Compliance and Integrity


In the earliest stages, organizational ethics centered on the narrow perspective of ethics—the notion of compliance. Are we following the laws? Are we at risk from litigation? If so, how do we minimize that risk?

Ethics programs matured and ethics officers, most of whom are selected from the managerial ranks with little, if any, special preparation, developed increased sophistication regarding the challenges facing their organizations. Both the ethics officers and their organizations began to embrace personal and corporate values in decision making (value-based decision making) as the logical expansion of the definition of what it means to be ethical. What has emerged is what many ethics officers today characterize as the “best practices” model of the ethics office and of a values-based corporation.

But change continues. What is emerging today is a more holistic definition of what it means to be a “good” corporation. This new, global view will again help to reshape the responsibilities and focus of the ethics officer.

The shift to a global perspective means another broadening of the definition of ethics. “Global Integrity” is the latest descriptor, and it embraces both compliance and ethics. It also adds concern for rule of law, human rights, good governance, labor/child labor concerns, anti-corruption/anti-bribery, concern for the environment, safety, social responsibility, good corporate citizenship, and respect for the whole diverse array of local cultures to the definition. This increases the organization’s obligation to reach beyond traditional company boundaries to consider how decisions would affect the surrounding community. One consequence of this new global definition of the organizational ethics is increased scrutiny by stakeholders, especially advocacy groups and the media.

Corporate ethics officers, especially those in multinational corporations and/or corporations with global suppliers/markets, are being challenged with fundamental questions in this expanded integrity area. Perhaps the most common, and most challenging, is how the corporation will balance the desire for global standards (consistency) against the need for local application of standards.

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.

Resource Dependence Theory


This is the theory that argues that the goal of an organization is to minimize its dependence on other organizations for the supply of scarce resources in its environment and to find ways of influencing them to make resources available. Thus an organization must simultaneously manage two aspects of its resource dependence: 1) it has to exert influence over organizations so that it can obtain resources, and 2) it must respond to the needs and demands of other organizations in its environment.

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.

 

Policies that Empower


Policies communicate guidelines to decisions. They are designed to control decisions while defining allowable discretion within which operational personnel can execute business activities. They do this in several ways:

  1. Policies establish indirect control over independent action by clearly stating how things are to be done now. By defining discretion, policies in effect control decisions yet empower employees to conduct activities without direct intervention by top management.
  2. Policies promote uniform handling of similar activities. This facilitates the coordination of work tasks and helps reduce friction arising from favoritism, discrimination, and the disparate handling of common functions—something that often hampers operating personnel.
  3. Policies ensure quicker decisions by standardizing other policies that otherwise would recur and pushed up the management hierarchy again and  again—something that required unnecessary levels of management between senior decision makers and field personnel.
  4. Policies institutionalize basic aspects of organizational behavior. This minimizes conflicting practices and establishes consistent patterns of action in attempts to make the strategy work—again, freeing operating personnel to act.
  5. Policies reduce uncertainty in repetitive and day-to-day decision making, thereby providing a necessary foundation for coordinated, efficient efforts and freeing operating personnel to act.
  6. Policies counteract resistance to or rejection of chosen strategies by organization members. When major strategic change is undertaken, unambiguous operating policies clarify what is expected and facilitate acceptance, particularly when operating managers participate in policy development.

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.

 

Conflicts over Authority


Conflicts over authority are inevitable. As people battle over territory, they will battle over who has how much authority over whom. It is a problem that is unavoidable, however, there are things that can be done to minimize the severity of the problem. Here are some guidelines for avoiding conflicts over authority:

  • When assigning authority to a job, make sure the authority does not inappropriately usurp the authority of other jobs in the department or in other areas within the company.
  • Make sure the person clearly understands the authority that has been assigned to him.
  • Make sure that everyone concerned with the person understands the authority assigned to him.
  • Establish a system of controls for ensuring that the person is exercising his authority correctly.

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.

The Challenges of Global Business


Many past political barriers to trade have fallen or been minimized, expanding and operating new market opportunities. Managers who can meet the challenges of creating and implementing effective and sensitive business strategies for the global marketplace can help lead their companies to success. Multinational corporations, such as, General Electric and Ford, which derive a substantial portion of their revenues from international business, depend on savvy managers who can adapt to different cultures. Lucent Technologies has invested more than $24 million in a design center in China in an effort to aid in China’s modernization of its infrastructure and telecommunications technology. The income potential from Lucent, which manufactures, designs, and delivers products for networking, communications systems, software, data networking systems, business telephone systems, and microelectronics components, is enormous. Small businesses, too, can succeed in foreign markets when their managers have carefully studied those markets and prepared and implemented appropriate strategies. Being globally aware is therefore an important quality for today’s managers and will become a critical attribute for managers of the 21st century.

