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.

Intrapersonal Competencies


  • Self-awareness: Maintains awareness of internal emotional states and has the ability to differentiate between emotional states; awareness of emotional strengths and gaps,
  • Self-management: Employs effective personal strategies to lessen or eliminate acting out of disruptive emotional states,
  • Self-confidence: Develops and maintains a strong and realistic sense of one’s capabilities and value to others,
  • Adaptability: Can adjust emotions, thoughts and behaviors to new dynamic situations; tolerant of different ideas  and perspectives,
  • Stress management: Achieves and maintains an internal equilibrium and calmness within a changing environment,
  • Responsibility: Keeps commitments to others within agreed-upon parameters on a consistent basis,
  • Trustworthy: Knows one’s own values, principles and feelings and acts consistently in accordance with them; acts ethically, fairly and reliably in relationship with 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.

Project Implementation


Clarify implementation goals and standards—what is the intended result of the project? How will we know when we have achieved it? To provide direction to the project the goal should be expressed in terms of performance or output. The goal should be specific, realistic, attainable, challenging, consistent with the available resources and the organization’s policies and procedures, measurable and should have a deadline. The implementation standards should address quality, quantity and timing. This should include a set of standards to identify what actions must be taken meet 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, and my Lectures.

Public Policy and Courts


Public policy is a broad concept that is impossible to define precisely. Perhaps the only realistic way to define it is to say that a court’s view of public policy is determined by what the court feels is in the best interests of society. Public policy may change with the times; changing social and economic conditions may make behavior that was acceptable in an earlier time unacceptable today, or vice versa.

There is therefore no simple rule for determining when a particular bargain is contrary to public policy and illegal. Public policy includes immoral and unethical agreements, even though they may not call for the performance of an illegal act. The courts have broad discretion in ruling on questions of public policy, and the discretion can provide the legal system with a degree of healthy flexibility. However, the courts may differ in their views of what constitutes desirable public policy—a difference that can make  a contract legal in one state/province and illegal in other.

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.

Material Requirements Planning (MRP)


A production plan may be broken down into three major parts:

  1. The master production schedule (MPS)
  2. The material requirements planning system (MRP)
  3. The detailed shop schedule.

Each of these three parts is often complex. Remember that the aggregate planning level aggregates both products and resources. MPS and MRP are at the one lower tactical planning level: resources remain aggregated, but products are dealt with at the individual product level. MRP aggregates resources by simply assuming any product can be produced by waiting a given lead time. The detailed shop schedule takes the schedule proposed by MRP and produces from it a more realistic schedule that considers actual machine availability. Customer orders basically drive the MPS, which in turn drives MRP, which orders raw materials and production of various stages and quantities in order to meet demand in a timely fashion.

The control of the production system has three parts, each of which uses as input the output of the previous part:

  • Part A—Collect and integrate the information required to develop the master production schedule.
  • Part B—Determine the planned order releases using MRP.
  • Part C—Determine detailed shop floor schedules and resource requirements.

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.

A Plan of Action


You should be prepared to identify possible courses of action on the basis of the situation analysis. More often than not, several alternatives are possible, and each should be carefully articulated. Each course of action typically has associated costs and revenues. These should be carefully calculated on the basis of realistic estimates of the magnitude of effort expected in their pursuit.

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.

 

Managerial Efficiency


Managerial efficiency is essential. A business may produce a good or service that satisfies customers and earns some profit. But unless it is as efficient as its major competitors, these aggressive rivals will serve customers better, make more profit, and eventually drive it out of business.

A good location, large size, quality people, and other factors like luck help a business remain efficient. But the most important component of efficiency is good management. So an effective management must:

o     Set realistic goals for the firm.

o     Identify the key markets and types of customers for its main production and marketing efforts.

o     Use the resources of a business (its men, and women, materials, machinery, and money) efficiently.

o     Adapt to outside factors, such as government regulations, ethical standards, and economic and technological trends.

In short, management must direct the resources of the business toward realizable objectives. In the process, management must consider both (1) the firm’s own strengths and weaknesses and (2) the opportunities and threats posed by outside factors in determining what the business actually can achieve.

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.

 

Company Self-Concept


A major determinant of a firm’s success is the extent to which the firm can relate functionally to its external environment. To achieve its proper place in a competitive situation, the firm realistically must evaluate its competitive strengths and weaknesses. This idea—that the firm must know itself—is the essence of the company self-concept. The idea is not commonly integrated into theories of strategic management; its importance for individuals has been recognized since ancient times.

Both individuals and firms have a crucial need to know themselves. The ability of either to survive in a dynamic and highly competitive environment would be severely limited if they did not understand their impact on others on them.

In some senses, then, firms take on personalities of their own. Much behavior in firms is organizationally based; that is, a firm acts on its members in other ways than their individual interactions. Thus, firms are entities whose personality transcends the personalities of their members. As such, they can set decision making parameters based on aims different and distinct from the aims of their members. These organizational considerations have pervasive effects.

Ordinarily, descriptions of the company self-concept per se do not appear in mission statements. Yet such statements often provide strong impressions of the company self-concept. The following excerpts from the Intel Corporation mission statement describe the corporate persona that its top management seeks to foster:

The management is self-critical. The leaders must be capable of recognizing and accepting their mistakes and learning from them.

Open (constructive) confrontation is encouraged at all levels of the corporation and is viewed as a method of problem solving and conflict resolution.

Decision by consensus is the rule. Decisions once made are supported. Position in the organization is not the basis for quality of ideas.

A highly communicative, open management is part of the style.

Management must be ethical. Managing by telling the truth and treating all employees equitably has established credibility that is ethical.

We strive to provide an opportunity for rapid development.

Intel is a results-oriented company. The focus is on substance versus form, quality versus quantity.

We believe in the principle that hard work, high productivity is something to be proud of.

The concept of assumed responsibility is accepted. (if a task needs to be done, assume you have the responsibility to get it done).

Commitments are long term. If career problems occur at some point, reassignment is a better alternative than termination.

We desire to have all employees involved and participative in their relationship with Intel.

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.

 

Economies of Scale


You get economies of scale when the unit cost falls as the number of units made increases. There are three reasons for the lower unit costs:

  • Fixed costs are spread over a larger number of units;
  • You can use more efficient processes, perhaps including more automation;
  • More experience with the product raises efficiency.

Economies of scale encourage you to concentrate operations and make as many units as possible in the same facilities. Another benefit from larger operations comes from the ‘learning curve.’ The more often you repeat something, the easier it becomes.

Obviously, you can’t expand facilities for ever, and there is no point in having more capacity than likely demand. More realistically, if you expand beyond a certain size the organization gets too complex – making communications, support functions and management more difficult. Beyond this point you get dis-economies of scale. You can see these in many large organizations, such as governments, which aim for the efficiencies that come from centralization, but actually get bogged down in bureaucracy and red tape.

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.

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 www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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