The Right Thing for your Company


Make sure that the outcomes you define for your people are in line with your company’s current strategy. With the dizzying pace of change in today’s business world, it is sometimes hard for managers to keep track. The key distinction is between mission and strategy. A company’s mission should remain constant, providing meaning and focus for generations of employees. A company’s strategy is simply the most effective way to execute that mission. It should change according to the demands of the contemporary business climate.

Although the constant reassessment of strategy is vital to the health of the company, it does place managers in a rather difficult position. They are the intermediaries, charged with explaining the new strategy to the employees and then translating it into clearly defined performance outcomes.

Often this can be as simple as telling your salespeople that with the new company strategy focused on growing market share rather than profit, each salesperson will now be encouraged to focus on the outcome, ‘sales volume,’ rather than the outcome ‘profit margin per sale.’

However, sometimes the changes in strategy are more radical and the pressures on managers to refocus employees on different outcomes are more acute. For example, the most effective strategy for many high-tech companies used to be innovation. Hence the large R&D budgets, the hordes of dishelved but creative software designers, and the unpredictable, slightly unfocused work environments. For the major players who dominate the marketplace, critical mass—getting your product to be accepted as the standard—is now more important than innovation. Innovation can be brought from the smaller boutique houses. Thus these larger companies need to change the way they operate to ensure that virtually everyone’s efforts are focused on spreading the new language/platform/product into the marketplace. This means that managers in these companies will have to hustle to redefine the desired outcomes and find new definitions of success. Number of users, for example, may now be more important than revenue per user.

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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Fit for Purpose


In the context of organizations, being good or moral is not always the most profitable way forward. Organizations can succeed by short-circuiting the road to morally attuned relationship effectiveness.

People may never get a second chance to make a first impression, but this is not the case for organizations. Organizations can reinvent themselves repeatedly in a way that people can’t legally get away with.

People are for life, organizations are for as long as need be. Organizations that over-engineer their working culture fail just as fast and just as surely as those that cut too many corners. Organizations can only afford to be fit for the purpose they are designed for—no better no worse. Choosing the right working culture is therefore the big issue for organizations.

But when it comes to being focused, the picture is slightly different. While there isn’t an automatic choice in terms of working culture, there is a natural choice when it comes to focus – being more focused reduces waste and increases profit.

If developing the right working culture is the big issue for organizations, being tightly focused is the big task.

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.

 

Fit for Purpose


In the context of organizations, being good or moral is not always the most profitable way forward. Organizations can succeed by short-circuiting the road to morally attuned relationship effectiveness.

People may never get a second chance to make a first impression, but this is not the case for organizations. Organizations can reinvent themselves repeatedly in a way that people can’t legally get away with.

People are for life, organizations are for as long as need be. Organizations that over-engineer their working culture fail just as fast and just as surely as those that cut too many corners. Organizations can only afford to be fit for the purpose they are designed for—no better no worse. Choosing the right working culture is therefore the big issue for organizations.

But when it comes to being focused, the picture is slightly different. While there isn’t an automatic choice in terms of working culture, there is a natural choice when it comes to focus – being more focused reduces waste and increases profit.

If developing the right working culture is the big issue for organizations, being tightly focused is the big task.

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 Map


Truth map is an audit process designed to get to the bottom of an organization’s challenges, opportunities and concerns. It requires the involvement of a cross-section of individuals from right across the whole organization, as well as other relevant parties such as customers and suppliers. At the most simple level, it involves asking a lot of people a lot of questions—but that is only the beginning.

It is not what truth map is that makes it special but the reasons why it is being undertaken and the spirit in which it is carried out that are important.

You may use truth map in two different situations, firstly as part of truth and reconciliation in business, and secondly as the first stage of a standard message mapping exercise.

A truth map covers the same ground in either situation but covers it in different ways and for slightly different reasons.

  • Use as part of a standard message mapping exercise (e.g., to assist a group of committed, enthusiastic individuals), the emphasis is on getting to the truth about future opportunities and challenges.
  • Use as part of truth and reconciliation in business, the emphasis is on getting to the truth of past conflicts, reconciling differences and healing resentments before an organization is even able to move on and address the future. In this type of situation, significant effort must be applied to bring the different parties to the table before dialogue and debate can even start to take place.

In both these situations the actual mechanics are much the same. Both situations require methodical, systematic but sympathetic questioning.

In the interests of objectivity, the presence of an independent adjudicator can be highly beneficial or even essential.

Truth map allows everyone to be heard, it airs people’s grievances and, when done well, even the most hardened objectors can move from being on the outside peeing in, to being on the inside peeing out.

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.

