Outline of Cross-cultural Analysis of Consumer Behavior


  1. Determine Relevant Motivations in the Culture: What needs are fulfilled with the product in the minds of members of the culture? How these needs are presently fulfilled? Do members of this culture readily recognize these needs?
  2. Determine Characteristic Behavior Patterns: What patterns are characteristic of purchasing behavior? What forms of division of labor exist within the family structure? How frequently the product of this type purchased? What size packages are normally purchased? Do any of these characteristic behaviors conflict with behavior expected for this product? How strongly ingrained are the behavior patterns that conflict with those needed for distribution of the product?
  3. Determine What Broad Cultural Values Are Relevant to This Product: Are there strong values about work, morality, religion, family relations, and so on that relate to the product? Does this product connote attributes that are in conflict with these cultural values? Can conflicts with values be avoided by changing the product? Are there positive values in this culture with which the product might be identified?
  4. Determine Characteristic Forms of Decision-making: Do members of the culture display a studied approach to decisions concerning innovations or an impulsive approach? What is the form of the decision process? Upon what information sources do members of the culture rely? Do members of the culture tend to be rigid or flexible in the acceptance of new ideas? What criteria do they use in evaluating alternatives?
  5. Evaluate Promotion Methods Appropriate to the Culture: What role does advertising occupy in the culture? What themes, words, or illustrations is taboo? What language problems exist in present markets that cannot be translated into the culture? What types of salesmen are accepted by members of the culture? Are such salesmen available?
  6. Determine Appropriate Institutions for This Product in the Minds of Consumers: What types of retailers and intermediary institutions are available? What services do these institutions offer that are expected by the consumer? What alternatives are available for obtaining services needed for the product but not offered by existing institutions? How are various types of retailers regarded by consumers? Will changes in the distribution structure be readily accepted?

 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

Closed-loop Teams


For years, banks have taken several days, and even weeks and sometimes months to get a decision to a personal loan applicant. The application would be passed around the various departments, traveling at its own pace. A series of supervisors, clerks, and internal mailpeople handled it. Today, aggressive banks take the application directly into a focused, coordinated group—a credit analyst, a collateral appraiser, and a senior personal banker—who decide and respond to the customer sometimes in thirty minutes and always inside a day. This is a small closed-loop team.

 

A closed-loop team includes everyone who is necessary to make the deliverable flow. The team includes all the needed functional people and decision-makers and is self-scheduling. Everyone the team is working for the same objective—to provide the deliverable on time. The team is empowered to make decisions and to act. It has all functions inside it with short lines of communication. Its leader is responsible for its overall performance and for seeing that it gets all the capability, both technicall and human, it needs. All of these are essential to flexibility.

 

The old bank loan approval process was open loop. There was no continuity in the process, no visible standard, little learning between the principles, only occasional feedback on the process, and no one responsible for making it better.

 

In order for the loop to close on a process it must be tightly organized around the deliverable; the same core group must be involved in the process every day; and there must be a working leader on the team.

 

Small teams work better than large ones because large groups create communication problems of their own. It’s best to include only essential functions and to exclude people whose job is peripheral to the deliverable. For example, the bank loan team excludes accounting and records people. Teams have to be self-managing and empowered to act because referring decisions back up the line wastes time and often leads to poor decisions. So the team ioncludes a bank officer because if the officer were not on the team, he or she would be prone to second-guess the group’s decisions. Its better if all the questions are asked and answers are exchanged just once.

 

Closd-loop teams handle variety better than open-loop teams because they can create new information and flexibility.

 

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

Treating Employees as Customers


If employees feel valued and their needs are taken care of, they are more likely to stay with the organization. The CEO’s primary job is cultivating a corporate culture that benefits all employees and customers. If you build a company and a product or service that delivers high levels of customer satisfaction, and if you spend responsibly and manage your human capital assets well, the other external manifestations of success, like market valuation and revenge growth, will follow.

