Elaborative Creativity


Elaborative creativity is the innovative amplification of a core idea or principle. The difference is between say, staff empowerment as a core belief and its amplification into personnel policies, participative management structures, training programs, and so forth. Elaboration can become innovative when it is creatively contextualized, that is, creatively fitted to the organization’s situation rather than simply borrowed from elsewhere. It can become innovative when it is done participatively, involving various viewpoints and much brainstorming, and the ideas are creatively synthesized. It can become innovative when not just one but several powerful, possibly partially conflicting ideas are fused together to form its basis, such as the ideas of centralization and decentralization, control and authority, or internal entrepreneurship and efficiency. Elaboration can also become innovative when it is periodically reviewed and creatively modified to suit changing circumstances. And it can become innovative when it is benchmarked, not with practices of the leading competitor, but the world’s best practitioners. And not necessarily in the organization’s industry, but in any sector of activity, for then it may reveal gaps that can be bridged only innovatively. When elaboration is made innovative in these ways, it is difficult for others to copy it, and therefore such elaboration confers a competitive advantage on the organization.

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.

Company Self-Concept


A major determinant of a firm’s success is the extent to which the firm can relate functionally to its external environment. To achieve its proper place in a competitive situation, the firm realistically must evaluate its competitive strengths and weaknesses. This idea—that the firm must know itself—is the essence of the company self-concept. The idea is not commonly integrated into theories of strategic management; its importance for individuals has been recognized since ancient times.

Both individuals and firms have a crucial need to know themselves. The ability of either to survive in a dynamic and highly competitive environment would be severely limited if they did not understand their impact on others on them.

In some senses, then, firms take on personalities of their own. Much behavior in firms is organizationally based; that is, a firm acts on its members in other ways than their individual interactions. Thus, firms are entities whose personality transcends the personalities of their members. As such, they can set decision making parameters based on aims different and distinct from the aims of their members. These organizational considerations have pervasive effects.

Ordinarily, descriptions of the company self-concept per se do not appear in mission statements. Yet such statements often provide strong impressions of the company self-concept. The following excerpts from the Intel Corporation mission statement describe the corporate persona that its top management seeks to foster:

The management is self-critical. The leaders must be capable of recognizing and accepting their mistakes and learning from them.

Open (constructive) confrontation is encouraged at all levels of the corporation and is viewed as a method of problem solving and conflict resolution.

Decision by consensus is the rule. Decisions once made are supported. Position in the organization is not the basis for quality of ideas.

A highly communicative, open management is part of the style.

Management must be ethical. Managing by telling the truth and treating all employees equitably has established credibility that is ethical.

We strive to provide an opportunity for rapid development.

Intel is a results-oriented company. The focus is on substance versus form, quality versus quantity.

We believe in the principle that hard work, high productivity is something to be proud of.

The concept of assumed responsibility is accepted. (if a task needs to be done, assume you have the responsibility to get it done).

Commitments are long term. If career problems occur at some point, reassignment is a better alternative than termination.

We desire to have all employees involved and participative in their relationship with Intel.

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 Styles


An effective leader recognizes that there are variations in leadership styles. The three basic styles are autocratic, free rein, and democratic. Autocratic leaders make decisions on their own, without consulting others. Democratic leaders involve their subordinates in making decisions. Free-rein leaders believe in minimal supervision, leaving most decisions to their subordinates.

The best leadership style is one that varies with the circumstances, changing according to three elements: the leader, the followers, and the situation. Some leaders are simply unable to encourage or even allow subordinates to participate in decision making. And some followers do not have the ability or the desire to assume such responsibility. Furthermore, the particular situation helps determine which style will be most effective. Problem requiring immediate solutions may have to be handled without consulting subordinates. With less time pressure, participative decision making may be desirable.

A democratic leader may be forced by circumstance to be autocratic in making a particular decision. Managers are increasingly moving toward a more democratic style of leadership. They find that workers involved in decision making tend to be more interested in the overall organization and may be more motivated to contribute to organizational objectives that those not involved in decision making.

No single best style of leadership exists. The most effective leadership style depends on the power held by the leader, the difficulty of the tasks involved, and the characteristics of the workers. Extremely easy and extremely difficult situations are best handled by leaders who emphasize task accomplishment. Moderately different situations are handled by leaders who emphasize participation and good working relations with subordinates.

