Product Knowledge


You have to be expert before you even start your business. The old saying, “We learn by our mistakes” will not do your business reputation any good if it applies to your lack of expertise. You have to know your products or service inside out. You may love a business for the product lines, but will your customers love the products too? When problems arise with a product, or when a customer asks technical questions, are you knowledgeable enough to resolve these problems and answer their questions competently and confidently?

One way to increase your product knowledge is to contact the manufacturers or local distributor. They are usually happy to send you product information and answer your questions. Some of the questions you should research about your product lines (or service) are these:

  • How long have these products been on the market?
  • Are they seasonal, and when do most sell?
  • How often are these products upgraded or changed?
  • Could you be caught unexpectedly with obsolete inventory?
  • What do the manufacturers’ warranties cover?
  • Are replacement parts readily available?
  • Are the products competitively priced?
  • Are buying trends increasing or decreasing?
  • Are the products high, medium, or low in quality?
  • How do the products compare to the competition?
  • What are groups do these products appeal to?
  • What is the life expectancy of the products?
  • Could the products become obsolete due to changing technology?

After these questions are answered, you may find that the business is not viable after all. The product pricing may be too high compared to the competition, or you may discover that over the previous five years, overall demand for the products is declining due to technological changes and shifts in consumer buying trends. In another five years, the demand could become substantially less. The products may appear high in quality on sight, but you may discover that they are poorly made and not something that you would feel confident selling. Perhaps the manufacturer’s guarantees are inadequate, or replacement parts are priced exorbitantly and hard to secure.

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.

The Manager


The manager describes what a person does rather than what a person knows. A manager makes sure an organization operates smoothly and efficiently. Upper-level managers, known as executives, address longer-range concerns. They foresee problems years ahead by considering questions such as the following:

  1. Is current technology at the company becoming obsolete?
  2. How expensive are the newest technologies?
  3. How much would they disrupt operations if they were adopted?
  4. What other plans would have to be postponed or dropped altogether?
  5. When would the new technologies start to pay for themselves?
  6. What has been the experience of other companies that have adopted these new technologies?

Executives are concerned with these and dozens of other broad questions that go beyond day-to-day managerial concerns.

Managers want to know the bottom line. They have to get a job done on schedule they don’t have time to consider theory in the way an expert does. Rather, managers must judge constraints—financial, personnel, time, and informational—and make logical and reasonable decisions quickly. And they have to communicate with their own supervisors.

In writing to a manager, try to determine his or her technical background and then choose an appropriate vocabulary and sentence length. Focus on practical information. If you think that your reader will take your information and use it in a document addressed to executives, make your reader’s job easier. Include an executive summary and use frequent headings to highlight your major points. Ask your reader if there is an organizational pattern or format, or a strategy for writing the document that will help him or her use your document as source material.

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.

Productivity and People Management


Productivity—real output per working hour—is not rising quickly as it did previously. This does not necessarily mean that workers are becoming lazier. What it does mean is that in an uncertain economy, businesses are not investing enough in the machinery needed to help workers accomplish more. For example, the steel plants are so obsolete that Japan and Germany are taking over the international steel markets. Too, as the economy become more service-oriented, productivity tends to slow down. The reason is that services—such as family counseling—tend to be able to increase productivity only by reducing their quality.

Managing people and resources on all levels of organizations will continue to be a major managerial challenge. Future managers have to be more sensitive to people’s needs and more flexible in resolving problems. Early retirement and part-time work programs are likely to become common in the near future.

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.

Facing the Harsh Facts


Many companies that have lost profits or market share have managers who are still waiting patiently for their business to “get back to normal.” Others are looking for government help for their declining market and profit positions. Neither of these approaches is a viable situation. What is needed is less wishful thinking and rhetoric and greater willingness to squarely face the true facts about their markets and competitive positions. The demand changes that have occurred in many markets are structural, not cyclical, and it is unrealistic to expect any kind of a dramatic recovery or turnaround that will restore demand to former levels.

It is extremely difficult for managers who have built their entire careers around specific products and technology to accept the fact that their former business base has now leveled out from prior peaks, or worse yet, become obsolete or irretrievably lost to new competitors or technology. Obviously, many old-line steel managers could not imagine today’s world of aluminum cans, plastic auto parts and bodies, or Japanese, Korean, and small regional producers who constantly “beat their pants off.” Nor could managers in the high flying semiconductor business foresee the situation where their markets have not only ceased to gallop ahead, but decline dramatically, and where foreign sources, including Brazil, Korea, and Taiwan, have captured the bulk of the remaining business. Unfortunately, these are the facts, and an equally discouraging set of forces applies in many other markets.

It is understandable that managers who have grown up and lived through the growth years in any of these industries find today’s conditions difficult to accept. But they must change their myopic or unrealistic views of their business so they can tackle the hard work required to regain a profitable competitive footing. Otherwise, their situations will not improve and will most likely deteriorate further.

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

Thinking Like a Beginner


It used to be, the bigger the nerd you were the better the researcher. That’s changed now. Some of the best advice comes from people who know the least about a specific operation.

This isn’t to belittle experience, information, or expertise. But the key to keeping ahead of change is to learn to think like a beginner. With a beginner’s mind you will be more open to what is emerging and better equipped to anticipate change.

The beginner isn’t attached to old ways of doing and seeing things and won’t spend a great deal of time “beating a dead horse” or accumulating sacred cows. Looking at the world with a fresh eye and an open mind , the beginner will see things that the expert will miss.

Thinking like a beginner is a state of curiosity where you see situations anew, not letting old information and the “benefits” of experience cloud your judgment. Experience, after all, took place in the past, and the thinking, strategies, and information that worked in the past are often outdated and obsolete.

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

Policies Stiffling the Operation


If structures create a drag on business momentum, then outdated, outmoded policies create a drag on the business itself. On countless occasions people have run into corporations in which some ridicolously restrictive policy prevented them from doing something they actually wanted to do. Often chairmen of boards, when pressed for the reasons behind some of these policies, shrug their shoulders and confess they wonder out loud why such a policy ever existed in the first place. Policies are day-to-day laws of the corporation. The corporate policies are the most short-sighted precedent policies whereby a company’s desire to protect a minor precedent will result in the loss of a major opportunity. 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 Asif J. Mir.