The Essence of Competition


Competition, the rivalry among businesses for consumers’ dollars, is a vital element in free enterprise. Competition fosters efficiency and low prices by forcing producers to offer the best products at the most reasonable price; those who fail to do so are not able to stay in business. Thus, competition should improve the quality of the goods and services available.

Within a free enterprise system, there are four types of competitive environments:

  1. Pure competition exists when there are many businesses selling one standardized product. No one business sells enough of the product to influence the product’s price. And, because there is no difference in the products, prices are determined solely by the forces of supply and demand.
  2. Monopolistic competition exists when there are fewer businesses than in a pure-competition environment and the differences among the goods they sell is small. The products differ slightly in packaging, warranty, name, and other characteristics, but all satisfy the same consumer need. Businesses have some power over the price they change in monopolistic competition because they can make consumers aware of product differences through advertising. Consumers value some features more than others and are often willing to pay higher prices for a product with the features they want.
  3. Oligopoly exists when there are very few businesses selling a product. individual businesses have control over their products’ price because each business implies a large portion of  the products sold in the marketplace. Nonetheless, the prices charged by different firms stay fairly close because a price cut or increase by one company will trigger a similar response from another company. Oligopoly exists when it is expensive for new firms to enter the marketplace.
  4. Monopoly exists when there is one business providing a product in a given market. Utility companies are monopolies. The government permits such monopolies because the cost of creating the good or supplying the service is so great that new producers cannot compete for sales. Government-granted monopolies are subject to government-regulated prices.

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.

Traditional Manager Vs. Customer-focused Manager


A traditional manager focuses on current goals. Their time and their energy is preoccupied with a series of probably corporate internally focused objectives – whether this is making a sales target, budget, profitability or some other goal, such as market share. On the other hand a customer-focused manager is led and empowered by a vision. A vision based on quality as well as quantity and results. A vision that inherently has a customer satisfaction measure and a vision that creates a feeling of pride and satisfaction in working in that way.

A traditional manager is largely reactive – making decisions, implementing plans based on the input of those above them, around them or in the external environment. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ would be a common maxim. Today’s manager is largely proactive – ‘If it’s not broken, break it,’ because it’s going to be broken very soon. Today’s manager doesn’t wait for things to need a reason for change; they change things for the sake of it. Whether this is just simply the office layout, the times people take their lunch, company policies, prices, brochures, and markets – everything else has to be a proactive activity today. If you wait for the market to change you will probably always be one step behind. One step behind what the customers need and want and what your competitors are doing.

A traditional manager will often seek, either directly or indirectly, to limit other people’s participation. Typically, meetings between managers are excluded from input from other people, or they don’t involve other people perhaps as much as they should do – this is never seen as necessary. But today it is essential. Today’s manager has to promote involvement; they need opinions, thoughts, ideas, and feedback from all levels within the organization. The best way of achieving this is by one of two methods. The first is one we could loosely name ‘random communication,’ where just by simply creating the environment where people can mix and mingle, communicate, participate and share, ideas can be distributed. The other way is by doing something slightly more formal, by putting in place a series of waterfalls or communication falls where information and participation flows around the organization.

Traditional managers will probably reward people based on their qualifications or long service. A more customer-focused manager will reward and recognize people based on their ability to enhance customers and deliver excellence. For example, it is not uncommon for managers to regularly single out for some form of payment, or just simple recognition, those people in a customer service team who have gone beyond the normal levels and delivered something extraordinary during their job. Whether it was staying late sorting out a customer problem, coming up with an idea which helped the business move forward, making big improvements in their own work – these are the things that managers reward.

Another thing that has to change if you are going to move forward and lead successfully in a customer-focused organization is that you have to let go of solving problem yourself. One very successful manager who ran a very effective customer service team had a big sign on their wall. You can come in here with any problem at all, so long as you have one idea for a solution.

A traditional manager also sees their role as controlling information. They will keep their staff and other people on a ‘need to know’ basis. This is not how it works. Information should be shared, but not broadcast. A good manager will communicate actively and pro-actively to all concerned. He or she will keep them informed of the information they need to deliver the best possible service to the customer. This means the information is timely, relevant and understood.

Managing in today’s environment, with the pressures of working with ever demanding customers, will invariably result in matters of conflict and disagreement. Rather that patching these over, ignoring them, or letting them sort themselves out, as is perhaps more traditionally done by managers, these should now be sought out and moderated to a successful outcome.

A customer-focused manager ‘walks the talk’. He or she must act congruently and with the same values and honesty that they want their staff to deliver to their customers. That means they keep commitments, it means they under promise and over deliver, and they make everyone of their employees feel special and a valuable member of the team. Nobody just does a job and goes home, there is a purpose, a value and a mission.

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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