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


  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

Muddled Communication

It is only when an organization fails to communicate effectively with its market place that problems are sometimes noticed.

The first response to a drop in sales can be an immediate call for a new identity of a new advertising campaign. Rebranding may be expensive but it can be an easier pill to swallow than brutally honest self-examination of core relationships.

Less than scrupulously honest communication companies will queue up to offload and organization’s cash if they think there is money to be made; but putting a new face on a sick organization is purely papering over the cracks.

Muddled communication has often been the first point of contact with new companies. Many companies prefer easy, con-confrontational action that they can take immediately to challenging questions and the need to may be think and behave in new ways.

Only when presented with unequivocal evidence are some companies prepared to take hard decisions, especially if it involves the agreement and support of peers—worse still—bosses.

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, and my Lectures.


Corporate Giving

One of the most visible ways in which businesses help communities is through gifts of money, property, and employee service. The corporate philanthropy or corporate giving demonstrates the commitment of businesses to assist the communities by supporting nonprofit organizations.

Some argue that corporate managers have no right to give away company money that does not belong to them. According to the line of reasoning, any income earned by the company should be either reinvested in the firm or distributed to the stockholders who are legal owners. The charitable contributions are one additional way in which companies link themselves to the broader interests of the community, thereby advancing and strengthening the company rather than weakening it.

Companies also help local communities through the substantial number of business donations that are not recorded as philanthropy because they are not pure giving. Routine gifts of products and services for local use often are recorded as advertising expenses; gifts of employee time for charity drives and similar purposes usually are not recorded; and the costs of soliciting and processing employee gifts, deductions usually are not recorded as corporate giving. Still, they add value to the local community of which the company is part.

Many large US companies have established nonprofit corporate foundations to handle their charitable programs. This permits them to administer contribution programs more uniformly and provides a central group of professionals that handles all grant requests. Foreign-owned corporations use foundations less frequently, although firms use highly sophisticated corporate foundations to conduct their charitable activities. As corporations expand to more foreign locations, pressures will grow to expand international corporate giving. Foundations, with their defined mission to benefit the community, can be a useful mechanism to help companies implement philanthropic programs that meet corporate social responsibility.

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, and my Lectures.


Defining Knowledge Management

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

— T. S. Eliot

It is important that we have a clear understanding of what we mean by knowledge and not confuse it with information. In the information age the focus was on the processing of data into information and the control of the flow of information, but in the knowledge era there is a shift in focus to knowledge because of the recognition that knowledge is now the primary source of wealth. Given the importance of this shift it is essential to understand the distinction between information and knowledge, which are often confused for each other. It is also useful to understand the way in which they relate to data and wisdom, therefore the following definitions of these terms:

  • Data are the pure and simple facts without any particular structure or organization, the basic atoms of information,
  • Information is structured data, which adds meaning to the data and gives it context and significance,
  • Knowledge is the ability to use information strategically to achieve one’s objectives, and
  • Wisdom is the capacity to choose objectives consistent with one’s values and within a larger social context.

These definitions lead to the definition of knowledge management:

Knowledge management is the collaborative organizational activity of creating the environment, both attitudinally and technologically, so that knowledge can be assessed, shared and created within an organization in a way that all the experiences and knowledge within the enterprise, including that of all its staff, customers, suppliers and business partners, can be organized to achieve the enterprise’s objectives and reinforce its values.

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, and my Lectures.


Pure Competition

The term competition is used ambiguously not only in ordinary conversation but in economic literature as well. Its common meaning is rivalry, but in economics when used along with the word pure, it carries a different meaning. Following are necessary conditions for pure competition:

  1. Homogeneity of the product: For competition to exist in a market all sellers of the product being exchanged sell homogeneous units of the product, or at least the buyers of that product believe that this is so.
  2. Smallness of each buyer or seller relative to the market: Each buyer and each seller of the product under consideration is too small in relation to the entire market for the product to influence significantly the price of the product that is being bought or sold.
  3. Absence of artificial restraints: There are no artificial restrictions on the demands for, the supplies of, and the prices of whatever is being exchanged. No government price fixing nor any institutional fixing or administering of price by producers’ associations, labor unions, or other private agencies. There is no supply restriction enforced by the government or by organized producer groups. Control of demand through governmental rationing is nonexistent.
  4. Mobility: There is mobility of goods and services of resources in the economy. New firms are free to enter any desired industry, and resources are free to move among alternative uses to those where they desire employment. Sellers are able to dispose of their goods and services where the price is highest. Resources are able to secure employment in their highest paid uses.