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.

Managing Inventory


Inventory is an area where financial managers can fine-tune the firm’s cash-flow. Inventory sitting on the shelf represents capital that is tied up without earning interest. Furthermore, the firm incurs expenses for shortage and handling, insurance, and taxes. And there is always a risk that the inventory will become obsolete before it can be converted into finished goods and sold.

The firm’s goal is to maintain enough inventory to fill orders in a timely fashion at the lowest cost. To achieve this goal, the financial manager tries to determine the economic order quantity or quantity of raw materials that, when ordered regularly, results in the lowest ordering and storage costs. The problem is complicated by the fact that minimizing ordering costs tends  to increase storage costs and vice versa. The best way to cut ordering costs is to place one big order for parts and materials once a year, while the best way to cut storage costs is to order small amounts of inventory frequently. The challenge facing the financial manager is to find a compromise that minimizes total costs.

That is why many businesses today are turning to just-in-time inventory control. Businesses—and even divisions within companies—link up through computers with their customers and suppliers, thereby automatically ordering only as much as is necessary for a given period of time.

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.

Sole Proprietorships


Sole proprietorships, businesses owned and operated by one individual, are the most common form of business organization. Sole proprietorships are generally managed by their owners. Because of this simple management structure, the owner/manager can make decisions quickly. This is just one of many advantages of the sole proprietorship form of business.

Ease and Cost of Formation: Forming a sole proprietorship in relatively easy and inexpensive. In some countries, creating a sole proprietorship involves merely announcing the new business in the local newspaper. Other proprietorships, such as barber shops and restaurants, may require state and local licenses and permits because of the nature of the business. No lawyer is needed to create such enterprises, and the owner can usually take care of the required paperwork.

An entrepreneur starting a new sole proprietorship must find a suitable site from which to operate the business. Some sole proprietors look no farther than their garage or a spare bedroom that they can convert into a workshop or office. Computers, personal copiers, fax machines, and other high-tech gadgets have been a boon for home-based businesses, permitting them to interact quickly with customers, suppliers, and others. Many independent salespersons and contractors can perform their work using a notebook computer as they travel. E-mail and cell phones have made it possible for many proprietorships to develop in the service area.

Secrecy: Sole proprietorships make possible the greatest degree of secrecy. The proprietor, unlike the owners of a partnership or corporation, does not have to discuss publicly his or her operating plans, minimizing the possibility that competitors can obtain trade secrets. Financial reports need not be disclosed.

Distribution and Use of Profits: All profits from a sole proprietorship belong exclusively to the owner. He or she does not have to share them with any partners or stockholders. The owner decides how to use the profits.

Flexibility and Control of the Business: The sole proprietor has complete control over the business and can make decisions on the spot without anyone else’s approval. This control allows the owner to respond quickly or competitive business conditions or to changes in the economy.

Government Regulation: Sole proprietorships have the most freedom from government regulation. Most government regulations apply only to businesses that a certain number of employees, and securities laws apply only to corporations that issue stock. Nonetheless, sole proprietors must ensure that they follow all laws that do apply to their business.

Taxation: Profits from the business are considered personal income to the sole proprietor and are taxed at individual tax rates. The owner pays one income tax.

Closing the Business: A sole proprietorship can be dissolved easily. No approval of co-owners or partners is necessary. The only legal condition is that all loans must be paid off.

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.

Context Learning


Companies that retain employees for new technology have an interest in minimizing the number who fail. Some companies have observed that the success of retraining is greater when trainees know beforehand what jobs they will be occupying, inside or outside the firm, and when they are familiar with the new work unit, its supervisor, and its employees. Accordingly, these companies help trainees acquire this context learning as early as possible.

For example, employees in declining jobs are told as much as possible about the new opportunities arising within the company, so that they can make informed choices. Or, retrainees are assigned to “mentors” from the work units that will employ them. Or, the retrainees’ current and future supervisors accept responsibility for monitoring their programs. Or, best of all, retrainees are transferred to their new work units either before or shortly after the start of the retraining process.

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.

Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

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.

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