Fundamental Change


There is an evident and strong desire for corporate transformation. With all the smoke there has to be some fire. Against the background of multiple and profound changes and challenges in the business environment, management accepts that incremental is no longer enough.

How fundamental the transformation should be will depend upon the situation and circumstances of the individual company. There are easier ways of getting directorial and managerial kicks.

Circumstances might allow a gradual transition and incremental adjustment. Managers need to understand the profound nature of the distinction between evolutionary and revolutionary change, and the requirements for beginning about a revolution in thought. They must learn from radicals rather than administrators.

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.

 

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Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

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.

Delighting the Customer


Companies need to delight customers to gain a competitive edge. The delight is referred to as a profoundly positive emotional state that results from having  one’s expectations exceeded to a surprising degree. The type of service that results in delight is “positively outrageous service”—that which is unexpected, random, extraordinary, and disproportionately positive.

A way that managers can conceive of delight I to consider product and service features in terms of concentric rings. The innermost bull’s eye refers to attributes that are central to the basic function of the product or service, called musts. Their provision isn’t particularly noticeable, but their absence would be. Around the musts is a ring called satisfiers: features that have the potential to further satisfaction beyond the basic function of the product. At the next and final outer level are delights, product features that are unexpected and surprisingly enjoyable. These are things that consumers would not expect to find and are therefore highly surprised and sometimes excited when they receive them. For example, in your classes the musts consist of professors, rooms, syllabus, and class meetings. Satisfiers might include professors who are entertaining and friendly, interesting lectures, and good audio-visual aids. A delight might include a free textbook for students signing up for the course.

Delighting customers may seem like a good idea, but this level of service provision comes with extra effort and cost to the firm. Therefore the benefits of providing delight must be weighed. Among the considerations are the staying power and competitive implications of delight.

Staying power involves the question of how long a company can expect an experience of delight to maintain the customer’s attention. If it is fleeting and the customer forgets it immediately, it may not be worth the cost. Alternatively, if the customer remembers the delight and adjusts her level of expectation upward accordingly, it will cost the company more just to satisfy, effectively raising the bar for the future. Delighting customers does in fact raise expectations and make it more difficult for a company to satisfy customers in the future.

The competitive implication of delight relates to its impact on expectations of other firms in the same industry.if a competitor in the same industry is unable to copy the delight strategy, it will be disadvantaged by the consumer’s increased expectations. If you were offered that free textbook in one of your classes, you might then expect to receive one in each of your classes. Those classes not offering the free textbook might not have high enrollment levels compared to the delighting class. If a competitor can easily copy the delight strategy, however, neither firm benefits (although the consumer does), and all firm may be hurt because their cost increase and profit erode. The implication is that if companies choose to delight, they should do so in areas that cannot be copied by other firms.

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

Entrepreneurial Success


Successful entrepreneuring is not and never has been reducible to a set of formulas or rules. Without exception, the experience is a profoundly personal process. Entrepreneurial success begins with a single individual’s intense commitment to customers, and it involves according to that person’s distinctive capabilities and temperament. The Ted Turners and Fred Smiths of this world don’t just build companies, they shape them in original, subjective, and sometimes peculiar ways.

No matter how many business courses you take or how many business books you read, you can never plan success. Fortunately, you can invite it. It comes to those who are deeply and personally engaged in the process of following a vision of what they and their enterprises can becom. Successful ideas, innovations, and new directions reveal themselves a bit at a time. They are discovered in the process of “doing,” of living out an emerging vision. Successful companies evolve, as do the people who dream them.

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

Managers are not just Leaders in Waiting


Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” Conventional wisdom is proud of maxims like this. It uses them to encourage managers to label themselves “leaders.” It casts the manager as the dependable plodder, while the leader is the sophisticated executive, scanning the horizon, strategizing. Since most people would rather be a sophisticated exective than a dependable plodder, this advice seems positive and developmental. It isn’t: it demeans the manager role but doesn’t succeed in doing much else. The difference between a manager and a leader is much more profound than most people think. The company that overlooks this difference will suffer for it.

 The most important difference between a great manager and a great leader is one of focus. Great managers look inward. They look inside the company, into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs, and motivation of each person. These differences are small, subtle, but great managers need to pay attention to them. These subtle differences guide them toward the right way to release each person’s unique talents into performance.

 Great leaders, by contrast, look outward. They look out at the competition, out at the future, out at alternative routes forward. They focus on broad patterns, finding connections, cracks, and then press home their advantage where the resistance is weakest. They must be visionaries, strategic thinkers, and activators. When played well, this is, without doubt, a critical role. But it doesn’t have much to do with the challenge of turning one individual’s talents into performance.

 Great managers are not mini-executives waiting for leadership to be thurst upon them. Great leaders are not simply managers who have developed sophistication. The core activities of a manager and a leader are simply different. It is entirely possible for a person to be a brilliant manager and a terrible leader. But it is just as possible for a person to excel as a leader and fail as manager. And, of course, a few exceptionally ralented individuals excel at both.

 If companies confuse the two roles by expecting every manager to be a leader, or if they define “leader” as simply a more advanced form of “manager,” then the all-important “catalyst” role will soon be undervalued, poorly understood, and poorly played. Gradually the company will fall apart.

 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