Child Laborer


Do you see the Child Laborer

Employed in his master’s shop?

He works all day and night

He never has time to stop.

Do you see the Child Laborer

Making carpets for the rich?

Another part of his life

Is lost with every stick.

Do you see the Child Laborer

With papers in the street?

In the dust and traffic

Always on his feet.

I see the Child Laborers

And they look at me, everyone

And their eyes are asking

“Where has our childhood gone?”

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.

Personal Selling: Two Approaches


Personal Selling: Two Approaches

Many American companies do not put nearly enough effort into direct, personal communication. Japanese success in displacing the US as Saudi Arabia’s leading supplier is instructive. Japanese exporters and small teams to meet with Saudi importers: Japanese exporters; they go to Saudi workshops, travel to secondary towns, and meet with sub-agents. The Americans, on the other hand, invite all their Saudi agents together for a luncheon, do not have private meetings, do not get their hands dirty, and never travel to secondary towns—they tend to stick to the three market centers. Saudis complain that US effort is misdirected: American personnel devote infinitesimal detail to making advance arrangements for visiting executives, going so far as to specify rooms overlooking a certain view from the hotel.

Japanese firms supplement their direct, personal efforts with heavy local advertising. They use gifts generously in product introductions, and warrantees on Japanese consumer electronics range up to three years. To carry out this business, Japanese trading companies have large staffs of professional international marketers who have been cultivated since graduation from a Japanese international trading university, schooled in English and Arabic, and rotated worldwide as international trading specialists.

Compared to most other cultures, particularly non-Western. Americans are extraordinarily preoccupied with the tangible aspects of a product. They round up all their sales agents and give a product presentation instead of putting their energies into the more important component of international marketing—people. In American and only a few other countries it is normal to do business from a distance, between strangers, by mail or telephone.

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.

Beyond Customer Satisfaction


Satisfying the customer is no longer the ultimate business virtue. Companies need to look for ways to create and increase customer loyalty. The key to this new loyalty-centered approach to customer relationships is creating and managing the customer value package – the combination of factors (price, product quality, innovation, and company image) that creates what the customer perceives as superior value. Five steps are recommended:

  1. Clearly define and communicate your objectives. The company needs to make sure that every stakeholder clearly understands the importance of  creating and delivering customer loyalty and knows how to make it possible.
  2. Let customers define, in their own words, their criteria for quality, price, image, and value. The company needs to distinguish between basic requirements and loyalty builders. Meeting the basic requirements will get the company on the approved vendor list, but generating loyalty will encourage a customer to stick with the company during difficult times.
  3. Conduct a critical need and value assessment. The company must set priorities among important customer requirements and determine the relative importance of these aspects of the customer value package.
  4. Develop an action plan and move to implementation. This turns management of customer loyalty into a way of doing business. The company must make sure that the voice of the customer becomes the principle around which the business processes are organized.
  5. Monitor the marketplace and organization results. Managing customer value is not a one-time effort, so all the loyalty-building components of customer value have to be monitored regularly with a focus on the relationship between customer value, customer loyalty, and financial performance.

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.

 

Imitability


If a firm is making profits from core competences, the question is, why can’t other firms imitate it and build similar competences. This takes us to one property of competences: imitability—the extent to which a competence can be duplicated by competitors.  A firm would rather have competences that are difficult to duplicate or substitute. The question is, how? If the knowledge that underpins the competences is tacit in that it is not coded but rather embedded in organizational routines and cumulatively learned over time, potential imitators have three problems. In the first place, it is difficult to know just what it is that one wants to imitate in the second place, even if a firm knew exactly what it is that it wants to imitate, the firm may not know how to go about it since competence is learned cumulatively over the years and embedded in individuals or routine of firms. In the third place, since competences take time to build, imitators may find them themselves always lagging as they spend time imitating while the original owners of the competences move on to higher levels of the competences to newer ones.

If a competitor cannot build competences, the next question is, why not buy them? One answer is that competences may not be tradable or easily moved from one firm to another. Two reasons have been advanced for why. First, because of the tacit nature of the underlying knowledge, it may be difficult to tell just what it is that one wants to trade and who has the property rights for what parts of the underlying knowledge. What is it that we will buy from Honda that allows us to build zippy engines for cars, motorcycles, lawnmovers, and marine vehicles? Who has the rights for what part of the technological knowledge that underlies this competence? Second, the underlying knowledge may be sticky in that it is too costly to transfer. Because of the tacit nature of the data, one may need to observe the seller over long periods in order to learn. This may be too complex and expensive.

