Memos and Reports


Memos and Reports are perhaps the most commonly used medium for communicating business information and probably the most abused. The benefits of using memos and reports are that they allow the manager to communicate a lot of detailed information at one time. They also provide documentation of what was communicated that can be helpful in the future. The same message can be communicated to a number of people within a relatively short period of time.

The problem with memos is that they often go unread for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They have no clear objective or purpose.
  • They are too long.
  • They are written in a way that is difficult for the reader to understand.
  • Irrelevant data is included.

Reports are also a problem in many companies. Stacks and stacks of reports are generated and circulated on a regular basis and much of the time no one reads them because:

  • The reports are sent to the wrong people.
  • The reports are prepared in such a way that it is difficult to extrapolate the information needed.
  • Too much information is communicated.
  • The reports have not changed over time to meet the changing need of the managers.

If you are generating memos and reports within your area, you’ll want to make sure that you are not guilty of any of these shortcomings. If your people are using memos and reports generated by other areas that are not meeting their information needs, you should work with your peers and/or higher-ups to make the necessary changes.

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.

Advertisements

Identifying Company Weaknesses and Resource Deficiencies


A weakness is something a company lacks or does poorly or a condition that puts it at a disadvantage. A company’s internal weaknesses can relate to a) deficiencies in competitively important skills or expertise, b) a lack of competitively important physical, human, organizational, or intangible assets, or c) missing or weak competitive capabilities in key areas. Internal weaknesses are thus shortcomings in a company’s compliment of resources. A weakness may or may not make a company competitively vulnerable, depending on how much the weakness matters in the market place and whether it can be overcome by the resources and strengths in the company’s possession.

Sizing up a company’s resource capabilities and deficiencies is akin to constructing a strategic balance sheet where resource strengths represent competitive assets and resource weaknesses represent competitive liabilities. Obviously, the ideal condition is for the company’s strengths/competitive assets to outweigh its weaknesses/competitive liabilities by an ample margin—50-50 balance is definitely not the desired condition.

Once managers identify a company’s resource strengths and weaknesses, the two compilations need to be carefully evaluated for their competitive and strategy-making implications. Some strengths are more competitively important than others because they matter more in forming a powerful strategy, in contributing to a strong market position, and in determining profitability. Likewise, some weaknesses can prove fatal if not remedied, while others are inconsequential, easily corrected, or offset by company strengths. A company’s resource weaknesses suggest a need to review its resource base: What existing resource deficiencies need to be remedied? Does the company have important resource gaps that need to be filled? What needs to be done to augment the company’s future resource base?

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.

Truth and Reconciliation in Business


Truth and reconciliation in business without consistent, decisive, action will rapidly turn into a nightmare. Decisions and actions must be swift and if relationship mapping is to be engaged, it must be engaged fast and directly connected to the truth and reconciliation in business exercise.

Communication will be at an absolute premium and there are several points that the exercise must deliver on. Truth and reconciliation in business must:

  1. Lift the lid on silence and denial;
  2. Give everyone within the organization the chance to have their grievances heard and their ideas listened to;
  3. View the organization as one entity, not separate entities with different expectations and responsibilities. Everybody involved must be equally responsible and accountable for all outcomes and there can be no splintering into different groups, as this will set the seed for different sub-cultures to grow back;
  4. Accept the principle of mutual shared responcibility for any previous shortcomings of the organization.
  5. Encourage the building of a new social network that straddles previous divides, and delivers ongoing dialogue and interaction across every dimension of the organization;
  6. Determine what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable; and
  7. Make clear recommendations for the future, start to define responsibilities, expectations and desired relationships, start the process of reform, and begin to define a working culture for the organization as a single entity.

Engaging in Truth and Reconciliation in business is a great start for any organization looking to develop amazing relationships and enjoy amazing success, but it is only the start of the process. Organizations must be able to maintain what they have started.

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.

Approaches to Change


Axelrod discusses in his book titled: Terms of Engagement, four approaches to change: i) Leader-driven approach, ii) Process-driven approach, iii) Team-driven approach, and iv) Change Management approach.

Leader-driven change is more suitable for small and medium enterprises with owner-managers. This approach works well when the manager or leader has all the necessary information and knowledge. Leader-driven changes tend to be directive and non-participative. Therefore this approach is less suitable when: a) the workforce is young and/or highly skilled, b) the business environment is complex and dynamic, and c) successful change requires active involvement of a number of people in the organization.