 

Many companies have adopted the idea that employees are also customers of the organization, and the basic marketing strategies can be directed at them. The products that the organization has to offer its employees are a job (with assorted benefits) and quality of work life. To determine whether the job and work-life needs of employees are being met, organizations conduct periodic internal marketing research to assess employee satisfaction and needs. Become the best place to work by doing the following:

  • Treating employees as customers;
  • Using employee input and a fact-based approach for decision-making in the design and implementation of human resources policies, programs, and processes.
  • Measuring employee satisfaction and trying to continuously improve the workplace environment.
  • Benchmarking and incorporating best practices.

 

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

Corporate Strategy: Another Route


In most companies, corporate strategy is formulated by a small, select group of top officers; it is then transmitted less and less fully to successively lower levels of management and, perhaps ultimately, to the rank and file. With each step in the diminishing communication, the ability to translate strategy into training needs is diminished.

 

A few companies distinguish between strategy formulation and strategy decision. Although top management can never delegate the responsibility for decision, it can, if it chooses, involve every level of the firm in formulating strategy.

 

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

Corporate Structure in the Global Economy


Corporate structures will be increasingly expected to deal with tension-producing forces, as well as compressive ones. Among them is the tendency for companies to become increasingly spread thin as they respond to an expanding multitude of masters. And it is likely that both employees and their governments will take their turn demanding greater attention to their particular needs and requirements. On top of these whiplash-inducing pressures will be the ongoing operational tensions arising from the continuing use of speed as a competitive weapon.

 

As if these ongoing pushes and pulls will not be enough of a challenge, most businesses will also face the requirement to be more flexible than ever in deploying and redeploying resources to mact the moving targets provided by customers’ requirements and competitors’ advances. The globalizing marketplace tends to be unforgiving when corporate inertia or bureaucracy limits flexibility. This degree of organizational elasticity—stretching to accommodate special situations, then returning to the original shape to meet regular demands—is already a necessity in many industries. Soon it will be mandatory in most.

 

A measure of plasticity will be needed, as well. The ability to change an organization’s shape, to adapt to new markets or to reconfigure around emerging capabilities, will be another dynamic quality in the repertoire of the new corporation. This attribute—the ability to reorganize completely every several years without succumbing to terminal brittleness—is a rarity in most companies today. But it will be common among those that thrive into this 21st Century.

 

Just as architects have never found a single, always appropriate building block for every structure, organization designers are also unlikely to find one. But the old building blocks of narrowly defined jobs used in tandem with traditional supervision are not working. Perhaps the lead of the architect can be followed, and companies can learn to select organizational building blocks that can be adjusted to cope with the forces they face at a particular time. In keeping with what has worked for the architect, organization planners can:

  • Reinforce jobs to ensure they have the strength to resist the tensions and compressions they must increasingly cope with.
  • Use the organizational equivalent of composites—teams—when job reinforcement alone is insufficient to provide the company with an appropriate degree of flexibility.
  • Make sure that the company’s managers are in load-bearing roles—ones vital to the organization’s structural integrity—and act as drivers of the business’s ongoing adaptability, rather than mere definers of unneeded internal walls.

 Reinforced jobs, composite teams, and load-bearing managers—these may well be the most useful raw materials from which the structure of the corporation is shaped.

 

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

Public-private partnership


In this era of modernization in many aspects of public administration, most developing countries continue to follow century-old concepts and structures. They seriously need structural adjustment thereby launching legislative and administrative reforms, which stress a reconsideration of the role of the public administration in the conditions of democratization and market-economy. A greater emphasis needs to be placed on effectiveness of the public administration. The practice and legislation of such countries should affect patterns of the role of public sector and influence fundamental features of the system of governance. A common goal should be to introduce a more contractual, participative, discretionary style of relationship: between different levels and agencies in administrative apparatus; between the decision-making authorities and operating units; and between administrative agencies and producing units, public or private.

A major reform objective in public sector management should be to increase, within the framework of democratic accountability, cost effectiveness in the public provision of goods and services. Both citizens and public administration accept the need for improved quality in the public sector.

