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.

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.

 

Corporate Giving


One of the most visible ways in which businesses help communities is through gifts of money, property, and employee service. The corporate philanthropy or corporate giving demonstrates the commitment of businesses to assist the communities by supporting nonprofit organizations.

Some argue that corporate managers have no right to give away company money that does not belong to them. According to the line of reasoning, any income earned by the company should be either reinvested in the firm or distributed to the stockholders who are legal owners. The charitable contributions are one additional way in which companies link themselves to the broader interests of the community, thereby advancing and strengthening the company rather than weakening it.

Companies also help local communities through the substantial number of business donations that are not recorded as philanthropy because they are not pure giving. Routine gifts of products and services for local use often are recorded as advertising expenses; gifts of employee time for charity drives and similar purposes usually are not recorded; and the costs of soliciting and processing employee gifts, deductions usually are not recorded as corporate giving. Still, they add value to the local community of which the company is part.

Many large US companies have established nonprofit corporate foundations to handle their charitable programs. This permits them to administer contribution programs more uniformly and provides a central group of professionals that handles all grant requests. Foreign-owned corporations use foundations less frequently, although firms use highly sophisticated corporate foundations to conduct their charitable activities. As corporations expand to more foreign locations, pressures will grow to expand international corporate giving. Foundations, with their defined mission to benefit the community, can be a useful mechanism to help companies implement philanthropic programs that meet corporate social responsibility.

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.

 

Company Self-Concept


A major determinant of a firm’s success is the extent to which the firm can relate functionally to its external environment. To achieve its proper place in a competitive situation, the firm realistically must evaluate its competitive strengths and weaknesses. This idea—that the firm must know itself—is the essence of the company self-concept. The idea is not commonly integrated into theories of strategic management; its importance for individuals has been recognized since ancient times.

Both individuals and firms have a crucial need to know themselves. The ability of either to survive in a dynamic and highly competitive environment would be severely limited if they did not understand their impact on others on them.

In some senses, then, firms take on personalities of their own. Much behavior in firms is organizationally based; that is, a firm acts on its members in other ways than their individual interactions. Thus, firms are entities whose personality transcends the personalities of their members. As such, they can set decision making parameters based on aims different and distinct from the aims of their members. These organizational considerations have pervasive effects.

Ordinarily, descriptions of the company self-concept per se do not appear in mission statements. Yet such statements often provide strong impressions of the company self-concept. The following excerpts from the Intel Corporation mission statement describe the corporate persona that its top management seeks to foster:

The management is self-critical. The leaders must be capable of recognizing and accepting their mistakes and learning from them.

Open (constructive) confrontation is encouraged at all levels of the corporation and is viewed as a method of problem solving and conflict resolution.

Decision by consensus is the rule. Decisions once made are supported. Position in the organization is not the basis for quality of ideas.

A highly communicative, open management is part of the style.

Management must be ethical. Managing by telling the truth and treating all employees equitably has established credibility that is ethical.

We strive to provide an opportunity for rapid development.

Intel is a results-oriented company. The focus is on substance versus form, quality versus quantity.

We believe in the principle that hard work, high productivity is something to be proud of.

The concept of assumed responsibility is accepted. (if a task needs to be done, assume you have the responsibility to get it done).

Commitments are long term. If career problems occur at some point, reassignment is a better alternative than termination.

We desire to have all employees involved and participative in their relationship with Intel.

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 Importance of Motivation


One of the manager’s primary tasks is to motivate people in the organization to perform at high levels. This means getting them to work hard, come to work regularly, and make positive contributions to the organization’s mission. But job performance depends on ability and environment as well as on motivation.

To each high levels of performance, an employee must want to 1) do the motivation, 2) be able to demonstrate ability, and 3) have the materials and equipment needed to maintain the environment. A deficiency in any one of these areas will hurt performance. A manager thus should strive to enter that all three conditions are met.

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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