Concept Testing


Concept testing is part of the prescreening process, preparing a management team to do the full screening of the idea just before beginning serious technical work. The elementary purpose of a concept test is to identify the very poor concept so it can be eliminated. If music lovers, for example, cannot conceive of a compact disc that will last forever and thus reject it out of hand, the concept is probably a poor one.

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.

Defining Norms


A norm is a standard against which the appropriateness of a behavior is judged. Thus, a norm is the expected behavior or behavioral pattern in a certain situation. Group norms usually are established during the second stage of group development (communication and decision making) and carried forward into the maturity stage. People often have expectations about the behavior of others. By providing a basis for predicting others’ behaviors, norms enable people to formulate response behaviors. Without norms, the activities within a group would be chaotic. Norms serve four purposes:

  1. Norms help the group survive. Groups tend to reject deviant behavior that does not contribute to accomplishing group goals or to the survival of the group if it is threatened. Accordingly, a successful group that is not under threat may be more tolerant or deviant behavior.
  2. Norms simplify and make more predictable the behaviors expected of group members. Norms mean that members do not have to analyze each behavior and decide on a response. Members can anticipate the actions of others on the basis of group norms. When members do what is expected of them, the group is more likely to be productive and to reach its goals.
  3. Norms help the group avoid embarrassing situations. Group members often want to avoid damaging other members’ self-images and are likely to avoid certain subjects that might hurt a member’s feelings.
  4. Norms express the central values of the group and identify the group to others. Certain clothes, mannerisms, or behaviors in particular situations may be a rallying point for members and may signify to others the nature of the group.

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.

 

Policies that Empower


Policies communicate guidelines to decisions. They are designed to control decisions while defining allowable discretion within which operational personnel can execute business activities. They do this in several ways:

  1. Policies establish indirect control over independent action by clearly stating how things are to be done now. By defining discretion, policies in effect control decisions yet empower employees to conduct activities without direct intervention by top management.
  2. Policies promote uniform handling of similar activities. This facilitates the coordination of work tasks and helps reduce friction arising from favoritism, discrimination, and the disparate handling of common functions—something that often hampers operating personnel.
  3. Policies ensure quicker decisions by standardizing other policies that otherwise would recur and pushed up the management hierarchy again and  again—something that required unnecessary levels of management between senior decision makers and field personnel.
  4. Policies institutionalize basic aspects of organizational behavior. This minimizes conflicting practices and establishes consistent patterns of action in attempts to make the strategy work—again, freeing operating personnel to act.
  5. Policies reduce uncertainty in repetitive and day-to-day decision making, thereby providing a necessary foundation for coordinated, efficient efforts and freeing operating personnel to act.
  6. Policies counteract resistance to or rejection of chosen strategies by organization members. When major strategic change is undertaken, unambiguous operating policies clarify what is expected and facilitate acceptance, particularly when operating managers participate in policy development.

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.

 

Let People Fail


Throughout history people who have achieved the greatest success in life have been those who were not afraid to fail. In fact, most of them failed time and again and often in a very big way.

Thomas Edison tried 2,500 times to invent the light bulb before he finally succeeded. Abraham Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for public office 6 times before he was elected president. History is replete with stories of famous people who were well acquainted with failure; people who set goals higher than what they at first could achieve and who then preserved until they became conquerors.

If a certain amount of failure is intrinsic to great success, why is it such an evil word? Why do most of us place severe limitations on ourselves in order to avoid failure, even to the point of sacrificing our dreams?

A person trained in the behavioral sciences could have a field day with this question. For our purposes here, in very simple terms, we can say that people are afraid of failure because they never learned to see it as friend. Instead of seeing it as a stepping-stone to success, they view it as a blockade.

In order for people to realize their full potentials they must be given permission to fail. When this permission is granted the element of fear is removed. Fear is the great enemy of power. As long as people are consumed by the fear of being rejected, the fear of losing face with their peers, or the fear of losing their job, they can never reach their full potentials.

