The Contemporary World


By the end of World War 11 in 1945, the Industrial Revolution was complete. The need for war goods required the development of new forms of production and technology, which later were used to produce consumer goods. Inventiveness was at high peak. Synthetic plastics and chemicals replaced natural substances as the basis for many products. Better machinery made it possible to manufacture products to produce precise specifications. (This type of precision is what lead eventually to the Apollo moon shot, which required components that were accurate to several one-hundred thousandths of an inch.)

In the 1970s, widespread use of computers enabled the management to process large quantities of data. Factories could be automated, with computer-controlled machinery carrying out many routine activities that could previously be completed only by time-consuming human labor.

By 1980, more than 80 percent of US 500 largest businesses were multinational, operating facilities in five or more foreign countries. And even for smaller companies and individual consumers, the world has become more like a large neighborhood than a huge, unknowable planet. High-speed computers, orbiting satellites, fluctuating exchange rates, and worldwide scarcities of natural resources bind us together with common needs, concerns, and goals.

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.

Promoting Sales


First stage marketing strategies should focus on sales promotions that will attract immediate customers and selling methods that will ensure repeat business. First stage companies can also benefit from sales and promotion activities, but with a focus on short term rather than long term benefits. Ideas include:

  1. Invite a local newspaper to write an article on some unique aspect of the company.
  2. Invite television reporters to cover a special event sponsored by the company (fund raising drive, a banquet honoring an employee, or the introduction of snappy new product).
  3. Start a charity book collection drive at local schools.
  4. Sponsor a young people’s athletic team.
  5. Sponsor a civic band or float in a local parade.
  6. Donate materials, space, or services to community theater groups.
  7. Sponsor a paper, glass, aluminum, or plastic recycling drive.
  8. Get behind a social cause.
  9. Donate used computers, office equipment, etc., to local schools, hospitals, or welfare agencies.

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.

Facing the Harsh Facts


Many companies that have lost profits or market share have managers who are still waiting patiently for their business to “get back to normal.” Others are looking for government help for their declining market and profit positions. Neither of these approaches is a viable situation. What is needed is less wishful thinking and rhetoric and greater willingness to squarely face the true facts about their markets and competitive positions. The demand changes that have occurred in many markets are structural, not cyclical, and it is unrealistic to expect any kind of a dramatic recovery or turnaround that will restore demand to former levels.

It is extremely difficult for managers who have built their entire careers around specific products and technology to accept the fact that their former business base has now leveled out from prior peaks, or worse yet, become obsolete or irretrievably lost to new competitors or technology. Obviously, many old-line steel managers could not imagine today’s world of aluminum cans, plastic auto parts and bodies, or Japanese, Korean, and small regional producers who constantly “beat their pants off.” Nor could managers in the high flying semiconductor business foresee the situation where their markets have not only ceased to gallop ahead, but decline dramatically, and where foreign sources, including Brazil, Korea, and Taiwan, have captured the bulk of the remaining business. Unfortunately, these are the facts, and an equally discouraging set of forces applies in many other markets.

It is understandable that managers who have grown up and lived through the growth years in any of these industries find today’s conditions difficult to accept. But they must change their myopic or unrealistic views of their business so they can tackle the hard work required to regain a profitable competitive footing. Otherwise, their situations will not improve and will most likely deteriorate further.

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

Thinking about Processes


Many people don’t really think about the process they use, but why process planning is important:

  • You want to make products that satisfy customer demand;
  • The products must, in some way, be better than competitors;
  • The process makes the products;
  • To make better products you need a better process.

You can make most products by a number of different processes. If you make tables, you can use craftspeople to build them carefully by hand; you can buy parts and use semi-skilled people to assemble them; you can use automatic equipment on an assembly line; or you can mould complete tables from plastic. Each process gives a product with different characteristics. Process planning designs the best process for delivering any particular product.

It’s especially important to design the process for services, as you can’t really draw a line between the product and the process used to make it. How, for example, can you separate the service given by a bank, theatre or taxi from process used to deliver it?

There’s a huge variety of processes. It is easy to design a process for baking a cake; but if you want to bake 100 cakes for a garden party you will use a different process; and if you want to bake a million cakes every week, the best process is different again. Unfortunately, many managers don’t take their processes seriously, and can hardly describe them in coherent terms.

You can start thinking seriously about your processes by recognizing them and describing the details of each. Make everyone in the organization aware of the processes and their importance. Then you can see how well the processes are working and look for improvements. Your processes are at the heart of your organization, and you really should give them the attention they deserve. Emphasize your processes, which consist of all the operations needed to make your products.

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

Play your Cards Right


Business cards may be commonplace, but they are vital too. Wherever you are, you will do better with a formal style of card, without advertising, and with clear information in English on one side and the local language on the other.

Business card etiquette is no mere ritual. In places such as Japan a business card is both mini-resume and a ticket to the game of business; a certain amount of gamesmanship is necessary to make the best use of the ticket. The first rule is never to be without cards, any more than a samurai would be without his sword. Never being without cards in Japan means taking fifty or more cards to every meeting. The second rule is to respect the cards, keeping them in a distinctive holder. Keeping your cards in your pocket or in a cheap plastic envelop is like making a business call with a shopping bag instead of a briefcase.

The third rule is to handle the card with formality. The card is presented, not merely handed. Japanese books of etiquette even point out a variety of ways to hold the card. Fourth, try to hand cards out in descending order of rank. The fifth rule is to receive another’s card gracefully, using both hands and never stuffing the card recklessly into your pocket.

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