Efficiency versus Competition


Is big business efficiency more important than preventing competition? Many big companies claim that their large size makes possible many operating economies.  Today’s complex technology, far-flung markets, complicated financial systems, and transnational competition make bigness essential for survival and efficient operation. Placing restrictions on today’s corporate growth just to preserve a competitive ideal formed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries seems to make little economic sense. On the other hand, others point out that competition stands at the heart of private enterprise ideology and that small businesses, consumers, and workers should be protected against big business expansion even though it may mean a loss of efficiency.

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.

Weapons for Success


One type of weapon is seldom enough to win a war. The same is true in our bodies. The successful conquest of the stresses we now face at work requires that we understand the strengths and limitations of each level of defense and use them in concert to encourage victory, prevent disaster, and cultivate excellence at work.

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.

Res Judicata


The old Latin legal phrase, res judicata, means a thing already decided and settled. Res judicata is a legal principle quite consistently followed by almost all courts. It is the rule that a final judgment or decree on the merits of a matter by a court of competent jurisdiction will be final and conclusive as to any later lawsuit on all points or matters determined in the former suit. This means that between the parties themselves the dispute is closed at the conclusion of trial. However, this does not prevent a lower court decision from being appealed to a higher court.

This principle of res judicata prevents  an unsuccessful litigant from taking an unfavorable decision to another trial court for a second lawsuit on the same complaint or same set of facts. Res judicata applies between the parties in a civil lawsuit, affecting those parties and no 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, and my Lectures.

Women at Workplace


Traditionally, stress-related health problems have been considered a masculine phenomenon. Heart attacks, stomach ulcers, burnout, and strokes were all considered diseases of men in the workplace, and indeed are the reasons why elderly widows outnumber wid-owners by almost five to one. However, with the equal responsibilities women are taking at work now, they are also being exposed to at least equal amounts of stress. If anything, in fact, stress levels faced by career women can be considerably greater than those levels imposed on men.

While women are being given equal hiring opportunities and equal rates of promotion to the middle management levels, they seem to encounter a “glass ceiling” preventing their climb up the corporate ladder. In other words, they have been granted equal access, but not equal ascent. In fact, only 2% of top management in major corporations is female. This reflects a modest advance of women in selected fields such as financial services, telecommunications, retailing, advertising, public relations, and publishing.

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.

Sales Forecasts


From a sales manager’s point of view, the importance of timely, accurate sales forecasts cannot be overstated. There is nothing quite as needlessly frustrating as being surprised at the month end sales results because the forecasts from the field were incorrect, untimely, or inadequate.

More than simply keeping sales managers up to date, accurate sales forecasting can have an important impact on other areas of the company as well. Sales forecasts give management the information that is necessary to implement a product plan that ensures that the right product is available for salespeople to sell.

It is true that a sales force automation system cannot compensate for poor forecasting skills of salespeople in the field. What a sales system can do, however, is to move the information from the field management instantly. Perhaps more important is the fact that an automated sales system can deliver the information in a format that allows the forecasts of several salespeople to be automatically rolled up into a consolidated regional report. Since the information is in a more usable format, it is more valuable to management. It is more likely to be useful in preventing end-of-the-month surprises.

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.

 

Basic Organizational Structures


Although there is an almost infinite variety of structural forms, certain basic types predominate in modern complex organizations. There are three basic organizational structures. The conglomerate structure is a variant of divisional structure and is thus not depicted as a fourth structure. Generally speaking, each structure tends to support some corporate strategies over others.

  • Simple Structure has no functional or product categories and is appropriate for a small, entrepreneur-dominated company with one or two product lines that operates in a reasonably small, easily identifiable market niche. Employees tend to be generalists and jacks of all trades.
  • Functional structure is appropriate for a medium-sized firm with several related product lines in one industry. Employees tend to be specialists in the business functions important to that industry, such as manufacturing, marketing, finance, and human resources.
  • Divisional structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several related industries. Employees tend to be functional specialists organized.
  • Strategic business units (SBU)are a recent modification to the divisional structure. Strategic business units are divisions or groups of divisions composed of independent product-market segments that are given primary responsibility and authority for the management of their own functional areas. An SBU may be of any size or level, but it must have 1) a unique mission, 2) identifiable competitors, 3)an external market focus, and 4) control of its business functions. The idea is to decentralize on the basis of strategic elements rather than on the basis of size, product characteristics, or span of control and to create horizontal linkages among units previously kept separate.
  • Conglomerate structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several unrelated industries. A variant of the divisional structure, the conglomerate structure (sometimes called a holding company) is typically an assemblage of legally independent firms (subsidiaries) operating under one corporate umbrella but controlled through the subsidiaries’ boards of directors. The unrelated nature of the subsidiaries prevents any attempt at gaining synergy among them.