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, and my Lectures.

The Essence of Competition

Competition, the rivalry among businesses for consumers’ dollars, is a vital element in free enterprise. Competition fosters efficiency and low prices by forcing producers to offer the best products at the most reasonable price; those who fail to do so are not able to stay in business. Thus, competition should improve the quality of the goods and services available.

Within a free enterprise system, there are four types of competitive environments:

  1. Pure competition exists when there are many businesses selling one standardized product. No one business sells enough of the product to influence the product’s price. And, because there is no difference in the products, prices are determined solely by the forces of supply and demand.
  2. Monopolistic competition exists when there are fewer businesses than in a pure-competition environment and the differences among the goods they sell is small. The products differ slightly in packaging, warranty, name, and other characteristics, but all satisfy the same consumer need. Businesses have some power over the price they change in monopolistic competition because they can make consumers aware of product differences through advertising. Consumers value some features more than others and are often willing to pay higher prices for a product with the features they want.
  3. Oligopoly exists when there are very few businesses selling a product. individual businesses have control over their products’ price because each business implies a large portion of  the products sold in the marketplace. Nonetheless, the prices charged by different firms stay fairly close because a price cut or increase by one company will trigger a similar response from another company. Oligopoly exists when it is expensive for new firms to enter the marketplace.
  4. Monopoly exists when there is one business providing a product in a given market. Utility companies are monopolies. The government permits such monopolies because the cost of creating the good or supplying the service is so great that new producers cannot compete for sales. Government-granted monopolies are subject to government-regulated prices.

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, and my Lectures.

Private Enterprise

Private or free, enterprise is the economic system. It means that most of the country’s goods and services are provided by privately owned firms that compete with a minimum of government controls. The private enterprise system has six key characteristics:

  1. Private Ownership of Property: most businesses, land, minerals, buildings, machinery, and personal goods are owned by people, not by governments. This ownership is the right of people. It is an incentive to work hard to acquire and care for our own property. This sort of incentive contributes to the economic growth of the country.
  2. Freedom of choice and limited government: Freedom of choice allows businesses to select the products they produce, hire and fire employees, compete for customers and supplies, and make and dispose of profits. Freedom of choice also allows consumers to buy whatever products and services they are willing and able to buy from whichever firms they choose. Freedom of choice implies a limited amount of government intervention in the area of private enterprise. In a free enterprise system, government sets the” economic rules of the game” by establishing basic laws and regulations that ensure society’s welfare. But within the context, individuals and organizations are left largely free to pursue their own interests and inclinations.
  3. Consumer sovereignty: Consumers rule; the more carefully they make their decisions, the more clearly the economy will reflect their needs. The more money you spend in the marketplace, the greater your influence.
  4. Profits: Profits make businesses responsive to consumer wants. Profits are also a good indicator of where to expand and how to compete better. As a shop owner you can also compare the overall profits with past results or with profits of other businesses to gauge how well your shop is doing. Profits are the clearest standard of performance available to a business. But consumers often misinterpret business profits. They also don’t always understand how profits direct a business’ efforts. And consumers usually substantially overstate how high business profits actually are.
  5. Competition: Most business leaders believe their industries are highly competitive. But the term “competitive” has many meanings. Pure, or perfect, competition exists in an industry when 1) there are many firms of about equal size, 2) all firms produce the same product, 3) each firm can enter or leave the industry when it wants, and 4) all firms and customers are well-informed about prices and availability of products. No industry completely satisfies all these conditions, although some come close. Most industries operate under conditions of imperfect competition. This means they satisfy some but not all the conditions of pure competition.
  6. Productivity: Productivity is essential to the economy, whether it means designing faster microcomputers or better-testing toothpaste. Increased productivity helps offset inflation and keep prices down. Productivity is defined as real output (the value of the product independent of price changes) per working hour, and it is usually written as a percentage.

