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.

Equality, Inequality


Some people don’t think of you as an equal. Before they can accord you with the honor of being treated as an equal, they feel you need to prove yourself. You’ve run into these people before – you can probably spot them right away. And, try as you might, you probably have a difficult time respecting them, because you know that, deep down, they don’t respect you.

By nature, we are organizers, and sometimes we fall into the trap of organizing people. One of the most persistent downfalls of human society has been the urge to rank people according to worth. Even today, many cultures that now enjoy political freedom are still tarnished with the vestiges of a class system – a declaration that people are inherently unequal.

On a social level, this tendency is nothing more than a reflection of how we often behave in our personal lives. For whatever reason, we conclude that some type of people is better than others, and we make decisions based on this conclusion. If you think about it, all complaints of discrimination are essentially protests against decisions based on the notion of inherent inequality.

Another brand of inequality that has plagued history is the inequality of opportunity. Some people have a head start over others. Some people have more opportunities open to them than others do. It’s easy to say that ‘achievers create their own opportunities,’ but the fact is, life isn’t fair. Some people do have an advantage when it comes to opportunity. in life, there are few level playing fields, and there is very little any of us can do to change this.

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.

Improving the Odds


Though very few companies are completely satisfied with their new product efforts, it is clear that some companies do a much better job than others. Why are some companies able to achieve better results with new products than their competitors? How do they work around, or at least minimize, the risks and pitfalls in new product development that plague most companies? Each of these companies has its own development priorities and needs, but they all follow the same fundamental principles:

  1. They identify customer problems that offer attractive commercial opportunities.
  2. They think through their product/market focus to provide maximum commercial opportunity.
  3. They face up to fundamental cost and performance deficiencies.
  4. They ensure that all development efforts are directly linked to corporate and product/market strategies.
  5. They strike the right balance between investing in future products and generating current profits.
  6. They protect their proprietary positions and respond quickly to encroachments.
  7. They utilize cross-functional teams to guide new product and market planning.
  8. They are willing to go outside for new technology.

 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