Communities of Practice


One of the most successful uses of the Internet has been the emergence of informal knowledge communities or a community of interest. It is an environment usually outside of conventional organizational structures, where people can converse with each other about the common problems they face in their workplace or in their professional life, a common passion for some subject or a common mission. Most communities of practice are contained within a single organization but sometimes they cross institutional boundaries.

A community of practice does not necessarily have to be transacted solely on the Internet and in fact the most successful ones almost always have a face-to-face meeting component to them. As good a tool as the Internet is, it can never replace the intimacy and fullness of communication of face-to-face meetings of individuals. The importance of the internet to a community of practice js that it provides a link beyond the times when people can physically meet and hence sustains the group. It also permits a community of practice to develop among people who are not co-located.

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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Sentence Making


Words are like building blocks—we can put them together in all sorts of different ways in order to make many different kinds of sentences. When we write, it is very important to make complete sentences. It is a common goof  to write incomplete sentences—also called sentence fragments.

Punctuation marks do the same thing for a sentence that road signs o for a highway. Punctuation marks tell the reader when to speed up, when to slow down, when to stop, and what to expect up the road.

The ultimate separator is the period. It says, “Stop here.”  Question marls and exclamation marks are usually periods with special missions. The comma is then most common separator. It says “slow down.” Without commas we wouldn’t know when to pause. There are five other separators: colons, semicolons, parentheses, dashes, and brackets.

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.

Business Goals


Business goals or objectives convert the organization’s mission into tangible actions and results that are to be achieved, often within a specific time frame. Goals or objectives divide into three major categories: production, financial, and marketing. Production goals or objectives apply to the use of manufacturing and service capacity and to product and service quality. Financial goals or objectives focus on return on investment, return on sales, profit, cash flow, and shareholder wealth. Marketing goals or objectives emphasize marketing share, marketing productivity, sales volume, profit, customer satisfaction, and customer value creation. When production, financial, and marketing goals or objectives are combined, they represent a  composite picture of organizational purpose within a specific time frame, accordingly, they must complement one another.

Goal and objective setting should be problem-centered and future-oriented. Because goals or objectives represent statements of what the organizations wishes to achieve in a specific time frame, they implicitly rise from an understanding of the current situation. Therefore, managers need an appraisal of operations or a situation analysis to determine reasons for the gap between what was or is expected and what has happened or will happen. If performance has met expectations, the question arises as to future directions. If performance has not met expectations, managers must diagnose the reasons for this difference and enact a remedial program.

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.

Strategic Management


Strategic management is the set of decisions and actions that result in the formulation and implementation of plans designed to achieve a company’s objectives. It comprises nine critical tasks:

  1. Formulate the company’s mission, including broad statements about its purpose, philosophy, and goals.
  2. Conduct an analysis that reflects the company’s internal conditions and capabilities.
  3. Assess the company’s external environment, including both the competitive and the general contextual factors.
  4. Analyze the company’s options by matching its resources with the external environment.
  5. Identify the most desirable options by evaluating each option in light of the company’s mission.
  6. Select a set of long-term objectives and grand strategies that will achieve the most desirable options.
  7. Develop annual objectives and short-term strategies that are compatible with the selected set of long-term objectives and grand strategies.
  8. Implement the strategic choices by means of budgeted resource allocations in which the matching of tasks, people, structures, technologies, and reward systems is emphasized.
  9. Evaluate the success of the strategic process as an input for future decision-making.

As these nine tasks indicate, strategic management involves the planning, directing, organizing, and controlling of a company’s strategy-related decisions and actions.

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.

Basic Organizational Structures


Although there is an almost infinite variety of structural forms, certain basic types predominate in modern complex organizations. There are three basic organizational structures. The conglomerate structure is a variant of divisional structure and is thus not depicted as a fourth structure. Generally speaking, each structure tends to support some corporate strategies over others.

