Death of a Wonder Youngster


Arfa Karim (born 1995 – January 14, 2012), was a student from an under-developed village of Pakistan, who in 2004 at the age of 9 years, became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) in the world. She was invited by Bill Gates to visit the Microsoft Headquarters in USA. She also wrote a poem about Bill Gates.

On returning to Pakistan, Arfa had numerous interviews on almost all of the country’s known television channels and newspapers. In August 2005, Arfa Karim received the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology, presented by the Prime Minister of Pakistan at that time. She also received the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award again in August 2005 by the President of Pakistan. Arfa Karim is also the recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance. This is a very high level civil award granted to people who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time. Arfa is till now the youngest recipient of that award ever.

Arfa Karim has also represented Pakistan on various international forums, she was invited by the IT Professionals of Dubai for a stay of two weeks in Dubai. A dinner reception was hosted for her there, which was attended by the diagnostics of Dubai including the Ambassador of Pakistan. During that trip, Arfa was presented with various medals and awards. She also flew a plane in a flying club in Dubai at the age of 10, and received the first flight certificate.

In November 2006, Arfa was invited by Microsoft to be a part of the keynote session in the Tech-Ed Developers conference held in Barcelona. The theme of the conference was “Get ahead of the game” and Arfa was presented as a true specimen of being ahead of the game. She was the only Pakistani among over 5000 developers in that conference.

As of 2011, at the age of 16, Arfa Karim was studying at Lahore Grammar School Paragon Campus in her second year of A Levels. She suffered from cardiac arrest after an epileptic seizure on December 22, 2011 and was admitted to Lahore’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in critical condition.

On January 2, 2012 Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited the hospital with his daughter Fiza Batol Gilani to inquire about the health of Arfa Karim.

On January 9, 2012, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, has made contact with Arfa’s parents, and directed his doctors to adopt “every kind of measure” for her treatment.

On January 13, 2012, The condition of world’s youngest MCP Arfa Karim was improving and some parts of her brain showed signs of improvement. Arfa fell desperately ill last month and doctors said she had suffered brain damage, leaving her in a coma at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Lahore. Her father, Amjad Karim, said Microsoft had raised the possibility of flying Arfa to the US for care.

On January 14, 2012 16 years old Arfa Karim died at 9:50 PM (Pakistan Standard Time) at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Lahore. (Wikipedia)

Arfa wrote some poems. Specimens include:

I would like to be …..

Like a bird in the sky
Flying freely and so high
Like a fish in the water
And the kings beautiful daughter

Like a tiny little mouse
Eating cheese around the house
Like a bear in the mountain
And the water in the fountain

Like a lion in the jungle
Roaring loudly with hunger
Like a monkey in the zoo
All the time copying you
. . . . Arfa Karim

White Rose

In the storm
Stands the white rose
tumultuous waves
of destruction abound her

Yet tall is the white rose
strong in the face
Of the sensed doom around her
And she does not bow down

Pure is the white rose
In the compost earth
growing eternal strength
in the nights that so hurt

I see not the white rose
She is so far away
But I long to protect her
But only the words can I say

So I send her my words
And my poets heart
To help her when
there is hope to see her through

Be Strong little flower
Your heart will guide true
And as long as you want
I will always talk to you
. . . Arfa Karim

Stars

  I look to the sky at night and admire the beauty of the stars.
I stand in awe of their brilliance;
They are as shining and constant
and they have been since the beginning of time.

They light the heavens and fill our hearts with wonder.
When one burns out, another takes its place;
for they are eternal.
Wherever you are, they guide you from their home high above the earth.
At times, they seem close enough to touch,
as they transport your dreams far away.

Their magic compels us to offer up wishes for their consideration.
They make us realize that even when the sky is the darkest,
a tiny beacon of light still shines through.
They are God’s reminder to us that some things really do go on forever.
. . . Arfa Karim

I have no daughter, but Arfa Karim was a daughter figure.  Till 3:30 am and despite my perpetual efforts I was unable to have a snooze. The news about her death made me so upset that my eyes welled up tears and my heart filled up with gloom. Arfa, was the shine of the moon and the breeze of morning; she bestowed her colors to rainbow; she left behind her wings for her fellow daughters to scale the heights of knowledge. Arfa was a complete person: she was not just a book worm, she used to play games, watch cartoon programs, fly planes, play music, and sing folk songs. Above all she memorized some verses of Qur’an and practiced high moral character. She can be a role model—an inspiration—to our younger generation. With tears in its eyes, I pay rich tribute to Arfa. Nevertheless, I feel her saying:

Don’t cry for me,
I’m right here.
Although you can’t see me
I can see your tears

Corporate Stakeholders


Stockholders are a critically important group. By providing capital, monitoring corporate performance, assuring the effective operation of stock markets, and bringing new issues to the attention of management, stockholders play a very important role in making the business system work. Corporate leaders have an obligation to manage their companies in ways that promote and protect a variety of stakeholders. Balancing these various interests is a prime requirement of modern management. Although stakeholders are no longer considered to be the only important stakeholder group, their interests and needs remain central to the successful operation of corporate 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.

