Avoiding Uncertainty


How do people deal with conflict, particularly aggression and the expression of feelings? High uncertainty avoidance favors precise rules, teachers who are always right and superiors who should be obeyed without question. Low uncertainty avoidance leads to flexibility, and a situation in which arguing with superiors is acceptable and students are happy with teachers who do not claim to know everything.

In weak uncertainty avoidance cultures, managers and non-managers alike feel definitely uncomfortable with systems of rigid rules, especially if it is evident that many of these were never followed. In strong uncertainty avoidance cultures people feel equally uncomfortable without the structure of a system of rules, even if many of these are impractical and impracticable.

The choice of structure is strongly influenced by the prevalent culture. A culture with high power distance and strong uncertainty avoidance prefers a functional ‘pyramid of people’ hierarchy. Lower power distance but high uncertainty avoidance encourages a ‘well-oiled machine’: an organization with a clear structure, rules and procedures.

The control process also helps managers deal with problems arising outside the firm. If the firm is the subject of negative publicity, for example, management should use the control process to determine why and to guide the firm’s response.

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.

 

Thinking Before Signing a Franchise Agreement


A franchise agreement is a legally binding contract that defines the relationship between the franchise and the franchiser. Because the Agreement is drawn up by the franchiser, the terms and conditions generally favor the franchiser. You don’t necessarily have to agree to everything on the first go-round. Maybe you can negotiate a better deal. Before signing the franchise agreement, be sure consult an attorney. Here are some tips you must consider before signing the agreement:

  1. Are your legal responsibilities as a franchisee clear? Are your family members similarly obligated?
  2. Who is responsible for selecting the location of your business?
  3. Is the name or trademark of your franchise legally protected? Can the franchiser change or modify the trademark without consulting you?
  4. Has the franchiser made any oral promises that are not reflected in the written franchise agreement?
  5. What are your renewal rights? What conditions must you meet to renew your agreement?
  6. Do you have exclusive rights to a given territory or could the franchiser sell to additional franchisees who would become your competitors?
  7. Under what terms are you allowed or required to terminate the franchise agreement? What becomes of the lease and assets if the agreement is terminated? Are you barred from opening a similar business?
  8. Under what terms and conditions are you permitted or required to sell some or all of your interests in the franchise?
  9. Are you required to buy supplies from the franchiser or other specified suppliers? Under what circumstances can you choose your own suppliers?
  10. Has your attorney studied the written franchise agreement? Does it conform to the requirements of Government rules?

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.

Definitions of Strategy


Strategy: the science of planning and directing military operations, a plan or action based on this; skill in managing or planning, esp. by using stratagems. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

Stratagems: a trick or plan for deceiving an enemy in war; any trick or scheme. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

Strategic: sound in strategy; advantageous; needed for carrying on war; directed against the military and industrial installations of the enemy. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. The word strategy has military connotations, because it derives from the Greek word for general. A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. Strategy may also refer to:

  • Business strategy, the art and science of enabling an organization to achieve its objective
    • Marketing Strategy, a process that allows an organization to increase sales and achieve a competitive advantage
    • Technology strategy, a document that explains how information technology should be used as part of a business strategy
    • Digital strategy, the process of specifying an organization’s processes to deploy online assets
  • Trading strategy, a predefined set of rules to apply in finance (Wikipedia)

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.

Management Process


Management writers traditionally refer to the manager’s four basic functions:

a)        Planning: Planning is setting goals and deciding on courses of action, developing rules and procedures, developing plans (both the organization and for those who work in it), and forecasting (predicting or projecting what the future holds for the firm).

b)        Organizing: Organizing is identifying jobs to be done, hiring people to do them, establishing departments, delegating or pushing authority down to subordinates, establishing a chain of command (in other words, channels of authority and communication), and coordinating the  work of subordinates.

c)        Leading: Leading means influencing other people to get the job done, maintaining morale, molding company culture, and managing conflicts and communication.

d)        Controlling: Controlling is setting standards (such as sales quotas or quality standards), comparing actual performance with these standards, and then taking corrective action as required.

