Markets as Networks


Actual firm relationships must be seen on a spectrum between outright competition at one end and collusion at the other. At the very least, such a self-evident observation raises the issue of the firm (or business unit) as the basic, and often only, unit of analysis: in certain circumstances we might more appropriately consider an information coalition of such firms as the key unit.

Earlier, the border of the company was seen as the dividing line between co-operation and conflict – cooperation within the company and conflict in relation to all external units. The corresponding means for coordination are heirarchy and the market mechanism. The existence of relationships makes this picture more diffuse. There are great opportunities for cooperation with a lot of external units forming, for example, coalitions. Thus, it is often more fruitful to see the company as a part of a network instead of a free and independent actor in an atomistic martket.

However, the recognition that there is a network of relationships is merely the first step. Approaches need to be developed for the analysis of the network.

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

Principles of Visionary Leadership


The breakthrough leaders should stand at the organization’s boundary and bring in outside information. They must also communicate their company’s philosophy to the outside world. In their book Breakthrough Management, Shoji Shiba and David Walden have defined the eight principles of visionary leadership as follows:

1)      Principle 1: The visionary leader must do on-site observation leading to personal perception of changes in societal values from an outsider’s point of view.

2)      Principle 2: Even though there is resistance, never give up; squeeze the resistance between outside-in pressure in combination with top-down inside instruction.

3)      Principle 3: Transformation is begun with symbolic disruption of the old or traditional system through top-down efforts to create chaos within the organization.

4)      Principle 4: The direction of transformation is illustrated aimed by a symbolic visible image and the visionary leader’s symbolic behavior.

5)      Principle 5: Quickly establishing new physical, organizational and behavioral systems is essential for successful transformation.

6)      Principle 6: Real change leaders are necessary to enable transformation.

7)      Principle 7: Create an innovative system to provide feedback from results.

8)      Principle 8: Create a daily operation system, including a new work structure, new approach to human capabilities and improvement activities.

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

Creative Management of Product Design


An emerging area of importance is product/process design. In increasingly competitive, sophisticated markets, attractively designed products or processes sell well; shoddily designed products are left alone on the shelves. Excellent product design requires high orders of essence creativity (novel ideas), elaborative creativity (contextually relevant elaborations of ideas that are unique because of the kinds of components utilized and the way they are fitted together), and expressive creativity (unique aesthetic features). There can be following basic steps for coming up with successful and creative product design:

a)    The designing unit should have members with diverse expertise so that their brainstorms can result in unique product design concepts that are also practical.

b)   It is imperative that the design unit has an in-depth understanding of the client and the market, the technologies needed or involved, and the nature of the problem and the constraints that need to be kept in mind.

c)    The design unit must take the trouble to observe people in real-life situations to identify their needs, difficulties, likes, dislikes, etc. Creative design needs creative observation, that is observation that is not only accurate but also multi-angled so as to yield interesting design possibilities. Innovation begins with eyes. The design unit needs to create a ‘bug-list,’ that is, a list of the problems that presently bug the likely users of the future products.

d)   The design unit needs to visualize a new product concepts and the customers who could be captivated by them. This can involve building several physical models and prototypes, simulations on the computer, and creation of videos that portray high the new product may be used by people well before it comes into existence.

e)    The design unit needs to evaluate and refine the prototypes/models through several quick iterations, each one involving changes and improvements. Inputs should be secured not only from members of the design unit, but also from experts, the client, and the potential consumers. Exceptional design seldom come right the first time around. Serially generated improvements based on the reactions and suggestions of the product’s stakeholders can quickly get the design unit to an exceptional design.

f)     Effective implementation that leads to the commercial use of the product. This is often a long and tedious process that creative teams frequently neglect. But the planning of milestones, cost cutting and cost control efforts, packaging and so forth are indispensable if a product design is to taste commercial success.

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

Roles, Prestige, and Organization Value


A role is a part or a function performed by a person in a particular position or situation. With most roles that are associated certain expectations of behavior. For example, we expect anyone who is a company president to behave differently from a junior employee, or the foreman to behave differently from the workers, or the coach differently from the player. Thus, it is that if we know someone’s role (which is often indicated by his job title or assignment), we can make some reasonable predictions about some of his behavior, even though we do not know the person. If a particular person behaves differently than is generally expected of someone in his role, uneasy feelings, often negative, frequently result.

 In a given organization, various roles have to be performed, and each of them is likely to carry a certain prestige, the amount of which will depend on the importance of that role to the achievement of goals and on preconceived expectations of the role. For example, we expect the role of president to be more important that that of general manager, and more prestige is accorded to the president. The roles and prestige of individuals and groups are useful to note because they help influence behavior and interrelationships in significant ways. Think how role expectations might affect a general manager as he deals with the president, a shop foreman, a worker, and his secretary. If you think his behavior might differ, why do you think so?

 You can predict rather easily the prestige accorded certain individuals and groups and the roles they perform. Think for a moment how both things and space serve as status symbols in a business organization. Observation of such symbols help indentify the relative value assigned both individuals and groups.

 By noting the resources, things, and space allocated to work groups and people, and the nature and conditions of their work, and by considering these factors in the context of the total organization, we can often get good understandings of both their relative status in the organization and some of the factors influencing them. In addition, such observations indicating something about the values of the organization. By noticing the quantity and quality of various facilities and people, and by observing the things and help high-status people have (and low status people do and do not have), you can make reasonable deductions about the values of the organization. For example, you can tell something about the college that has a large new library and no stadium as compared with one that has a large stadium and a small library.

 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

All about Reactivity


Reactivity simply means changes that come about in the client/system or in the problem due to the act of measurement itself. Reactive measures are those of which the client/system is aware and to which the client/system reacts. When reactivity occurs, the observation or monitoring process leads to change in the problem without any other intervention taking place. Conversely, non-reactive measures are those which do not themselves bring about change in whatever it is you are measuring.

 

Reactivity in a sense really affects the accuracy of your information. If the problem changes simply because of the measurement, you obviously would have a difficult time evaluating the intervention process and separating out the effects of the recording from the effects of your intervention. Reactivity, in short, affects the accuracy of the information you are recording. In addition, if any changes do occur as a result of reactivity, they often are not mentioned over time, leading to even more difficulty in achieving success in the long run.

 

There are a number of types of reactivity as well as ways of overcoming or diminishing reactivity. Primary among these ways of overcoming reactivity is attempting to select a measure that is non-reactive or unobtrusive. Our primary guideline in selecting a measure is, when everything else is equal (which, of course, it rarely is), try to use the least obtrusive measure possible. That is, try to use non-reactive measures when you can, or if you are using more than one measure, try to include at least one non-reactive measure.

 

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

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