Product Development Process


The product development process involves analysis of the marketplace, the buyer, the company’s capabilities, and the economic potential of new product ideas. This process may be both expensive and time consuming. To accelerate the process, many companies create multidisciplinary teams so that manufacturing and marketing plans can be developed in tandem while the product is being designed.

  1. Generation and Screening of Ideas: The first step is to come up with ideas that will satisfy unmet needs. A producer may get new product ideas from its own employees or from external consultants, it may simply adapt a competitor’s idea, or it may buy the rights to someone else’s invention. Customers are often the best source of new product ideas.
  2. Business Analysis: A product idea that survives the screening stage is subjected to a business analysis. At this point the question is: Can the company make enough money on the product to justify the investment? To answer this question, companies forecast the probable sales of the product, assuming various pricing strategies. In addition, they estimate the costs associated with various levels of production. Given these projections, the company calculates the potential cash flow and return on investment that will be achieved if the product is introduced.
  3. Prototype Development: The next step is generally to create and test a few samples, or prototypes, of the product, including its packaging. During this stage, the various elements of the marketing mix are put together. In addition, the company evaluates the feasibility of large-scale production and specifies the resources required to bring the product to market.
  4. Product Testing: During the product testing stage, a small group of consumers actually use the product, often in comparison tests with existing products. If the results are good, the next step is test marketing, introducing the product in selected areas of the country and monitoring consumer reactions. Test marketing makes the most sense in cases where the cost of marketing a product far exceeds the cost of developing it.
  5. Commercialization: The final stage of development is commercialization, the large-scale production and distribution of those products that have survived the testing process. This phase requires the coordination of many activities—manufacturing, packaging, distribution, pricing and promotion. A classic mistake is letting marketing get out of phase with production so that the consumer is primed to buy the product before the company can supply it in adequate quantity. A mistake of this sort can be costly, because competitors may be able to jump in quickly. Many companies roll out their new products generally, going from one geographic area to the next. This enables them to spread the costs of launching the product over a longer period and to refine their strategy as the rollout proceeds.

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.

Accrual Accounting and Cashflow


Before the end of World War 1 most managers kept track of cash out and cash in. many senior citizen owner-managers still do today. There is an inherent problem in keeping the records that way, however, if the business offers and receives much credit. Doing business on credit displaces the time of the exchange of cash from the exchange of goods and services. Sometimes very little cash comes in during a particular month and very much cash comes in during other months. The same is true of cash out.

Keeping in track of what you pay or get paid for credit transactions causes the monthly reports describing the operations to fluctuate from month to month even though the goods and services flowing in and out of the business may be very much the same. About 1920 the accounting profession began placing emphasis on the accrual method of accounting to overcome this difficulty.

The accrual method portrays the smoothed-out profit as if all the transactions had been for cash and as if the business had purchased only exactly what was needed to make the sale. It is not an accurate portrayal of everything going on in the business, but it is a good approximation of the net effect of those things that affect profit. The problem is that so much emphasis has been placed on the accrual method income statement and balance sheet that the importance of cash has been regulated to virtual obscurity.

Even this result is satisfactory when the reports are describing large businesses with access to external financing through the stock market, commercial paper, and bank loans at the prime interest rate. But companies that do not have access to these external sources of financing have a different problem. For them, the flow of cash through the business means life or death, whether the accrual based profit is great or terrible. When new or small businesses need cash they must turn to the bank, the banker will look to the personal savings and assets of the owner-manager for collateral.

Accountants have not forgotten nor overlooked the importance of cash. They recognize the need for cash in sufficient quantity to keep the business operating. For their purposes, however, they often infer the cash available to the business from the income statements and describe future cash availability with the balance sheets. They, and others, frequently describe it as: cash flow equals net profit after taxes plus depreciation and other noncash expenses, such as amortization.

This statement is incorrect except under some very stringent preconditions that rarely exist in practice for a small business. This statement is an approximation that is valid for large and stable businesses in which changes from year to year are small and the statements from which the cash flow is inferred are annual reports. For a small and new business looking at monthly financial reports this approximation is inadequate. In a small, growing business the net cash flow to the firm’s bank account does not equal the net profit plus depreciation. Profit is not cash nor is it cash flow.