They need to hold high the aim of structuring an effective mechanism for achieving policy objectives, determined at central, provincial and local levels for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in providing public services.

The legality and the efficiency of providing such public services are of great concern. Local authorities are empowered to do something that is intended to assist the carrying out any role.

Outsourcing is a way of contracting out one or more functions to specialist companies. This allows the public entity to concentrate on its core activities. There are three primary reasons for the public administration to outsource. The first is to achieve cost-effective provision of services. The second is to provide a choice for the citizens of producing and supplying public services of different qualities and kinds. The third is simply because there is no alternative due to a lack of staff with the requisite skills; need of relaxing the administrative burden, which somebody other could deal with even better and concentrating the attention on the core administrative matters; short deadlines for implementation. This last reason for outsourcing is to meet the needs, which exceed the capability of the public administration staff, because of a shortage of either staff or skills, or which give added flexibility to the administrative organization.

Thus, the outsourcing can be seen as a process through which relationships are managed and adjusted according to arrangements specified and conditions planned by the administrative authority in the contract documentation. The focus here is not on the legal issues of the contract rather than on the quality of contracting as a mechanism for achieving policy objectives determined at all levels of government for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. From this perspective the outsourcing by public administration can be considered as a joint commitment to partnership between public and private sector operating as a co-operative device for providing public goods and services.

The trend towards greater satisfaction of public needs and consumer empowerment underlies the role of outsourcing by public administration. The outsourcing is encouraged to secure higher quality of public works and services, whereby contracting managers are located closer to the consumer and so are better able to respond to their needs in actual delivery. The role of consumers and end-clients with respect to outsourcing can thus be increased. The strategies of improving responsiveness through outsourcing on the one hand, and hierarchical distribution of the administrative functions on the other, can be combined in a successful model of public service delivery. The administrative authorities – at federal, provincial and local levels – might participate in the specification of services and in the determination of contractual standards and terms of agreement.

As part of administrative reform outsourcing by public administration should be a high priority. The corresponding legislation should be based on three main principles—transparency, non-discrimination involving open selection criteria and open standards, specifications and standards regulated by law; and open competition.

The framework agreements are significant for ensuring the execution of the administrative power intent of the outsourced functions. The federal, provincial or local governments can use outsourcing as a tool for providing public services when carrying out their functions. They use outsourcing to get public results, which should be achieved when the governments exercise their administrative powers.

The outsourcing in some way can replace the direct administrative action. Such outsourcing has the compulsory nature same as this of the executive action which it replaces. The administration can use administrative or seek lawmaking authority to bring about the result it desires, if it is nonetheless outsourcing. A realistic view is that the process of deciding to outsource as well as the very process of outsourcing is a valid exercise of administrative power. The offered and agreed terms of the contract are also exercising of the administrative power. Once the contract signed, however, the particular relationships issued by outsourcing are moved under the regulations of the private law.

The government functioning can be improved by redefining its role: Policy-making instead of operative decision-making. It should stimulate tools for establishment of working, efficient, rational and fair practice, design of efficient allocation of financial and administrative wherewithal; transparency and control. The government must also realize that developing a training strategy for skills and incentives is badly needed.

The overall proportion of outsourcing in the field of public administration is generally expected to growing. Demand will increase for a variety of reasons.

Successful outsourcing, however, presupposes the existence of an efficient market. In

Pakistan the market for some categories of public goods and services is deficient of professionalism, integrity, and fair play. Such situation is creating conditions for corruption.

From another side, outsourcing itself contributes to developing the market.

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

Innovation Defined


Innovation is the use of new knowledge to offer a new product or service that customers want. It is invention together with commercialization. It is a new way of doing things (termed invention by some) that is commercialized. The process of innovation cannot be separated from a firm’s strategic and competitive context. The new knowledge can be technological or market related. Technological knowledge is knowledge of components, linkages between components, methods, processes, and techniques that go into a product or service. Market knowledge is knowledge of distribution channels, product applications, and customer expectations, preferences, needs, and wants. The product or service is new in that its cost is lower, its attributes are improved, it now has new attributes, it never had before, or it never existed in that market before. Often the new product or service itself is called an innovation, reflecting the fact that it is the creation of new technological or market knowledge.