  • Simple Structure has no functional or product categories and is appropriate for a small, entrepreneur-dominated company with one or two product lines that operates in a reasonably small, easily identifiable market niche. Employees tend to be generalists and jacks of all trades.
  • Functional structure is appropriate for a medium-sized firm with several related product lines in one industry. Employees tend to be specialists in the business functions important to that industry, such as manufacturing, marketing, finance, and human resources.
  • Divisional structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several related industries. Employees tend to be functional specialists organized.
  • Strategic business units (SBU)are a recent modification to the divisional structure. Strategic business units are divisions or groups of divisions composed of independent product-market segments that are given primary responsibility and authority for the management of their own functional areas. An SBU may be of any size or level, but it must have 1) a unique mission, 2) identifiable competitors, 3)an external market focus, and 4) control of its business functions. The idea is to decentralize on the basis of strategic elements rather than on the basis of size, product characteristics, or span of control and to create horizontal linkages among units previously kept separate.
  • Conglomerate structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several unrelated industries. A variant of the divisional structure, the conglomerate structure (sometimes called a holding company) is typically an assemblage of legally independent firms (subsidiaries) operating under one corporate umbrella but controlled through the subsidiaries’ boards of directors. The unrelated nature of the subsidiaries prevents any attempt at gaining synergy among them.

If the current basic structure of corporation does not easily support a strategy under consideration, top management must decide if the proposed strategy is feasible or if the structure should be changed to a more advanced structure.

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 Right Thing for your Company


Make sure that the outcomes you define for your people are in line with your company’s current strategy. With the dizzying pace of change in today’s business world, it is sometimes hard for managers to keep track. The key distinction is between mission and strategy. A company’s mission should remain constant, providing meaning and focus for generations of employees. A company’s strategy is simply the most effective way to execute that mission. It should change according to the demands of the contemporary business climate.

Although the constant reassessment of strategy is vital to the health of the company, it does place managers in a rather difficult position. They are the intermediaries, charged with explaining the new strategy to the employees and then translating it into clearly defined performance outcomes.

Often this can be as simple as telling your salespeople that with the new company strategy focused on growing market share rather than profit, each salesperson will now be encouraged to focus on the outcome, ‘sales volume,’ rather than the outcome ‘profit margin per sale.’

However, sometimes the changes in strategy are more radical and the pressures on managers to refocus employees on different outcomes are more acute. For example, the most effective strategy for many high-tech companies used to be innovation. Hence the large R&D budgets, the hordes of dishelved but creative software designers, and the unpredictable, slightly unfocused work environments. For the major players who dominate the marketplace, critical mass—getting your product to be accepted as the standard—is now more important than innovation. Innovation can be brought from the smaller boutique houses. Thus these larger companies need to change the way they operate to ensure that virtually everyone’s efforts are focused on spreading the new language/platform/product into the marketplace. This means that managers in these companies will have to hustle to redefine the desired outcomes and find new definitions of success. Number of users, for example, may now be more important than revenue per user.

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.

 

Independent Thinking


All employees are challenged to use their individual minds to their optimum to make rational decisions. In this context, each of us is responsible for what we do and who we are. In addition, creativity is strongly encouraged and only possible with independent thought.

We learn a great deal from each other. Teamwork is important. However each of us thinks alone. Our minds are not physically connected. In this regard, each of us must be willing to make an independent judgment of the facts based on our capacity to think logically. Just because the “crowd” says it so, does not make it so.

In this context, each of us is responsible for our own actions. Each of us is responsible for our personal success or failure, i.e., it is not the bank’s fault if someone does not achieve his objectives.

All human progress by definition is based on creativity, because creativity is the source of positive change. Creativity is only possible to an independent thinker. Creativity is not about just doing something different. It is about doing something better. To be better, the new method/process must be judged by its impact on the whole organization, and as to whether it contributes to the accomplishment of the mission.

There is an infinite opportunity for each of us to do whatever we do better. A significant aspect of the self-fulfillment which work can provide comes from creative thoughts and action.

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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