The Aging Crisis


Not a company exists whose management doesn’t say, at least for public consumption, that it wants an organization flexible enough to adjust quickly to changing market conditions, lean enough to beat any competitor’s price, innovative enough to keep its products and services technologically fresh, and dedicated enough to deliver maximum quality and consumer service.

So, if managements want companies that are lean, nimble, flexible, responsive, competitive, innovative, efficient, customer-focused, and profitable, why are so many. Companies are bloated, clumsy, rigid, sluggish, non-competitive, uncreative, inefficient, disdainful of customer needs, and losing money. The answers lie in how these companies do their work and why they do it that way.

Corporations do not perform badly because workers are lazy and managements are inept. Just the same, the record of industrial and technological accomplishment over the past century is proof enough that managements are not inept and workers do work.

Inflexibility, unresponsiveness, the absence of customer focus, an obsession with activity rather than result, bureaucratic paralysis, lack of innovation, high overhead—these are the legacies of industrial leadership. These characteristics are not new; they have not suddenly appeared. They have been present all along. If costs are high they can be passed on to customers. If customers are dissatisfied, they have nowhere else to turn. If new products are slow in coming, customers will wait. The important managerial job is to manage growth, and the rest doesn’t matter. Now that growth has flattened out, the rest matters a great deal.

The business problem is that in 21st century with companies designed during the nineteenth century to work well in the twentieth—we need something different.

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.

“Is” and “Is Not”


Once we have identified “could be”  but “is not” data, we will also be able to identify the peculiar factors that isolate our problem: exactly what it is, where it is observed, when it is observed, and its extent or magnitude. These peculiar factors will lead us closer to the problem’s cause.

Suppose for a moment that you have two identical potted plants growing in your office. One thrives but the other does not. If you take the wilting plant out of the office and ask someone about the probable cause for its sorry appearance, you will get any number of educated guesses. But if the same person observes that two identical plants in your office have not been receiving identical treatment (the thriving plant is on a sunny window sill and the wilting one is in a dim corner), the speculations as to cause will be immediate and more accurate than they could have been without a basis of comparison. Regardless of the content of a problem, nothing is more conducive to sound analysis than some relevant basis of comparison.

The decision as to what is close and what is logical must rest with the judgment of the problem solver. In many cases it is extremely important to identify the malfunction that “could be” but “is not” in order to narrow the scope of the search for cause. Each problem analysis is unique to the content of each problem.

Once we have identified bases of comparison in all four dimensions, we are able to isolate key distinguishing features of the problem. It is as if we had been describing the outlines of a shadow. With the completion of the “is not” data in our specification, the outlines begin to suggest the components capable of having cast the shadow.

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.

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.

New Product Concept


Webster’s says a concept is an idea or an abstract notion. Businesspeople use the term concept for the product promise, the customer proposition, and the real reason why people should buy. It is a stated relationship between product features (form of technology) and consumer benefits—a claim of proposed satisfactions. This promise is open to four interpretations:

  • The producer’s perception of the features of the new product.
  • The consumer’s perception of the features of the new product.
  • The producer’s estimate of the benefits delivered by that set of features.
  • The consumer’s estimate of the benefits delivered by that set of features.

These are only forecasts, guesses, at this time—not reality, even with a prototype in hand. They rest on expectations.

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 Motivational Framework


Current thinking on motivation rests on the concepts of need deficiencies and goal-directed behaviors. The starting point in the motivational process is a need. A need is a deficiency experienced by an individual. A need triggers a search for ways to satisfy it. Next comes a choice of goal-directed behaviors. While a person actually might pursue more than one option at the same time, most effort will likely be directed at only one person.

In the next phase, the person actually carries out the behavior chosen to satisfy the need. Rewards or punishment will follow the performance. Finally the person assesses the extent to which the need has been satisfied.

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 Best are never Satisfied


Like great artists and athletes, all the top performers know they cannot stand still for long. They always look for ways to improve. They really don’ think they’ll ever be satisfied. Once you think you’re where you want to be, you’re not there any more. The greatest challenge you have as you become successful is never to rest on your laurels, never to feel like you’ve done it. The minute you feel like you’ve done it that’s the beginning of the end.

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.

Power


Power is what everyone wants and no one seems to have enough of. The desire for power is inherent in our very nature and fundamental to our survival.

Nowhere is the pursuit of power more evident than in today’s workplace. Managers are constantly striving to increase their arsenal of power, which is how it should be. Some may use power for selfish gain; others may use it to benefit the company. Regardless of how managers use power, the fact remains that without it they are incapable of achieving anything of significance for themselves, other people, the company, or society at large.

Power operates under the same principle as love: the more one gives to others, the more one receives in return. Unfortunately, many managers assume that there is a limited supply of power.

Most people contribute only a small fraction of their full capabilities, simply because they don’t feel a sense of personal power. They are bound by a bureaucratic management system that does little to encourage initiative and high performance. Almost all the power within the organization rests with those at the very top. Powerless in their ability to achieve results, most people eventually lose interest and settle for mediocrity.

