Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the 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.

Truth and Reconciliation in Business


Access to the truth is a fundamental human right and as such it must form the foundation of any truly amazing organization capable of maintaining long-term, mutually respectful and beneficial relationships. This is as true of organizations as it is of nation states or families.

Truth and Reconciliation in business aims to achieve exactly what it says. It aims to get to the truth about the way relationships are being conducted and it aims to use the acceptance of that truth as the basis for reconciling the organization and building fresh new relationships.

If we want our organization to be amazingly successful we must confront and overcome the practice of having completely separate management, employee and stakeholder perspectives, dividing the way we see our organization’s current and future priorities.

We need to develop one working culture capable of uniting our un-reconciled and incompatible aspirations and goals. This requires us to focus not only on our systems and processes but to build strong, dynamic relationships based on dialogue, interaction, genuinely shared values, mutual respect, inclusiveness, openness and trust.

Truth and reconciliation, as practiced by nation states, such as, South Africa, is a detailed process used under the most extreme situations – far removed from anything or indeed any of us has probably seen in any organization.

But let’s not miss the lessons these experiences can teach us about unity and strength, and about how to create harmony in inharmonious situations. Truth and reconciliation in business is significantly scaled-down version with reduced scope based on a drastically reduced need. What it does do, however, is adhere to principles proven in the most extreme environments where demands for forgiveness take on monumental proportions.

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.

Overproduction


Overproduction is regarded as the most serious waste as it discourages a smooth flow of goods or services and is likely to  inhibit  quality and productivity. Such overproduction also tends to lead to excessive lead and storage times. As a result defects may not be detected early, products may deteriorate and artificial pressures on work rate may be generated. In addition, overproduction leads to excessive work-in-progress stocks which result in the  physical dislocation of operations with consequent poorer communication. This state of affairs is often encouraged by bonus systems that encourage the push of unwanted goods. The pull or Kanban system was employed by Toyota as a way of overcoming this problem.

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.

Delegation Skills


It’s not uncommon for managers to resist delegating the work they once did themselves. However, to be an effective and successful manager, it is essential that you delegate work to others.

To increase your willingness to delegate, first determine the reason for your resistance, then identify ways to overcome it. Common reasons for managers’ reluctance to delegation include:

  • Insufficient time to explain the task or train someone to do it. While this is sometimes an acceptable reason for not delegating short-term projects, more often it is not. The time you spend teaching employees’ tasks will save you time and effort in the long run. The sharing of knowledge is an investment in time that pays of in many ways.
  • Desire for perfection. If you feel that you are the only person who can do certain tasks well enough, be careful; this is a danger sign. It’s often unlikely that you are the only person who can do them. Start by delegating parts of these tasks, and each employees to help them perform to your satisfaction.
  • Personal satisfaction and/or reward from task accomplishment. If you enjoy a task or receive recognition from others when you perform it, you may tend to reserve it for yourself when you could be delegating it. It is difficult to give up work you really like. Learn to achieve satisfaction from other parts of your job.
  • Lack of confidence in employees’ abilities. If you lack confidence in an employee’s abilities, carefully evaluate what the employee can and cannot do. You may want to check your impressions with others, because people sometimes pigeonhole other people based on one or two vivid events. Then delegate work the person can do, and provide coaching as the work proceeds.
  • Fear of failure. Many managers are concerned that if mistakes are made, the consequences will be disastrous. Identify the  possible risk with the employee, if the risks are really large, ask that contingency plans to be made. Ultimately, you need to be  willing to take responsibility for your employees’ mistakes on delegated tasks to help them grow and develop.

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.

Strategy Development


One useful approach to strategy development involves a five-step process in which planners answer five questions about each strategic issue. The following questions should be adjusted depending on whether the direct or indirect, goals, or vision of success approach to strategy formulation is used:

  1. What are the practiced alternatives, dreams, or visions we might pursue to address this strategic issue, achieve this goal, or realize this scenario?
  2. What are the barriers to the realization of these alternatives, dreams or visions?
  3. What major proposals might we pursue to achieve these alternatives, dreams, or visions directly or to overcome the barriers to their realization?
  4. What major actions must be taken within the next year (or two) to implement the major proposals?
  5. What specific steps must be taken within the next six months to implement the major proposals, and who is responsible?

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.

Online Retail Selling: Barriers to Success


i.            Increasing consumers’ comfort levels: Online retailers need to improve convenience and value for customers and assist them in overcoming their concerns about security and trust.

ii.            Resolving technological limitations: The ability for online retailers to deliver unique experiences is linked to technology improvements. The internet is still constrained by lack of bandwidth and problems with reliability.

iii.            Rapidly scaling internal operations: Online retailers face the challenges of managing significant growth, internal organizational change and developing and scaling their customer service and fulfillment infrastructure—all while the technology is still evolving.

iv.            Engineering comprehensive convenience: Customers identify many convenience problems with today’s online environment. Among them are the need for customers to reenter personal data on different sites, the vide variation in customer service across sites and the lack of coordination between online and offline retail environments on the part of retailers using both channels.

v.            Resolving channel conflict: many offline retailers believe that there is a risk of cannibalizing sales through existing channels by going online. Many manufacturers fear alienating their existing distribution partners by providing an alternative channel for customers to purchase. These perceived channel conflicts are keeping some traditional retailers and manufacturers from joining the Internet.

vi.            Developing low-cost distribution: Distribution system can be expensive. Online fulfillment systems are still developing and there is a disconnect between what is required and what is currently offered by existing offline systems.

