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.

Organization’s Specific Capabilities


Successful projects are associated with quality performance (proficiency) by one or more key players in the new products operation. A firm’s key players will vary some, depending on strategy, but we usually see the same bunch. First on most lists is technology. But technology does not mean just in research labs. A technology is a system or set of people and things that permit work. A soft drink bottling system is a technology.

In a virtual tie with technology is a bundle of skills in marketing. The needs and desires of the marketplace are an essential input to product innovation. And the end product must be presented to the end user in a way that stimulates trial and adoption. Just as some marketing firms have lacked technical skills, some technical firms have lacked marketing skills.

A new member of the triad is operations/manufacturing—maybe a factory, a laboratory, a set of carpet cleaning franchisees, an actuarial department in an insurance company, or even the legislature in a government. It is where the good or service is prepared or offered. It could be the classroom where this subject is discussed tomorrow. No matter how well designed or marketed, if the organization cannot deliver on the promised product, success cannot be assured. In the best firms today, manufacturing capability begins its development at the very start of the project, and may even be decided in the strategy if that is where the technology strength is located.

There are some other capabilities needed today, though the list is industry dependent. Two skills are moving up the list—human resource management (HRM) and technology (IT). They both relate to how new product projects are being managed today. HRM people are apparently critical in building the inventory of potential team leaders, and in training those selected for this most difficult task. IT people hold the answer to collocation, the physical grouping of teams that contribute so much to a new product project. Their answer: digital collocation, or the virtual collocated team. On a slightly broader plain, IT also permits effective networking, something we will see actually makes the “company within a company: that new products projects become.

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.

Decision-making in Crisis Situations


Corporate transformation often occur in situations of crisis. Classic studies of crisis decision making have highlighted the tendency to focus on the short term, and to concentrate upon fewer options, when the ‘going gets tough.’ There is a danger that a sense of balance and perspective might be lost just when it is most needed.

Members of board can experience a tension between the requirement to become more deeply involved in order to demonstrate commitment, and the desirability of maintaining a distance in order to preserve a degree of independence and objectivity. A corporate change program can increase this schizophrenic pressure upon the individual director.

In situations of crisis there is a tendency to cut out information and individuals who do not fit, and to concentrate power in the hands of a smaller group of people. This prospect can pose problems for directors who have genuinely reservations which they feel duly bound to express.

A chairman should think twice before ‘wielding the knife’. It is important to probe the reasons for hesitency. Enthusiasm could be the product of sycophancy, and caution the result of thought. Team players are not those who just go along without thinking. Some colleagues are cautious. They are not obstructive. They are realistic.

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

HRM and Global Competitiveness


HRM is a system within other systems. The most complex of these is the international business environment. The forces which act on people management are not purely internal to an organization. They include innumerable active players in the world economy, including international agencies, governments, competitors, unions, speculators and consumers—each pursuing their own goals.

Changes in the business environment have major consequences for people managers. In essence this means that factors outside a company’s control will affect its requirements for human resources and the way they are managed. For example, unexpected changes in competitor technology or currency exchange rates may compel a business to abandon long-term human resource plans and shed staff in order to survive.

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

Defeating Fear with Preparation


Preparation helps defeat fear. Winning prizefighters prepare for a bout by selecting a sparring partner who has a boxing style similar to their opponent.

A football coach helps defeat fear and builds team confidence through exhaustive preparation. Films of the other opposing team in action are reviewed, “special” plays are practiced over and over again, and restrictions are placed on players’ activities all because, in an even contest, confidence is the deciding factor and confidence comes from preparation.

People are afraid of selling more than any other occupation. And again, preparation is a key to overcoming the near paralysis people have in making a sales presentation. People fear looking stupid, hearing the prospect say “No,” being embarrassed, forgetting what they want to say about the product, asking for the order, and not making the sale.

The only way to gain the high level confidence needed to sell successfully is preparation. And preparation is knowledge—knowledge of what you sell, knowledge of how your product will help the prospect or client, and knowledge of the person you’re selling.

Know your product or service. Know exactly what it can do for the prospect. Be so well prepared you can answer any question that comes up. Know construction, desirability and guarantees. Know the limitations, when not to use the product.

Know how your product or service will help your prospect. Your customer is the law of self-interest in action. As a salesman makes a presentation, the customer is asking, “How does this relate to my problem? How would it benefit me?”

The third confidence builder is knowledge of the prospect. You don’t sell to machines, you sell only to people. Just as you feel confident and have no fear when you’re around people you know well, you’ll have confidence around prospects when you know more about their personal interests, personality, personal responsibilities, or responsibilities, and family.

To act confidently in a sales situation, prepare yourself with knowledge of what you sell, how it will benefit he prospect, and who the prospect is. But more than knowledge, practice is required to gain confidence needed in selling. Practice your presentation with people who act the role of a customer. Practice before a mirror, or better yet, film yourself on a video camera. Watch your mannerisms, list to your voice, and observe your expressions.

You’ll destroy fear and build confidence in selling through preparation. In any activity, confidence comes in direct proportion to preparation.