Innovation has also been defined as the adoption of ideas that are new to the organization. Generating good ideas or adopting a new one, in and of itself, is only a start. To be an innovation, an idea must be converted into a product or service that customers want. Coming up with the idea or prototype—invention—is one thing. Championing it, shepherding it, and nurturing it into a product or service that customers want is another. Innovation entails both invention and commercialization.

A distinction has also been made between technical and administrative innovation. Technical innovation is about improved products, services, or processes or completely new ones. This contrasts with administrative innovation, which pertains to organizational structure and administrative processes and may or may not affect technical innovation. Technical innovation may or may not require administrative innovation. A technical innovation can be a product or a process.

Product innovations are new products or services introduced to meet an external and market need whereas process innovations are new elements introduced into an organization’s production or service operations—input materials, task specifications, work and information flow mechanisms, and equipment used to produce a product or render a service.

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

The Ethos of Great Managers


Smart individual performers keep getting moved into manager positions without the slightest idea of what the manager role is, let alone the ability to play it. They are sent to leadership development courses, but they come back more impressed with their mini-executive status than with the day-to-day challenges of being a good manager.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the manager role is no longer very important. Apparently managers are now an impediment to speed, flexibility, and agility. Today’s agile companies can no longer afford to employ armies of managers to shuffle papers, sign approvals, and monitor performance. They need self-reliant, self motivated, self-directed work teams. No wonder managers are first against the wall when the reengineering revolution came.

Every manager should be a leader. He must seize opportunity, using his smarts and impatience to exert his will over a fickle world. In this world, the staid little manager is a misfit. It is too quick for him, too exciting, too dangerous. He had better stay out of the way. He might get hurt.

Today’s business pressures are more intense. Companies need self-reliant employees and aggressive leaders. But all this does not diminish the importance of managers. In turbulent times the manager is more important than ever because managers play a vital and distinct role, a role that charismatic leaders and self-directed teams are incapable of playing. The manager role is to reach inside each employee and release his unique talents into performance. This role is best played one employee at a time: one manager asking questions of, listening to, and working with one employee. Multiplied a thousand fold, this one-by-one role is the company’s power supply. In times of great change it is this role that makes the company robust enough to stay focused when needed, yet robust enough to flex without breaking.

Thus the manager role is the catalyst role. As with all catalysts, the manager’s function is to speed up the reaction between two substances, thus creating the desired end product. Specifically the manager creates performance in each employee by speeding up the reaction between the employee’s talents and the company’s goals, and between the employee’s talents and the customers’ needs. When hundreds of managers play this role well, the company becomes strong.

In today’s slimmed-down business world, most of these managers also shoulder other responsibilities. They are expected to be subject matter experts, individual superstars, and sometimes leaders in their own right. These are important roles, which great managers execute with varying styles and degrees of success. But when it comes to the manager aspect of the responsibilities, great managers all excel at this catalyst role.

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

Conflict Management


With the turn of economic wheel conflict has entered into our daily life as an indispensable impedimenta. Whether in domestic, professional or political living and breathing world we are dominated by lacking conflict management skills and hence dragging on with antipathy, bitter feelings and state of war. For creating a fraternal, congenial and harmonious environment we ought to master skills essential for dealing with conflict.

Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from individuals or groups that differ in attitudes, beliefs, values or needs. It can also originate from past rivalries and personality differences.

The first step in managing conflict is to analyze the nature and type of conflict. To do this, you’ll find it helpful to ask questions.

Collaboration results from a high concern for your group’s own interests, matched with a high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is win/win. This strategy is generally used when concerns for others are important. This approach helps build commitment and reduce bad feelings. Some partners may take advantage of the others’ trust and openness. Generally regarded as the best approach for managing conflict, the objective of collaboration is to reach consensus.

Compromise strategy results from a high concern for your group’s own interests along with a moderate concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is win some/lose some. This strategy is generally used to achieve temporary solutions, to avoid destructive power struggles or when time pressures exist.

