Unique Superior Product


It is not enough to have good strategy, good management preparation, and a good organization. These will permit good new products management, but too often it just doesn’t happen. Why? If there is one reason above all others, if there is one concept that should be the last one violated, it is the commitment to producing a unique, superior product. Obviously, if things are well organized, if there are capable people doing the work, and if good process is used it probably will happen. But research shows that more products are lost to this factor than any other.

Note the two words—unique and superior. That means no me-too products, unless there is important uniqueness in the augmentation circle, such as service or warranty. But the more critical term is superior, and that means superior in benefit to the end user. Some phrases used by managers on this point are: “meets customer needs better,” “solves problems customers have with competitive productive,” and “has better value-in-use.”

Products are thought to fall when end users lack the problem the product solves, or the product doesn’t solve it, or the marketing (communication) fails to get the message across. These are all measurable, in advance, by three key tests in the recommended process. We can learn, for sure, whether our new item is unique, and whether it offers a superior solution to a problem the end user has.  Whether we know the product is superior is not as important as whether the customer knows. Superior products can fail if communication fails, even when the item is a piece of medical equipment.

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.

Manufacturing Inventories


Manufacturing inventories depend on how much value has been incorporated by the firm:

  1. Raw materials
  2. Components/Subassemblies/Unfinished items
  3. Work-in-process
  4. End items/Finished goods

Raw materials are any inventories by a company which the company has not yet processed in any way. This would include such obvious raw materials as iron ore, sand or glass. However, by definition, it could include computer chips or other expensive items which have not yet been processed.

Components/Subassemblies/Unfinished items have been processed to some extent by the company, but are not yet finished. They may leave production area and be stored off the line, but will still not revert to being called raw material. They already have value added.

Work in process is similar to components, et al. it is actually a mixture of raw materials and components that are currently a part of the production process. So some raw materials may be part of work-in-process, and some components may not be.

Finished goods are simply goods which are finished and ready for sale. They are almost never left in the work area, but are moved out into final storage or packaging.

There is often some ambiguity about classification, since a company may sell some unpainted furniture but paint some for final sale. Is a given unpainted piece to be considered finished goods or not? Perhaps we need a new term for such goods.

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.

Ethics and Leadership


There are several different types of leaders:

  1. Universal Leaders: Those who believe that ethics has no business in the workplace. Their decisions are not guided by ethical principles. They tend to operate out of personal and pragmatic motives with less concern for the altruistic or idealistic implications of their decisions. This does not mean that every decision is unethical, merely that the ethics of the decision is not considered when it is made.
  2. Ethical Leaders: Those who are personally ethical in word, thought, and deed and conduct their decision making openly so that they are perceived as ethical even from a distance. Not only do these leaders consider the ethical consequences of their decisions, in addition to the individualistic and pragmatic, but also it is obvious to the observer that this is the case. They make a point of ensuring that the ethical aspects of their decision-making process are as valuable and transparent as they are pragmatic. Additionally, ethical leaders are attentive to culture and symbol aspects of how they act out the “moral manager’s” role. They understand that their actions and decisions communicate symbolically as well as literally.
  3. Ethically Neutral Successful Leaders: Those who are personally ethical in word, thought, and deed, but are not open about it. These leaders may not be perceived as ethical from a distance. They are often viewed as not paying adequate attention to the ethical component of their decisions, not because the outcome is unethical, but rather because their decision-making process is not readily apparent.
  4. Hypocritical Leaders: Those who deliberately choose to act unethically.

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.

Economies of Scale


You get economies of scale when the unit cost falls as the number of units made increases. There are three reasons for the lower unit costs:

  • Fixed costs are spread over a larger number of units;
  • You can use more efficient processes, perhaps including more automation;
  • More experience with the product raises efficiency.

Economies of scale encourage you to concentrate operations and make as many units as possible in the same facilities. Another benefit from larger operations comes from the ‘learning curve.’ The more often you repeat something, the easier it becomes.

