The Dynamics of Social Responsibility


The various stakeholders of a firm can be divided into inside stakeholders and outside stakeholders. The insiders are the individuals or groups that are stakeholders or employees of the firm. The outsiders are all the other individuals or groups that the firm’s actions affect. The extremely large and often amorphous set of outsiders makes the general claim that the firm be socially responsible.

Perhaps the thorniest issues faced in defining a company mission are those that pertain to responsibility. The stakeholder approach offers the clearest perspective on such issues. Broadly stated, outsiders often demand that insider’s claims be subordinated to the greater good of the society; that is, to the greater good of the outrsiders. They believe that such issues as pollution, the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and the conservation of natural resources should be principal consideration in strategic decision making. Also broadly stated, insiders tend to believe that the competing claims of outsiders should be balanced against one another in a way that protects the company mission. For example, they tend to believe that the need of consumers for a product should be balanced against the water pollution resulting from its production if the firm cannot eliminate that pollution entirely and still remain profitable. Some insiders also argue that the claims of society, as expressed in government regulation, provide tax money that can be used to eliminate water pollution and the like if the general public wants this to be done.

The issues are numerous, complex, and contingent on specific situations. Thus, rigid rules of business conduct cannot deal with them. Each firm regardless of size must decide how to meet its perceived social responsibility. While large, well-capitalized companies may have easy access to environmental consultants, this is not an affordable strategy for smaller companies. However, the experience of many small businesses demonstrates that it is feasible to accomplish significant pollution prevention and waste reduction without big expenditures and without hiring consultants. Once a problem area has been identified, a company’s line employees frequently can develop a solution. Other important pollution prevention strategies include changing the materials used or redesigning how operations are bid out. Making pollution prevention a social responsibility can be beneficial to smaller companies. Publicly traded firms also can benefit directly from socially responsible strategies.

Different approaches adopted by different firms reflect differences in competitive position, industry, country, environmental and ecological pressures, and a host of other factors. In other words, they will reflect both situational factors and differing priorities in the acknowledgement of claims. Obviously, winning the loyalty of the growing legions of consumers will require new marketing strategies and new alliances in the 21st Century. Many marketers already have discovered these new marketing realities by adopting strategies called the “4 Es.” 1) make it easy for the consumer to be green, 2) empower consumers with solutions, 3) enlist the support of the consumer, and 4) establish credibility with all publics and help to avoid a backlash.

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

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

Homogeneous or Heterogeneous Teams and Creativity


Homogeneous teams—ones in which members have similar values and attributes—have the advantage of cohesion, and cohesion may translate into high productivity and goal accomplishment. But excessive cohesion can turn into groupthink and dumb decisions that do not respond to situational changes and contingencies. Heterogeneous teams are those whose members have diverse orientation. Agreements in such teams may be difficult; but having to reconcile diverse viewpoints may lead to more innovative solutions. In situations where creativity is important, as in strategic planning or research or ad teams, heterogeneous teams should have an advantage over homogeneous teams.

Creativity is more than fresh ideas. These ideas need to be workable. In making fresh ideas workable, the cohesive team may be at an advantage. For successful creativity therefore, fresh ideas need to be generated by heterogeneous teams but made workable by homogeneous teams. Or perhaps the heterogeneous team needs to adopt the norm that for generating fresh ideas it should leverage its internal diversity, but that for selecting a creative idea generated and making it workable the team needs to operate highly cohesively.

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

Conflict Management


With the turn of economic wheel conflict has entered into our daily life as an indispensable impedimenta. Whether in domestic, professional or political living and breathing world we are dominated by lacking conflict management skills and hence dragging on with antipathy, bitter feelings and state of war. For creating a fraternal, congenial and harmonious environment we ought to master skills essential for dealing with conflict.

Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from individuals or groups that differ in attitudes, beliefs, values or needs. It can also originate from past rivalries and personality differences.

The first step in managing conflict is to analyze the nature and type of conflict. To do this, you’ll find it helpful to ask questions.

Collaboration results from a high concern for your group’s own interests, matched with a high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is win/win. This strategy is generally used when concerns for others are important. This approach helps build commitment and reduce bad feelings. Some partners may take advantage of the others’ trust and openness. Generally regarded as the best approach for managing conflict, the objective of collaboration is to reach consensus.

Compromise strategy results from a high concern for your group’s own interests along with a moderate concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is win some/lose some. This strategy is generally used to achieve temporary solutions, to avoid destructive power struggles or when time pressures exist.

