Strategic Decisions


There are three central characteristics of strategic decision making:

  1. Strategic decisions that affect the very survival of the firm;
  2. The effects of a decision last a long time, perhaps five to ten years;
  3. The long range effects of a decision are very hard to forecast.

Actually, the first characteristic is really the definition of a strategic decision. The other two characteristics follow from it. If we could correct a bad decision of any size within a year or two, then it would be less likely to harm the firm permanently. And it should be clear that any decision whose effects last for many years will be extremely difficult to forecast.

Difficulties of long-range forecasting include:

  1. Long-range forecasts are usually ill-structured; that is, it is impossible to make a really good mathematical model of what is being forecasted.
  2. Forecasting accuracy drops off rapidly as one looks further into the future. This is essentially because unforeseeable change accumulate as we peer further and further ahead.
  3. Forecasts need to mix subjective and objective information, since different kinds of information are being captured.
  4. The longer the horizon, the less objective information is available, the worse models will be, and the more we must rely on subjective forecasts.

Given that huge financial stakes are involved and that strategic decisions have a long horizon with poor forecasts available, it is hardly surprising that most Operations Management texts do not delve deeply into this problem. Many methods which are in practical use are not deeply quantitive, and are, in any event, difficult to describe and justify. Nevertheless, manufacturing executives do not have the luxury of ignoring strategic decision making and must be careful consumers of the best available methods.

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

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Principles of Quality Management


Vision-based:

  • Vision will give a sense of direction.
  • Vision will motivate human resource.
  • Vision will help the organization to stay focused.
  • Without vision an organization will fail.
  • Absence of vision will lead to confusion.

 Customer-focused:

  • Open economy has given away monopoly. It is buyer’s market which is in existence now.
  • Without customers no business can exist.
  • Internal customer orientation will improve productivity.
  • One dissatisfied customer can create havoc by unprecedented actions.
  • Retention of customer is the key issue in business.

 Prevention oriented:

  • Prevention is better than cure is a well acknowledged phrase.
  • Prevention orientation will take one nearer to ‘Zero Defects’ status.
  • Foolproof prevention techniques such as ‘Poka Yoka’ are available.
  • Corrective approach calls for costly monitoring mechanism.
  • Correction does not stop recurrence.

 Scientifically approached:

  • Scientific methods are based on fundamental or derived laws of mathematics and science and hence the foundation is strong.
  • Scientific methods are well proved over the years and hence chances of going wrong is remote.
  • Use of scientific methods gives a sense of pride and improves the self esteem of workers.
  • Unscientific methods make one ti depend on the previous experience, which may bot be appropriate.
  • Logical reasoning which may not always be appropriate is avoided in scientific methods.

 Process given more importance than end results:

  • End does not justify means.
  • Proper means will ensure quality result.
  • Zero defect is possible only if the processes are perfect.
  • Process orientation will make workers more responsible.
  • Result orientation will end up with huge los as all the defects are to be rejected.

 Data-based analysis:

  • Data-based approach will always give the best insight to the problem and solution.
  • Information-based or knowledge-based approach may mislead at all times.
  • Data collection is a strenous process; however the returns will be higher.
  • In many situations the raw data themselves will provide solutions to problems or at least provide useful clues.
  • Data collected and documented for one specific purpose, can well be used for some other purpose, thus providing a databank or multiple applications.

 Continuous improvement strategies

  • No one at any point of time can say that ‘Perfection’ has been achieved. Even six sigma companies talk about 3 ppm defects. Hence there is always scope for improvement in everything. Quality improvement is a never ending process.
  • The world has become so competitive that dynamism should reflect in every facet of business, even in product development.
  • Crativity and innovation are the order of the day in business circles.
  • Established tools such as ‘benchmarking’ are available for continuous improvement.
  • Improved products will have a cutting edge in the market.

 Cost conscious attempt:

  • ROI (Return on Investment) is the performance index for any business enterprise.
  • The visible quality costs are like the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of hidden  costs that go unnoticed.
  • Quality is free, meaning poor quality costs can be offset by good quality profit margin.
  • Affordability is the key factor for customers and profit margin is the key factor for manufacturers.
  • Prevention which could be done with $1 is missed, the failure/defects due to that will cost the company $10. the cost ratios are so high.

 Documentation for traceability

  • Stakeholders ae assured of the quality through documentation.
  • Traceability is effective and easy with documented information.
  • Documentation will amount to standardization.
  • To err is human; documentation helps in curbing human errors.
  • Role clarity is ascertained which reduces workplace confusion.

 Reward/Recognition assured

  • Recognition is one thing that every human being long for.
  • Motivation is the key factor for sustaining quality initiatives.
  • Rewards may be helpful in motivating non-performers to join quality initiators.
  • Disinterest in the job being done is the main culprit for low productivity and poor quality.
  • Human component plays a major role as compared to system component in quality initiatives.

 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

Financial Analysis: Real Problems


The term financial analysis  when applied to new products conjures up visions of sales forecasts and profit calculations. By using traditional financial analysis, we can get a good read on the current proposal.

 Actually, sales forecasts and financial analysis systems are no problem as such. We have an immense warhead of forecasting methodologies, most based on many years of experience. We know, for example, what makes for sales. This model does an excellent job and serves as the basis for some very advanced mathematical systems used by some of the most sophisticated new product marketers in the world. And every firm has people who can make an income-statement-based net present value calculation (using discounted cash flow methods). We have had years of experience with it.

 The financial model requires product cost, prices, the current value of money, probable taxes on the future income, the amount of further capital investments that will be required between now and when we close the books on the product and much more.

 They will never be certain, even after living out the product’s life cycle. Sales will be known, but we might have had a better marketing strategy. Costs are always just estimates. We will never know the true extent to which a new item cannibalized sales from another product. If we had not marketed the new item a competitor probably would have. And on and on.

 The fact is, we rely on estimated. Management’s task is ot to make the estimates as we can and then manage around the areas of uncertainty in a way that we do’t get hurt too badly.

 On minor product improvements we do this pretty well. On near line extensions, we also do well, but with more misses. Totally new products, using technologies never so applied before, are pure guessing games.

 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