If the current basic structure of corporation does not easily support a strategy under consideration, top management must decide if the proposed strategy is feasible or if the structure should be changed to a more advanced structure.

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.

 

Corporate Social Strategy


Doing business in international settings presents many challenges to managers. There is no magic solution to meeting these issues as they arise. Companies can prepare for the types of challenges by designing a corporate social strategy that matches and balances the company’s economic strategy. These questions are a good place to start the process:

  • Are we being socially responsible in what we do? Do we meet the expectations of our host country as well as our home country? Would stakeholders in either country question our behavior?
  • Are we responsible to the stakeholders in each country where we do business? Do we treat employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, and others in a fair and just way?
  • Do we recognize emerging issues, as well as, immediate social issues, in the countries and communities where we operate? Are we anticipating change rather than just reacting to it?
  • Do we abide by the host government’s regulations and policies? Do we have good systems for ensuring that our employees and the agents who represent us follow or corporate policies?
  • Do we conduct business in ways that respect the values, customs, and moral principles of each society? Do we recognize that there may be times when they conflict with principles of other societies? Are we ready to address these conflicts in thoughtful, positive ways?

Companies that address these questions before trouble strikes are better prepared to meet global challenges to corporate responsibility. They are better prepared to prevent crises, anticipate change, and avoid situations that compromise the values and principles for which the company stands. A corporate social strategy helps managers achieve both the economic and the social goals of the company.

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.

The Forces of Demand and Supply


In free enterprise system, the distribution of resources and products is determined by supply and demand. Demand is the number of goods and services that consumers are willing to buy at different prices at a specific time. From your own experience, you probably recognize that consumers are usually willing to buy more of an item as its price falls because they want to save money.

Supply is the number of products that businesses are willing to sell at different prices at a specific time. In general, because the potential for profits is higher, businesses are willing to supply more of a good or service at higher prices.

The price at which the number of products that businesses are willing to supply equals the amount of products that consumers are willing to buy at a specific point in time is the equilibrium price.

Changing the price alters the supply situation and a new equilibrium price results. This is an ongoing process, with supply and demand constantly changing in response to change in economic conditions, availability of resources, and degree of competition.

Critics of supply and demand say the system does not distribute resources equally. The forces of supply and demand prevent sellers who have to sell at higher prices and buyers who cannot afford to buy goods at the equilibrium price from participating in the market. According to critics, the wealthy can afford to buy more than they need, but the poor are unable to buy enough of what they need 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, and my Lectures.

Knowledge Entrepreneurs


There depends a lot on the energy and imagination of knowledge entrepreneurs. They need to identify specific opportunities being created by the greater availability and accessibility of information and knowledge, and craft distinctive information and knowledge-based products and services.

All entrepreneurs have to identify opportunities to add value by meeting requirements that are not being addressed, and they must be focused and tenacious and possess a clear sense of direction. Most entrepreneurs need also to be tough, pragmatic and resilient. In addition, knowledge entrepreneurs need the following qualities:

  • They must know how to acquire, develop, share, manage, exploit and capitalize on information, knowledge and understanding, and be able to help and enable others to use and apply them effectively. This may require combinations of emerging technologies to connect relevant people and organizations together, and competencies to network with others, work and learn in new ways in order to create value, lead and manage virtual teams, and establish and manage knowledge businesses.
  • They need curiousity and drive to undertake intelligent searches and to be able to judge or determine the significance, relevance and value of what they uncover. Many more people can access information than assess it or use it effectively. Understanding where information has come from, the underlying assumptions and how it has been compiled can prevent an enterprise or a course of action from being built upon foundations of sand.
  • They require enough understanding of systems to be able to use an appropriate range of technologies to identify and access relevant sources of information, knowledge and understanding. However, technical expertise is unlikely to be enough. Communication and relationship-building skills are also required to interact with information providers and bring together the combination of experience and knowledge needed to assemble a package that has market value.

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

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