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.

Managing Cultural Change


When management acts to focus explicit structures, work design, staffing and development, and performance system/rewards on desired changes, the combined impact can be tremendous. Through management action, the culture can be changed to support the business strategy. Management communication of the company mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives is only the first step in the process.

Top executives must promulgate a vision; however, a brilliant vision statement won’t budge a culture unless it is backed up by action. The management system has to be put in place, and then management has to live by it. Culture is not something managers set out to change directly; rather, it is an outcome of consistent, positive management action, every day and in every way. Too often good strategic ideas and directions are translated too narrowly into plans. There are many examples, including quality of work life, participative management, quality circles, and service excellence. Even broadly conceived total quality management efforts risk faltering because they are being implemented as programs, rather than as broad, deep, multi-faceted activities.

The problem is not the association of an idea, with a program, but rather the existence of too few programs expressing the idea. Changes take hold when they are reflected in multiple concrete manifestations throughout the organization. It is when the structures surrounding a change also change to support it that we say a change is institutionalized—that it is now part of legitimate and ongoing practice, infused with value and supported by other aspects of the system.

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.

Approaches to Change


Axelrod discusses in his book titled: Terms of Engagement, four approaches to change: i) Leader-driven approach, ii) Process-driven approach, iii) Team-driven approach, and iv) Change Management approach.

Leader-driven change is more suitable for small and medium enterprises with owner-managers. This approach works well when the manager or leader has all the necessary information and knowledge. Leader-driven changes tend to be directive and non-participative. Therefore this approach is less suitable when: a) the workforce is young and/or highly skilled, b) the business environment is complex and dynamic, and c) successful change requires active involvement of a number of people in the organization.

Process-driven changes are led by experts or outside consultants and supported by the leader; these changes are more common in large, bureaucratic organizations. This approach works well when the change requires technical or specialized expertise. Also being directive and non-participative, as in the case of leader-driven approach, this approach is therefore less suitable when: a) the workforce is young and/or highly skilled, b) the business environment is complex and dynamic, and c) successful change requires active involvement of a number of people in the organization.

Team-driven approaches are most common in large, manufacturing enterprises that have skilled and educated employees. Change management strategies—such as TQM, Quality Circles, and Six Sigma—exemplify this approach. These are highly participative change efforts that empower employees and provide them with involvement, participation and ownership of change. Team-based approaches that are properly executed can unleash enormous levels of employee energy and motivation. This can, in turn, lead to innovation and productivity gains. However, using this approach can also cause some discomfort for managers in an organization because they may not be used to sharing their power and authority with workers. Moreover, this approach requires managers to shift from a directive, authoritarian style based on power and expertise to a participative style based on persuasion, coaching and helping. More importantly, the team-based approach to execute change requires the establishment of a ‘parallel organization.’

The fourth approach to change is called the Change Management approach. This is a combination of expert-driven and team-driven approaches. Whereas the former provides a business and technical focus to change, the latter generates ownership, involvement and commitment. So as to gain this commitment, most specialists, experts and change management consultants have incorporated the parallel organization concept in their process-driven approach. The Change Management paradigm is the approach to change that most organizations use today. Although it seemingly seeks to integrate ownership of change with practical business focus, the Change Management approach has shortcomings. Instead of involvement and commitment, this approach breeds cynicism, bureaucracy and resistance. It actually disempowers employees, by reinforcing hierarchical top-down 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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Strategic Planning Process


The process is orderly, deliberative, and participative and has following ten steps:

  1. Initiate and agree upon a strategic planning process.
  2. Identify organizational mandates.
  3. Clarify organizational mission and values.
  4. Assess the organization’s external and internal environments to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  5. Identify the strategic issues facing the organization.
  6. Formulate strategies to manage these issues.
  7. Review and adopt the strategic plan.
  8. Establish an effective organizational vision.
  9. Develop an effective implementation process.
  10. Reassess strategies and the strategic planning process

These steps should lead to actions, results, and evaluation. It must be emphasized that action, results, and evaluative judgments should emerge at each step in the process. In other words, implementation and evaluation should not wait until the “end” of the process but should be an integral and ongoing part of it.

The process is applicable to public and nonprofit organizations, boundary-crossing services, inter-organizational networks, and communities. The only general requirements are a dominant coalition that is willing to sponsor and follow the process and a process champion who is willing to push it.

