom to do what, and who has the authority to make what kinds of decisions and to take what actions. This authority structure is supplemented with a structure of explicit and implicit policies, procedures, methods, and rules, which channel and direct many decisions and actions.

A policy is a statement of intent that is made to guide others in their decision making without being so specific as to specify decisions. Theoratically, the top executives of any company, but especially the larger ones, necessarily determine policies that help guide the behavior of people within the organization. However, in fact, people at lower levels often have an important hand in fashioning policy. This happens in two ways. First, people at lower levels make recommendations to those at upper levels. Second, people in upper levels sometimes formalize policies to fit behavior patterns that have already emerged at lower levels. In the latter case, policy follows practice.

A frequent characteristic of policy statements is that they are vague enough to permit managers to select among specific decesions, depending upon the managers’ view of the specific conditions surrounding the decision.

In addition to policies, certain procedures and methods are usually designed to facilitate work. For example, there may be eight discrete steps in a particular work process, and a sequence established for each step. Step three might involve notifying two departments that the first two steps are completed. Such a suggested process is called a procedure. It tells people when they should do something. How they do it is the method they use. The method is formally prescribed in some cases and is left to the operant’s discretion in others. Anyone who fails to follow the prescribed procedures and methods is usually open to censure if problems result. Yet much of life in organizations involves evading required procedures and methods, or redesigning them, and again the reasons are usually people-problems rather than errors in the logic of the design of the procedures and methods.

Most organizations have rules and regulations to supplement policies, procedures, and methods. Rules and regulations say what one must do or not do and often specify penalties for infractions. “No one is to punch another’s third card” is an example. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It says “no one,” period.

So there is a sliding scale from guides (policies) to suggestions (procedures) to requirements (rules and regulations). Nearly all organizations include the entire svcale, but different companies may vary widely in their relative emphasis upon various parts of the scale. At the less specific end of the scale, there is more freedom but less certainty, and the reverse is true of the more specific end. Knowing where a particular organization stands on the scale is thus important in understanding how it functions.

Furthermore, there is wide variability between organizational units (eg., research division versus accounting department) in the reliance placed upon or the attention paid to the policy 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, Line of Sight

Writing a Resume Letter


The Resume Letter is not a true cover letter—that is, a letter of transmittal for your employment resume. Instead, it is intended to replace the resume and to convey sufficient information about your background to create employer interest in interviewing you.

In general, it is usually a poor substitute for the resume itself, and thus can frequently do the job seeker a great injustice if not properly designed. Specifically, if it is poorly planned and written, it does not provide sufficient information (when compared to the resume) for the employer to make a reasonable assessment of the applicant’s qualifications and for deciding whether to grant an interview. Additionally, it may frustrate the prospective employer by not providing sufficient detail, suggesting that the applicant is simply too lazy to prepare a proper summary of qualifications. Neither of these reactions will serve your cause very well.

It appears that the most frequent use of the resume letter is by top level corporate executives who wish simply to convey their availability and conduct a very cursory search of the job market. Generally, such letters are directed at the highest level of the target organization and are intended to convey availability and general interest in discussing appropriate opportunities. The typical logic supporting such letters is that the applicant’s current position and employer “speak for themselves,” and thus there is little need for a detailed resume.

Although this can be true, it is not typically the case. Obviously, if the individual is a top corporate or division-level officer of a Fortune 200 company, use of a resume letter may be sufficient. Sufficient is to say, however, that if the applicant is the Chief Financial Officer of a little known company, the resume letter will not have quite the same effect, and its use may seem somewhat presumptuous (if used in a place of a formal resume). In such a case, a full resume and a conventional cover letter is recommended.

The use of the resume letter by lesser known top executives, middle managers, and professionals is not recommended. Since employer’s name and position title convey little information to the reader in such cases, much more needs to be written to convey the same understanding about the author’s background and responsibilities. The damage here, of course, is that the letter will become unwieldy and will therefore not be read by its recipient.

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

Mobilizing Support


Mobilizing support for change requires a blend of logic, emotions, and values. The change managers should:

  1. Developing clarity about the target audience: in an effort to achieve acceptance of any change idea, it is very important to clearly understand who the relevant stakeholders are, what are their identities, their aspirations, their values, and their influence in the organization. The target audience is never homogeneous group. These would be people who may be ready to support the change ideas quickly, people who oppose change no matter how sensible the ideas are, and people who are willing to listen but should not be taken for granted. A change manager should identify the real interests of these sub-groups and should tailor the communication and persuasion effort accordingly. In other words, the change manager should be sensitive to the fact that there would be multiple views and perceptions in an organization and it is important to be clear as to what these are.
  2. Getting people involved: When a change manager begins the change campaign by making a strong presentation and supporting it with huge data, there is a danger that employees at the receiving end may become mere spectators and skeptics. At the same time, it is not realistic to expect that people would volunteer themselves to engage in defining a change initiative. What is most useful in such a situation is ‘foot in the door’ approach. This involves asking people to make a small initial commitment, which may be in the nature of asking their views on the present situation and discussing possible courses of action. Over a period of time, these small commitments could be extended to sustain larger change objectives. This approach is particularly useful to attract skeptics to the change program.
  3. Crafting the message: A primary process in the influence effort is not change in attitude towards an object, but change in definition and meaning of the object. Once meaning changes, attitudes change accordingly. A change manager should present the idea in such a manner that it evokes sufficient curiosity among members to explore it further. The message should be simple, but clear enough in its scope. Rather than a conclusive statement, it should invite people for a dialogue. People tend to be more attracted towards stories and symbols than hard numerical data. A change manager should be able to make use of these soft dimensions of relationships to gain attention to the change idea.
  4. Timing the campaign: Many ideas are rejected because they are presented at a wrong time. A change manager should first use informal meetings to generate the need for improving present levels of performance and make people receptive to new suggestions. Change ideas should be presented only when people are willing to engage in a dialogue process. This is very similar to a gardener first preparing the soil before sowing the seeds.
  5. Sustaining the momentum: Mobilizing support for change is never a one-time activity. It takes considerable amount of time to get people involved and committed to the change idea. It should be best for people with high expertise and credibility to lead the change. People listen to those who have expertise while framing their position. Then those people should be identified who favor the change idea and they should be helped to articulate their views in public. People tend to stick to their positions that are made in public

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 Fudges of Brainstorming


The term brainstorming has passed into common English usage. Invented by Alex Osborn, a versatile advertising executive, brainstorming has come now to mean freewheeling discussion.

The principles of brainstorming as a technique are deceptively simple:

  1. All evaluative or critical comments are taboo during the phase of generating ideas or solutions.
  2. The attempt is to generate a very large number of ideas or solutions. The logic is that at least a small proportion of ideas tend to be high quality that are both novel and useful, so that the larger the number of ideas generated the larger may be the number of quality ideas that are produced.
  3. Emphasize novelty, not correctness or appropriateness. The stranger the ideas solutions, the better. The reason is that strange ideas demolish existing mental frames and liberate the mind to generate and accept unconventional ideas.
  4. Participants in a brainstorm are encouraged to build on each other’s ideas.

Typically, in a brainstorm, a specific problem is first introduced. The problem must be quite specific, and capable of many alternative solutions. Thus, one cannot brainstorm on a vague problem like how to increase productivity, now on a problem with one right answer, such as what was worker productivity in the plant last month But how to increase worker productivity by 30% in a particular is quite appropriate for brainstorming. Gnenerally, brainstorming problems are preceded by how to …

After the problem is stated and clarified, the brainstorm begins.Each group member gives one . . . .

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 Asif J. Mir.

Next Newer Entries