Just About Money


Strictly defined, money is anything generally accepted in exchange for goods and services. To be used as a medium of exchange, money must be acceptable, divisible, portable, stable in value, durable, and difficult to counterfeit.

Acceptability: To be effective, money must be readily acceptable for the purchase of goods and services and for the settlement of debts. Acceptability is probably the most important characteristic of money: If people do not trust the value of money, businesses will not accept it as a payment for goods and services, and consumers will have to find some other means of paying for their purchases.

Divisibility: Given the widespread use of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies in the United States, it is no surprise that the principle of divisibility is an important one. With barter, the lack of divisibility often makes otherwise preferable trades impossible, as would be an attempt to trade a steer for a loaf of bread. For money to serve effectively as a measure of value, all items must be valued in terms of comparable units—dimes, for a piece of bubble gum, quarters for laundry machines, and dollars (or dollars and coins) for everything else.

Portability: Clearly, for money to function as a medium of exchange, it must be easily moved from one location to the next. Large colored rocks could be used as money, but you couldn’t carry them around in your wallet. Paper currency and metal coins, on the other hand, are capable of transferring vast purchasing power into small, easily carried bundles.

Stability: Money must be stable and maintain its declared face value. The principle of stability allows people who wish to postpone purchases and save their money to do so without fear that it will decline in value. Money declines its value during periods of inflation, when economic conditions cause prices to rise. Thus, the same amount of money buys fewer and fewer goods and services.

Durability: Money must be durable. The crisp new dollar bills you trade at the music store for the hottest new CD will make their way all around town for about 18 months before being replaced. Were the value of an old, faded bill to fall to line with the deterioration of its appearance, the principles of stability and universal acceptability would fail. Although metal coins, due to their much longer useful life, would appear to be an ideal form of money, paper currency is far more portable than metal because of its light weight. Today, coins are used primarily to provide divisibility.

Difficulty to Counterfeit: To remain stable and enjoy universal acceptance, it almost goes without saying that money must be very difficult to counterfeit—that is, to duplicate illegally. Every country takes steps to make counterfeiting difficult. Most use multicolored money, and many use specially watermarked papers that are virtually impossible to duplicate.

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.

ISO 9000 Certification


Organizations that achieve certain quality standards can apply for ISO 9000 certification. This is administered by independent third parties who check quality management methods. For this you must:

  • Say what you are going to do about quality—describing procedures, operations and inspections;
  • Show that you actually do work in this way;
  • Prove that work was done properly by doing audits and keeping records.

Some people think that ISO standards guarantee high product quality—if you see the label, the product must be good. But really, the standard only shows that an organization has a program of quality management, and that the product quality is consistent and reliable. The quality need not necessarily be good. A manufacturer of metal bearings, for example, will specify the tolerance on the diameter of a bearing; ISO certification means that the bearings will be within this tolerance, but it does not judge whether the tolerance is good enough for any intended use.

There are five separate parts to the ISO 9000 standards:

a)      ISO 9000 defines quality, gives a series of standards an organization might aim for and guides you through the other parts of the series.

b)      ISO 9001 is used by companies whose customers expect them to design and make special products—it deals with the whole range of TQM, from initial product design and development, through to procedures for testing final products and services.

c)      ISO 9002 is used by companies who make standard products—it concentrates on the actual process, and how to document quality.

d)     ISO 9003 deals with final product inspection and testing procedures.

e)      ISO 9004 is a guide to overall quality management and related systems, and says what you should do to develop and maintain quality.

ISO 9000 and 9004 are guides for setting up quality management programs; ISO 9001 and 9002 are the main standards; and ISO 9003 describes some aspects of quality control. These standards are flexible enough to use in almost any organization.

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.

Intra-Company Pricing


In order to achieve the benefits of decentralization, many companies have split their operations into divisions that act as more or less autonomous “profit centers.” These profit centers typically are allowed, within certain limits, to make their own price and output decisions. Their executives, furthermore, are judged on the basis of the divisional profits achieved.

Suppose a commodity or service is to be exchanged between two profit centers of a single company. The firm may produce copper metal in one profit center and fabricate it into copper wire in a separate profit center. Or production may take place within one profit center and marketing of the company’s product within another. The question then arises of how to price the internal transaction of, for example, supplying copper metal to the coppoer wire division. The supplying division will of course be interested in having the intermediate product valued at a high price, the receiving division at a low price.

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

New Product Process


New products actually build up the way rivers do. Great rivers are systems with tributaries that have tributaries. Goods that appear complex are just collections of metal shapes, packaging material, fluids, prices, and so on. A good anology is the production of automobiles, with a main assembly line supported by scores of subsidiary assembly lines scattered around the world, each of which makes a part that goes into another part that ultimately goes into a car in that final assembly line.

 If you can imagine the quality control people in auto parts plants evaluating each part before releasing it to the next step, you have the idea of a new product evaluation system. The new product appears first as an idea, a concept in words or pictures, and we evaluate that first. As workers turn the concept into a formed process of metal, or software, or a new factory site preparation service, that good or service is then evaluated. When a market planner puts together a marketing plan, its parts are evaluated separately (just as minor car parts are) and then evaluated again in total, after it is added to the product.

 The fact that we evaluate the product and its marketing plan as separate and divisible pieces is what lets us telescope the development process into shorter periods of time. There was an era when we went through a new product’s development step by step, nothing “ahead of its time.” But today we may be working on a package before we actually have finished product, we may be filming part of a commercial before the trademark has been approved and finalized.

 This sometimes causes some backtracking, but the cost of that is less than the costs of a delayed introduction. It does require, however, that we have thought through carefully the item’s overall development needs—and, which of those needs are crucial, and which not crucial. Any evaluation system must cover the crucial ones.

 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

Reinterpreting Products


Product is not what the engineer explicitly says it is, but what the consumer, implicitly demands that it shall be. Thus the consumer consumes not things, but expected benefits—not cosmetics, but the satisfactions of the allurements they promise; not quarter-inch drills, but quarter-inch holes; not stock in companies, but capital gains; not numerically controlled milling machines, but trouble-free and accurately smooth metal parts; not low-cal whipped cream, but self-rewarding indulgence combined with sophisticated convenience.

The product does not exist as a separate entity. The product is what the consumer perceives it to be. Consumer perceptions are strategically important at all stages of product development, from initial conceptualization to concept testing, to positioning, to designing, manufacturing, packaging, pricing, delivering, advertising, selling, financing, and servicing. Product analysis, therefore, embraces systematic research at all stages. The focus of such research is not on the product itself, but on the consumers and how they respond to the various alternatives at each stage.

To simplify the exposition I am drawing examples primarily from the field of consumer products, such as the tangible items found on the shelves of supermarkets, in department stores, appliances shops, and automobile showrooms. In doing so I am not overlooking the importance of the field of services, such as airlines, insurance companies, banks, and travel agents; or the field of industrial goods, such as computers, chemicals, textiles, and lift trucks. While there are some differences in marketing strategies from one category to the next, the underlying principle of delivering customer satisfaction is the same.

Therefore, the producer should analyze actual or potential product or service in terms of its ability to meet a consumer need or want. It is axiomatic that consumers cannot draw the blueprints or provide detailed specifications for producers. It is up to the business person to experiment with new products or services, or modifications of old ones, and test their acceptance in the marketplace. Advertising can then be used to point out their presumed need/want satisfying properties to would-be users.

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