Process-driven changes are led by experts or outside consultants and supported by the leader; these changes are more common in large, bureaucratic organizations. This approach works well when the change requires technical or specialized expertise. Also being directive and non-participative, as in the case of leader-driven approach, this approach is therefore less suitable when: a) the workforce is young and/or highly skilled, b) the business environment is complex and dynamic, and c) successful change requires active involvement of a number of people in the organization.

Team-driven approaches are most common in large, manufacturing enterprises that have skilled and educated employees. Change management strategies—such as TQM, Quality Circles, and Six Sigma—exemplify this approach. These are highly participative change efforts that empower employees and provide them with involvement, participation and ownership of change. Team-based approaches that are properly executed can unleash enormous levels of employee energy and motivation. This can, in turn, lead to innovation and productivity gains. However, using this approach can also cause some discomfort for managers in an organization because they may not be used to sharing their power and authority with workers. Moreover, this approach requires managers to shift from a directive, authoritarian style based on power and expertise to a participative style based on persuasion, coaching and helping. More importantly, the team-based approach to execute change requires the establishment of a ‘parallel organization.’

The fourth approach to change is called the Change Management approach. This is a combination of expert-driven and team-driven approaches. Whereas the former provides a business and technical focus to change, the latter generates ownership, involvement and commitment. So as to gain this commitment, most specialists, experts and change management consultants have incorporated the parallel organization concept in their process-driven approach. The Change Management paradigm is the approach to change that most organizations use today. Although it seemingly seeks to integrate ownership of change with practical business focus, the Change Management approach has shortcomings. Instead of involvement and commitment, this approach breeds cynicism, bureaucracy and resistance. It actually disempowers employees, by reinforcing hierarchical top-down management.

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

Avoiding Pitfalls in Case Analysis


Herebelow is the guide for evaluating analysis of cases:

1)      Inadequate definition of the problem. By far the most common error made in case analysis is attempting to recommend courses of action without first adequately defining or understanding the core problems. Whether presented orally or in a written report, a case analysis must begin with a focus on the central issues and problems represented in the case situation. Closely related is the error of analyzing symptoms without determining the root problem.

2)      To search for the “answer.” In case analysis, there are usually no clear-cut solutions. Keep in mind that the objective of case studies is learning through discussion and exploration. There is usually no one “official” or “correct” answer to a case. Rather, there are usually several reasonable alternative solutions.

3)      Not enough information. Analysts often complain there is not enough information in some cases to make a good decision. However, there is justification for not presenting all of the information in a case. As in real life, a marketing manager or consultant seldom has all the information necessary to make an optimal decision. This, reasonable assumptions have to be made, and the challenge is to find intelligent solutions in spite of the limited information.

4)      Use of generalities. In analyzing cases, specific recommendations are necessarily not generalities.

5)      A different situation. Considerable time and effort are sometimes exerted by analysts considering that “If the situation were different, I’d know what course of action to take” or “If the marketing manager hadn’t already found things up so badly, the firm wouldn’t have a problem.” Such reasoning ignores the fact that the events in the case have already happened and cannot be changed. Even though analysis or criticism of past events is necessary in diagnosing the problem, in the end, the present situation must be addressed and decisions must be made based on the given situations.

6)      Narrow vision analysis. Although cases are often labeled as a specific type of case, such as “pricing,” “product,” and so forth, this does not mean that other marketing variables should be ignored. Too often analysts ignore the effects that a change in one marketing element will have on the others.

7)      Realism. Too often analysts become so focused on solving a particular problem that their solutions become totally unrealistic.

8)      The marketing research solution. A quite common but unsatisfactory solution to case problem is marketing research. The firm should do this or that type of marketing research to find a solution to its problem. Although marketing research may be helpful as an intermediary step in some cases, marketing research does not solve problems or make decisions. In cases where marketing research does not solve problems or make decisions. In cases where marketing research is recommended, the cost and potential benefits should be fully specified in the case analysis.

9)      Rehashing the case material. Analysts sometimes spend considerable effort rewriting a two- or three-page history of the firm. This is unnecessary since the instructor and other analysis are already familiar with this information.

10)  Premature conclusions. Analysts sometimes jump to premature conclusions instead of waiting until their analysis is completed. Too many analysts jump to conclusions upon first reading the case and then proceed to interpret everything in the case as justifying their conclusions, even factors logically against it.

 

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