Learning


Learning can be defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior or potential behavior that results from direct or indirect experience. Learning involves change. After we have learned, we are somehow different from what we were before—for better or worse.

The change brought about by learning tends to be long lasting. Thus, a student who memorizes material for an exam and promptly forgets it after the test has not really learned anything. Learning affects behavior or potential behavior. Because we cannot read minds, we must depend on observation to see how much learning has occurred. The changes brought about by learning result from direct or indirect experience.

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.

Process Engineering


Although continuous improvement methods are positive starts in many of our organizations, they generally focus on incremental change. Such action—a constant and permanent search to make things better—is intuitively appealing. Many organizations, however, operate in an environment of rapid and dynamic change. As the elements around them change so quickly, a continuous improvement process may keep them behind the times.

The problem with a focus on continuous improvements is that it may provide a false sense of security. It may make organizational members feel as if they are actively doing something positive, which is somewhat true. Unfortunately, ongoing incremental change may prevent a company from facing up to the possibility that what the organization may really need radical or quantum change, referred to as work process engineering. Continuous change may also make employees feel as if they are taking progressive action while, at the same time, avoiding having to implement quantum changes that will threaten certain aspects of organizational life. The incremental approach of continuous improvement, then, may be today’s version of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is imperative in today’s business environment that all organizational members consider the challenge that work process engineering may have for their organizational processes. This is because work process engineering can lead to “major gains in cost, service, or time,” as well as an organization in preparing to meet the challenges technology changes foster.

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.

 

Selecting your Foreign Agent


  1. Your agent should be a national of the country where you aim to do business and should have experience in your industry or product line.
  2. The agent should not be involved with a competing company or product, but could be representing a complimentary line.
  3. Do your own checking of references. Have your banker check your agent’s bank references.
  4. Where credit is an issue, get a credit report from a local credit agency.
  5. Check at least five or six of the agent’s references: clients, customers or other business contacts relevant to your business.
  6. Visit your prospective agent in the foreign country and ask to come along on customer calls. Watch carefully how clients, secretaries, and purchasing agents respond to the agent.
  7. Since the personal relationship is so important in business abroad, the contact person must be someone who can negotiate for your company and who has authority to sign a contract on the spot.
  8. Make sure responsibilities are clear. The agent is typically responsible for promoting your interests and products, but it is no standard procedure as to who pays for what. For example, the agent can design local advertising campaign and pay for it, or bill you, or, conversely, you must provide advertising.
  9. If possible, make the written contract with your agent short-term and nonexclusive so that you have a safety valve. However, it is essential for you to treat it as an exclusive arrangement and to establish a strong mutual long-term commitment. Many agents will not consider a contract that is not exclusive or that does not continue for several years.
  10. Consult a local attorney before making any commitment to a national. It is difficult to get out of an agent agreement, so terms of termination and other “outs” should be established in the beginning. Agency laws in foreign countries are changing rapidly and legal problems arising from small mistakes can put you out of the market permanently

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.

Performance Appraisal


A performance appraisal is one of the best and most important ways to recognize a person. When you recognize people in this way you accomplish two objectives. You let the person know how you feel about him and you provide a permanent documentation of the recognition. The documentation will be important to the person’s future growth and advancement within the company.

When you recognize a person through the performance appraisal, make sure you provide as complete a list as possible of his major accomplishments. As you note the accomplishments, be specific. A person who is unfamiliar with the work of the area should be able to read the appraisal and get a fairly complete picture of the person’s accomplishments.

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.

Virtual Corporation


As more and more companies are outsourcing various organizational functions and are paring together down to their core competencies, they might not be able to perform all the tasks required to complete a project. However, they certainly can perform their own highly specialized part of it very well. Now, if you put together several organizations whose competencies compliment each other and have them work together on a special project, you’d have a very strong group of collaborators. This is the idea behind an organizational arrangement that is growing in popularity—the virtual corporation. A virtual corporation is highly flexible, temporary organization formed by a group of companies that join forces to exploit a specific opportunity.

Technologies are changing so rapidly and skills are becoming so specialized these days that no one company can do everything by itself. And so, they join forces temporarily to form virtual corporations—not permanent organizations but temporary ones without their own offices or organizational charts. Although virtual corporations are not yet common, experts expect them to grow in popularity in the years ahead.

My Coultancy–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

Friendship and Business


Americans like to think of themselves as friendly. Yet others find us impersonal and rushed. We come on too strong too fast; we are intimidating to some foreigners. We then fail to fulfill the implicitly promised friendship; we seem phony. In most parts of the world, friendships are slow to form, requiring tremendous commitment and attention over the long term. Anything less than the gradual and deliberate approach may be seen as insincerity, and insincerity compared to the seriousness with which friendships are taken elsewhere. Once formed, many foreign friendships are virtually permanent. And with the friendship come obligations, not only to help in emergencies, but to help in a number of ways the average American would consider entirely unreasonable.