Although this pronouncement may be unconventional, entrepreneurs are realistic. Successful entrepreneurs ask how it really works and then get on with building their business. In the conventional approach the analysts, having inferred cash flow from profit, depreciation, and amortization, stop there, allowing their readers to assume that the resulting cash is in the bank wiating to be spent.

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

Training and Development


Mr. President, and Director Training:

Spring has arrived with flowers. The buds have reappeared on bare branches again. Indeed! The March winds are the morning yawn of the year.

All and every little thing tell us
That once again ’tis Spring

Please accept my best wishes for a bright and beautiful season.

 

This time spring has brought along the advent of cricket season. And the current cricket series with India has caused a sort of fever to cricket lovers. Today is a crucial day for all of us. An important and decisive match between traditional rival teams is about to start and we are here participating in a learning exercise. You are not alone missing the glimpses of the match. My heart also joins the curious thumping of your heartbeat.

 

I have the opportunity to talk to you, the learned managers under the new system of local government, and I will avail it with honor talking relevant or maybe some irrelevant things.

 

Overtly or covertly, the district government system is new and complex. Its managers face requirements that are different from their federal, provincial, or private sector counterparts. Because of the complexity and range of those requirements, it is important for DDOs to understand the requirements specific to the district.

 

Friends! We use management and professional development to refer to those processes directed towards equipping professional managers with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to achieve administrative objectives both now and in the future.

 

Any human development must be aligned with the entity’s mission and strategic goals in order that, through enhancing the skills, knowledge, learning ability and enthusiasm of people at every level, there will be continuous organizational and individual growth.

 

The perspectives of management and professional development are interpreted here as including the terms education, learning, training, and development which are seen as an integral part of the wider professional development framework.

 

I have the reason to believe, my dear officers, that if the training and development of managers of any department is not accorded high priority, if training is not seen as a vital component in the realization of government policies, then it is hard to accept that we have committed ourselves to management and professional development.

 

Those departments where there is a chronic under-investment in management and professional development that is the prime reason for the poor performance of the financial management or economy at large. The critique that can be constructed is disturbingly pervasive. At the macro level the education and training infrastructure, particularly when subjected to international comparisons is the major basis for consistently failing to address the needs of economic development. Training initiatives failing to provide consistent direction; concentrating on the certainties of vocational relevance rather than longer-term knowledge demands relevant to an imperfect future, and, simply, a lack of overall investment.

 

At the micro level, despite the relevance placed on bureaucratic system by successive governments, the practice of individual departments is similarly disturbing. Under-investment in management and professional development, whether measured in terms of budgets or training days, is regularly reported. All too frequently management and professional development fails to be regarded as a managerial priority or something that should be fully integrated through a learning culture into everyday practice. The traditional practice of public service, dominance of accountancy traditions and short-term-ism that characterize our bureaucratic inheritance arguably provide infertile conditions for what is essentially a long-term commitment.

 

While acknowledging the pessimistic construction that I have made, I would argue that investment in management and professional development could play a key role in initiating and facilitating change. You can thus adapt to whatever comes along and to take advantage of it, turning threats into challenges, and rising to these challenges in ways that produce increased benefit to the government and employees.

 

If I were to prescribe one process in the training of men, which is fundamental to success in any direction, it would be thoroughgoing training in the habit of accurate observation. It is a habit which every one of us should be seeking ever more to perfect.

 

All organizations, entities, and departments require some form of organizational structure to implement their strategies. Principally, structures are changed when they no longer provide the coordination, control, and direction managers, and entities require implementing strategies successfully. The ineffectiveness of structure typically results from increases in department’s revenues and levels of diversification. In particular, the formulation of strategies involving greater levels of diversification demands structural change to match each strategy. Some strategies require elaborate structures and strategic control, while others focus on financial control.

 

Allow me to briefly converse about strategic leadership. If you are a strategic leader, you have the ability to anticipate, maintain flexibility, and empower others to create strategic change as necessary. Multifunctional in nature, strategic leadership involves managing through others, managing an organization rather than a functional subunit, and coping with change that seems to be increasing exponentially in the current administrative landscape. Because of the complexity and global nature of this landscape, as a strategic leader, you must learn how to influence human behavior effectively in an uncertain environment. By word or by personal example, and through your ability to envision the future, as effective strategic leader you can meaningfully influence the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of those with whom you work. The ability to manage human capital may be the most critical of your leadership skills.

 

From now on, in the 21st century, many managers working in government across country will be challenged to alter their mind-sets to cope with the rapid and complex changes occurring in the global economy.

