Planting Ideas


Think of a carefully selected extra-special tomato seed. Potentially, that little seed can grow 25 pounds of wonderful fruit. One seed will easily produce one million times its weight in good food. But the seed with all its promise won’t grow any tomatoes unless it is planted.

So it is with great dreams. The best ideas in the world for making money, building a business, solving a social problem, or making an improvement in life are useless until they are planted in a well-prepared mind, tremendous results happen. Every great enterprise was once simply an idea that was planted

A fortune is an idea acted upon. All around us are people who have the disease of dreaming. This ailment takes on many forms, but it as common as the cold. As you grow your ideas, surround yourself with people who are positive. Positive people want you to win, achieve, enjoy life, find satisfaction, and contribute to others. Negative people want you to accept life as  it is, content with boredom and mediocrity, satisfied with a small income, and miss out rewards that come from helping others.

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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Situation Appraisal


We may experience confusion and uncertainty over where to begin, how to recognize situations that require action, how to break apart overlapping and confusing issues into manageable components, how to set priorities, and how to manage a number of simultaneous activities efficiently.

Nearly every manager has entered the fantasy of starting fresh. Even on the first day in a new job, the manager is beset by issues that were chronic frustrations for the previous incumbent. Every manager must operate from a middle ground, surrounded by the accumulated problems of the past, a profusion of demands of the moment, and the certainty that future threats and opportunities await him not be ignored.

Situational analysis in this situation thus has a role. It consists of evaluative techniques that lead to proper selection and use of analytical techniques. This process builds the framework for daily use of rational process ideas. It enables managers to make best possible use of the technique of problem analysis, decision analysis, and potential problem analysis.

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.

Forces in the Environments


Environment is the sum of all the forces surrounding and influencing the life and development of the firm. The forces themselves can be classified as external or internal. Management has no direct control over them, though it can exert influences. The external forces are commonly called uncontrollable forces and consist of the following:

  1. Competitive: kinds and numbers of competitors, their locations, and their activities.
  2. Distributive: national and international agencies available for distributing goods and services.
  3. Economic: variables (such as GNP, unit labor cost, and personal consumption expenditure) that influence a firm’s ability to do business.
  4. Socio-economic: characteristics and distribution of the human population.
  5. Financial: variables such as interest rates, inflation rates, and taxation.
  6. Legal: the many kinds of foreign and domestic laws by which international firms must operate.
  7. Physical: elements of nature such as topography, climate, and natural resources.
  8. Political: elements of nations’ political climates such as nationalism, forms of government, and international organizations.
  9. Socio-cultural: elements of culture (such as attitudes, beliefs, and opinions) important to international businesspeople.
  10. Labor: consumption, skills, and attitudes of labor.
  11. Technological: the technical skills and equipment that affects how resources are converted to products.

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.

 

Nourish your Dream Seed


Think some more about your tomato seed. It is an excellent seed, the soil is well prepared, and you have planted it. But to grow and pay off with good-tasting tomatoes, the seed needs nourishment – sunlight, fertilizers, and water.

Your dream seed also requires nutrition – imagination, encouragement, and ideas – to grow and make you prosper. In the US alone, some two million businesses are started each year but only a small fraction succeeds. In one way or another, neglect is the main reason.

Those who make their dream of financial independence and prosperity grow in a multi-level marketing business. The basic idea – the dream seed has all the potential you need. Other people make it work. People who aren’t any smarter or better than you are.

Once the dream is planted, feed it. Attend seminars. Go to school if necessary. Join trade associations. Talk to successful people. Read.

Let other success-minded people help you. Birds of flock together. That rule always stands. So, if you want to make a large income and accumulate wealth, affiliate with people who are comfortable earning large incomes and who are determined to acquire even more net worth. You become like the people you associate with every day. If your circle of friends is people who are resigned to mediocrity and the whatever-will-be-will be philosophy, in time you will be one of them. Your dream will die, your vision will shrink, and your spiritual death will come.

As you grow your dreams, surround yourself with people who are positive. Positive people want you to win, to achieve, to enjoy the good life, to find genuine satisfaction, and to make a contribution to others.

Negative people want you to accept life as it is, to be content with boredom and mediocrity, to be satisfied with a small income, and to miss out on the rewards that come from helping others.

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.

 

Managing Cultural Change


When management acts to focus explicit structures, work design, staffing and development, and performance system/rewards on desired changes, the combined impact can be tremendous. Through management action, the culture can be changed to support the business strategy. Management communication of the company mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives is only the first step in the process.

Top executives must promulgate a vision; however, a brilliant vision statement won’t budge a culture unless it is backed up by action. The management system has to be put in place, and then management has to live by it. Culture is not something managers set out to change directly; rather, it is an outcome of consistent, positive management action, every day and in every way. Too often good strategic ideas and directions are translated too narrowly into plans. There are many examples, including quality of work life, participative management, quality circles, and service excellence. Even broadly conceived total quality management efforts risk faltering because they are being implemented as programs, rather than as broad, deep, multi-faceted activities.