When people are denied permission to fail, they play it safe. Their reach never exceeds their grasp. They set goals lower than what they are capable of achieving. The result is that the company loses valuable productivity. Mediocrity instead of excellence is the norm. business opportunities are missed. And the people are deprived of the exhilarating experience that comes from taking risks, beating the odds, and accomplishing the near impossible.

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.

The Rejected Circuits


The simple question, “Why?” is a poor substitute for the four dimensional questioning we use in problem analysis. Yet, whenever something goes wrong, it is second nature to as “Why?” and then review the flood of answers in hope that one of them will instantly suggest the problem’s actual cause. The usual rationalization for the “Why?” approach is that people have been hired for their expertise and experience. If they can’t come up with answers for problems that occur in the operation, those people don’t belong in their jobs. Concrete results arising from the combination of systematic techniques and technical expertise are the only things that will convince a manager that questions are as important as answers.

Once the question “When?” had been asked and answered, the people involved could focus their technical expertise where it would do the most good.

Regardless of the content of the problem, the search for specific and accurate answers demands specific and precise questions.

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.

Purchasing Information


Basic data that should be systematically collected include:

  • Purchase item number and description
  • Quantity required
  • Date item required
  • Date purchase requisition received or authorized
  • Purchase requisition or authorization number
  • Supplier(s) quoted
  • Date supplier(s) quoted
  • Date quotes required from supplier(s)
  • Supplier quote(s)
  • Supplier price discount schedule
  • Purchase order number
  • Date purchase order placed
  • Purchase price per unit
  • Quantity or percent of annual requirements purchased
  • Planned purchase price per unit
  • Supplier name
  • Supplier address
  • Supplier promise ship date
  • Supplier lead time (days or weeks for purchase item)
  • Date purchase item received
  • Quantity received
  • Purchase item accepted or rejected (unit/lot)
  • Storage location
  • Buyer
  • Work unit
  • Requested price change
  • Effective date of requested price change
  • Date price change approved
  • Ship to location

These basic transaction data are needed for purchasing decisions and management control systems, especially if these are computerized.

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.

Decision Analysis


Every decision we make requires us to think in terms of objectives, alternatives, and potential risks. That choice may involve a thousand criteria plus the inputs and deliberations of a hundred or more people. Or it may involve only five criteria and ten minutes of deliberation by one person. The dimensions are immeterial because the basic process is always the same. And the final judgment is always: “This is what ought to be done.”

The decision situations fall into five categories:

  • The complex decision that requires examination of a large amount of information, and involves the judgments of many people.
  • The “Yes/No” decision that involves only two alternatives: to take or reject a course of action; to do something in a different way or continue as before.
  • The decision as to whether a single proposed course of action is sound enough to be implemented.
  • The decision in which an original alternative must be developed by the decision-maker or team.
  • The routine decision: hiring, purchase of equipment or services, development of personnel policies, and other everyday decisions.

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

Risks: Building Blocks of Success


A person’s confidence is best measured by his or her willingness to take risks. Fear is best reflected by the degree to which a person seeks to avoid risk. The old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” will always be true. Risk, the possibility of loss, is a necessary to success as air is to life.

Imagine what would happen if everyone decided to try to live 100 percent risk-free:

  • No farmer would plant a crop because there might be too much rain or too little. Or the market price for the grain might collapse.
  • No one would start a business because comptition might cause it to fail.
  • No television programs would be produced because there might be too few viewers to attract advertisers.
  • Investors would not put money into new construction, into oil well exploration, and into new ventures.
  • Artists and authors would stop work because people might reject their activity,

To be completely secure, people would take their money out of banks (the banks may fail), hoard food (there may be an atomic war), refuse to drive cars (I may have an accident), and patients in hospitals would refuse blood transfusions (the blood may be contaminated). A goal of 100 percent security would almost overnight destroy our economy.

To avoid risk completely, no one would apply for a job (you may not get it), submit a poem to a literary journal (it may be rejected), speak up in a meeting (you may be laughed at), or ask for an order (the prospect may say No).

