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.

Marketing Eras


  • Production Era:  Prior to 1925, most firms operating in highly developed economies focused narrowly on production. Manufacturers stressed production of quality products and then looked for people to purchase them.  The production era did not reach its peak until the early part of 20th century.
  • Sales Era: Manufacturers began to increase their emphasis on effective sales forces to find customers for their output. Firms attempted to match their output to the potential number of customers who would want it. Companies with a sales orientation assume that customers will resist purchasing products and services not deemed essential and that the task of personal selling and advertising is to convince them to buy. Although marketing departments began to emerge from shadows of production, finance, and engineering during the sales era, marketing dominated sales and other areas. Selling is thus a component of marketing.
  • Marketing: Personal incomes and consumer demand for products and services dropped rapidly thrusting marketing into a more important role. Organizational survival dictated that managers pay close attention to the markets for their goods and services. The trend ended with the outbreak of World War 11, when rationing and shortages of consumer goods became commonplace. The war years created only a pause in an emerging trend in business: a shift in the focus from products and sales to satisfying customer needs.
  • Relationship: It emerged during the 90s. Organizations carried the marketing era’s customer orientation one step further by focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships. This effort represented a major shift from the traditional concept of marketing as a simple exchange between buyer and seller. Relationship marketing by contrast, involves long-term, value-added relationships developed over time, strategic alliances and partnerships retailers play major roles in relationship 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.

Change and Gain


The best schedule for your business is likely to be very different from your current schedule. Innovative schedules that require major changes are the most likely to give the biggest benefits. On the other hand, the closer the new schedule is to the current schedule, the easier it is for workers to accept. Implementing a current modified schedule is easier but has a limited impact. In some companies even a relatively simple change—new shift start times, changing the direction of rotation, or a new vacation selection method—can create considerable controversy while not solving fundamental scheduling problems. Changing schedules is an emotional event for your employees, so you might as well tackle all of your scheduling problems at the same time.

Ask whether you want to make a small change or a big change. As a rule of thumb, aim for the greatest change possible, because you are not going to get all the way there anyway. Most organizations have a built-in inertia that limits change. On a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being the current schedule and 100 being the perfect schedule, aim for 100, with the hope that your business will fall within the 80 to 90 range.

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.

Best Practices of Microsoft


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has credited his best practices or new rules of how to function in the new digital business infrastructure. They can be applied in other businesses. The rules include:

  1. Insist that communications flow through email
  2. Study sales data online to share insights easily
  3. Shift knowledge workers into high level thinking
  4. Use digital tools to create virtual teams
  5. Convert every paper process to  digital process
  6. Use digital tools to eliminate single-task jobs
  7. Create a digital feedback loop
  8. Use digital systems to route customer complaints immediately
  9. Use digital communication to redefine boundaries
  10. Transform every business process into just-in-time delivery
  11. Use digital delivery to eliminate middlemen
  12. Use digital tools to help customers solve problems for themselves.

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.

Compliance and Integrity


In the earliest stages, organizational ethics centered on the narrow perspective of ethics—the notion of compliance. Are we following the laws? Are we at risk from litigation? If so, how do we minimize that risk?

Ethics programs matured and ethics officers, most of whom are selected from the managerial ranks with little, if any, special preparation, developed increased sophistication regarding the challenges facing their organizations. Both the ethics officers and their organizations began to embrace personal and corporate values in decision making (value-based decision making) as the logical expansion of the definition of what it means to be ethical. What has emerged is what many ethics officers today characterize as the “best practices” model of the ethics office and of a values-based corporation.

But change continues. What is emerging today is a more holistic definition of what it means to be a “good” corporation. This new, global view will again help to reshape the responsibilities and focus of the ethics officer.

The shift to a global perspective means another broadening of the definition of ethics. “Global Integrity” is the latest descriptor, and it embraces both compliance and ethics. It also adds concern for rule of law, human rights, good governance, labor/child labor concerns, anti-corruption/anti-bribery, concern for the environment, safety, social responsibility, good corporate citizenship, and respect for the whole diverse array of local cultures to the definition. This increases the organization’s obligation to reach beyond traditional company boundaries to consider how decisions would affect the surrounding community. One consequence of this new global definition of the organizational ethics is increased scrutiny by stakeholders, especially advocacy groups and the media.

Corporate ethics officers, especially those in multinational corporations and/or corporations with global suppliers/markets, are being challenged with fundamental questions in this expanded integrity area. Perhaps the most common, and most challenging, is how the corporation will balance the desire for global standards (consistency) against the need for local application of 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.

Competitive Marketing Theories


Competitive market theories are derived from the neo-classical economic concepts of rational choice and maximization of utility. The assumption is that individuals choose jobs which offer them maximum benefits. The utility or value of these benefits – money, vacation time, pension entitlement and so on – vary for different individuals according to their personal preferences. People move from one organization to another if improved benefits are available. At the same time, employer organizations attempt to get the most from their employees for the lowest possible cost.

The outcome of this process is a dynamic and shifting equilibrium in which both employees and organizations compete to maximize benefits for themselves. Within a specific region or industry there is a balance between supply and demand for human resources. Pay and conditions for employees are determined by the relative scarcity or abundance of skills and abilities in the employment market. Competitive forces push wages up when demand for products – and hence employees – increases, and downwards when the economy is in recession. In the latter case a market clearing wage is eventually arrived at which is sufficiently low to encourage employers to increase recruitment and eliminate unemployment. This discourse reinforces the view that employees are objects to be traded like any other commodities in the market – human resources in the hardest possible sense. Supposedly, they offer themselves – their skills and human qualities – for sale to the highest bidders. Within this mindset they could just as well be vegetables on a market stall.

Competition theories assume that job-seekers have perfect knowledge of available jobs and benefits. Job-searching is an expensive and time consuming business. The unemployed do not have money and those in work do not have time. The result is that few people conduct the extensive searches required to find jobs which meet their preferences perfectly. In practice, most individuals settle for employment which is quickly obtained and which exceeds the reserve minimum wage they have in mind. There is a considerable element of luck involved. Moreover, the job-seeker does not make the choice: in most cases the decision is in the hands of employer.

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.

Previous Older Entries