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.

Direct Sales Calls


  • Do sufficient research to identify potential customers who appear to need your product. This means pulling together names, addresses, and telephone numbers of companies in your market area that use the types of products you are trying to sell. Calling on companies that do not use your products only wastes time, energy, and money.
  • Get the name, address, and telephone number of the specific individual responsible for purchasing the  types of products you are selling. It won’t do much good to talk to the marketing manager if you’re trying to sell computer programs, or the general manager if you’re selling machine tools.
  • Know your sales pitch before calling. No one has time to chit-chat about superfluous subjects. No one cares about how you feel, nor do they care to tell you how they feel. One sentence describing your product and why the listener should buy it is all you’ve time for. If you continue beyond one sentence, either you’ll be thrown out or you’ll lose the interest of your  potential customer. When buyers want to hear more, they ask questions. If there are no questions, there’s no interest.
  • Don’t attempt to close an order at the first contact—either by phone or in person. If the person is interested, ask what would be convenient time and place for you to return and elaborate on your product offering, including prices, delivery schedules, and quality guarantees.
  • Focus on the benefits to be gained from using your product, not on its price. Explanations of product pricing and delivery options should wait for second contact. If you’re forced to the wall, try to keep your description of your pricing structure general.
  • Follow up all potential leads with another call, a letter, or a sample of your product. The scret to building a first-stage business base through direct sales is to continually follow up with any potential customer that seems the least bit interested in your product.

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.

Social Interactions


Social interactions establish the role that people play in a society and their authority responsibility pattern. Their roles and patterns are supported by a society’s institutional framework, which includes, for example, education and marriage.

Social roles are established by culture. For example, a woman can be a wife, a mother, a community leader, and/or an employee. What role is preferred in different situations is culture-bound. Most Swiss women consider household work as their primary role. For this reason, they resent modern gadgets and machines. Behavior also emerges from culture in the form of conventions, rituals, and practices on different occasions such as during festivals, marriages, get-togethers, and times of grief or religious celebration.

With reference to marketing, the social interactions influence family decision-making and buying behavior and define the scope of personal influence and opinion. In Latin America and Asia the extended family is considered the most basic and stable unit of social organization. It is the center for all economic, political, social, and religious life. It provides companionship, protection, and a common set of values with specifically prescribed means for fulfilling them. By contrast, in the US the nuclear family (husband, wife, and children) is the focus of social organization. The US wife plays a more autonomous role than the Dutch wife in family decision-making. Thus social roles vary from culture to culture and are likely to affect marketing behavior.

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.

Vicarious Learning


Vicarious learning, or modeling, is learning through the experiences of others. For example, a person can learn to do a new job by observing others or by watching videotapes. Several conditions must be met to produce various learning. First, the behavior being modeled must be relatively simple. Although we can learn by watching someone else how to push three or four buttons to set specifications on a machine, we probably cannot learn a complicated sequence of operations without also practicing the various steps ourselves. Second, the behavior being modeled usually must be concrete, not intellectual. We can learn by watching others how to respond to the different behaviors of a particular manager or how to assemble a few components into a final assembly. But we probably cannot learn through simple observation how to write a computer program or to conceptualize or think abstractly. Finally, to learn a job vicariously, we must possess the physical ability needed to do the job. Most of us can watch televised baseball games or tennis matches every weekend.

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.

Flow of Communication Messages


  • Despite computer manufacturers’ promises of the paperless office,  shipments of office paper have risen 51 percent.
  • In less than 10 years, people in the US added almost 135 million information receivers—email addresses, cellular phones, fax machines, voice mailboxes, answering machines—up 265 percent.
  • In one year, 11.9 billion messages were left on voice mailboxes.
  • Even though people are clamoring  to get on the Internet, they are sending even more messages through the postal services, and they are talking on their telephones more than ever.

All companies can hold down costs and maximize the benefits of their communication activities if they just follow three simple guidelines:

  1. Reduce the number of messages;
  2. Speed up the preparation of messages;
  3. Train the writers and speakers.

Even though you may ultimately receive training on the job, you can start mastering business communication skills right now. Begin with an honest assessment of where you stand. In the next few days, watch how you handle the communication situations that arise. Then in the months ahead, try to focus on building your competence in areas where you need the most work.

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.

Material Requirements Planning (MRP)


A production plan may be broken down into three major parts:

  1. The master production schedule (MPS)
  2. The material requirements planning system (MRP)
  3. The detailed shop schedule.

Each of these three parts is often complex. Remember that the aggregate planning level aggregates both products and resources. MPS and MRP are at the one lower tactical planning level: resources remain aggregated, but products are dealt with at the individual product level. MRP aggregates resources by simply assuming any product can be produced by waiting a given lead time. The detailed shop schedule takes the schedule proposed by MRP and produces from it a more realistic schedule that considers actual machine availability. Customer orders basically drive the MPS, which in turn drives MRP, which orders raw materials and production of various stages and quantities in order to meet demand in a timely fashion.

The control of the production system has three parts, each of which uses as input the output of the previous part:

  • Part A—Collect and integrate the information required to develop the master production schedule.
  • Part B—Determine the planned order releases using MRP.
  • Part C—Determine detailed shop floor schedules and resource requirements.

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.

Information-based Management


Successful organizations have sophisticated communications equipment that will make it possible to adapt quickly to ever changing wants and needs. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of information management in today’s organizations. Today 35 percent of all personal computers sold are laptop models that are more powerful than most business computers. Now these portable computers are being linked fax machines and cellular phones to send messages to anyone, anywhere, any time. Successful organizations emphasize the need for managing information flows between businesses and their employees, businesses and their customers, and so on.

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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