Seeking Specialized Knowledge


For generations, most people never sought specialized knowledge after completing school. What they learned about business, managing, selling, or their profession was acquired on an accidental hit-or-miss basis.

Now that’s changed. Today there are seminars, workshops, short courses, and conferences where you can learn the latest techniques and knowledge about anything you need to know. These sources of specialized knowledge have three advantages over conventional education. They are taught by experts, not be people whose only qualification is a degree. Second, the subject matter relates directly to your needs. Irrelevant information is avoided. And third, you’ll acquire as much useful information from other attendees as you do from the instructors. Specialized learning meetings attract only sharp people eager to make more money and enjoy greater success.

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.

Advertisements

Sales Rep—Role Playing


A popular technique used in most companies has the trainee act out the part of a sales rep in a simulated buying session. The buyer may be either a sales instructor or another trainee. Role-playing is widely used to develop selling skills, but it can also be used to determine whether the trainee can apply knowledge taught via other methods of instruction. Immediately following the role-playing session, the trainee’s performance is critiqued by the trainee, the trainer, and other trainees.

 Role-playing where a sales trainee performs in front of others and where that performance is subsequently critiqued can be harsh. Some problems disappear if the critique is conducted only in the presence of the sales trainee and then only by the sales instructor. When handled well, most trainees can still identify their own strengths and weaknesses.

 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

Behavior Products


Behavior products essentially refer to measurements of the effects or results of behaviors rather than the behaviors themselves. That is, rather than directly monitoring the actual behavior of the client, you would monitor any temporary or permanent effect (product) that can be seen as the result of a specific behavior. When the behavior product is simply deposited or left over from some ordinary set of client/system interactions, the “product” is synonymous with a type of “physical traces.”

 

Behavior products can be used when a more direct measure of the behavior might interfere with the behavior directly, or when the behavior itself is not available for measurement. Since the observer is not ordinarily present when behavior products are used, there is less chance for the measurement process to interfere with the natural occurrence of the behavior.

 

There are a number of advantages of using products. First, a product readily lends itself to precise counting and quantification for evaluation purposes. Second, the observer does not have to be present when a behavior is being performed. Third, using behavior products generally does not disturb or interrupt the ongoing flow of the client’s behavior. Finally, use of behavior products is relatively easy to implement, requires little or no special equipment, and can easily be taught to the client or relevant 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, Line of Sight

Antiquated Strategic Planning


At one time, the view from the top of most corporations was strongly influenced by their leaders planning doctrine. Executives were taught that the best way to plan for a complex company into discrete components, called strategic business units. For a time this practice provided a helpful way to unbundle the corporation and to select strategies most appropriate to each unit’s individual situation.

Companies were best thought of as a portfolio of individual businesses: some brand-new and unproven, some growing rapidly and consuming great amounts of cash, some growing rapidly and generating the cash needed by the up-and-comers, and some out and out losers.

Strategic planners eventually carried the idea one step further. They developed formulas that appeared to identify the contribution each business unit was making to the company’s overall stock price. Called value-based planning (as in shareholder value), its application, along with techniques such as junk-bond-driven leveraged buyouts, helped de-conglomerate many corporate dinosaurs in the financial go-go years.

These planning techniques are logical and quantifiable, descriptive as well as perspective. They provide a seemingly attractive way for the head of an enterprise to put arms around what might have become an increasingly diverse array of businesses. But thinking of a corporation as if it were similar to a portfolio of stocks or other investments can also be very limiting and one dimensional.

This kind of thinking tends to overemphasize the uniqueness of each business and often assumes that all the competition in which the corporation is engaged occurs when its business units do battle with their counterparts in other companies. It suggests that the role of top corporate management is either secondary or passive with regard to competition. It also implies that top management’s role is primarily that of a banker to the individual strategic business unit, concerned chiefly with financial resource allocation, and that it adds value mainly through “balancing the portfolio” by buying or selling the strategic business units that make up the company.

This approach encourages a “trader’s mentality” on the part of top management. Traders like to buy and sell, conglomerate and de-conglomerate. But they do not know how very much about how to grow the company from within.

Decentralization, sometimes extreme decentralization, is also encouraged, because each business is expected to stand on its own, containing most of the resources it needs for its operations. This simplifies the job of top management. It has only to focus on each strategic business unit’s bottom line and consider the details of its operations on an exception-only basis.

But this simplification comes to a great cost. Stressing stand-alone uniqueness and managing through the blinders of short-term earnings results in living, growing business entities treated almost as if they were fragments of the company’s stock certificate. The disease of the stock markets—perspective that seldom extends beyond next quarter’s financials—is passed along to the company.

There is another danger when strategic business unit framework dominates corporate decision-making. This is the tendency to grow redundant resources in the company as each strategic business unit, over time, builds up all the functions and staffing it feels it needs to operate as autonomously as possible. At times headquarters management tries to check the emergence of this costly duplication by mandating resource sharing across strategic business units, by using central service groups, or both. But these well-meaning attempts at cost containment send mixed signals to the strategic business units and they also can impose heavy coordination costs in terms of time and loss of flexibility.

Many intelligently managed companies led down the paths and took a seemingly attractive shortcut in their thinking. They confused a framework for planning with a basis for organizing power and resources. They used a perspective that directs to management’s attention to the financial scorekeeping aspects of the business at the cost of neglecting the underlying mechanisms that create value for their customers.

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