Competition strategy results from a high concern for your group’s own interests with less concern for others. The outcome is win/lose. This strategy includes most attempts at bargaining. It is generally used when basic rights are at stake or to set a precedent. It can cause the conflict to escalate and losers may try to retaliate.

Accommodation results from a low concern for your group’s own interests combined with a high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is lose/win. This strategy is generally used when the issue is more important to others than to you. It is a goodwill gesture. It is also appropriate when you recognize that you are wrong. The drawbacks are that your own ideas and concerns don’t get attention. You may also lose credibility and future influence.

Avoidance results from a low concern for your group’s own interests coupled with a low concern for the interests of others. The outcome is lose/lose. This strategy is generally used when the issue is trivial or other issues are more pressing. It is also used when confrontation has a high potential for damage or more information is needed.

Several enemies often combine to create contention. The first enemy is the natural need to want to explain the side first. After all, we reason, if they understood our perspective, they would come to the same conclusions we did. The second enemy is ineffectiveness as listeners. Listening is much more than being quiet so we can have our turn. The third enemy is fear. Fear that we will not get our way. Fear of losing something we cherish. Fear we will be made to look foolish. The fourth enemy is the assumption that one of us has to lose if the other is going to win. Differences can only be solved competitively.

Two principles have contributed so much to the productive handling of disagreements that it is difficult to read about the subject in scholarly works without their mention. The first principle: Seek first to understand, then to be understood, was introduced by Steven Covey, in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. If we encourage others to explain their side first, they will be more apt to listen to ours.

Roger Fisher and William Ury introduced the second communication principle in their seminal work, Getting to Yes. Simply stated, it is that people in disagreement focus on their positions when instead they should be focusing on their needs. By focusing on positions we tend to underscore our disagreements. When we concentrate on needs, we find we have more in common than what we had assumed. Ury and Fisher then went on to say that when we focus on needs we can attempt to satisfy the sum of both our needs and their needs.

The parties to any conflict can also explore a problem-solving approach inspired by an ancient Tibetan Buddhist teaching known as the four karmas. These four karmas follow a developmental sequence that begins with pacifying or calming the situation, enriching positive aspects by bringing in multiple perspectives, magnetizing larger perspectives or additional resources, and finally, if necessary, destroying old patterns and behaviors that no longer serve.

Traditionally the four karmas is a personal practice that allows one to become attuned to the natural energies in a situation, and to transform confusion and aggression into creativity, compassion, and intelligent action.

How can we solve our tough problems without resorting to force? How can we overcome the apartheid syndrome in our homes, workplaces, communities, countries, and even globally? How can we heal our world’s gaping wounds? To answer these questions is simple, but it is not easy. We have to bring together the people who are co-creating the current reality to co-create new realities. We have to shift from downloading and debating to reflective and generative dialogue. We have to choose an open way over a closed way.

It is good to talk about the past. A discussion of past behaviors is essential to analyze patterns of conflict and help conflicting parties to find constructive ways of handling future disagreements. Without understanding the past, it is hard to prepare for the future. At some point, however, the focus of discussion turns to that of future behaviors, rather than past injuries. The sooner the participants can focus on the future, the greater the chances of successful resolution.

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

Transformational Leadership


Transformational leadership is part of the new leadership paradigm, which gives more attention to the charismatic and effective elements of leadership. Transformational leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals. It is concerned with emotions, values, ethics, standards, and long-term goals, and includes assessing followers’ motives, satisfying their needs, and treating them as full human beings. Transformational leadership involves an exceptional form of influence that moves followers to accomplish more than what is usually expected of them. It is a process that often incorporates charismatic and visionary leadership.

An encompassing approach, transformational leadership can be used to describe a wide range of leadership, from very specific attempts to influence followers on a one-to-one level to very broad attempts to influence whole organizations and even entire cultures. Although the transformational leader plays a pivotal role in precipitating change, followers and leaders are inextricably bound together in the transformation 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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