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.

 

Direct-mail Marketing: Checklist


  • Is there a perceived need for the product or service?
  • Is it practical?
  • Is it unique?
  • Is the price right for your customers or prospects?
  • Is it a good value?
  • Is the markup sufficient to assure a profit?
  • Is the market large enough? Does the product or service have broad appeal?
  • Are there specific smaller segments of your list that have a strong desire for your product or service?
  • Is it new? Will your customers perceive it as being new?
  • Can it be photographed or illustrated interestingly?
  • Are there sufficient unusual selling features to make your copy sizzle?
  • Is it economical to ship? Is it fragile? Old shaped? Heavy? Bulky?
  • Can it be personalized?
  • Are there any legal problems to overcome?
  • Is it safe to use?
  • Is the supplier reputable?
  • Will backup merchandise be available for fast shipment on reorders?
  • Might returns be too huge?
  • Will refurbishing of returned merchandise be practical?
  • Is it, or can it be, packaged attractively?
  • Are usage instructions clear?
  • How does it compare to competitive products or services?
  • Will it have exclusivity?
  • Will it lend itself to repeat business?
  • Is it consumable, so that there will be repeat orders?
  • Is it faddish? Too short-lived?
  • Is it too seasonal for direct mail selling?
  • Can an add-on to the product make it more distinctive and salable?
  • Will the number of stock keeping units – various sizes and colors – create problems?
  • Does it lend itself to multiple pricing?
  • Is it too readily available in stores?
  • Is it like an old, hot item, so that its success is guaranteed?
  • Is it doomed because similar items have failed?
  • Does your mother, wife, brother, husband, sister, or kid like it?
  • Is direct mail the way to go with it?
  • Does it fill an unfilled niche in the marketplace?

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.

 

Organization Development


Organization development is a planned, managed, and systematic process. Its objective is to change the system, the culture, and the behavior of an organization in order to improve the organization’s effectiveness.

Organization development deals with organizational aspects of the behavioral sciences and links with human resource development and organizational renewal. Many definitions of organization development mention such objectives as helping members of an organization to interact more effectively. It must always be organization-wide, directed towards more participatory management, must provide for integrating the individual’s goals with the organization’s and must be considered an ongoing process.

Much organizational inefficiency can be traced to individuals who are not interested in the organization they belong to. Conversely, a lot of personal unhappiness can be traced to feeling inadequately integrated into the organization one belongs to. The benefit of organization development lies in reconciling the interests of individuals and of the organization and successfully realizing both.

While organization development will not overcome such deficiencies as outdated technology, inadequate financing or hostile external forces, it will enable organizations to cope more effectively with these negative influences.

Organization development is based on the behavior of organizations, but that both can be modified with proper diagnosis and skilful intervention.

Most organization development agents or consultants tend to view their mission as helping client organizations become more participatory and consensus seeking.

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.

 

Group Decision-Making


The person leading the discussion can have a big effect on whether the group’s decision is useful. If a chairperson monopolizes and continually shoots down others’ ideas while pushing his or her own, it’s likely that other points of view will go unexpressed.

An effective discussion leader has responsibility to do the following:

  1. See that all group members participate. As discussion leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that all group members participate and have an opportunity to express their opinions. Doing so can help ensure that different points of view emerge and that everyone takes ownership of the final decision.
  2. Distinguish between idea getting and idea evaluation. Evaluating and criticizing proposed solutions and ideas actually inhibit the process of getting  or generating new ideas. Yet in most group discussions, one person presents an alternative, and others begin immediately discussing its pros and cons. As a result, group members quickly become apprehensive about suggesting new ideas. Distinguishing between the idea getting and idea evaluation stages—in particular, forbidding criticism of an idea until all ideas have been presented—can be useful here.
  3. Not respond to each participant or dominate the discussion. Remember that the discussion leader’s main responsibility is to elicit ideas from the group, not to supply them. As a discussion leader, you should therefore work hard to facilitate free expression of ideas and avoid dominating the discussion.
  4. See that the effort is directed toward overcoming surmountable obstacles. In other words, focus on solving the problem rather than on discussing historical events that cannot be changed. Some groups make the mistake of becoming embroiled in discussion about who is to blame for the problem or what should have been done to avoid the problem. Such discussions can’t lead to solutions because the past can’t be changed. As a discussion leader, your job is to ensure that the group focuses on obstacles that can be overcome and solutions that can be implemented.

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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