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.

 

A Bad Boss


Bad bosses are people too, with their own fears, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Sometimes the pompous ones are basically shy and insecure. The ones who yell at people and unduly assert their aggression may be having significant family problems. Bosses with personal health problems may take these out on the staff. Still other bosses may be nice people who are simply in over their heads, and have absolutely no aptitude for the jobs.

By realizing that human frailties often underlie even the most objectionable qualities of bad bosses, employees can be in a better position to deal with them, and to judge whether the situation is temporary or hopeless. They may help them decide whether to stick it out or quit the job.

Even though a bad boss counts on the inertia of the human spirit, you can break free of the intangible bonds that bind. Also beware of some of the tangible bonds. Whatever you do, don’t lock yourself into an enormous mortgage, or you will not have the option of cooling off in another job at a reduced salary. There is a shortage of skilled labor, and a tremendous shortage of versatile labor (people who will accept a total change in career direction when circumstances dictate). Even if you end up with a different bad boss, at least the change will be refreshing. Remember that the average worker will have between four and six complete job changes in the course of working lifetime, so you don’t need to be caught in the “one company, for better or for work” trap for your whole career.

People need a mission in life. If this is denied by a bad boss at work, there are other ways to fulfill this need—ways that will still allow an overall sense of accomplishment. It is obviously bad business for any company to have such a reversal of energies affecting its operation. However, concentrating most of their energies on pursuits outside of work is a common defense against the bad boss when employees elect to stay with their jobs rather than resigning.

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.

Planning a Research Strategy


If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

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.

Drive


A person’s drive is not changeable. What drives him is decided by his mental filter, by the relative strength or weakness of the highways in his mind. His drives are, in fact, his striving talents.

Take the striving talent of competitiveness as an example. Some people have a four-lane highway for competition. Show them scores and they will instinctively try to use these scores to compare their performance with that of their peers. They love scores, because what you can measure you can compare, and if you can compare, you can compete.

However, people with a wasteland for competition will see the same scores and not feel any jolt of energy at all. Putting themselves on a level playing field, putting their best efforts against their peers, and winning means nothing to them. They rationalize their behavior by opining, “I don’t like competition; I prefer win-win scenarios,” or the classic, “I prefer to compete with myself.” But these comments are just signs that their filter is, understandably, trying to describe itself in the most positive light.

The truth is that they are not competitive. There is nothing good or bad about this. It is simply who they are. And there is not much that either they or you, their manager, can do about it.

Similarly some people have a four-lane highway for constant achievement, a striving talent we call achiever. They may not have to win, but they do feel a burning need to achieve something tangible every single day. And these kind of people mean, “every single day.” For them every day—workday, weekend, vacation—everyday starts at zero. They have to rack up some numbers by the end of the day in order to feel good about themselves. This burning flame may dwindle as evening comes, but the next morning it rekindles itself, spurring its host to look for new items to cross off his list. These people are the fabled “self-starters.”

Not all roles require employees to possess this striving talent of achiever. Nurses, for example, do not have to generate all of their drive from within. Instead they have to respond caringly and efficiently to the urgent needs that face them everyday—for nurses the altruistic striving talent mission is much more important than achiever. But if you manage roles that do require achiever—like an insurance agent, a pharmaceutical salesperson, or any role where the person must initiate rather than respond—then remember; You had better select for it. Because if a person does not feel this burning fire, you cannot light it for him.

The same applies to all striving talents: the need to be of service, the need to be on stage, the need to be seen as competent, the need to help others grow. All of these drives are talents, and therefore they have the same characteristics as other talents. Namely, they are part of each person’s mental filter. They are unique and enduring.

A manager can never breathe motivational life into someone else. All she can do is try to identify each employee’s striving four-lane highways and then, as far as is possible, cultivte them.

When describing human behavior, stick to the clarity of skills, knowledge, and talents. Tread carefully when using habits or competencies—they lump too much together rather haphazardly. Likewise, if you feel a need to use attitude or drive, be cautious. Remember that a person’s drive and his prevailing attitudes are talents, and as such, they are very hard to change. When you hear yourself berating the person to “get a better attitude,” watch out. You might be asking him to tackle the impossible.

None of this implies that a person cannot change. Everyone can change. Everyone can learn. Everyone can get a little better. The language of skills, knowledge, and talents simply helps a manager identify where radical change is possible and where it is not.