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

Elemental Description of Supply Chain


A supply chain consists of all parties involved, directly or indirectly, in fulfilling a customer request. The supply chain not only includes the manufacturer and suppliers, but also transporters, warehouses, retailers, and customers themselves. Within each organization, such as a manufacturer, the supply chain includes all functions involved in receiving and filling a customer request. These functions include, but are not limited to new product development, marketing, operations, distribution, finance, and customer service.

A supply chain is dynamic and involves the constant flow of information, product, and funds between different stages. The customer is an integral part of the supply chain. The primary purpose for the existence of any supply chain is to satisfy customer needs, in the process generating profits for itself. Supply chain activities begin with a customer order and even when a satisfied customer has paid for his or her purchase.

The term supply chain conjures up images of product or supply moving from suppliers to manufacturers to distributors to retailers to customers along a chain. It is important to visualize information, funds, and product flows along both directions of this chain.

The term supply chain may also imply that only one player is involved at each stage. In reality, a manufacturer may receive material from several suppliers and then supply several distributors. Thus, most supply chains are actually networks. It may be more accurate to use the term supply network or supply web to describe the structure of most supply chains.

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

Commitment to Plan


Management commitment to plan is a difficult concept to define and probably the most difficult area to probe. At the same time, it is in many respects the most crucial area. A deep-rooted sense of commitment is why certain management teams are able to overcome all obstacles and still achieve planned results. It is the same ingredient that enables a team to win against tough competition even though their best players are injured or all the breaks in the game go against them.

Without attempting to be a psychologist, there are several things to look for to determine whether this sense of commitment exists. What has been the track record of those submitting the plan? It is a positive sign if they have a history of fulfilling commitments. Conversely, if the group has not met its commitments in the past, it is essential to find out what has changed to make their commitment to the current plan any more meaningful. Is this evidence that individuals understand how a failure to meet their personal or functional commitments would jeoperdize the ability of the whole group to accomplish its plan? Is there any indication that anyone in the group feels that function has overcommitted or that they have been pressured into making commitments that are unrealistic?

 It is unikely that anyone will admit they are not committed to a plan they developed and recommend. But questions directed to each functional area about the certainty or difficulty of achieving their part of the plan help everyone see what musdt be done to successfully implement the plan. Such questioning helps to establish the importance of each individual’s personal commitments not only to the plan but to the rest of the organization. In a sense, it helps to develop a form of peer pressure, which is just as important in the execution of the business plan as it is in other walks of life. No one enjoys being in the position of having let teammates down.

 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

The Group and the Team


When interacting in a common cause, people can become a cohesive group. Understanding one another as individuals, being consciously sensitive to one another, and knowing how to aapt to individual peculiarities are what make a functioning group that will hold together. Common regard and the psychological benefits that group members derive from the association make group activity desirable and reasonable to achieve. Such a group, however, is not a team.

 A team is built primarily on the technical capabilities of its members working in pursuit of specific goals, only secondarily on attraction among the members as individuals.. the members of a team must be able to tolerate one another enough to work closely together. Beyond this, all the members must be committed to a common goal and the same set of procedures for achieving that goal.

 An athletic team does not wqin a game because the bunbers like to be together. It wins because it plays smart, knows how to play the game better than the opposition, avoids unnecessary errors, and pulls together as a coordinated unit. Camaraderie may grow out of mutual respect for one another’s abilities, but this is usually the result, not the purpose, of the team. Most certainly it is not the mechanism that makes the team succeed. The overall goal of a team is to win, and every member keeps this firmly in mind. But when you analyze how a game is won, you discover that it happens because all the players know what to do and how to coordinate their efforts.

 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

Roles, Prestige, and Organization Value


A role is a part or a function performed by a person in a particular position or situation. With most roles that are associated certain expectations of behavior. For example, we expect anyone who is a company president to behave differently from a junior employee, or the foreman to behave differently from the workers, or the coach differently from the player. Thus, it is that if we know someone’s role (which is often indicated by his job title or assignment), we can make some reasonable predictions about some of his behavior, even though we do not know the person. If a particular person behaves differently than is generally expected of someone in his role, uneasy feelings, often negative, frequently result.

 In a given organization, various roles have to be performed, and each of them is likely to carry a certain prestige, the amount of which will depend on the importance of that role to the achievement of goals and on preconceived expectations of the role. For example, we expect the role of president to be more important that that of general manager, and more prestige is accorded to the president. The roles and prestige of individuals and groups are useful to note because they help influence behavior and interrelationships in significant ways. Think how role expectations might affect a general manager as he deals with the president, a shop foreman, a worker, and his secretary. If you think his behavior might differ, why do you think so?

 You can predict rather easily the prestige accorded certain individuals and groups and the roles they perform. Think for a moment how both things and space serve as status symbols in a business organization. Observation of such symbols help indentify the relative value assigned both individuals and groups.

 By noting the resources, things, and space allocated to work groups and people, and the nature and conditions of their work, and by considering these factors in the context of the total organization, we can often get good understandings of both their relative status in the organization and some of the factors influencing them. In addition, such observations indicating something about the values of the organization. By noticing the quantity and quality of various facilities and people, and by observing the things and help high-status people have (and low status people do and do not have), you can make reasonable deductions about the values of the organization. For example, you can tell something about the college that has a large new library and no stadium as compared with one that has a large stadium and a small library.

 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