Imperfect Organizational Decision-making


Decision-making must be made in all organizations and actions must be taken. It is up to the appropriate people in the organization to select the actions, determine how to carry them out, and take responsibility for their successful implementation. But there is often confusion over decisions. People find it hard to think together about the choices they must make. They don’t agree on where to start or how to proceed. As a result they may overlook important information, fail to consult the proper people, and make mistakes. Organizational decision-making is often not as good as it should be.

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.

Personal Selling: Two Approaches


Personal Selling: Two Approaches

Many American companies do not put nearly enough effort into direct, personal communication. Japanese success in displacing the US as Saudi Arabia’s leading supplier is instructive. Japanese exporters and small teams to meet with Saudi importers: Japanese exporters; they go to Saudi workshops, travel to secondary towns, and meet with sub-agents. The Americans, on the other hand, invite all their Saudi agents together for a luncheon, do not have private meetings, do not get their hands dirty, and never travel to secondary towns—they tend to stick to the three market centers. Saudis complain that US effort is misdirected: American personnel devote infinitesimal detail to making advance arrangements for visiting executives, going so far as to specify rooms overlooking a certain view from the hotel.

Japanese firms supplement their direct, personal efforts with heavy local advertising. They use gifts generously in product introductions, and warrantees on Japanese consumer electronics range up to three years. To carry out this business, Japanese trading companies have large staffs of professional international marketers who have been cultivated since graduation from a Japanese international trading university, schooled in English and Arabic, and rotated worldwide as international trading specialists.

Compared to most other cultures, particularly non-Western. Americans are extraordinarily preoccupied with the tangible aspects of a product. They round up all their sales agents and give a product presentation instead of putting their energies into the more important component of international marketing—people. In American and only a few other countries it is normal to do business from a distance, between strangers, by mail or telephone.

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.

Resistance to Change


Resistance to change may develop for a variety of reasons. A common one is that people do not know how to change or do not understand why it is important to do so; they may perceive their relative social economic status endangered or diminished. Another reason is that an individual might feel psychologically threatened, his self-concept endangered. Another important but often overlooked reason for some resistance is that the change involved is not a good idea. Not all change is good, and some resistance can be considered as being intelligent.

Resistance to change occurs often more for social process than for technical change reasons. Thus, it is important that change agents understand in depth the psycho-social aspects of a particular system so that they will know how people will be effected and perceive the contemplated change. People often resist any changes that alter their customary social and working relationships. For this reason, technical and staff personnel who are concerned with developing new approaches must be alert to considering more than just the technical or logical value of their proposed ideas. If they hope to gain successful implementation, they must also consider the important social relationship dimensions of the change.

Resistance can be countered by trying to remove the causes or reasons for it and/or by increasing the pressure for change. Which of these two general approaches to take must be determined situationally; there is no easy answer as to which is better, and combined approach is probably to be preferred.

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.

Personal Letters


Not direct mailings of large quantities of letters and brochures, but simple, personal letters is one of the most effective, easy, inexpensive, and overlooked methods of marketing. Certainly the large corporations don’t consider using this type of communication, because it doesn’t reach enough people to enrich their coffers. But it’s just the ticket for many an individual businessperson. If you can write clear English, spell properly, and keep your message short enough, you ought to be able to develop enough business through this mode of marketing so that you need employ many other methods. Even if you’re a dismal grammarian, professional typists can usually help put your ideas into acceptable form on the printed page.

The primary value of a personal letter is that it enables you to convey a truly personal feeling and reach a special place in the mind of the reader. You can say specific things in personal letters that are just not practical in any other medium except for certain kinds of telephone marketing.

In a personal letter you can, should, and must include as much personal data as possible. Mention the person’s name, of course. But also  mention things about the person’s life, business, car, home, or—if you ‘re in the gardening business—the person’s garden. By doing so, you will be whispering into someone’s ear rather than shouting through a distant megaphone. Naturally, you can mention personal things unless you know them. So do your homework and learn about your prospective customers: their working and living habits, their hopes and goals, their problems. You can get much of this information from your chamber of commerce. You can get more by conducting your own informal research with the aid of a simple questionnaire, or by personal observation. Include in your letter these feelings, and you will be dazzled at the effect the letter has.

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.

 

Regulation, Deregulation


Regulation is the increase or expansion of government regulation, especially in areas where the regulatory activities had previously been reduced. Deregulation is the removal or scaling down of regulatory authority and regulatory activities of government.

There is legitimate need for government regulation in modern economies, but regulation is not without its problems. Businesses feel these problems first-hand, often because the regulations directly affect the cost of products and the freedom of managers to design their business operations. In the modern economy, there are serious issues of regulatory cost and effectiveness that cannot be overlooked.

The call for regulation may seem irresistible to government leaders and officials, but there are always costs to regulation. In recent years, more attention has been given to the costs of government regulation. An old economy adage says, “There is no free lunch. Someone equally has to pay for the benefits created.” This is the rule of cost, and it applies in all socio-economic systems, whether free market or central state control.

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.

Investing in Success


To get profit without risk, experience without danger, and reward without work is as impossible as it is to live without being born. Succinctly, there is no success without sacrifice. But is sacrifice bad? Like many words, the word “sacrifice” is misunderstood. To most people, sacrifice means giving up time or money, or enduring hardships, or doing something unpleasant. Now, it is true that sacrifice may mean those things. But that is only half the definition. The other part of the definition, the one that is almost always overlooked, is to gain something even more valuable.

