Definition of the Problem


We must first define a problem exactly before we can describe, analyze, and explain it. We define it with the deviation statement, or name of the problem. It is important to state this name precisely because all the work to follow—all the description, analysis, and explanation we will undertake—will be directed at correcting the problem as it has been named.

However simple or complex a problem may seem at the outset, it is always worth a minute or two to ask, “Can the effect of this problem in the deviation statement be explained now?” If it can, we must back up to the point at which we can no longer explain the deviation statement. Vague or generalized deviation statements must be reworded into specific deviation statements that name one object or kind of object, and, and one malfunction or kind of malfunction for which I wish to discover and explain cause.

It is tempting to combine two or more deviations, in a single problem-solving effort or to try bunch a bevy of seemingly related problems into one overall problem. Nearly, everyone has attended meetings during which two or more distinct problems were tied ankle to ankle in a kind of problem-solving sack race. This procedure is almost always inefficient and unproductive.

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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Inventory of Talent


The process addresses the supply side of planning. It requires identification of the current incumbents and the possible candidates. Candidates are usually nominated by the immediate or unit manager, and the inventory typically sweeps widely, including all viable management candidates rather than being exclusive at the outset.

Included among the candidates are in-line successors (essentially replacements waiting to move up), candidates elsewhere in the organization, and longer-term or high-potential candidates. Many companies make a specific effort to include all women and minorities who may have management potential, near-term and long-term.

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 Most Important Personal Asset


Obviously the real answer is common sense. But if you don’t have it already, you probably never will, and there’s nothing I can say here that’s going to change that.

Common sense aside, then, the most important asset in business is a sense of humor, an ability to laugh at yourself or the situation.

Laughter is the most potent, constructive force for diffusing business tension, and you want to be the one who controls it. If you can point out what is humorous or absurd about a situation or confrontation, can diffuse the tension by getting the other party to share your feeling, you will be guaranteed the upper hand. There are very few absolutes in business. This is one of them, and it will never fail.

A sense of humor creates one of the most favorable long-term impressions. A single humorous, self-effacing comment can immediately let someone know that you don’t take yourself too seriously, and that is the sort of thing that people remember.

It is also the best way to start a meeting. You don’t need to have them rolling in the aisles, but a mildly pleasant remark at the outset will create the right atmosphere for everything that follows. Humor is what brings back perspective, which, next to profits, is the easiest thing to lose in business.

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.

Principles of Crisis Management


What does one do when a crisis comes? There are some principles, not rules that can be useful to managers facing a crisis:

Define the real problem: Crises tend to face managers to think short term and focus on the narrow problem at hand. The crisis management team should ask several reflective questions: What would constitute a good job in managing this crisis? What can we accomplish? What is impossible?

Set Goals and Define the Crisis Strategy in Light of Those Goals: The urge to act first, think later is hand to resist when facing a crisis. The better the course is to have some managers actively thinking about the goals—What do we want to accomplish? How do we want to be perceived by the media? By our shareholders? By our employees and customers?

Manage the flow of Information: Experts advise managers to tell the story their way, consistently, and frequently. Because electronic media repeat crisis stories quite frequently in a typical news day, managers have an opportunity to correct errors and should not permit an erroneous statement to stand unchallenged.

Adopt a Team Approach: It is important to have one spokesperson designated at the outset and available to act on the company’s behalf immediately. Successful companies have thought in advance about the skills each crisis team should possess. Legal, media, and government relations skills are essential in many crisis situations.

Plan for the worst case: A crisis always has the potential to worsen, and managers need to anticipate the worst case possibility. It is tempting to assume a crisis will pass and the world will return to normal. It is wise to prepare for the worst.

Plan on the Situation Getting Worse: By doing so, an organization can begin to see ahead and create contingency plans for communicating with key stakeholders, deploying resources, and organizing other companies and people for action.

Follow up after the Crisis is Over: Many contacts with stakeholders occur during a crisis. A company can restore its image and reputation by dedicated follow-up to stakeholders.

Use Technology: Information technology can be a powerful aid to a company facing a crisis and needing to communicate with stakeholders. A company should measure the effectiveness of communication message through polling, surveys, and focus-group interviews.

Don’t Give up: As bad as it can be for an organization, a crisis rarely destroys a well-managed business. Leadership is vital if an organization’s internal and external stakeholders are to believe that there is a bright future beyond the crisis.

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.

When Project Financing can be Beneficial?


Project Financing has long been used to finance large natural resource projects involving several parties. A large project financing can, by facilitating a large-scale capital project, bring significant public benefits.

Given the complex decisions that have to be made in planning the financing of a major project, it is essential that the project sponsor(s) develop a thorough understanding of the proposed project—its risks, estimated investment requirements, and projected returns. Most importantly, the project sponsor(s) need to determine at the outset whether project financing is the most cost-effective method of financing the project.

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

Consumers of Advertising


It is vital, from the outset, to guard against the normal psychological tendency to impose your advertising “pattern” on a rather complex reality. Consider, for example, that the advertisements you may encounter through television, radio, the campus newspaper, magazines, direct mail, billboards, and the like are only a fraction of all the forms that advertising takes in other places in other times, for different purposes, and among different audiences. Yet, there is a tendency to equate that fragmented reality with the whole. Advertising is bad (good) for children; advertising is good (bad) for the economy; advertising helps us make wise (unwise) purchase decisions; advertising makes goods cost more (less); and so on. Simply, some advertising may be (or do) any of these things. All advertising is however far too complex to permit such over-simplifications.

By way of further example, one of the frequently voiced complaints of advertising critics is that advertising is not informative enough. Now, if we wish to point to some specific advertisements, it would not be difficult to accept such a premise. An advertisement for an expensive car may tell us that the car offers greater “class” than its competitors but nothing of its performance or life expectancy. Or a message for a cereal may feature a talking tiger, telling us of his adventures, but little of nutrition.

But there is other grist for this mill as well. A classified ad for a refrigerator may tell us its make, age, capacity, operating efficiency, and the reasons the seller has put it on the market. A message on drill bits for all rigs inundates its readers with performance data concerning the cost efficiencies to be accrued through the use of this bit compared with those of traditional composition. Do these ads also lack information?

To understand advertising then, you must first develop some knowledge of its more prominent functions. One way of getting a realistic picture of the landscape of advertising is to ask a simple question: Who uses advertising to reach what audiences through what media for what purpose? The pursuit of the answer not, of course, reveals all the nuances of advertising. It may, however, after a reasonable of some of the major species and subspecies and—not incidentally—serve to discourage embracing, “Advertising does …” thinking.

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