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.

Investment and Peace


Investment and the reduction of violence should be seen as intimately and favorably connected with each other and also with justice, even though investment, narrowly conceived as economic growth, in many cases to the detriment of the others. There remains a strong leaning to say that (both foreign and domestic) investment involves peace.

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.

International Codes of Environmental Conduct


A number of business organizations have developed codes of environmental conduct. Among the most important ones are the following:

  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC): The ICC developed the Business Center for Sustainable Development, 16 principles that identify key elements of environmental leadership and call on companies to recognize environmental management as among their highest corporate priorities.
  • Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI): A group of over 20 companies dedicated to fostering environmental excellence, GEMI developed several environmental self assessment programs, including one that helps firms assess their progress in meeting the goals of the Business Center for Sustainable Development.
  • Keidanren: This major Japanese industry association has published a  Global Environmental Charter that sets out a code of environmental behavior that calls on its members to be “good corporate citizens.”
  • Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA): The U.S. based industry association developed Responsible Care: A Public Commitment, which commits its member-companies to a code of management practices, focusing on process safety, community awareness, pollution prevention, safe distribution, employee health and safety, and product stewardship. The group is working for the international adoption of these principles.
  • CERES Principles: These are 10 voluntary standards developed by the Coalition of Environmentally Responsible economies that commit signatory firms to protection of the biosphere, sustainable use of natural resources, energy conservation, risk reduction, and other environmental goals.
  • International Organization for Standards (ISO): ISO 14000 is a series of voluntary standards introduced in 1966 by the ISO, an international group based in Geneva, Switzerland, that permit companies to be certified as meeting global environmental performance standards.

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.

Internet Support to Marketing


Market Research

  1. Market information
  2. Competitor information
  3. Customer information
  4. Miscellaneous information
  5. Collect saving ideas

Database Building

  1. World-wide club
  2. Dynamic relationship marketing

Customer Service

  1. Self-servicing customers
  2. Self-service customer abuse
  3. Self-service cost savings

New Product Development

  1. Collecting new ideas
  2. Tailor-made products
  3. Accelerating new product development

Internal Communications

  1. Intranets
  2. Extranets

Cost Reduction

  1. Print and distribution
  2. Phone calls
  3. Customer service
  4. Collecting cost-saving tips
  5. Revenue generation

Distribution

  1. Products
  2. Services
  3. Purchases

Selling

  1. Few fairytale  sales stories
  2. New markets
  3. Small value, big turnover
  4. Sales management tool

Promotion

  1. Have a presence
  2. Interactive advertising creative sponsorship
  3. Sales promotions
  4. Public relations
  5. Database 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.

 

Checklist for Processes Improvement


Improvement is made by:

  • Viewing all work as a process, whether it is associated with production or business activities.
  • Making all processes effective, efficient, and adaptable.
  • Anticipating changing customer needs.
  • Controlling in-process performance using  measures such as scrap reduction, cycle time, control charts, and so forth,
  • Maintaining constructive dissatisfaction with the present level of performance.
  • Eliminating waste and rework wherever it occurs.
  • Investigating activities that do not add value to the product or service, with the aim of eliminating those activities.
  • Eliminating nonconformities in all phases of everyone’s work, even if the increment of improvement is small.
  • Using benchmarking to improve competitive advantage.
  • Innovating to achieve breakthroughs.
  • Incorporating lessons learned into future activities.
  • Using technical tools such as statistical process control, experimental design, benchmarking, quality function deployment, and so forth.

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.

Logistics


The management orientation evolves from an operational focus at Stage 1, through a managerial approach at Stage 11, to the strategic top management level at Stage 111. Simultaneously, the financial orientation evolves from that of cost reduction at Stage 1, to profit maximization in Stage 11, to the optimization of return on investment in Stage 111—the orientation of senior corporate executives.

As logistics organizations take on the appearance of a senior management function, they assume senior-level positions within the company. Fifty-nine percent of the Stage 1 organizations report to general management, 14 percent report to marketing and sales, and 27 percent report to manufacturing. By Stage 111, a distance shift has occurred: 73 percent of logistics organizations report to general management. Thus, it is at Stage 111 that logistics organizations assume a truly top management position in the general management structure.

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.

Profit Decay


Management can always shortchange sales, R&D, or market development, or forgo manufacturing improvements for the short term to make the business and profits look better. Doing so can lead the company into a cycle of profit decay that is very difficult to break out of without incurring major costs or write-offs.

A vicious and deteriorating cycle ensues until some combination of price increase or reductions in manufacturing costs and/or an expense occurs that allows the business to adhere more closely to the profit and loss framework. It is extremely important to understand that a company has, quite literally, no chance of generating attractive profits until it somehow breaks out of this cycle.

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

The Dynamics of Social Responsibility


The various stakeholders of a firm can be divided into inside stakeholders and outside stakeholders. The insiders are the individuals or groups that are stakeholders or employees of the firm. The outsiders are all the other individuals or groups that the firm’s actions affect. The extremely large and often amorphous set of outsiders makes the general claim that the firm be socially responsible.

Perhaps the thorniest issues faced in defining a company mission are those that pertain to responsibility. The stakeholder approach offers the clearest perspective on such issues. Broadly stated, outsiders often demand that insider’s claims be subordinated to the greater good of the society; that is, to the greater good of the outrsiders. They believe that such issues as pollution, the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and the conservation of natural resources should be principal consideration in strategic decision making. Also broadly stated, insiders tend to believe that the competing claims of outsiders should be balanced against one another in a way that protects the company mission. For example, they tend to believe that the need of consumers for a product should be balanced against the water pollution resulting from its production if the firm cannot eliminate that pollution entirely and still remain profitable. Some insiders also argue that the claims of society, as expressed in government regulation, provide tax money that can be used to eliminate water pollution and the like if the general public wants this to be done.

The issues are numerous, complex, and contingent on specific situations. Thus, rigid rules of business conduct cannot deal with them. Each firm regardless of size must decide how to meet its perceived social responsibility. While large, well-capitalized companies may have easy access to environmental consultants, this is not an affordable strategy for smaller companies. However, the experience of many small businesses demonstrates that it is feasible to accomplish significant pollution prevention and waste reduction without big expenditures and without hiring consultants. Once a problem area has been identified, a company’s line employees frequently can develop a solution. Other important pollution prevention strategies include changing the materials used or redesigning how operations are bid out. Making pollution prevention a social responsibility can be beneficial to smaller companies. Publicly traded firms also can benefit directly from socially responsible strategies.

Different approaches adopted by different firms reflect differences in competitive position, industry, country, environmental and ecological pressures, and a host of other factors. In other words, they will reflect both situational factors and differing priorities in the acknowledgement of claims. Obviously, winning the loyalty of the growing legions of consumers will require new marketing strategies and new alliances in the 21st Century. Many marketers already have discovered these new marketing realities by adopting strategies called the “4 Es.” 1) make it easy for the consumer to be green, 2) empower consumers with solutions, 3) enlist the support of the consumer, and 4) establish credibility with all publics and help to avoid a backlash.

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

Purchasing: Risk Reduction Strategies


Individuals are motivated by a strong desire to reduce the level of risk in purchase decisions. The perceived risk concept includes two components: 1) uncertainty about the outcome of a decision, and 2) the magnitude of consequences associated with making the wrong choice. Research highlights the importance of perceived risk and the purchase type in shaping the structure of the decision-making unit. Individual decision-making is likely to occur in organizational buying for straight rebuys and for modified rebuy situations when the perceived risk is low. In these situations, the purchasing agent may initiate action. Modified rebuys of higher risk and new tasks seem to spawn a group structure.

In confronting “risky” purchase decisions, how do organizational buyers behave? As the risk associated with an organizational purchase decision increases:

  • The buying center will become larger and will comprise members with high levels of organizational status and authority.
  • The information search will be active and a wide variety of information sources will be considered to guide and support an important purchase decision. As the decision process unfolds, personal information sources (for example, discussions with managers at other organizations that have made similar purchasees) become more important.
  • Buying center participants will be motivated to invest greater effort and to deliberate more carefully throughout the purchase process.
  • Sellers who have a proven track record with the firm will be favored. The choice of a familiar supplier helps reduce the perceived risk associated with a purchase.

Rather than price, product quality and after-sale service are typically most important to organizational buyers when they confront “risky” decisions. When introducing new products, entering new markets, or approaching new customers, the marketing strategist should evaluate the impact of alternative strategies on perceived risk.

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

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