Change and Gain


The best schedule for your business is likely to be very different from your current schedule. Innovative schedules that require major changes are the most likely to give the biggest benefits. On the other hand, the closer the new schedule is to the current schedule, the easier it is for workers to accept. Implementing a current modified schedule is easier but has a limited impact. In some companies even a relatively simple change—new shift start times, changing the direction of rotation, or a new vacation selection method—can create considerable controversy while not solving fundamental scheduling problems. Changing schedules is an emotional event for your employees, so you might as well tackle all of your scheduling problems at the same time.

Ask whether you want to make a small change or a big change. As a rule of thumb, aim for the greatest change possible, because you are not going to get all the way there anyway. Most organizations have a built-in inertia that limits change. On a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being the current schedule and 100 being the perfect schedule, aim for 100, with the hope that your business will fall within the 80 to 90 range.

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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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

Learn from Operations of other Organizations


There is nothing wrong with learning from other organizations. You should search each reasonable source for ideas that you can adapt—don’t be afraid or too proud to borrow ideas from anyone. Remember that to copy from one person is plagiarism, to copy from lots of people is research. If you offer a service, you might start by looking at the operations of a highly successful service provider. You can learn a lot by walking around companies and thus see how they have tackled their decisions about location, layout, capacity, product design, process design, performance measures, logistics, stock control, technology used, staffing, pricing, amount of vertical integration, maintenance and replacement, and financing.  When you look for improvements, see how other organizations have solved similar problems, and don’t be afraid to borrow good ideas.

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

Facing the Harsh Facts


Many companies that have lost profits or market share have managers who are still waiting patiently for their business to “get back to normal.” Others are looking for government help for their declining market and profit positions. Neither of these approaches is a viable situation. What is needed is less wishful thinking and rhetoric and greater willingness to squarely face the true facts about their markets and competitive positions. The demand changes that have occurred in many markets are structural, not cyclical, and it is unrealistic to expect any kind of a dramatic recovery or turnaround that will restore demand to former levels.

It is extremely difficult for managers who have built their entire careers around specific products and technology to accept the fact that their former business base has now leveled out from prior peaks, or worse yet, become obsolete or irretrievably lost to new competitors or technology. Obviously, many old-line steel managers could not imagine today’s world of aluminum cans, plastic auto parts and bodies, or Japanese, Korean, and small regional producers who constantly “beat their pants off.” Nor could managers in the high flying semiconductor business foresee the situation where their markets have not only ceased to gallop ahead, but decline dramatically, and where foreign sources, including Brazil, Korea, and Taiwan, have captured the bulk of the remaining business. Unfortunately, these are the facts, and an equally discouraging set of forces applies in many other markets.

It is understandable that managers who have grown up and lived through the growth years in any of these industries find today’s conditions difficult to accept. But they must change their myopic or unrealistic views of their business so they can tackle the hard work required to regain a profitable competitive footing. Otherwise, their situations will not improve and will most likely deteriorate further.

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

Culture that tolerates Failure


Many startups never make it to the payoff at the initial public offering. They simply fail. For several reasons such failures stop neither the entrepreneurs nor the venture capitalists who finance the innovations. First, those who fail learn in the process, and this can improve their chances of doing well the next time around. They acquire competences that can be used to tackle another innovation. Even if all they learn is what not to do next time, that can be useful too. Second, venture capital firms have seen many failures before and have found away to reduce their risks by, for example, offering management expertise to ventures. Moreover, some of the venture capital comes from entrepreneurs who had made it only after having failed before.

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

Deconstruction of Complex Change


It is important to break the complex goals down into manageable sub-goals. Individuals tend to get paralyzed when the problem is too huge to tackle. To maintain our sense of competence, we must feel that our problems are controllable at our level.

Obviously each of the sub-goals would have to be further broken down. Once this is systematically done, the challenge does not appear impossible any more to the organizational members. Deconstruction scales down the magnitude of the problem, and this has a positive effect on the quality of thought and action because the emotions such as frustration, arousal and helplessness are kept at bay. When people are able to identify a series of controllable opportunities of modest size that produce visible results, they feel stretched and challenged. This evokes emotions of moderate intensities, where its contribution to performance of complex tasks is most beneficial.

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