The importance of relationships strongly affects the conduct of business. The foreigner needs to assess any business associate and most likely will make a deal not purely on the basis of the best price or product but rather on personal estimation. From Italy to China, extra personal involvement is important; many foreigners feel that if both parties can be friends, then business between them will flow naturally and smoothly.

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

Costs: Short Run and Long Run


In the short run costs are fixed; in the long run they become variable. This is the fundamental difference between long run and short run. The distinction is a matter of degree. The longer the run contemplated, the greater the range of costs regarded as variable rather than fixed.

Consider a manufacturing firm. Toward the variable cost end are the expenses of inputs like electric power, supplies of material, and ordinary labor services; toward the fixed end are costs associated of supplies or breakdown of machinery calls for a very short, say an hour’s, reduction of output. Some electric power would be saved in the slowdown, and there would be reduced usage of materials, but little else could or would be changed. If output were to be cut back over a period as long as a day, some labor might also be laid off. Over a period like a month a large function of the labor force might be furloughed (their wages would become a variable cost), and perhaps some leased equipment like trucks would be dispensed with. Finally, for a permanent reduction in output the firm will sell off machinery and scale down its real-estate commitments.

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

Strategic Decisions


There are three central characteristics of strategic decision making:

  1. Strategic decisions that affect the very survival of the firm;
  2. The effects of a decision last a long time, perhaps five to ten years;
  3. The long range effects of a decision are very hard to forecast.

Actually, the first characteristic is really the definition of a strategic decision. The other two characteristics follow from it. If we could correct a bad decision of any size within a year or two, then it would be less likely to harm the firm permanently. And it should be clear that any decision whose effects last for many years will be extremely difficult to forecast.

Difficulties of long-range forecasting include:

  1. Long-range forecasts are usually ill-structured; that is, it is impossible to make a really good mathematical model of what is being forecasted.
  2. Forecasting accuracy drops off rapidly as one looks further into the future. This is essentially because unforeseeable change accumulate as we peer further and further ahead.
  3. Forecasts need to mix subjective and objective information, since different kinds of information are being captured.
  4. The longer the horizon, the less objective information is available, the worse models will be, and the more we must rely on subjective forecasts.

Given that huge financial stakes are involved and that strategic decisions have a long horizon with poor forecasts available, it is hardly surprising that most Operations Management texts do not delve deeply into this problem. Many methods which are in practical use are not deeply quantitive, and are, in any event, difficult to describe and justify. Nevertheless, manufacturing executives do not have the luxury of ignoring strategic decision making and must be careful consumers of the best available methods.

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

Employee Training vs. Employee Development


Every organization needs to have well-adjusted, trained, and experienced people to perform the activities that must be done. As jobs in today’s dynamic organizations have become more complex, the importance of employee education has increased. When jobs were simple, easy to learn, and influenced to only a small degree by technological changes, there was little need for employees to upgrade or alter their skills. But that situation rarely exists today. Instead, rapid job changes are occuring, requiring employee skills to be transfomed and frequently updated. In organizations, this takes place through what we call employee training.

 Training is a learning experience in that it seeks a relatively permanent change in an individual that will improve the ability to perform on the job. We typically say training can involve the changing of skills, knowledge, attitudes, or behavior. It may mean changing what employees know, how they work, their attitudes toward their work, or their interaction with their coworkers or supervisor.

 Although employee training and employee development are similar in the methods used to affect learning, their time frames differ. Training is more present-day oriented; its focus is on individuals’ current jobs, enhancing those specific skills and abilities to immediately perform their jobs.

 Employee development, on the other hand, generally focuses on future jobs in the organization. As your job and career progress, new skills and abilities will be required. As you are groomed for positions of greater responsibility, employee development efforts can help prepare you for that day.

 Irrespective of whether we are involved in employee training or employee development, the same outcome is requirewd. That is, we are attempting to help individuals learn. Learning is critical to everyone’s success, and it’s something that will be with us throughout our working lives. But learning for learning’s sake does not happen in a vacuum. Rather, it is a function of several events that occur, with the responsibility for learning being a shared experience between the teacher and the learner.

 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

Behavior Products


Behavior products essentially refer to measurements of the effects or results of behaviors rather than the behaviors themselves. That is, rather than directly monitoring the actual behavior of the client, you would monitor any temporary or permanent effect (product) that can be seen as the result of a specific behavior. When the behavior product is simply deposited or left over from some ordinary set of client/system interactions, the “product” is synonymous with a type of “physical traces.”

 

Behavior products can be used when a more direct measure of the behavior might interfere with the behavior directly, or when the behavior itself is not available for measurement. Since the observer is not ordinarily present when behavior products are used, there is less chance for the measurement process to interfere with the natural occurrence of the behavior.

 

There are a number of advantages of using products. First, a product readily lends itself to precise counting and quantification for evaluation purposes. Second, the observer does not have to be present when a behavior is being performed. Third, using behavior products generally does not disturb or interrupt the ongoing flow of the client’s behavior. Finally, use of behavior products is relatively easy to implement, requires little or no special equipment, and can easily be taught to the client or relevant others.

 

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

Previous Older Entries