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

Cohesiveness: Getting the Team Spirit


One obvious determinant of any group’s structure is its cohesiveness—the strength of group members’ desires to remain part of their group. Highly cohesive work groups are ones in which the members are attracted to one another, accept the group’s goals, and help work toward meeting them. In very uncohesive groups, the members dislike each other and may even work at cross-purposes. In essence, coheviseness refers to a we-feeling an esprit de corps, a sense of belonging to a group.

Several important factors have been shown to influence the extent to which group members tend to “stick together.” One such factor involves the severity of initiation into the group. The greater the difficulty people overcome to become a member of a group, the more cohesive the group will be. To understand this, consider how highly cohesive certain group may be that you have worked hard to join. Was it particularly difficult to “make the cut” on your sports team? The rigorous requirements for gaining entry into elite groups, such as the most prestegious medical schools and military training schools, may well be responsible for the high degree of camaraderie found in such groups. Having “passed the test” tends to keep individuals together and separates them from those who are unwilling or unable to “pay the price” of admission.

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

Staying Close to Customers


  • Show them that you think of them. Send or fax helpful newspaper clippings, relevant articles, and greeting and birthday cards. How about sending a card on the anniversary of the day they became your customers?
  • Tell them what’s new. It is a good way to stay in touch and increase sales or get referrals.
  • Offer “valued customer” discounts. These can take the form of coupons, letters, or other sales promotions. This not only garners more orders; it also makes your customers happy to be getting such good deals.
  • Compensate customers for lost time or money if they were caused by problems with your product or service. Use a well thought-out recovery program and stick to it. Better to err on the side of generosity than lose an account out of stinginess!
  • Be personal. Keep notes in your customer files on every little detail you know—everything from spouse and children’s names to hobbies, and especially their behavioral style.
  • Always be honest. Nothing undermines your credibility more severely than dishonesty. Lies have a way of coming back to haunt you.
  • Accept returns unconditionally. The few bucks you might lose in the short run are far less than what you gain from pleasing the customer.
  • Honor your customer’s privacy. If you have been a truly consultative salesperson, you may possess some knowledge that should be kept confidential. Your ethical standards should demand that you keep it that way.
  • Keep your promises. Never, ever promise something that you cannot deliver. This principle applies to little things such as returning phone calls as well as big things like delivery dates. If you must, ‘baby-sit’ deliveries and promised service to see that they are realized. Your reputation is on the line.
  • Give feedback on referrals. This is the right way to show your appreciation for the referral. Tell your customer the outcome. This is also a good way to get more referrals without asking for them directly.
  • Make your customers famous … for 15 minutes. If your enterprise has a newsletter, ask customers for permission to write about their success. Then send a copy to your customer. The same can be done for local newspapers and other publications.
  • Keep lines of communication open. As in any relationship, assure your customers that you are open to all calls about everything and anything – ideas, grievance, advice, praise, questions etc. This is one ay to maintain that all-important rapport.

 Remember that people do business with people they like!

 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

How Losers Operate?


Losers tend to stick with a particular and hierarchical model of operation. The structure is set out in organization charts. There are probably job descriptions for most positions, and how the organization operate is set out in a physical or electronic manual. Preparing these and understanding them takes time. Hence people are reluctant to make changes that might involve altering diagrams, updating files and reprinting documents. Some people become complacent. They believe they have discovered or created a formula for continuing business success. They also swear by particular approaches and enshrine them in standard processes and procedures. The framework solidifies.

 Many losers have a weakness for single solutions, panaceas and fads. They believe that this management approach, that technology or a particular consultant’s methodology will provide and answer and solve their problems. While struggling to make a chosen course of action work they fail to consider alternative options. They look themselves in.

 Employees who can be trusted to operate in approved ways and observe standard practice are promoted. After some time corporate structures, processes, systems and mindsets become rigid and inflexible. Subject them to increasing stress and they first creak and groan, and then snap. Increase workloads and transaction flows and people in ‘loser’ organizations struggle to cope. Rather than operate in new ways or change processes they endeavor to work harder, faster and for longer hours. They quickly become overloaded and break down. Work-life balance is an issue in these companies because staff suffer the pressures without enjoying any of the compensating benefits.

 There are often alternative ways of achieving the same objective. Boats of many types and sizes may be capable of making the same journey, although imposing very different demands upon their crews. The craft chosen will reflect their preferences and aspirations. There may also be alternative routes to the same destination.

 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

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