The complete definition of sacrifice is give up something of value – money, time, or energy – to gain something of even more value – more money, a higher standard of living, better education for the kids, or other valuable considerations. Sacrifice means give up a little now to receive more later.

Sacrificing then means investing. We give up something today so we will have more of something tomorrow. Anyone who wants to achieve maximum success must be willing to sacrifice or invest now for reward later. To validate this point, consider the following:

  • A majority of people reaching age 65 have little savings, investments, or other valuables – this after spending 45 adult years in the richest society ever known. Had these people in poverty and near-poverty invested only ten percent of what they had earned in one of hundreds of “sure” investments, they would be very well off financially, and the social security system could be phased out completely.
  • Many young people feel that 35 0r 40 hours a week is all they should work. Being asked to work more than that is such a “big” sacrifice, many try to find another job.
  • Millions of people performing tasks that are rapidly being taken over by robots and computers think it’s too much of a sacrifice to learn new skills that are increasingly in demand.
  • Rather than invest part of what they earn, millions and millions of people give way to temptation and buy things on a certain plan.
  • And millions of students, rather than sacrifice and really learn a subject, use every conceivable technique to pass a course except to learn the material.

On the positive side, there are some people of all ages to be commended for their willingness – and good sense – to sacrifice. Sacrifice is an investment that means more than just money. Sacrifice means deep satisfaction in helping others to find joy in this world.

Happiness, achievement, money, promotion, reward, love, and anything else of value are gained only through sacrifice. Make sacrifices. They eventually lead to 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, and my Lectures.

The Intangibility and Measurement of Learning


An important aspect of learning is its intangibility. Learning is non-observable; it takes place within people and can only be inferred from actual behavior. For this reason, it is called an intervening variable. Because it must be inferred from behavior, it is often difficult to measure: other factors influence behavior, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish what part of the behavior is attributable to learning. Two men may be assigned a task and given instructions on how to accomplish it. One may achieve much better results than the other, but that does not necessarily mean he has learned more. He may have had more ability to begin with, or he may have had a greater motivation to succeed than the other.

Performance is the result of learning, ability, motivation, and a variety of external factors. One man may produce more even having learned less because his ability or motivation enables him to perform more effectively. A student who works hard in a course and learns a great amount may see another student work less hard, appear to learn less, but receive a high grade. Such situations are common both in school and in the business world. The factor sometimes overlooked is the initial degree of skill or knowledge brought to the task, and the resultant effect on performance. Often it is performance that is observed, judged, and rewarded.

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.

Know your Customer


The conventional wisdom for product design and marketing says pay attention to the customers. Learn as much as you can about their needs and wants and then design the product on the basis of information. The customer is then part of you R&D department.

But the customer can be crucial to your R&D in a totally different and often overlooked way. You can learn a great deal by watching how your customers misuse and abuse your product after they buy it. Major breakthroughs in new products and innovative product redesigns have come from watching the customer “trash” the original intent and use a product in a totally different way.

By paying attention to how customers actually use, misuse, and abuse products, you’ll have the world’s largest R&D team and an endless supply of ideas with which to work.

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

Accrual Accounting and Cashflow


Before the end of World War 1 most managers kept track of cash out and cash in. many senior citizen owner-managers still do today. There is an inherent problem in keeping the records that way, however, if the business offers and receives much credit. Doing business on credit displaces the time of the exchange of cash from the exchange of goods and services. Sometimes very little cash comes in during a particular month and very much cash comes in during other months. The same is true of cash out.

Keeping in track of what you pay or get paid for credit transactions causes the monthly reports describing the operations to fluctuate from month to month even though the goods and services flowing in and out of the business may be very much the same. About 1920 the accounting profession began placing emphasis on the accrual method of accounting to overcome this difficulty.

The accrual method portrays the smoothed-out profit as if all the transactions had been for cash and as if the business had purchased only exactly what was needed to make the sale. It is not an accurate portrayal of everything going on in the business, but it is a good approximation of the net effect of those things that affect profit. The problem is that so much emphasis has been placed on the accrual method income statement and balance sheet that the importance of cash has been regulated to virtual obscurity.

Even this result is satisfactory when the reports are describing large businesses with access to external financing through the stock market, commercial paper, and bank loans at the prime interest rate. But companies that do not have access to these external sources of financing have a different problem. For them, the flow of cash through the business means life or death, whether the accrual based profit is great or terrible. When new or small businesses need cash they must turn to the bank, the banker will look to the personal savings and assets of the owner-manager for collateral.

Accountants have not forgotten nor overlooked the importance of cash. They recognize the need for cash in sufficient quantity to keep the business operating. For their purposes, however, they often infer the cash available to the business from the income statements and describe future cash availability with the balance sheets. They, and others, frequently describe it as: cash flow equals net profit after taxes plus depreciation and other noncash expenses, such as amortization.

This statement is incorrect except under some very stringent preconditions that rarely exist in practice for a small business. This statement is an approximation that is valid for large and stable businesses in which changes from year to year are small and the statements from which the cash flow is inferred are annual reports. For a small and new business looking at monthly financial reports this approximation is inadequate. In a small, growing business the net cash flow to the firm’s bank account does not equal the net profit plus depreciation. Profit is not cash nor is it cash flow.

Although this pronouncement may be unconventional, entrepreneurs are realistic. Successful entrepreneurs ask how it really works and then get on with building their business. In the conventional approach the analysts, having inferred cash flow from profit, depreciation, and amortization, stop there, allowing their readers to assume that the resulting cash is in the bank wiating to be spent.

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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