The Contemporary World


By the end of World War 11 in 1945, the Industrial Revolution was complete. The need for war goods required the development of new forms of production and technology, which later were used to produce consumer goods. Inventiveness was at high peak. Synthetic plastics and chemicals replaced natural substances as the basis for many products. Better machinery made it possible to manufacture products to produce precise specifications. (This type of precision is what lead eventually to the Apollo moon shot, which required components that were accurate to several one-hundred thousandths of an inch.)

In the 1970s, widespread use of computers enabled the management to process large quantities of data. Factories could be automated, with computer-controlled machinery carrying out many routine activities that could previously be completed only by time-consuming human labor.

By 1980, more than 80 percent of US 500 largest businesses were multinational, operating facilities in five or more foreign countries. And even for smaller companies and individual consumers, the world has become more like a large neighborhood than a huge, unknowable planet. High-speed computers, orbiting satellites, fluctuating exchange rates, and worldwide scarcities of natural resources bind us together with common needs, concerns, and goals.

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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Elements of Public Policy


The governmental action of any nation can be understood in terms of several basic elements of public policy. Many factors, or inputs, influence the development of public policy. Government may determine its course of action on the basis of economic or foreign policy concerns, domestic political pressure from constituents and interest groups, technical information, and ideas that have emerged in national politics. Public policy also may be influenced by technical studies of complex issues such as taxation or the development of new technologies such as fiber optic electronics. All of these inputs can help shape what the government chooses to do and how it chooses to do it.

Public policy goals can be noble and high-minded or narrow and self-serving. National values, such as freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity for citizens to share in economic prosperity—that is, high-minded public policy goals—have led to the adoption of civil rights laws assistance programs for those in need. Narrow, self-serving goals are more evident when nations decide how tax legislation will allocate the burden of taxes among various interests and income groups. Public policy goals may vary widely, but it is always important to inquire: what public goals are being served by this action?

Governments use different public policy tools, or instruments, to achieve their policy goals. In general, the instruments of public policy are those combinations of incentives and penalties that government uses to prompt citizens, including businesses, to act in ways that achieve policy goals. Governmental regulatory powers are broad and constitute one of the most formidable instruments for accomplishing public purposes.

Public policy actions always have effects. Some are intended, others are unintended. Because public policies affect many people, organizations, and other interests, it is almost inevitable that such actions will please some and displease others. Regulations may cause businesses to improve the way toxic substances are used in the workplace, thus reducing health risks to employees. Yet it is possible that other goals may be obstructed as an unintended effect of compliance with such regulations.

In assessing any public policy, it is important for managers to develop answers to four questions:

  • What inputs will affect the public policy?
  • What goals are to be achieved?
  • What instruments are being used to achieve goals?
  • What effects, intended and unintended, are likely to occur?

The answers to these questions provide a foundation for understanding how any nation’s public policy actions will affect the economy and business sector.

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.

When Marketing doesn’t Work


Marketing has not measured up to expectations in many companies because management has concentrated on the trappings rather than the substance. When most executives talk about what their companies have done to become more marketing oriented, they usually point to such actions as:

  • Declarations of support from top management in the form of speeches, annual reports, or talks to the investment community.
  • Creation of a marketing organization, including appointment of a marketing head and product or market managers, transfer to marketing of the product development and service functions, establishment of a market research function, salespeople reassigned around markets, advertising function strengthened.
  • Adoption of new administrative mechanisms, such as formal marketing planning approaches, more and better sales information, and revised information systems structured around markets rather than products.
  • Increased marketing expenditures for staffing, training and development, advertising, marketing, research.

The point is not that these actions are useless, but that by themselves they are no guarantee of marketing success. Effective marketing requires a fundamental shift in attitude and values throughout the company so that everyone in every functional area places paramount importance on being responsive to market needs. The steps taken in most companies are not useful because they fail to accomplish this crucial shift in attitude. And without this shift in attitude, the most highly developed marketing operation cannot produce any real results.

Why have so few companies gone beyond the trappings to achieve the change in attitude that ensures substantive marketing? Frequently, one or more of these situations exist:

  • In a surprising number of cases, management does not fully understand the marketing concept as it applies in its situation.
  • In many other cases, management understands the implications of the marketing concept but has not committed itself to the actions and decisions needed to reinforce it.
  • In almost every case, management has failed to install the administrative mechanisms necessary for effective implementation of the concept, especially into the non-marketing function.

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.

 

Company Self-Concept


A major determinant of a firm’s success is the extent to which the firm can relate functionally to its external environment. To achieve its proper place in a competitive situation, the firm realistically must evaluate its competitive strengths and weaknesses. This idea—that the firm must know itself—is the essence of the company self-concept. The idea is not commonly integrated into theories of strategic management; its importance for individuals has been recognized since ancient times.

Both individuals and firms have a crucial need to know themselves. The ability of either to survive in a dynamic and highly competitive environment would be severely limited if they did not understand their impact on others on them.