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

Call People by Name


President Reagan often is referred to as the greatest communicator ever to serve as President. And for good reasons. He used to speak slowly in a well-modulated voice, looks directly in the person or people he is speaking to, remains calm under pressure and uses simple, easy-to-understand words. Mr Reagan employs many subtle but persuasive techniques in dealing with public. Very importantly, at news conferences which are typically a very difficult presidential task, Mr. Reagan would address reporters by name when accepting a question rather than just indicating with a hand motion which reporter might speak nest. It may seem like a small point, but his method was conducive to help create good relations with the press. Why? Because people cooperate better when they are recognized by name. being addressed by name I a sincere and deeply appreciated compliment. It tells a person, “You are important to me.”

 Lyndon Johnson, the Great “Persuader,” practiced remembering names, and Lyndon Johnson was number one “persuader president” of modern times. He was enormously effective in bringing opposing factions together to get legislation passed.

 Why was President Johnson so effective as a human relations engineer? He worked at it! Long before he succeeded Mr. Kennedy as President, he developed and practiced his own ten rules to make himself more effective in working with people.

 President Johnson’s system for how-to-win-influence-over-people appears below:

  1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may include that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
  2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old shoe, old hat kind of individual.
  3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
  4. Don’t be egoistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.
  5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
  6. Study to get the “scratchy” elements out of your personality.
  7. Sincerely attempt to heal every misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances.
  8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement, or express synpathy in sorrow or disappointment.
  10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

 Every person has a name and as Dale Carnegie observed, a person’s name is the sweetest word in our language. People feel bigger and better when called by name because it is their most valuable possession. It gives them a sense of individuality – a feeling of being unique.

Hereare five guidelines for calling people by their names to win their cooperation:

  1. Pronounce the other person’s name correctly.
  2. In conversation, use the other person’s name often.
  3. Use nicknames only when you know they are preferred by the person.
  4. Use a person’s last name until familiarity is established.
  5. Spell the other person’s name correctly.

 “Do you know who I am?” The law of self-interest—the tremendous craving for self-identity—comes through in many little ways.

 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

Letter Writing


Napoleon is reputed to have written more than 50,000 letters in his lifetime. Letterwriting sounds so simple. And perhaps it was, once upon a time. Today, however, more and more letters are being written—over 79 billion yearly. Jobs, sales, friendships, public relations, and even our day-to-day satisfactions depend on our ability to communicate quickly, accurately, and succinctly.

 

Although an impressive amount of business and social interaction takes place over the telephone or in person today, oral communication has not yet begun to replace the written word. The well-written letter remains a staple of business success and one of the strongest connecting links between individuals and organizations.

 

Composition demands clear, logical expression. It needs the ability to sift and organize material and present it in an orderly and unambiguous way. To do this well you must have a sound knowledge of English. You must know what words mean and you must know the rules of grammar. Having a good command of words is not to be confused with a high-flown literary style, which would be out of place in business. The important thing is to be clear and exact in what you write.

 

It should be just as easy to understand people we have not actually met by reading their letters as it is in speaking to them on the telephone. As the speaker pauses for breath between phrases, the writer inserts a comma between phrases. The full stop brings to a conclusion what the writer has to say.

 

There are six points or stops which we call punctuation. They are the comma, semicolon, colon, full stop, question mark and explanation mark. There are seven, if you include the dash. The uses of the full stop, the question and exclamation marks are so clear that mistakes can scarcely occur.

 

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

Preparing Minutes


There are two primary rules for minute preparation:

  1. Write Minutes as Soon as Possible: Time edges into memory faster than most people realize. Events which just took place are more clearly in mind than those occurring 24 hours ago. Write minutes as soon as possible after a session. Do not delay minute preparation. Notes are grand, and the better your notes, the better the minutes you will write. But notes are no substitute for accurate recall plus notes. This is why, in the absence of a manager being assigned to record the minutes, the group leader should either take full responsibility for the task or, immediately, at the beginning of the meeting, assign it to someone. Recall is important. That’s why the minutes should always be done as soon after the session as possible. Not as soon as convenient. As soon as possible. The minutes should never be written by anyone other than a person in attendance who took notes. Those notes, no matter how copious, passed to someone who was not in attendance, will not produce quality minutes.
  2. State Important Facts Briefly but Thoroughly: When writing the minutes, be brief but be as thorough as possible. In minutes, the requirement is names and dates and figures. Many minutes recount each motion and even the major directions and positions in the discussions. Too few tell who forged those directions and who took and/or held those positions. To be valuable, minutes must be thorough.