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

Public-private partnership


In this era of modernization in many aspects of public administration, most developing countries continue to follow century-old concepts and structures. They seriously need structural adjustment thereby launching legislative and administrative reforms, which stress a reconsideration of the role of the public administration in the conditions of democratization and market-economy. A greater emphasis needs to be placed on effectiveness of the public administration. The practice and legislation of such countries should affect patterns of the role of public sector and influence fundamental features of the system of governance. A common goal should be to introduce a more contractual, participative, discretionary style of relationship: between different levels and agencies in administrative apparatus; between the decision-making authorities and operating units; and between administrative agencies and producing units, public or private.

A major reform objective in public sector management should be to increase, within the framework of democratic accountability, cost effectiveness in the public provision of goods and services. Both citizens and public administration accept the need for improved quality in the public sector.

They need to hold high the aim of structuring an effective mechanism for achieving policy objectives, determined at central, provincial and local levels for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in providing public services.

The legality and the efficiency of providing such public services are of great concern. Local authorities are empowered to do something that is intended to assist the carrying out any role.

Outsourcing is a way of contracting out one or more functions to specialist companies. This allows the public entity to concentrate on its core activities. There are three primary reasons for the public administration to outsource. The first is to achieve cost-effective provision of services. The second is to provide a choice for the citizens of producing and supplying public services of different qualities and kinds. The third is simply because there is no alternative due to a lack of staff with the requisite skills; need of relaxing the administrative burden, which somebody other could deal with even better and concentrating the attention on the core administrative matters; short deadlines for implementation. This last reason for outsourcing is to meet the needs, which exceed the capability of the public administration staff, because of a shortage of either staff or skills, or which give added flexibility to the administrative organization.

Thus, the outsourcing can be seen as a process through which relationships are managed and adjusted according to arrangements specified and conditions planned by the administrative authority in the contract documentation. The focus here is not on the legal issues of the contract rather than on the quality of contracting as a mechanism for achieving policy objectives determined at all levels of government for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. From this perspective the outsourcing by public administration can be considered as a joint commitment to partnership between public and private sector operating as a co-operative device for providing public goods and services.

The trend towards greater satisfaction of public needs and consumer empowerment underlies the role of outsourcing by public administration. The outsourcing is encouraged to secure higher quality of public works and services, whereby contracting managers are located closer to the consumer and so are better able to respond to their needs in actual delivery. The role of consumers and end-clients with respect to outsourcing can thus be increased. The strategies of improving responsiveness through outsourcing on the one hand, and hierarchical distribution of the administrative functions on the other, can be combined in a successful model of public service delivery. The administrative authorities – at federal, provincial and local levels – might participate in the specification of services and in the determination of contractual standards and terms of agreement.

As part of administrative reform outsourcing by public administration should be a high priority. The corresponding legislation should be based on three main principles—transparency, non-discrimination involving open selection criteria and open standards, specifications and standards regulated by law; and open competition.

The framework agreements are significant for ensuring the execution of the administrative power intent of the outsourced functions. The federal, provincial or local governments can use outsourcing as a tool for providing public services when carrying out their functions. They use outsourcing to get public results, which should be achieved when the governments exercise their administrative powers.

The outsourcing in some way can replace the direct administrative action. Such outsourcing has the compulsory nature same as this of the executive action which it replaces. The administration can use administrative or seek lawmaking authority to bring about the result it desires, if it is nonetheless outsourcing. A realistic view is that the process of deciding to outsource as well as the very process of outsourcing is a valid exercise of administrative power. The offered and agreed terms of the contract are also exercising of the administrative power. Once the contract signed, however, the particular relationships issued by outsourcing are moved under the regulations of the private law.

The government functioning can be improved by redefining its role: Policy-making instead of operative decision-making. It should stimulate tools for establishment of working, efficient, rational and fair practice, design of efficient allocation of financial and administrative wherewithal; transparency and control. The government must also realize that developing a training strategy for skills and incentives is badly needed.

The overall proportion of outsourcing in the field of public administration is generally expected to growing. Demand will increase for a variety of reasons.

Successful outsourcing, however, presupposes the existence of an efficient market. In

Pakistan the market for some categories of public goods and services is deficient of professionalism, integrity, and fair play. Such situation is creating conditions for corruption.

From another side, outsourcing itself contributes to developing the market.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight