Productivity—the Japanese Way


Economists are forever telling us that we need to increase productivity in order to improve our standard of living. Productivity is one of those concepts that are so loaded with meaning and implications that is very difficult to define, much less explain. Not surprisingly then, improving “it” is one of the most difficult tasks facing business. More to the point, the time for improvement is quickly running out. Industrial performance is being outstripped at a frightening pace by the Japanese. In fact, it has reached the point where their productivity performance is so superior that they can literally pick any product and any market and quickly come to dominate it.

The idea that Japanese are uniquely gifted in only a few related areas has been debunked by their proven successes in industries as diverse as automobiles and semi-conductors. As well, the facile suggestion that the Japanese are somehow culturally inclined to be productive doesn’t wash. Japanese managers have taken over factories in Europe and the US and greatly improved productivity records. Productivity has also been high in their North American plants.

If corporate managers believe that their workers can be as competitive as anyone else in the world, and technically, there’s no valid reason why they can’t be, then they must find better ways to help their employees realize their potential. In that sense, study of Japanese methods is a jumping-off point that can lead to adaptations that will produce unique ways of improving productivity.

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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21st Century Competition


The fundamental nature of competition in many of the world’s industries is changing. The pace of this change is relentless and increasing. Even determining the boundaries of an industry has become challenging. The companies compete not only among themselves, but also with companies in other sectors. The pace of change among once-stable phone companies is as relentless as it is in the “traditional” grocery industry.

Still other characteristics of the 21st century competition are noteworthy. Conventional sources of competitive advantage such as economies of scale and huge advertising budgets, are not as effective in the 21st century competition.

The traditional managerial mindset cannot lead a firm to strategic competitiveness in the competitive landscape. In its place, managers must adopt a new mindset—one that values flexibility, speed, innovation, integration, and the challenges that evolve from constantly changing conditions. The conditions of the competition result in a perilous business world, one where investments required to compete on a global scale are enormous and the consequences of failure are severe.

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 Right Thing for your Company


Make sure that the outcomes you define for your people are in line with your company’s current strategy. With the dizzying pace of change in today’s business world, it is sometimes hard for managers to keep track. The key distinction is between mission and strategy. A company’s mission should remain constant, providing meaning and focus for generations of employees. A company’s strategy is simply the most effective way to execute that mission. It should change according to the demands of the contemporary business climate.

Although the constant reassessment of strategy is vital to the health of the company, it does place managers in a rather difficult position. They are the intermediaries, charged with explaining the new strategy to the employees and then translating it into clearly defined performance outcomes.

Often this can be as simple as telling your salespeople that with the new company strategy focused on growing market share rather than profit, each salesperson will now be encouraged to focus on the outcome, ‘sales volume,’ rather than the outcome ‘profit margin per sale.’

However, sometimes the changes in strategy are more radical and the pressures on managers to refocus employees on different outcomes are more acute. For example, the most effective strategy for many high-tech companies used to be innovation. Hence the large R&D budgets, the hordes of dishelved but creative software designers, and the unpredictable, slightly unfocused work environments. For the major players who dominate the marketplace, critical mass—getting your product to be accepted as the standard—is now more important than innovation. Innovation can be brought from the smaller boutique houses. Thus these larger companies need to change the way they operate to ensure that virtually everyone’s efforts are focused on spreading the new language/platform/product into the marketplace. This means that managers in these companies will have to hustle to redefine the desired outcomes and find new definitions of success. Number of users, for example, may now be more important than revenue per user.

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.

 

Internet and Knowledge Management


The Internet and knowledge management function as catalysts or stimuli for each other. The Internet provides a physical medium of the organization’s sharing and co-creation of knowledge. It also acts as a catalyst for the cultural shift in attitudes, which encourages cooperation and collaboration among all of the players in the activities of an organization including co-workers (by co-workers mean all employees regardless of their status), suppliers, customers, business partners and in some cases even among competing firms. Knowledge management, on the other hand, requires a medium like the Internet for the distribution, facilitation and promotion of knowledge transactions. The Internet is reshaping collaboration and we ought to know how this is taking place and how we can take advantage of it.

Not only has the Internet functioned as an excellent medium for the practice of knowledge management by speeding up the pace of innovation and the force for bringing knowledge to the fore as today’s principal source of wealth. In the age before computing and the Internet, when change was not so rapid as it is today, all players had more or less the same opportunity to acquire the knowledge to conduct business. In today’s rapidly changing environment the ability to access and create knowledge is absolutely essential to success and , hence, the emergence of knowledge management.

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.

Leadership: The Uses of Power


Power can be used in many ways. Three outcomes potentially result when a leader tries to exert power—Commitment, Compliance, and Resistance. These outcomes depend on the leader’s base of power, how that base is operationalized, and the subordinate’s individual characteristics.

Commitment probably will result from the attempt to exercise power if the subordinate accepts and identifies with the leader. Such an employee will be highly motivated by requests that seem important to the leader. A committed subordinate will work just as hard as the leader to complete the project, even if that means working overtime.

Compliance means the subordinate is willing to carry out the leader’s wishes as long as doing so will not require extra effort and energy. Thus, the subordinate may work at a reasonable pace but refuse to work overtime, insisting that the job will still be there tomorrow. Many ordinary requests from a boss and the subsequent responses of subordinates fit this description.

Resistance occurs when the subordinate fights the leader’s wishes. A resistant subordinate may even deliberately neglect the project to ensure that it is not done as the leader wants.

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.

Anticipating Events


Events can develop at a frightening pace. Directors need to ensure they and their companies can monitor and react effectively to rapidly changing circumstances. Apparently healthy situations can quickly crumble. Hence directors need to think through the implications of their actions. Corporate reputations can also erode rapidly. Directors must ensure that people throughout the organization act and behave to protect and build internal and external expectations and perceptions.

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.

Yoking Technology with Market Opportunities


Developing new products that cost less or perform better has always been crucial for any technically based company. In our increasingly turbulent business environment, developing the know-how to keep pace with or even ahead of technological developments and competitors’ moves is more important than ever for several reasons. First, exploding technology is spawning new products and processes at an accelerating rate that threatens almost every product and process in place. Second, competition continues to intensify from abroad and a plethora of new startups and many substitute technologies that encroach on established products and processes. Third, product innovations that result in superior performance or cost advantages are the best means of protecting or building market position without sacrificing profit margins. This is especially true in today’s world when many industrial markets are flat or slow growth and excess capacity is commonplace.

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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