Leadership Styles


An effective leader recognizes that there are variations in leadership styles. The three basic styles are autocratic, free rein, and democratic. Autocratic leaders make decisions on their own, without consulting others. Democratic leaders involve their subordinates in making decisions. Free-rein leaders believe in minimal supervision, leaving most decisions to their subordinates.

The best leadership style is one that varies with the circumstances, changing according to three elements: the leader, the followers, and the situation. Some leaders are simply unable to encourage or even allow subordinates to participate in decision making. And some followers do not have the ability or the desire to assume such responsibility. Furthermore, the particular situation helps determine which style will be most effective. Problem requiring immediate solutions may have to be handled without consulting subordinates. With less time pressure, participative decision making may be desirable.

A democratic leader may be forced by circumstance to be autocratic in making a particular decision. Managers are increasingly moving toward a more democratic style of leadership. They find that workers involved in decision making tend to be more interested in the overall organization and may be more motivated to contribute to organizational objectives that those not involved in decision making.

No single best style of leadership exists. The most effective leadership style depends on the power held by the leader, the difficulty of the tasks involved, and the characteristics of the workers. Extremely easy and extremely difficult situations are best handled by leaders who emphasize task accomplishment. Moderately different situations are handled by leaders who emphasize participation and good working relations with subordinates.

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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Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

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.

Deming’s 14 Obligations


Many people helped develop quality management, and some of the early ones are called the ‘quality gurus.’ Perhaps Edwards Deming was one of the best known. He did a lot to publicize TQM. But was concerned that organizations did not get the benefits they expected. To help them on the way, he compiled a list of guidelines called his ’14 obligations.’ They are:

  1. Create constancy of purpose towards product quality.
  2. Adapt the new philosophy of higher quality, refusing to accept customary levels of defects and errors.
  3. Stop depending on mass inspection, build quality into your product.
  4. Don’t award business on the basis of price only – reduce the number of of suppliers and insist on meaningful measures of quality.
  5. Develop programs for continuous improvement of your products and processes.
  6. Train all your employees.
  7. Focus supervision on helping employees to do a better job.
  8. Drive out fear by encouraging two-way communication.
  9. Break down barriers between departments and encourage problem solving through teamwork.
  10. Don’t use posters and slogans that demand improvements without saying how to achieve them.
  11. Eliminate arbitrary quotes and targets that interfere with quality.
  12. Remove barriers that stop people having pride in their work.
  13. Have programs for lifelong education, training and self-improvement.
  14. Put everyone to work on implementing these 14 points.

Deming’s 14 points are not a program that has fixed duration, but the give a new way of thinking in your organization. They are certainly not the only possible view, but they do give some useful guidelines.

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, www.youtube.com/asifjmir, Line of Sight

Design Jobs


Job design looks for the best way of doing any particular task. It describes the details of the work to be done, the skills and equipment needed, supervision, interactions with other questions, environment and so on. From the organization’s point of view, the aim of the job design is to make employees productive and efficient. But employees have their own social and psychological needs, and they want to interact with other people, be recognized, appreciated and properly rewarded. So the real aim of job design is to meet the performance goals of the organization, while making the job safe, satisfying and rewarding for the individual. There are elements of job design:

a)      The physical environment is the place where the job is done, its layout, the tools used, equipment available, lighting, temperature, noise, safety features and so on.

b)      The social environment,  which affects the psychological well-being of the people working. A good social environment gives a higher quality of working life, and leads to higher motivation and better performance.

c)      Work methods, which describe the details of how a job is done. Work methods usually break the job into a series of small tasks and analyses each of these. In particular, they ask questions like ‘Why is this task done?’ ‘Could it be done automatically?’ ‘How could the layout of the workplace be improved?’ ‘Would different tools help?’

 When a company (L&M Industries) involved in window frame making, looked at their process, they counted 162 separate steps. Of these, 39 involved walking to fetch materials and tools, and another 18 involved waiting for something to happen. By redesigning the jobs, L&M reduced the amount of movement by 85 percent and cut the time needed to make each frame by 58 percent.

 Such improvements need someone to recognize that changes are needed and then do the planning. This can take time. You have to design jobs properly, so that they satisfy the needs of both the organization and the employee.

 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

BPR Combines Several Jobs


The most basic and common feature of reengineered processes is the absence of an assembly line; that is, many formerely distinct jobs or tasks are integrated and composed into one. The payoffs of integrated processes, case workers, and case teams can be enormous. Eliminating handoffs means doing away with the errors, delays, and rework that they engender. Typically, a case worker-based process operates ten times faster than the assembly line version that it replaces. Moreover, because the new process generates fewer errors and misunderstandings, the company doesn’t need additional people to find and fix them.

 

Integrated processes also have reduced process administration overheads. Because employees involved in the process assume responsibility for making sure that customer’s requirements are met on time and with no defects, they need less supervision. Instead, the company encourages these empowered employees to find innovative and creative ways to reduce cycle time and cost continually while producing a defect-free product or service. Improved control is another benefit of integrated processes; because they involve fewer people, assigning responsibility for them and monitoring performance is easier.

 

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

Corporate Structure in the Global Economy


Corporate structures will be increasingly expected to deal with tension-producing forces, as well as compressive ones. Among them is the tendency for companies to become increasingly spread thin as they respond to an expanding multitude of masters. And it is likely that both employees and their governments will take their turn demanding greater attention to their particular needs and requirements. On top of these whiplash-inducing pressures will be the ongoing operational tensions arising from the continuing use of speed as a competitive weapon.

 

As if these ongoing pushes and pulls will not be enough of a challenge, most businesses will also face the requirement to be more flexible than ever in deploying and redeploying resources to mact the moving targets provided by customers’ requirements and competitors’ advances. The globalizing marketplace tends to be unforgiving when corporate inertia or bureaucracy limits flexibility. This degree of organizational elasticity—stretching to accommodate special situations, then returning to the original shape to meet regular demands—is already a necessity in many industries. Soon it will be mandatory in most.

 

A measure of plasticity will be needed, as well. The ability to change an organization’s shape, to adapt to new markets or to reconfigure around emerging capabilities, will be another dynamic quality in the repertoire of the new corporation. This attribute—the ability to reorganize completely every several years without succumbing to terminal brittleness—is a rarity in most companies today. But it will be common among those that thrive into this 21st Century.

 

Just as architects have never found a single, always appropriate building block for every structure, organization designers are also unlikely to find one. But the old building blocks of narrowly defined jobs used in tandem with traditional supervision are not working. Perhaps the lead of the architect can be followed, and companies can learn to select organizational building blocks that can be adjusted to cope with the forces they face at a particular time. In keeping with what has worked for the architect, organization planners can:

  • Reinforce jobs to ensure they have the strength to resist the tensions and compressions they must increasingly cope with.
  • Use the organizational equivalent of composites—teams—when job reinforcement alone is insufficient to provide the company with an appropriate degree of flexibility.
  • Make sure that the company’s managers are in load-bearing roles—ones vital to the organization’s structural integrity—and act as drivers of the business’s ongoing adaptability, rather than mere definers of unneeded internal walls.

 Reinforced jobs, composite teams, and load-bearing managers—these may well be the most useful raw materials from which the structure of the corporation is shaped.

 

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