Reinventing Leadership


Many people in today’s organizations are pretty miserable. Unhappy people don’t produce quality services and products. At some level, each one of us knows that. Yet, many leaders and managers have given up. They’ve accepted the idea that employees work forty hours a week only so they can do what they want to do on the weekend. That must be changed, and it can be changed. The realities of the deteriorating social fabric demand that we return self-esteem to workers. The realities of national and global competition demand that leaders start making a difference in their corporations—a difference that truly makes a difference.

There are better ways to run corporations than the old, autocratic, dehumanizing ways. Not only must we implement these better ways; we have to sustain them. You can’t do it with your eyes, head or heart closed. But it’s very simple stuff, and it’s very, very powerful.

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.

Creative Marketing Program


Motivate your audience to do something; Marketing is not creative unless it sells. You can pretty much ensure that you’ll end up with creative marketing if you start out by devising a creative strategy. Such a strategy is similar to a marketing plan, but limited to advertising only, and defined solely at the content of ads and/or commercials. If you think there’s a simple formula for establishing such a strategy, you’re absolutely right.

Follow following steps:

  • Find the inherent drama within your offering;
  • Translate that inherent drama into a meaningful benefit;
  • State your benefits as believably as possible;
  • Get people’s attention;
  • Be sure you’re communicating clearly;
  • Measure your finished advertisement, commercial, letter or brochure against your creative strategy.

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

Disharmony in Top Teams


Enormous animosity and rampant, mutual dislike exist in management teams charged with cooperating together for the good of an organization. No one can choose their own family and you don’t always get the opportunity to choose your colleagues, but when you accept a job within a team you have a responsibility to put personal animosity to one side for the good of the organization.

In some organizations, personal vendettas are allowed to bubble to the surface non-stop and the amount of both personal effort and organizational resource that is wasted as a result can be frightening.

The issue with many of these managers is of course that the memory they are wasting is not their own: it belongs to shareholders or comes as a grant from some government pot or other. If it were their own money they might not behave in quite the same way, even in owner-run organizations where pretty bizarre and wasteful behavior can be found.

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.

Great Advertising Precedes Great Research


It’s not difficult to turn up a marketing pro who will tell you that the three most important things to do to market anything successfully are to test, test, and test. That is a pretty good advice. But it is unrealistic for those with resource poverty, who cannot shell out big bucks for sophisticated research.

The big secret is that you need not shell out any money to learn about your market. If you know what to look for and where to find it, you can obtain critical information for nary a cent. Here below are some of the things you might want to find out:

  • What should you market – your goods, your services, or both?
  • Should your marketing feature some sort of price advantage?
  • Should you emphasize yourself, your quality offerings, your selection, your service, or merely the existence of your business?
  • Should you take on your competition or ignore all competitors?
  • Exactly who are your competitors?
  • Who are your best prospects?
  • What income groups do they represent?
  • What motivates them to buy?
  • Where do the live?
  • What do they read or watch or listen to in the way of media?

The right answers to these questions can prove invaluable to a marketing effort. The wrong answers, or no answers, can prove disastrous. Do what you must to get the right answers. In most cases, great advertising is preceded by great research.

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.

 

Market Survey


Stated most simply, the objective of a market survey is to determine a reasonably attainable sales volume in a specific market area for a specific type of business. This means finding out how many potential consumers of the planned merchandise or service there are in this market and how many of them can reasonably be expected to become customers of the firm under consideration.

The thoroughness of a market survey will vary under different conditions. The survey is essential for stores that plan to develop much of their own customer traffic. If sales are to depend on the firm’s merchandising policies, sales promotion efforts, special services, or uniqueness, a particularly thorough market survey should be made in advance. Firms that plan to rely on the established customer flow already generated by other businesses in the area may follow less thorough procedures. The latter types of firms have often been described as “parasite stores,” meaning that their location has been dictated by the existing firms in the area that have attracted a substantial traffic flow and which the new firm will tap for its own sales. Examples of small firms in this category are a restaurant in a skyscraper lobby, a medium-priced dress shop next to a large department store, an office-building tobacco shop, or a drugstore in an airline terminal. In these cases, the amount and nature of the traffic and its sales potential are pretty well established. Such firms may still, however, exert various types of sales promotion activities to increase total income within the traffic.

The chief concern here is with the types of firms that may rely heavily on a market survey to help them build much of their customer traffic.

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.

Developing Audience’s Profile


If you’re communicating with someone you know well, perhaps your boss or a co-worker, audience analysis is easy. You can predict their reactions pretty well without a lot of research. On the other hand, if your audience is made up of strangers, you have to do some investigation to learn about them before you can use common sense to anticipate their reactions.

  • Determine audience size and composition.
  • Indentify the primary audience.
  • Estimate the audience’s probable reaction.
  • Guage the audience’s level of understanding.
  • Define your relationbship with the audience.

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

Financial Analysis: Real Problems


The term financial analysis  when applied to new products conjures up visions of sales forecasts and profit calculations. By using traditional financial analysis, we can get a good read on the current proposal.

 Actually, sales forecasts and financial analysis systems are no problem as such. We have an immense warhead of forecasting methodologies, most based on many years of experience. We know, for example, what makes for sales. This model does an excellent job and serves as the basis for some very advanced mathematical systems used by some of the most sophisticated new product marketers in the world. And every firm has people who can make an income-statement-based net present value calculation (using discounted cash flow methods). We have had years of experience with it.

 The financial model requires product cost, prices, the current value of money, probable taxes on the future income, the amount of further capital investments that will be required between now and when we close the books on the product and much more.