Competition strategy results from a high concern for your group’s own interests with less concern for others. The outcome is win/lose. This strategy includes most attempts at bargaining. It is generally used when basic rights are at stake or to set a precedent. It can cause the conflict to escalate and losers may try to retaliate.

Accommodation results from a low concern for your group’s own interests combined with a high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is lose/win. This strategy is generally used when the issue is more important to others than to you. It is a goodwill gesture. It is also appropriate when you recognize that you are wrong. The drawbacks are that your own ideas and concerns don’t get attention. You may also lose credibility and future influence.

Avoidance results from a low concern for your group’s own interests coupled with a low concern for the interests of others. The outcome is lose/lose. This strategy is generally used when the issue is trivial or other issues are more pressing. It is also used when confrontation has a high potential for damage or more information is needed.

Several enemies often combine to create contention. The first enemy is the natural need to want to explain the side first. After all, we reason, if they understood our perspective, they would come to the same conclusions we did. The second enemy is ineffectiveness as listeners. Listening is much more than being quiet so we can have our turn. The third enemy is fear. Fear that we will not get our way. Fear of losing something we cherish. Fear we will be made to look foolish. The fourth enemy is the assumption that one of us has to lose if the other is going to win. Differences can only be solved competitively.

Two principles have contributed so much to the productive handling of disagreements that it is difficult to read about the subject in scholarly works without their mention. The first principle: Seek first to understand, then to be understood, was introduced by Steven Covey, in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. If we encourage others to explain their side first, they will be more apt to listen to ours.

Roger Fisher and William Ury introduced the second communication principle in their seminal work, Getting to Yes. Simply stated, it is that people in disagreement focus on their positions when instead they should be focusing on their needs. By focusing on positions we tend to underscore our disagreements. When we concentrate on needs, we find we have more in common than what we had assumed. Ury and Fisher then went on to say that when we focus on needs we can attempt to satisfy the sum of both our needs and their needs.

The parties to any conflict can also explore a problem-solving approach inspired by an ancient Tibetan Buddhist teaching known as the four karmas. These four karmas follow a developmental sequence that begins with pacifying or calming the situation, enriching positive aspects by bringing in multiple perspectives, magnetizing larger perspectives or additional resources, and finally, if necessary, destroying old patterns and behaviors that no longer serve.

Traditionally the four karmas is a personal practice that allows one to become attuned to the natural energies in a situation, and to transform confusion and aggression into creativity, compassion, and intelligent action.

How can we solve our tough problems without resorting to force? How can we overcome the apartheid syndrome in our homes, workplaces, communities, countries, and even globally? How can we heal our world’s gaping wounds? To answer these questions is simple, but it is not easy. We have to bring together the people who are co-creating the current reality to co-create new realities. We have to shift from downloading and debating to reflective and generative dialogue. We have to choose an open way over a closed way.

It is good to talk about the past. A discussion of past behaviors is essential to analyze patterns of conflict and help conflicting parties to find constructive ways of handling future disagreements. Without understanding the past, it is hard to prepare for the future. At some point, however, the focus of discussion turns to that of future behaviors, rather than past injuries. The sooner the participants can focus on the future, the greater the chances of successful resolution.

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

Characteristics of Managerial Creativity


The creative manager must be a creative human and an effective manager. He/she tends to be characterized by following group of traits:

1) Hunger for knowing curiosity, constant questioning; strong interest in stimulating ideas, theories, and philosophies, always wanting to know the ‘how’ and ‘why of things; strong interest in trying to understand people’s motives and behavior.

2) Sensitivity responsiveness to literature, arts and other fine and delicate things; interest in meeting interesting and sensitive persons; empathy for the suffering; responsiveness to beauty and elegance.

3) Complexity intuitively finding correct solutions; being a visionary; having odd, even conflicting ideas; moodiness.

4) Venturing calculated risk-taking; preference for starting own ventures; aiming big; striking out in one’s own.

5) Independence and courage questions the status quo or established order; sticking to core convictions; listens to experts but makes up own mind; clear and forceful assertion of feelings and viewpoints.

6) Reality contact initiative taking in finding out operating constraints; confidence in managing crisis; quick adjustment to new challenges and information; grip on reality despite fantasying.

7) Self-sufficiency absorbed in challenging tasks; confident in operating in alien situations; tendency to take on tough tasks; persistence in getting ventures accomplished.