Obviously, you can’t expand facilities for ever, and there is no point in having more capacity than likely demand. More realistically, if you expand beyond a certain size the organization gets too complex – making communications, support functions and management more difficult. Beyond this point you get dis-economies of scale. You can see these in many large organizations, such as governments, which aim for the efficiencies that come from centralization, but actually get bogged down in bureaucracy and red tape.

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.

A Bad Boss


Bad bosses are people too, with their own fears, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Sometimes the pompous ones are basically shy and insecure. The ones who yell at people and unduly assert their aggression may be having significant family problems. Bosses with personal health problems may take these out on the staff. Still other bosses may be nice people who are simply in over their heads, and have absolutely no aptitude for the jobs.

By realizing that human frailties often underlie even the most objectionable qualities of bad bosses, employees can be in a better position to deal with them, and to judge whether the situation is temporary or hopeless. They may help them decide whether to stick it out or quit the job.

Even though a bad boss counts on the inertia of the human spirit, you can break free of the intangible bonds that bind. Also beware of some of the tangible bonds. Whatever you do, don’t lock yourself into an enormous mortgage, or you will not have the option of cooling off in another job at a reduced salary. There is a shortage of skilled labor, and a tremendous shortage of versatile labor (people who will accept a total change in career direction when circumstances dictate). Even if you end up with a different bad boss, at least the change will be refreshing. Remember that the average worker will have between four and six complete job changes in the course of working lifetime, so you don’t need to be caught in the “one company, for better or for work” trap for your whole career.

People need a mission in life. If this is denied by a bad boss at work, there are other ways to fulfill this need—ways that will still allow an overall sense of accomplishment. It is obviously bad business for any company to have such a reversal of energies affecting its operation. However, concentrating most of their energies on pursuits outside of work is a common defense against the bad boss when employees elect to stay with their jobs rather than resigning.

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.

Learn the Language


If you are going to spend a year or more in a country—definitely, absolutely, do your utmost to learn the language. It will make a tremendous difference to your state of mind. Ability to understand the local language seems to play a major role in adjustment to culture shock and personal success in a foreign world.

It is not clear why speaking the language makes such a big difference, but it does. Obviously it makes getting around a lot easier. In hundreds of moments of struggling to get something done, from shopping to household repairs to getting directions, just knowing some of the language removes huge portions of aggravation and helps you gain a sense of safety and self-assurance. When people around you are babbling away in a foreign language, you become vaguely insecure and feel isolated. Knowing the language gives you a sense of mastery in situations where you may feel vulnerable.

The more process of learning the language gets you more in tune with the culture, and breaks the ice, putting you in the right frame of mind to adjust. In some places, speaking a second language is important to enhance your image as a well-bred, educated person—you may be somewhat better off if the language you learn is not the language spoken in the country.

The frequent traveler should think about learning languages too, of course, depending on the amount of travel and bilingualism of the business community. Speaking a language fluently can permit you to attain levels of relationship and business advantage unattainably by someone who doesn’t.

Fluency in the language will allow the traveler into otherwise exclusive realms of local business. The process of negotiation often depends on behind-the-scenes information flow.

Learning the language is no substitute for learning the culture and appropriate behavior. People who are fluent in a language but not sensitive to the culture can make worse mistakes, perhaps because the local experts more of them. And there are dangers in speaking a language if you are not competent in it. Not knowing the nuances of words or being careless with intonations, you might say things you don’t mean. In most languages, some common words have extremely vulgar meanings if pronounced incorrectly. Or you may hear unintended meanings.

If you don’t speak the language well, it is best to reveal that you have made the effort to learn—but then rely on English or an interpreter. Experts advise that is generally best to speak the language for socializing and daily activities, but not when transacting business. As a rule of thumb, if you are not fluent and your foreign counterpart does not speak fluent English, always transact business with an interpreter. Traders who meet frequently with foreigners say that while English is the business language around the world, buyers are far more comfortable talking in their native language, and even if they can speak English, it is often better to have an interpreter. They don’t have to struggle so hard, and it puts them at ease.

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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