 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Carrying out Change


Solutions to an organization’s problems cannot be found outside the organization. An organization possesses the potential and the capability to solve its own problems. This assumption is also a value, in that it asserts that change is most successful and effective when people in an organization act collectively to generate solutions and implement actions. In other words, solutions that are imposed on an organization from outside have little chance of success. The role of leadership in change is to expose the organization to challenges and problems faced, to mobilize support for change and to create the right conditions for people inside the organization to generate ideas for improvement.

 

Organizational change, in its essence, is about bringing a change in an organization’s routines. The term routine refers to the ways in which people perform their activities in an organization. It includes rules, procedures, policies and conventions. It includes both the formal (written) aspects of an organization’s architecture and its informal (unwritten, tacit) aspects. An organization’s policy for recruiting staff is a routine. Its procedure for evaluating quality is a routine. The way in which employees in an organization actually respond to customer complaints is another routine. For a specific behavior to be an organizational routine, it must be both repetitive and widely shared.

 

The second assumption is based on both empirical and theoretical ideas in organization studies. Activities that are performed to carry out day to day tasks of an organization are also referred to as operational routines. Some organizations also develop special kinds of routines, developed with the explicit objective of modifying existing operational routines in order to enhance the organization’s effectiveness. These are referred to as dynamic capabilities. If an organization already has well-defined dynamic capabilities, there is little need for anyone to manage change. However, the need for change arises because many organizations lack such dynamic capabilities.

 

Organizations can change their routines in three ways: first, they can modify an existing routine. A modified routine is different but not fundamentally different from original routine. Second, they can discard or eliminate an existing routine. Here, the organization stops performing a particular task or activity. Third, they can establish a new routine. This may take the form of introducing a new policy, procedure or task to perform a new set of activities.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Levers of Change


While there are very few general rules in organizational change, some general principles hold true for all organizations. A good place to start for most organizations in competitive, dynamic environments is to look at the four levers of change. These are technology, quality, costs and marketing—four areas that can be targeted for change.

 

Technology does not refer only to tools, equipment and machinery. It also includes information, knowledge, and activities that are involved in the physical transformation of inputs into outputs. The outputs may be products or services. Any physical transformation task has a choice of technologies associated with it. In a business environment characterized by increased global competition, management of technology has become a major area of concern for organizations.

 

Quality is all about meeting or exceeding customer expectations. It is a critical element in any change effort because customers are the ultimate judge of the success of the change effort. If the change does not result in products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations, it has obviously not achieved its purpose.

 

Costs or productivity constitutes the third lever of change. In today’s business environment, customers are very cost-conscious and are unwilling to pay for products or services that do not meet their expectations. With increased competition, they have more choices. Consequently, they are no longer dependent on a single supplier or a few suppliers for products and services. Widening the choice has resulted in customers demanding more value for their money. A challenge for most organizations is to enhance quality while reducing costs. This requires carefully planned processes, systems and work habits.

 

Marketing refers to the mechanisms for delivering products and services to the customer. It includes: attracting new customers to your organization’s offerings; retaining existing and new customers; and examining your distribution channels, marketing structures and procedures.

 

Each of these levers is supported by a set of structures, processes and procedures such as human resource practices. Any changes in the levers will also require corresponding changes in these structures, processes and procedures. In the first phase of appreciation, it is not necessary to work out these details but you need to be aware of the linkages that need to be strengthened at the implementation stage.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Structure of Knowledge


While developing knowledge systems, it is common for the number of rules or chunks of knowledge in a system to follow a cylical problem. early stages may result in several hundreds of rules. The understanding gained of the nature of the problem and the knowledge required to solve it often results in valuable insight and collapsing of multiple rules into smaller sets of more general rules.  The initial rule representations may give way to very different structures. This may result in substantial system redesign. The intermediate step of the holistic approach may play an important role in revealing the structure of the problem itself and making possible new approaches to its solution. With the underlying structure revealed, the process of reprogramming the system from this new perspective takes placewith a clearer vision of the final product and takes on some of the characteristics of traditional, reductionist techniques.

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 contact Asif J. Mir.