The creative manager operates in a fairly tightly regulated system in which creativity failures may be penalized; creativity needs to be directed towards organizational requirements; almost all creative initiatives require approval from superiors and acceptance by colleagues and subordinates to succeed; the cynical need to be won over; opposition of vested interests to these initiatives needs to be neutralized; dedicated teams need to be developed to execute creative initiatives; creative initiatives need to confirm to evaluate and control mechanisms of the organization; changes and creative initiatives need to be synergized for maximum impact—so on and on.

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

Change and Transformation Losers


Losers adopt a combination of attitudes, approaches and priorities, from a limited vision and a short-term and internal orientation, through cutting corners, to attempts to protect corporate interests, and this locks them into a ‘spiral of descent’. The almost inevitable outcome of their actions and inaction is a struggle to remain viable as a supplier of low-margin commodity work.

Losers become reactive and defensive, get lost in complexity of labyrinthine proportions and the more activities they engage in to break free, the more they become entangled. They introduce changes for changes’ sake. They become neutralized by their lack of imagination and entangled in barbed wire created by their own words and actions. The trick they try to play is to retire or to move on at a high point.

Losers in the battle to become and remain competitive:

·        are ‘in their own space’ and relatively oblivious to the needs of others; they do not anticipate and remain unaware of significant external developments and pressing requirements to change;

  • lack self-confidence and self-worth and hold back, they are different, can be indicative and find it difficult to commit themselves;
  • do not have a compelling rationale and purpose; they are not unique, special or even distinctive;
  • are not noticed by people, they are grey and dull, and hence fail to stand out or have an impact;
  • copy and follow others; they do not innovate or differentiate  themselves from their competitors;
  • respond to events; they react to incoming approaches and invitations to tender;
  • do not prioritize and focus; they fail to address what is important as a result of being distracted by trivia;
  • hoard information and hold on to the reigns of power; they are reluctant to delegate and to trust and involve others;
  • remunerate people according to their seniority and status in the management hierarchy;
  • are driven by internal personal goals and corporate targets rather than by customer requirements;
  • play other people’s games rather than live on their own terms; they become pawns on other people’s chessboards;
  • adopt standard approaches and are rigid and inflexible;
  • follow fashions and have a penchant for fads;
  • search for panaceas and single solutions;
  • define their capabilities in terms of the tangible assets they own and the people they employ;
  • are consumers rather than producers of knowledge, understanding  and intellectual capital;
  • respond unimaginatively and mechanically to business opportunities;
  • rely on traditional ‘hard-self’ techniques and undertake win-lose negotiations;
  • make little effort to learn from either their experience or that of others;
  • hold back and stay aloof; they avoid personal commitments, partnering  arrangements and inter-organizational links;
  • are selfish in relationships and put the minimum of effort into maintaining them;
  • use their customers to achieve their own short-term objectives;
  • are cautious and half hearted in their approach to e-business;
  • mouth generalizations and they indulge in self-deception and spin;
  • live for the moment; they have short time horizons;
  • do little to keep competitors out of their key accounts;
  • leave the building of customer relationships to specialist sales staff;
  • ignore organizations that are supplied by competitors;
  • prize their freedom and independence, they prefer to operate alone;
  • attempt to protect their interests with small print and avoid the assumption and sharing of risks;
  • are secretive and defensive; they build internal and external barriers to create a hard shell;
  • offer other employees general training and development that is viewed as a cost;
  • fail to equip their people to win new business, create new offerings or build customer relationships;
  • are complacent and set in their ways; they are reluctant to think, question and learn;
  • confuse the roles of owner-shareholder, manager and director;
  • fail to distinguish between operational matters and strategic issues;
  • become typecast and locked into certain roles; they tend to end up as commodity suppliers.

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 http://www.asifjmir.com

Living Through Product Leadership


Companies that pursue the discipline of product leadership strive to produce a continuous stream of state-of-the-art products and services. Three challenges must be met to attain that goal.  Creativity is the first challenge. Creativity is recognizing and embracing ideas usually originating outside the company. Second, innovative companies must commercialize ideas quickly. Thus their business and management processes need to be engineered for speed. Product leaders relentlessly pursue new solutions to problems. Finally, firms utilizing this discipline prefer to release their own improvements rather than wait for competitors to enter. Consequently, product leaders do not stop for self-congratulation; they focus on  continual improvement.

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