The problem is not the association of an idea, with a program, but rather the existence of too few programs expressing the idea. Changes take hold when they are reflected in multiple concrete manifestations throughout the organization. It is when the structures surrounding a change also change to support it that we say a change is institutionalized—that it is now part of legitimate and ongoing practice, infused with value and supported by other aspects of the system.

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.

Managing Cash and Liquidity


In a turbulent environment, cash returns are important, if not more important, than reported profit returns. Cash returns lead to liquidity, and liquidity is a top priority consideration whenever risks and uncertainties surround a business situation, as they do in so many cases today. Cash and liquidity put any company in a better position to withstand a surprise blow, adapt to sudden changes, and capitalize on the narrower windows of opportunity that are commonplace in a turbulent environment.

This doesn’t mean that profits and profit growth are not important. The whole purpose of any business enterprise is to maximize profits and profit growth, but this objective will  not be achieved if business unit managers do not focus more time and attention on managing their cash and liquidity. Any entrepreneur that has lived through a start-up knows the importance of cash and liquidity. The entrepreneur knows from experience that a business can go bankrupt even while it is reporting profits. But it will never go bankrupt as long as its cash and liquidity positions are strong. Most corporate executives understand this point also, but many do not follow through to make sure it is sufficiently stressed or understood at the operating level. This is where the problem lies. Most business unit managers who operate under a corporate umbrella tend to overlook the importance of managing their own cash and liquidity and look instead to the corporation as a never ending source of funds.

The results are apparent in most corporations. Capital expenditure proposals tend to be a “wish list” often justified on project volume gains or cost savings that never occur. Working capital is allowed to build without adequate regard for carrying costs on the cash commitment. In short, overinvestment in plant and equipment, and working capital often serves as a buffer to cover sloppy business practices and control. These are practices that inevitably lead to an investment base that is too big for the business and to marginal profit returns.

Many operating managers in a corporation are not even aware of the costs incurred while excess capital is tied up in the business. This is not an exaggeration. Just ask any four or five business unit managers how much it costs to carry their inventory. Most of them will acknowledge an interest cost of, say 7—8 percent, but few will recognize that total carrying costs, which include storage, taxes, obsolescence, and shrink, actually run closer to 30 percent in today’s environment. We would also bet that none of them have such charges against their earnings, even though it is a very legitimate cost of doing business.

Not every company operates this way. Most corporate executives are not tough minded or rigorous enough in challenging cash commitments, and most business unit managers have more cash tied up in their business than required.

Ideally, every manager should think like a small business entrepreneur with his or her own money at risk. If this were the case, we would not see so many companies with bloated balance sheets and marginal returns. Left on their own, most business unit managers do not think this way, however. Life is not easier when you can draw almost at will on coroprate resources to meet the payroll, build inventories, and buy supplies, tooling and a lot of equipment. Under such conditions you don’t have to worry very much about how to make ends meet.

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

Policy Structures


One of the major purposes of organizations is to relate and coordinate individuals and groups separated by task and space. The authority structure helps accomplish this by defining, at least partially, who can tell whom to do what, and who has the authority to make what kinds of decisions and to take what actions. This authority structure is supplemented with a structure of explicit and implicit policies, procedures, methods, and rules, which channel and direct many decisions and actions.

A policy is a statement of intent that is made to guide others in their decision making without being so specific as to specify decisions. Theoratically, the top executives of any company, but especially the larger ones, necessarily determine policies that help guide the behavior of people within the organization. However, in fact, people at lower levels often have an important hand in fashioning policy. This happens in two ways. First, people at lower levels make recommendations to those at upper levels. Second, people in upper levels sometimes formalize policies to fit behavior patterns that have already emerged at lower levels. In the latter case, policy follows practice.

A frequent characteristic of policy statements is that they are vague enough to permit managers to select among specific decesions, depending upon the managers’ view of the specific conditions surrounding the decision.

In addition to policies, certain procedures and methods are usually designed to facilitate work. For example, there may be eight discrete steps in a particular work process, and a sequence established for each step. Step three might involve notifying two departments that the first two steps are completed. Such a suggested process is called a procedure. It tells people when they should do something. How they do it is the method they use. The method is formally prescribed in some cases and is left to the operant’s discretion in others. Anyone who fails to follow the prescribed procedures and methods is usually open to censure if problems result. Yet much of life in organizations involves evading required procedures and methods, or redesigning them, and again the reasons are usually people-problems rather than errors in the logic of the design of the procedures and methods.

Most organizations have rules and regulations to supplement policies, procedures, and methods. Rules and regulations say what one must do or not do and often specify penalties for infractions. “No one is to punch another’s third card” is an example. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It says “no one,” period.

So there is a sliding scale from guides (policies) to suggestions (procedures) to requirements (rules and regulations). Nearly all organizations include the entire svcale, but different companies may vary widely in their relative emphasis upon various parts of the scale. At the less specific end of the scale, there is more freedom but less certainty, and the reverse is true of the more specific end. Knowing where a particular organization stands on the scale is thus important in understanding how it functions.

Furthermore, there is wide variability between organizational units (eg., research division versus accounting department) in the reliance placed upon or the attention paid to the policy structure.

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