The secret of achieving success as a manager and as a company lies in learning how to release the hidden potential of people. It lies in helping workers on all levels, from floor sweeper to executive, experience a sense of their own power. There are no success limits for the managers who master this art. Likewise, the company that rewards managers for successfully employing this art dramatically increases its ability to achieve its objectives.

If you want to achieve ultimate power for yourself you must get out of your own way. Instead of focusing your energies on the acquisition of power for yourself, focus them on how you can empower the people who work for you. If you are successful in giving your people power, they will surely lift you on their shoulders to heights of power and success you never dreamed possible.

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.

Building Business Pipeline


  1. Every week, select ten companies or organizations that meet your ‘target’ market profile. List these names, addresses and phone numbers. Select these carefully and include referrals.
  2. Make a research cell to each and identify the most appropriate initial contact. You do not need to speak to this person at this stage, talk to the receptionist or assistant instead.
  3. Send a one-page ‘success’ letter and a very brief overview of what benefits you can offer. Mail on a Thursday or Friday. Focus on your capabilities and how you can benefit the prospect.
  4. Telephone each ‘suspect’ that you mailed within 3-5 days. As 50 percent will be unavailable, log callbacks in your diary. Don’t be surprised if they don’t remember your letter, review it on the phone. Dropping names or using benefits by association can be useful.
  5. Have a prepared call sheet, questions and reasons for an appointment (your goal is a short initial meeting). Offer a benefit to your meeting: share ideas, examples, etc.
  6. Set aside time each week for research, mailing and planning – consistency is vital for this to work. You might find it better to aim for one hour a day rather than one whole day each week.
  7. Maintain accurate but brief reports to monitor your progress and to track activity.
  8. After approximately 10-12 weeks of containing new suspects, reduce the new contacts by between 50 percent and 80 percent and instead go back through all those people you contacted previously and re-contact them, i.e., stay in touch with suspects and prospects every three months. Things often change and if you have selected potential prospects well, it may only be a matter of time before you do business.
  9. Make sure that the subsequent 90 day contact contains something new, interesting or different, even if only very slightly. This also makes sure that you don’t appear too pushy.

10.  No matter how busy you get, always make time to keep in touch with new suspects and prospects in this way on a planned and consistent basis.

The rules:

  1. Do not allow any one customer to contribute more than 30 percent of you sales in any given quarter.
  2. Make sure that at least 30 percent of your sales pipelines is from new business, the rest should be from existing customers or referrals. Do not rely on existing customers to the exclusion of new customers.
  3. Always have a third more sales in the pipeline than you need.

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.

Intellectual Property


The most valuable resource in the modern economy is the human mind. The ideas, concepts, and other symbolic creations of the human mind are referred to as intellectual property. Intellectual property is protected through a number of special laws and public policies including copyright, patent, and trademark laws. These laws rest on two essential premises:

  • The creator, be it a person or an organization, of an idea or invention should be entitled to the benefits that flow from that original creation if it can be proved that the creation came from that person or organization.
  • The right to get special economic advantage from such inventions should not exist forever. At some point, ideas enter the public domain and can be used by others.

In today’s global economy, many temptations can arise for businesses and individuals to use other people’s ideas without permission. Patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property are sometimes infringed, or wrongfully used, by those who see an opportunity for quick profit, a practice known as commercial piracy.

A great deal of pirating occurs in industries such as computer software and hardware, industrial machinery, printing and publishing, and designer clothing. Because some governments do not curb such practices, businesses that create ideas are injured.

In coming decades, many new ideas will be developed and commercially exploited in such fields as bioengineering, computer software, fiber optics, and medicine, to name a few. In a global economy, these forms of intellectual property are economically valuable. A society that is scientifically and artistically creative has a big stake in laws that protect the companies that create new ideas. The employees who work for those companies have an important stake in the fair use of intellectual property, as do customers who license the technology or buy the products. A growing challenge for public policy and international trade negotiations is how to coordinate national laws protecting intellectual property rights.

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.

Strategies for Worldwide Innovation


The multi-domestic strategy is appropriate for innovations that depend on understanding local customer preferences, tastes, expectations, distribution channels, and local government regulations than they do on the technological knowledge on which they rest. This strategy is appropriate when the need for market information is high while that for technological information is low. Makers of packaged consumer goods (detergents and cereals) such as Unilever have pursued this strategy. Firms that pursue the multi-domestic strategy have self-sufficient units in each country to better discern and meet local customer preferences and tastes. On the other hand, if technological information requirements are high relative to market information requirements, a firm may want to pursue a global strategy. Firms can locate their facilities either where the environment is most suitable for technological innovations or at home where they have some endowments that give them some advantage. From there they develop products for world markets. If both market and technological information demands are low, a firm can operate using the international arrangement. It can take advantage of whatever home capabilities it has to develop products for its home market. Once the products are successful at home, it can then transfer the capabilities and the innovation to overseas. If both market and technological information needs are high. The transnational arrangement is best. In this mode, firms have access to the best sources of innovation, and the technological knowledge and the market knowledge that underpin them, worldwide.

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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