Here is an important point: Success-oriented people take risks and sometimes the risks turn out to be losses. Thirty-seven percent of today’s millionaires went broke after accumulating wealth. But they came back to win. No investor is always “right,” and people who build shopping centers, rersidential neighborhoods, and office buildings sometimes lose money. In the oil drilling business, a majority of wells turn out to be dry holes.

How we react to defeat is the key. You have heard people who have failed in a job or in a business of their own say, “I’ve had it. Never again!”

At times, we all feel like giving up. And if we’re not careful, we will give up. Pressure from peers to surrender can be powerful. They tell you, “Look, you tried. The plan didn’t work. Why beat your head against a wall? Don’t feel bad. Most people who try something new fail.”

These people – your peers and “friends” – are often glad to see you surrender. It’s disappointing but it’s true. They don’t have the courage to do something on their own. If they see you fail, they feel better about themselves; you are one of them – another mediocrity.

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

Mobilizing Support for Change Managers


Despite using the principles of influence, social networks and negotiation, change efforts in an organization can falter for different reasons. There has been a great deal of interest in finding out why people are so unwilling to stop out of their comfort zones and accept change. Some of the major  impediments to change are:

  • People believing that the change effort is yet another fad: Over a period, many employees have come to perceive different change programs as fads because they associate these with previously failed initiatives. As a result, they do not pay attention to the merits of the arguments. Change induces dissonance, and people often reduce the resulting stress by reverting to previously held assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • People who believe that change agents are not credible: Employees tend to view the strength of the change idea by associating it with the person who advocates that position. In other words, if the change manager is credible, the idea is seen as convincing. On the other hand, when the manager is perceived as untrustworthy, people tend to reject the change ideas.
  • People who have difficulty unlearning old ideas and approaches: Most often, people do not know how to stop what they have already been doing. When they are faced with uncertainty and ambiguity, they feel a sense of loss of control and this leads them to persist with their existing methods and approaches.
  • People who have difficulty learning new patterns of behavior: When people face unfamiliar situations, they often fail to comprehend the complexities of the situation. They may also feel apprehensive that if they try out new behaviors and fail, they would attract criticism. Faced with a fear of failure and believing that change would make little difference, they may refuse to invest in learning new methods and approaches.
  • People who feel that change threatens their identity: When faced with crises or threats, people tend to uphold their pride rather than appreciating the learning challenge that it offers. There is great comfort in existing belief structures, as these constitute one’s personal identity. Any attempt to change behavior may be seen as a challenge to that identity. As a result, it generates resistance to change.

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

Observe Fringe Times


Formal business situations, highly structured meetings, negotiating sessions, and other forms of business interaction are likely to be the least revealing because they are the times when people are most likely to have their “game faces” on.

 So consciously time in to the fringe times, the beginnings and endings, the periods of transition, which are when people are most likely to let their guards down. During a two-hour business meeting, the first several minutes—before you actually get down to the business at hand—and the last several minutes—as everyone is saying goodbye—can tell you more about the people you are dealng with than almost anything else that goes on in between. These are, unfortunately, the times when you are likely to be least observant. Try to sharpen your awareness.

 Also, be aware of people during interruptions, unusual exchanges, or anything that intrudes upon the more formal flow of a business situation. There is a certain amount of role playing in most business encounters, and when someone “breaks ranks” the facades are going to crack a little. Simply noticing who does the breaking and how others respond with words and eyes can tell you a lot.

 There is a scene in The Godfather that perfectly illustrates this: The Godfather has just flatly rejected an offer from the Mafia boss to get involved in the drug business, when Sonny, his hotheaded eldest son, blurts out that the terms that have been proposed are insulting to the family.

 This, of course, leads to the attempt to eliminate the Godfather. The other dons have correctly perceived a break in ranks, for simply by the act of objecting to the terms, Sonny has revealed a greater willingness than his father to consider the deal.

 Though The Godfather is fictional, its psychology is very real.

 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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