 

A managerial mind-set is the set of assumptions, premises, and accepted wisdom that bounds—or frames—a manager’s understanding of the department and the core competencies it uses in the pursuit of strategic role. Your continuous success depends on your willingness to challenge continually your managerial frames.

 

Today competition means not product versus product, company versus company, or department versus department. It is a case of mindset versus mindset, managerial frame versus managerial frame. Competing on the basis of mindsets demands that strategic leaders learn how to deal with diverse and cognitively complex situations. One of the most challenging changes is overcoming your own successful mindset.

 

As effective leaders you should always be willing to make candid and courageous, yet pragmatic decisions—decisions that may be difficult, but necessary in light of internal and external conditions. You should solicit corrective feedback from peers, superiors, and employees about the value of your difficult decisions. Unwillingness to accept feedback may be key reason talented executives fail. This highlights the need for you to solicit feedback consistently from those affected by your decisions.

 

Because strategic leadership is a requirement of strategic success, and because departments may be poorly led and over-managed, working in the 21st century competitive landscape you are challenged to develop effective strategic leaders.

 

At district level you are the top administrative managers. And top-level mangers are an important resource for departments seeking to formulate and implement strategies effectively. A key reason for this is that the strategic decisions made by top managers influence how the department is designed and whether goals will be achieved. Thus, a critical element of your organizational success is having a team with superior managerial skills.

 

You often use your discretion (or latitude for action) when making strategic decisions, including those concerned with the effective implementation of strategies. You must therefore be action oriented: thus, the decisions that you make should spur the department to action.

 

Since you are top executives, you have a major effect on your department’s culture. Your values are critical in shaping your department’s cultural values. Accordingly, you have an important effect on organizational activities and performance. The significance of this effect should not be underestimated. Permit me to remind you that acquiring of culture is the development of an avid hunger for knowledge and beauty.

 

 

Add innovation and creativity in all your endeavors. It will certainly pay off. Effective leaders focus their work on the key issues that ultimately shape department’s ability to perform effectively.

 

And in the words of Charles de Gaulle, “Every man of action has a strong dose of egotism, pride, hardness, and cunning. But all those things will be forgiving him, indeed, they will be regarded as high qualities, if he can make them the means to achieve great ends.” To get others to come into your ways of thinking, you must go over to theirs; and it is necessary to follow, in order to lead.

 

While concluding, let me ask: do you know how do geniuses come up with ideas? What is common to the thinking style that produced “Mona Lisa,” as well as the one that spawned the theory of relativity? What characterizes the thinking strategies of the Einsteins, Edisons, da Vincis, Darwins, Picassos, Michelangelos, Galileos, Freuds, and Mozarts of history? What can we learn from them?

 

“Much learning does not teach man to have intelligence.”

This is the quotation from the philosopher Heraclitus, who spanned the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Twenty-five hundred years later, he’s still right. You might spend most of your life going to school, reading, looking up facts, acquiring information, and memorizing it. But, although you’ll become more informed, in the end it won’t make you any smarter. Is a reference library smart? Is a computer with a vast storehouse of voluminous data smart? Is the simple act of digesting and then disgorging information either smart or impressive? My answer is simple: “No.”

 

Anyway, I hereby formally inaugurate this training course.

Thank you for your time and patience.

Thank you for listening.

God bless you!

 

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

Having a nodding acquaintance with the Concept of Zero Defect


In the late 20th century, the zero defect concept has gained momentum in many developed countries. This has made people to go in for prevention techniques rather than the corrective techniques which were in conventional use. Attaining zero defect is not a one time affair. This is a slow process requiring continuous improvement. Sustained efforts may result in zero defect in the long run.  It should be understood that six sigma concept is also related to this.

 

The methodology is a continuous improvement process, at every stage attaining an improvement over the previous one. Initially the current status of the process and the desired future status of the process are to be clearly defined. The difference between these two indicates the quality improvement that has to be brought to the process under consideration. Once this exercise is over the next step of quality improvement has to be planned. Now the final quality status attained in the first exercise becomes the current status. A new desired future status is fixed. As before the difference between these two will become the new quality improvement which has to be introduced in the process. Steps have to be taken to effectuate this incremental quality. This exercise is again continued. Every time the exercise is carried out, it can be noticed that the incremental quality improvement to be introduced is reducing. After a prolonged exercise, this gap will become minute and one can hope to achieve the zero defect at the end.

 

How much is the incremental quality improvement that can be achieved and how soon the zero defect status will be reached, are dependent on how creative the ideas are. Highly creative ideas can help in reaching the zero defect status fast.

 

Different techniques, such as “mistake proofing” can also be used for zero defect concept. In this method, prevention is considered to be the prime factor and at every stage it is essential that the preventive measures are incorporated to avoid defects at any stage.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com