 They will never be certain, even after living out the product’s life cycle. Sales will be known, but we might have had a better marketing strategy. Costs are always just estimates. We will never know the true extent to which a new item cannibalized sales from another product. If we had not marketed the new item a competitor probably would have. And on and on.

 The fact is, we rely on estimated. Management’s task is ot to make the estimates as we can and then manage around the areas of uncertainty in a way that we do’t get hurt too badly.

 On minor product improvements we do this pretty well. On near line extensions, we also do well, but with more misses. Totally new products, using technologies never so applied before, are pure guessing games.

 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

Social Butterflies as Connectors


Connectors are people who have a large number of social connections. They are individuals in the organization who seem to know everyone. In management jargon, they are well-networked individuals who have contacts with people from a variety of backgrounds.

 Connectors are pretty unique individuals. Not everyone is a connector. Connectors have a large number of acquaintences, not necessarily their close friends. These are what are known as ‘weak ties’—friendly yet casual social connections. In an organization, connectors wield enormous influence and clout because of their contacts—both within and outside it. This is what makes connectors crucial in change management. If connectors become convinced about the change effort and are enthusiastic about it, they will pass on their enthusiasm to all their contacts, thus spreading the message of change very effectively. Therefore, an organization needs to identify its connectors first, and enlist their support for change.

 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

Is this Meeting Genuinely Necessary?


A “maybe” response indicates only limited need for the meeting and shows that further thought is required. Only a “yes” is a positive justification for calling a meeting.

 

The same question needs to be asked before attending a meeting. If the meeting is not necessary and you can avoid it, do so. If you have to attend, try to use the time to shorten your workload to compensate for the lost hours.

 

Many managers find it hard to judge if a meeting is needed or superfluous. There are some guidelines:

1.    Is the meeting being called to exchange information or viewpoints?

a.       If the meeting is to discuss viewpoints, it is probably a necessary conference. If the meeting is strictly to distribute information, the meeting is probably unnecessary. Meetings are most effective when used to find solutions or resolutions to conflicts. A meeting held for the sole purpose of imparting information had better have some pretty spectacular revelations. This in all likelihood should be classed as an inspirational conference, because important news is seldom passed along without editorializing or explanations. Inspirational meetings are difficult to conduct, because they are based on emotion, but there are times when the troops need boosting or, conversely, deflating.

b.      Training meetings appear to be an exception to the don’t-meet-to-exchange-information concept. They are not. Distributing information in advance allows the meeting to be used for developing concepts and testing individual understanding. This is a better use of everyone’s time. This is not to downplay the importance of instructional sessions. It is just to set this category of communications apart from other meetings.

c.       Information, facts, figures, sales data, market intelligence, production numbers, personnel reviews, and more, can be disseminated more effectively by memo than meeting. Chances are, the memo is going to be written anyway passed out at the meeting. Distributing a memo is okay if there is other business on hand, but calling a meeting solely as a means of handing paper to other managers is inappropriate.

d.      Meetings are at their best when used to generate expressions of viewpoints or concepts, or to develop a policy.

e.       Meetings are at their worst when used to check individual progress on various projects. There are few more mind-dulling experiences than to sit at a conference table and hear about the status of tasks that are not even remotely connected with yours. These sections often turn into excuse contests with rambling dissertations on the reasons behind delays or problems.

f.        Meetings are generally not an efficient way to dispense information. If this is the primary reason for the gathering, then rethink the need for convening.

2.    Can one-on-one conversations or even one-on-two conversations accomplish what needs to be done? Or is a larger group necessary?

a.       There’s a difference between a meeting and a conversation between two or three people. A conversation is relaxed, informal, and rarely has the time constraints posed by a meeting. Those present sense the difference.

b.      Decisions are rarely made in conversations. In fact, some managers and executives become agitated when two or three members of a committee converse and come to a consensus without the others present. This nervousness is not assuaged by a follow-up memo which details the conversation or even by the fact that the decision may be nothing more than a unified front, in no way binding upon the group.

c.       If conversation will suffice to avoid another meeting, then have the talk. Inform the other committee members or interested parties. Those smart enough to advance in management will welcome one less meeting on their schedule.

3.    Is this meeting being called because someone or some group doesn’t have enough to do? It happens all the time. Workloads in an organization can be unbalanced. This week, Production has more than it can handle, while Sales is costing. One way to fill the day for Sales is to call a meeting. This is more common than anyone dares admit.

4.    Is the agenda for the called-meeting vague? Or worse, is there no agenda at all?

a.       As a basic rule of meeting skill, do not go to a meeting where there is no agenda. If you have to attend, go prepared for the worst.

b.      If a manager cannot express on paper what the meeting is about, there probably shouldn’t be a meeting at all.

c.       If you are asked to a meeting and no agenda is given to you in advance, find the person who called the meeting and ask for one. If it is verbal, take notes.

d.      Many times, the person discovers he or she has vague ideas about why the meeting is needed. This experience can benefit both of you.

5.    Is there any reason to meet other than the fact that your group has a set, regular, once-a-week mandatory meeting? Top management often wants certain employees to get together each and every week, to discuss items of importance, or to match timing, balance workloads, and do ongoing, necessary house-keeping.

a.       After a few sessions, these meetings fall into a routine and small talk dominates.

b.      The day before, the manager should do a little checking. Is there actually a need to convene? Could a more limited gathering accomplish the same thing? Would a memo suffice? Could matters be handled by a phone call? If the answer is yes, skip the meeting.

 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