In some senses, then, firms take on personalities of their own. Much behavior in firms is organizationally based; that is, a firm acts on its members in other ways than their individual interactions. Thus, firms are entities whose personality transcends the personalities of their members. As such, they can set decision making parameters based on aims different and distinct from the aims of their members. These organizational considerations have pervasive effects.

Ordinarily, descriptions of the company self-concept per se do not appear in mission statements. Yet such statements often provide strong impressions of the company self-concept. The following excerpts from the Intel Corporation mission statement describe the corporate persona that its top management seeks to foster:

The management is self-critical. The leaders must be capable of recognizing and accepting their mistakes and learning from them.

Open (constructive) confrontation is encouraged at all levels of the corporation and is viewed as a method of problem solving and conflict resolution.

Decision by consensus is the rule. Decisions once made are supported. Position in the organization is not the basis for quality of ideas.

A highly communicative, open management is part of the style.

Management must be ethical. Managing by telling the truth and treating all employees equitably has established credibility that is ethical.

We strive to provide an opportunity for rapid development.

Intel is a results-oriented company. The focus is on substance versus form, quality versus quantity.

We believe in the principle that hard work, high productivity is something to be proud of.

The concept of assumed responsibility is accepted. (if a task needs to be done, assume you have the responsibility to get it done).

Commitments are long term. If career problems occur at some point, reassignment is a better alternative than termination.

We desire to have all employees involved and participative in their relationship with Intel.

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.

 

Just about Vision


Vision implies imagery, and the outstanding leaders do create a world inside their heads, a vision of the future, which guides their day to day actions; it provides the coherent model. This is an ability that we all have but few of us employ. The vision is not an attainable end state, but rather a continuing process. There is no complete description—the patterns of our minds unfold beyond our ability to describe them. There is enough substance to make it almost tangible, yet sometimes it lurks in shadows. Sometimes it is alive with sound and brightness, and sometimes it is tranquil. But it is always connected at a deep level with the heart and with the gut.

Vision grows in the feedback-feedforward relationship between what might be (the word in the mind) and the present potential (the sensitive perception of the environment), and it thrives on difference. Indeed, vision seems ever elusive like the rainbow—wherever one moves, it is just beyond reach. Yet like the guiding star, it is powerfully reliable guide.

Since vision is systematic, it sees the parts and the whole in a way that the linear progression of words can never achieve. It can map the flow of the links of value from the heart of the business to the customer, and through the business to the stakeholders. It emphasizes the patterns that are the life of the business.

In order to build this hologram called vision, it is absolutely necessary to take a step back from the day-today issues. It is a qualitatively different mode of thinking than that of everyday management but will produce a level of certainty that informs each management decision. Allow some quite time in which you can really reflect in a relaxed state of mind. An easy walk in the country or a quiet evening alone provides suitable settings for most people.

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

The Ethos of Great Managers


Smart individual performers keep getting moved into manager positions without the slightest idea of what the manager role is, let alone the ability to play it. They are sent to leadership development courses, but they come back more impressed with their mini-executive status than with the day-to-day challenges of being a good manager.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the manager role is no longer very important. Apparently managers are now an impediment to speed, flexibility, and agility. Today’s agile companies can no longer afford to employ armies of managers to shuffle papers, sign approvals, and monitor performance. They need self-reliant, self motivated, self-directed work teams. No wonder managers are first against the wall when the reengineering revolution came.

Every manager should be a leader. He must seize opportunity, using his smarts and impatience to exert his will over a fickle world. In this world, the staid little manager is a misfit. It is too quick for him, too exciting, too dangerous. He had better stay out of the way. He might get hurt.

Today’s business pressures are more intense. Companies need self-reliant employees and aggressive leaders. But all this does not diminish the importance of managers. In turbulent times the manager is more important than ever because managers play a vital and distinct role, a role that charismatic leaders and self-directed teams are incapable of playing. The manager role is to reach inside each employee and release his unique talents into performance. This role is best played one employee at a time: one manager asking questions of, listening to, and working with one employee. Multiplied a thousand fold, this one-by-one role is the company’s power supply. In times of great change it is this role that makes the company robust enough to stay focused when needed, yet robust enough to flex without breaking.

Thus the manager role is the catalyst role. As with all catalysts, the manager’s function is to speed up the reaction between two substances, thus creating the desired end product. Specifically the manager creates performance in each employee by speeding up the reaction between the employee’s talents and the company’s goals, and between the employee’s talents and the customers’ needs. When hundreds of managers play this role well, the company becomes strong.

In today’s slimmed-down business world, most of these managers also shoulder other responsibilities. They are expected to be subject matter experts, individual superstars, and sometimes leaders in their own right. These are important roles, which great managers execute with varying styles and degrees of success. But when it comes to the manager aspect of the responsibilities, great managers all excel at this catalyst role.

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