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, and my Lectures.

Managerial Practices

  • One of the most important responsibilities of management is to lead the organization to develop a hierarchy of strategic intent that incorporates and mutually supportive set of vision, mission, goals, and objectives.
  • As a leader developing a vision, seek out the ideas and ideals that will inspire an organization and motivate its members to work toward greatness.
  • In developing a mission statement, remember that organization serve multiple stakeholder groups and identify how your organization will address the needs of its most important stakeholders.
  • Develop goals that support the organization’s mission, that address the need for balance among various stakeholder groups, and that “stretch” the organization.
  • In identifying objectives, develop measurable targets, but be mindful of the possible unintended consequences of such measurement.
  • Remember the difference between an intended strategy and a realized strategy and be careful not to confuse the two in your consideration and discussion of strategy.
  • Strategies for simple, stable business may be successfully implemented using strategic programming, while strategies for organizations facing complex and/or unpredictable situations will usually require organizational learning, and overwhelming complexity and dynamism may force adoption of an incrementalist approach.
  • Remember the key distinguishing feature between strategic programming and organizational learning: in strategic programming, the firm can realistically separate planning and doing, strategy formulation and implementation. In organizational learning, a firm assumes that it cannot realistically tell in advance how the future will unfold or what will work, and it therefore intertwines formulations and implementation, continually adjusting its strategy as it gains new insights through a trail-and-error process of learning by doing.
  • Do not assume that either a pure strategic programming approach or a pure organizational learning approach is right for your organization. Most organizations need a blend of the two and, consequently, managers need to understand both.
  • You should recognize that although there is nothing inherently wrong with strategic programming, the incidence of “mechanistic” organizations that can successfully depend on this approach is shrinking. Shifts in the nature of business have made it more important for organizations to become more “organic” and to place greater emphasis on organizational learning.
  • Remember the limitations of each of the three major perspectives on strategic management,: rational planning, incrementalism, and organizational learning. Develop a willingness to draw from all three perspectives to improve your effectiveness.

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, and my Lectures.

The Management of Creativity

Creativity has been defined in dozens of ways, but essentially it means the process by which novel but situationally appropriate outcomes are brought about. The field of creativity is in full bloom. Thousands of pieces of research have probed creativity. These researches have x-rayed such opaque matters as what kind of people are creative individuals; what motivates them; how creative people go about identifying, defining, and solving problems; what efforts are creative; what constitutes creative thinking, what techniques aid creative problem solving; what sorts of environments foster creativity; the assessment of creativity and the level of creativity of human efforts; etc.

The management of creativity in organizational settings is relatively far less researched, but is of great importance in a world of huge collective challenges and fierce competition. It fuses two fields—management and creativity. Management can be defined in many different ways, but broadly it is an organized effort at improving the functioning of organizations through such processes as the fixing of goals, the development and implementation of a strategy for achieving goals, the control of operations to ensure that goals are being met, the coordination of interdependent activities, the creation of structures and systems, the management of human resources as well as of other stakeholders and so forth.

As a field, the management of creativity has some distinctive aspects that differentiates it from general creativity. The management of creativity involves various collectives: dyads, teams, departments and divisions, organizations, associations of organizations, even governance systems of communities and societies. Even when one is discussing managerial creativity (the creativity of individual managers), the focus is on creativity displayed in a collectivity and relating to the various tasks that need to be performed in that collectivity. The work-related context channels creativity in important ways—towards achieving the goals of the collectivity and in discharging various management functions. The focus is not ‘pure’ art or science, or individual self-actualization, but on creative behavior in an organizational setting in which the organization’s goals, policies, structures, systems and so forth call the shots. Although individuals working in organizations certainly attempt to pursue their own interests, they do so keeping in mind organizational requirements, and this feature strongly influences the form that creativity takes in organizational settings.

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, Line of Sight

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