Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the 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.

Marketing Eras


  • Production Era:  Prior to 1925, most firms operating in highly developed economies focused narrowly on production. Manufacturers stressed production of quality products and then looked for people to purchase them.  The production era did not reach its peak until the early part of 20th century.
  • Sales Era: Manufacturers began to increase their emphasis on effective sales forces to find customers for their output. Firms attempted to match their output to the potential number of customers who would want it. Companies with a sales orientation assume that customers will resist purchasing products and services not deemed essential and that the task of personal selling and advertising is to convince them to buy. Although marketing departments began to emerge from shadows of production, finance, and engineering during the sales era, marketing dominated sales and other areas. Selling is thus a component of marketing.
  • Marketing: Personal incomes and consumer demand for products and services dropped rapidly thrusting marketing into a more important role. Organizational survival dictated that managers pay close attention to the markets for their goods and services. The trend ended with the outbreak of World War 11, when rationing and shortages of consumer goods became commonplace. The war years created only a pause in an emerging trend in business: a shift in the focus from products and sales to satisfying customer needs.
  • Relationship: It emerged during the 90s. Organizations carried the marketing era’s customer orientation one step further by focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships. This effort represented a major shift from the traditional concept of marketing as a simple exchange between buyer and seller. Relationship marketing by contrast, involves long-term, value-added relationships developed over time, strategic alliances and partnerships retailers play major roles in relationship marketing.

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.

Expert Power


There are several ways managers use expert power. They can promote an image of expertise by subtly making others aware of their education, experience, and accomplishments. To maintain credibility, a leader should not pretend to know things that he or she does not know. A leader whose pretentions are exposed will rapidly lose expert power. A confident and decisive leader demonstrates a firm grasp of situations and takes charge when circumstances dictate. To enhance their expert power, managers should also keep themselves informed about developments related to tasks, valuable to the organization, and relevant to their expertise.

A leader who recognizes employee concerns works to understand the underlying nature of these issues and takes appropriate steps to reassure subordinates. To avoid threatening subordinates’ self-esteem, a leader with expert power should be careful not to flaunt expertise or behave like a know-it-all.

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.

Kaikaku


Kaikaku means instant revolution and aims at spectacular and very rapid productivity improvement in a focused area. It is often easier to achieve a 20 percent improvement than a 5 percent improvement. Kaikaku exercises have gained the serious attention of managers in recent years, if for no other reason than the scale of the gains achieved.

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.

Fringe Benefits


Fringe benefits are any benefits received by employees in addition to their regular pay. They include paid vacation, sick leave, welfare programs, and health and life insurance. The cost of fringe benefits is increasing much more rapidly than wages. One fringe benefit that unions have been stressing recently is the pension. Pension funds are certainly not small.

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.

Managing for Customer Satisfaction


If you are working in a business that is focused and dedicated to customer satisfaction you cannot manage it in the same way as an ordinary or traditional business – it just doesn’t work. Organizations have found this to their cost. Implementing policies without changing the organization first is self-defeating. The organization will defeat change as soundly as day follows night. However, if you change the organization and the way people are managed and led and you have developed the policies, ideas, procedures, standards and systems will evolve rapidly and effectively.

The first major change has to be  the ritual burning and demolition of the standard organization chart. Customers, suppliers and employees cannot be forced to work through traditional top down hierarchical management systems. Not only does it give people the wrong feeling, it actually just doesn’t work. It’s not that it ever worked particularly well anyway, it was just the thing that everyone used when they put together a large organization.

Today’s manager has to be much more of a communicator than a dictator. They also have to be much more of a facilitator than a policy determinator. People’s aspirations have changed, just as the customers have. They need to be treated in a way that encourages them, empowers them and enthuses them to deliver the best for their customers.

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.

Technological Change and Diffusion


Both the rate of change of technology and the speed at which new technologies become available and are used have increased substantiality. Perpetual innovation describes how rapidly and consistently new, information intensive technologies replace a competitive premium on being able to introduce new goods and services quickly into the marketplace. In fact, when products become somewhat indistinguishable because of the widespread and rapid diffusion of technologies, speed to market may be the only source of competitive advantage.

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.

Small Business: Causes of Failure


  • Plunging in without first testing the waters on a small scale.
  • Underpricing or overpricing goods or services.
  • Underestimating how much time it will take to build a market.
  • Starting with too little capital.
  • Starting with too much capital and being careless in its use.
  • Going into business with little or no experience and without first learning something about it.
  • Borrowing money without planning just how and when to pay it back.
  • Attempting to do much business with too little capital.
  • Not allowing for setbacks and unexpected expenses.
  • Buying too much on credit.
  • Extending credit too freely.
  • Expanding credit too rapidly.
  • Failing to complete, accurate records, so that the owners drift into trouble without realizing it.
  • Carrying habit of personal extravagance into the business.
  • Mistaking the freedom of being in business for oneself, for liberty to work or not according to whim.

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.

Changing Buying and Selling Processes


Winning companies are all focused on speed to market, cost reduction, and customer satisfaction—whether buying or selling goods, services, and solutions. Today, many leading companies are changing their selling processes and tools, including the following actions:

  • Expanding self-service sales via Web-based sales catalogs of products and related services available to buyers.
  • Creating customized electronic interfaces between themselves and their strategic customers to facilitate rapid order receipt and order processing. Typically, sellers provide their most favored customers with preferred pricing or large discounts.
  • Offering multinational companies global pricing policies for products and services with economic-related adjustments, i.e., variations due to labor rates in specific countries or regions, inflation or deflation, value-added taxes, etc.
  • Developing standard statements of work, acceptance criteria, and standards intervals for consistent on-time delivery worldwide.
  • Understanding the buyer’s business needs and budget in order to develop customized solutions priced to fit the buyer’s desired business case.
  • Providing financing to buyers to help them purchase products when required.
  • Offering extended payment terms to customers, well beyond the usual net—15 days, or net—30 days to net—90 days or net—180 days.
  • Developing Web portals to facilitate rapid and direct communications between sellers and their strategic partners.
  • Providing countertrade, offsets, or counter purchases, in order to secure large purchases.

These actions are just a few of the many innovative process changes, tools, or unique business arrangements that sellers are using to build successful partnerships with their best buyers.

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.

 

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