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.

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Consumer Sovereignty


Mainstream economics uses some simple starting points; it believes that they are the best possible. First is that agents have more wants than they can attain, so that they feel scarcity; in fact, for practical purposes, wants are assumed to be endless. Second, third and fourth are that agents are self-interested, rational, and the best judges of their own well-being. These four assumptions are indeed usually good starting points, rather than starting by assuming that agents are completely fulfilled, altruistic, irrational, and not well-placed to evaluate their own situation. They are not equally good as finishing points. Sometimes good arguments exist for not accepting them.

An assumption that agents are the best judges of their own well being is less questionable for businesspeople and corporations, given the resources they have for analysis. Debate focuses more on consumers. The phrase consumer sovereignty is sometimes read descriptively, to mean that consumers are sovereign, in that procedures are induced via profit-seeking and competition  to provide what consumers want. Sometimes it is read normatively, to mean that consumers should be sovereign, their wishes should prevail concerning what is good for them. The normative claim can rest on three different bases: that consumers do make good choices; that the alternative stance is worse – to use someone else’s judgments and estimates of what is good for a person and how good it is; or quite differently, that people have the right to make their own choices and mistakes.

Consumers will not make good choices automatically and unconditionally. Our wants are not simple; for example, some are wants to not to have other wants (such as the desire to smoke or a compulsion to gamble). Establishing a mature balance between wants involves skills. Choice is also unlikely to bring satisfaction if taken on the basis of weak information. Markets often do not provide consumers with full and reliable information, for it is hard to exclude people from information and therefore to ensure payment for it, so its market supply is weakened. Instead, in a commerce-dominated society, one of the main types of information that adults get will be images that say the good life is obtained through high consumption of commodities; there is too little counteracting public information.

The issue of consumer sovereignty goes beyond whether choices are good for the chooser. Other people are affected. Some wants may thus be unacceptable, notably wants that bring harm to others, including even wants to harm others. Mainstream economists have unfortunately often taken a don’t-want-to-know approach to ethics in which they confuse acceptance of all wants with a value-neutral stance.

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.

Technology and New Knowledge


Technology is one of the most powerful forces affecting business and society. Improved technology includes machines of all sizes, shapes, and functions; processes that enable business to produce goods at faster speeds, with lower costs, and with less waste; and software that that incorporates new forms of learning into formats that direct machines (hardware) to perform functions that would have taken much longer, and been less reliable, if done by other means. Technology involves harnessing human imagination to create new devices and new approaches to the needs, problems, and concerns of a modern society.

Technology also involves drawing together fields of knowledge that coverage, enabling new ways to solve problems or perform tasks.

Although new technologies have the potential to benefit large portions of the population, they may also negatively affect some people. As new technologies become available, the challenges to sound decision making become even more ethically complicated.

Technology is creating what experts call the knowledge economy. This is an economy in which new knowledge, in all of its many forms, is reshaping and transforming old industries and businesses, creating new industries and businesses, and ultimately affecting individuals, families, communities, and institutions throughout the world. For these reasons, technology must be understood as one of major drivers of change in both business and society.

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.

 

Outstanding Credit Culture


Just as individuals need a set of values (virtues) to guide their actions, systems should be designed to have a set of attributes which optimize their performance towards the goals. In this regard, the credit culture should have seven fundamental virtues:

  1. Provide fundamental insight to help clients achieve their economic goals and solve their financial problems.
  2. Responsive: the client deserves an answer as quickly as possible, even when the answer is no.
  3. Flexible (creative): commit to finding better ways to meet the client’s financial needs.
  4. Reliable: select clients as long-term partners and treat accordingly.
  5. Manage risk with agreed upon limits. Clients do not want to fail financially, and you should want a bad loan.
  6. Ensure an appropriate economic return to the firm for risk taken. The higher the risk, the higher the return the lower the risk, the lower the return. This is the expression of justice.
  7. Create a “premium” for service delivery. The concept is to provide superior value to the client through outstanding service quality.

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 Product Life Cycle


Customer demands are constantly changing. There are many reasons for this, ranging from fashions to new regulations. Sometimes there are obvious patterns to demand. Another pattern comes from the product’s life cycle. Demand for just about every product follows a life cycle with five stages:

  1. Introduction. A new product appears and demand is low while people learn about it, try it and see if they like it—for example, palmtop computers and automated checkouts at supermarkets.
  2. Growth. New customers buy the product and demand rises quickly—for example, telephone banking and mobile phones.
  3. Maturity. Demand stabilizes when most people know about the product and are buying it in steady numbers—for example, color television sets and insurance.
  4. Decline. Sales fall as customers start buying new, alternative products—for example, tobacco and milk deliveries.
  5. Withdrawal. Demand declines to the point where it is no longer worth making the product—for example, black and white television sets and telegrams.

The length of the life cycle varies quite widely. Each edition of The Guardian completes its life cycle in a few hours; clothing fashions last months or even weeks; the life cycle of washing machines is several years; some basic commodities like Nescafe has stayed in the mature stage for decades.

Unfortunately, there are no reliable guidelines for the length of a cycle. Some products have an unexpectedly short life and disappear very quickly. Some products, like full cream milk stayed at the mature stage for years and then started to decline. Even similar products can have different life cycles – with Ford replacing small car models after 12 years and Honda replacing them after seven years. Some products appear to decline and then grow again—such as passenger train services which grew by 7 per cent in 1998 and cinemas where attendances fell from 1.64 billion in 1964 to 54 million in 1984, and then rose to 140 million in 1997.

One thing we can say is that product life cycles are generally getting shorter. Alvin Toffler says, ‘Fast-shifting preferences, flowing out of and interacting with high-speed technological change, not only lead to frequent changes in the popularity of products and brands, but also shorten the life-cycle of products.’

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.

ISO 9000 Certification


Organizations that achieve certain quality standards can apply for ISO 9000 certification. This is administered by independent third parties who check quality management methods. For this you must:

  • Say what you are going to do about quality—describing procedures, operations and inspections;
  • Show that you actually do work in this way;
  • Prove that work was done properly by doing audits and keeping records.

Some people think that ISO standards guarantee high product quality—if you see the label, the product must be good. But really, the standard only shows that an organization has a program of quality management, and that the product quality is consistent and reliable. The quality need not necessarily be good. A manufacturer of metal bearings, for example, will specify the tolerance on the diameter of a bearing; ISO certification means that the bearings will be within this tolerance, but it does not judge whether the tolerance is good enough for any intended use.

There are five separate parts to the ISO 9000 standards:

a)      ISO 9000 defines quality, gives a series of standards an organization might aim for and guides you through the other parts of the series.

b)      ISO 9001 is used by companies whose customers expect them to design and make special products—it deals with the whole range of TQM, from initial product design and development, through to procedures for testing final products and services.

c)      ISO 9002 is used by companies who make standard products—it concentrates on the actual process, and how to document quality.

d)     ISO 9003 deals with final product inspection and testing procedures.

e)      ISO 9004 is a guide to overall quality management and related systems, and says what you should do to develop and maintain quality.

ISO 9000 and 9004 are guides for setting up quality management programs; ISO 9001 and 9002 are the main standards; and ISO 9003 describes some aspects of quality control. These standards are flexible enough to use in almost any organization.

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.

Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

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.

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