“Is” and “Is Not”


Once we have identified “could be”  but “is not” data, we will also be able to identify the peculiar factors that isolate our problem: exactly what it is, where it is observed, when it is observed, and its extent or magnitude. These peculiar factors will lead us closer to the problem’s cause.

Suppose for a moment that you have two identical potted plants growing in your office. One thrives but the other does not. If you take the wilting plant out of the office and ask someone about the probable cause for its sorry appearance, you will get any number of educated guesses. But if the same person observes that two identical plants in your office have not been receiving identical treatment (the thriving plant is on a sunny window sill and the wilting one is in a dim corner), the speculations as to cause will be immediate and more accurate than they could have been without a basis of comparison. Regardless of the content of a problem, nothing is more conducive to sound analysis than some relevant basis of comparison.

The decision as to what is close and what is logical must rest with the judgment of the problem solver. In many cases it is extremely important to identify the malfunction that “could be” but “is not” in order to narrow the scope of the search for cause. Each problem analysis is unique to the content of each problem.

Once we have identified bases of comparison in all four dimensions, we are able to isolate key distinguishing features of the problem. It is as if we had been describing the outlines of a shadow. With the completion of the “is not” data in our specification, the outlines begin to suggest the components capable of having cast the shadow.

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.

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.

A Plan of Action


You should be prepared to identify possible courses of action on the basis of the situation analysis. More often than not, several alternatives are possible, and each should be carefully articulated. Each course of action typically has associated costs and revenues. These should be carefully calculated on the basis of realistic estimates of the magnitude of effort expected in their pursuit.

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.

 

Cardinal versus Ordinal


What do we mean when we say that a variable is “quantitatively measurable”?We do not necessarily mean that there is only a single way of measuring or scaling it. Temperature is certainly quantitatively measurable, but there are alternative ways of doing so. For example, 320 Fahrenheit is 00 Celsius, and each degree up or down of Celsius corresponds to 1.8 degrees up or down of Fahrenheit. The two scales differ, but only in zero point and unit interval. Similarly, altitude could be measured from sea level or from the center of the earth (shift of zero point) and in feet or meters (shift of unit interval). Both temperature and altitude are more technically called cardinal magnitudes, variables which have the following property: that, regardless of shift of zero-point and unit interval, the relative magnitudes of differences remain the same. In case of altitude, for example, there’s a bigger difference between the heights of the base and crest of Mount Everest than between the ground floor and roof of even the tallest building. This remains true whether we scale altitude in feet or meters or whether we measure it from sea level or from the center of the earth. If people can state that they prefer two million to one million—but not by how much—their utility is said to be an “ordinal” magnitude. Put another way, if Total Utility is an ordinal magnitude we cannot say anything about the  size of Marginal Utility but we can still say whether Marginal Utility is positive or negative.

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.

 

Problem-solving at the Upper Management Level


Full step-by-step application of the process, documented on chartpad or notepad, is required most often for concrete problems whose identity can be directly observed or easily visualized. These largely are mechanical, tangible situations.

At the upper management level, however, application of the process often consists of use of the ideas of the process. This includes discussion of a situation in al l its dimensions rather than formulation of hypotheses based on experience; attention to distinctions of identity, location, timing and magnitude rather than informed speculation alone; and testing of possible causes against the facts surrounding a situation rather than immediate action directed at the cause suggested by informed speculation. Data may be recorded and notes taken, but use of the process at upper levels of management is usually observable in the character of the questioning and the nature of the investigation. We observe people using the common language of Problem Analysis to organize their information, communicate it, and put it in perspective. They are sharing information through the channels of a systematic process. They are using words that will clarify each individual’s contributions.

Busy managers are not avoiding responsibility when they tell subordinates, “I want you to solve your own problems.” They have neither the time nor the specific skills to personally guide their subordinates’ problem-solving efforts. The truth of the matter is that managers who become directly involved in problem solving are subject to criticism for failing to set priorities on their own time or to delegate appropriately—in short, for failing to manage their operations. Managers need not have all the right answers. What is required of them are the ability and willingness to ask the right questions. The kind of questioning we use in specifying, in identifying distinctions and change, and in testing possible causes lends itself well to the process of assessing the logic and the work that other people have contributed to resolving a problem.

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.

Inflation and Disinflation


Fiscal policy is related to inflation, which occurs when the prices of goods and services rise steadily throughout the economy. Although many factors (such as increases in the prices of imported goods) contribute to inflation, government borrowing is major factor. When the government borrows great sums of money to bolster the economy, the total amount of money circulating tends to increase. With more money chasing the same quantity of goods and services, inflation increases too.

Theoretically, the government is supposed to pay back its debt during inflationary times, thereby taking some of the excess money out of the economy and slowing inflation to moderate level. This system worked throughout 1950s and 1960s, but during the 1970s, inflation kept building. By the end of the decade, prices were increasing by almost 14 percent a year.

Inflation of this magnitude brings an unproductive mind-set. People become motivated to buy “before the prices goes up,” even if they have to borrow money to do it. With greater competition for available money, interest rates increase to a level that makes business borrowing riskier and business expansion slower. Businesses and individuals alike begin spending on short-term items instead of investing in things like new factories and children’s education, which are more valuable to the nation’s economy in the long run.

Because of the peculiar psychology that accompanies high inflation, slowing it has always been difficult. In addition, the causes of inflation are complex, and the remedies can be painful. Nevertheless, several factors conspired to bring about a period of disinflation, a moderation in the inflation rate, during the 1980s.

Whether inflation will remain under control is debatable. The country is still vulnerable to outside shock. Bad weather could jack up food prices, and political upheavals could limit the supply and boost the price of vital raw materials. Also, government efforts to stimulate the economy could rekindle inflation. When the economy slumps, the government is inclined to increase the money supply, which tends to drive prices up.

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.

Creative Destruction


Technological discontinuities, regulation and deregulation, globalization, changing customer expectations, and macroeconomic, social, or demographic changes are sources of innovation. Biotechnology, the web, fiber optics, digital movies, cable modems, massively parallel processors, and electric cars are all technological discontinuities of some sort as they offer an order of magnitude performance advantage over previous technologies. They also result in some sort of capabilities obsolescence. Such changes where an old order is destroyed by technological innovation is creative destruction.

Customers demand and expect certain levels of quality and price versus performance in the product that they buy. For various reasons, firms are no longer limiting their activities to their country of origin. Social or demographic changes, such as the changes from planned economies to capitalist ones, are also discontinuities. These are all sources of new ideas to profit from.

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.

Previous Older Entries