Truth and Reconciliation in Business


Access to the truth is a fundamental human right and as such it must form the foundation of any truly amazing organization capable of maintaining long-term, mutually respectful and beneficial relationships. This is as true of organizations as it is of nation states or families.

Truth and Reconciliation in business aims to achieve exactly what it says. It aims to get to the truth about the way relationships are being conducted and it aims to use the acceptance of that truth as the basis for reconciling the organization and building fresh new relationships.

If we want our organization to be amazingly successful we must confront and overcome the practice of having completely separate management, employee and stakeholder perspectives, dividing the way we see our organization’s current and future priorities.

We need to develop one working culture capable of uniting our un-reconciled and incompatible aspirations and goals. This requires us to focus not only on our systems and processes but to build strong, dynamic relationships based on dialogue, interaction, genuinely shared values, mutual respect, inclusiveness, openness and trust.

Truth and reconciliation, as practiced by nation states, such as, South Africa, is a detailed process used under the most extreme situations – far removed from anything or indeed any of us has probably seen in any organization.

But let’s not miss the lessons these experiences can teach us about unity and strength, and about how to create harmony in inharmonious situations. Truth and reconciliation in business is significantly scaled-down version with reduced scope based on a drastically reduced need. What it does do, however, is adhere to principles proven in the most extreme environments where demands for forgiveness take on monumental proportions.

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.

Outdoor Training


A trend in employee development has been the use of outdoor training. The primary focus of such training is to teach trainees the importance of working together, of gelling as a team. Outdoor training typically involves some major emotional and physical challenge. This could be mountain climbing, paint ball games, or surviving a week in the jungle. The purpose of such training is to see how employees react to the difficulties that nature presents to them. Do they face these dangers alone? Do they freak? Or are they controlled and successful in achieving their goal? The reality is that today’s business environment does not permit employees to stand alone. This has reinforced the importance of working closely with one another, building trusting relationships, and succeeding as a member of a group.

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.

Basic Thinking Patterns


Teamwork can be managed into existence by teaching people to use consciously and cooperatively four basic  patterns of thinking they already use unconsciously and individually. These four basic patterns of thinking are reflected in the four kinds of questions managers ask every day:

  1. What’s going on? It begs for clarification. It asks for a sorting out, a breaking down, a key to the map of current events, a means of achieving and maintaining control. It reflects the pattern of thinking that enables us to impose order where all had been disorder, uncertainty, or confusion. It enables us to establish priorities and decide when and how to take actions that make good sense and produce good results.
  2. Why did this happen? This indicates the need for cause and effect thinking. It is the pattern that enables us to move from observing the effect of a problem to understanding the cause so that we can take appropriate actions to correct the problem or lessen its effects.
  3. Which course of action should we take? This implies that some choice must be made. This basic pattern of thinking enables us to decide on the course of action most likely to accomplish a particular goal.
  4. What lies ahead? This pattern looks into the future. This is used for thinking when we attempt to assess the problem that might happen, the decision that might be necessary next month, next year, or in five years.

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.

Delegation Skills


It’s not uncommon for managers to resist delegating the work they once did themselves. However, to be an effective and successful manager, it is essential that you delegate work to others.

To increase your willingness to delegate, first determine the reason for your resistance, then identify ways to overcome it. Common reasons for managers’ reluctance to delegation include:

  • Insufficient time to explain the task or train someone to do it. While this is sometimes an acceptable reason for not delegating short-term projects, more often it is not. The time you spend teaching employees’ tasks will save you time and effort in the long run. The sharing of knowledge is an investment in time that pays of in many ways.
  • Desire for perfection. If you feel that you are the only person who can do certain tasks well enough, be careful; this is a danger sign. It’s often unlikely that you are the only person who can do them. Start by delegating parts of these tasks, and each employees to help them perform to your satisfaction.
  • Personal satisfaction and/or reward from task accomplishment. If you enjoy a task or receive recognition from others when you perform it, you may tend to reserve it for yourself when you could be delegating it. It is difficult to give up work you really like. Learn to achieve satisfaction from other parts of your job.
  • Lack of confidence in employees’ abilities. If you lack confidence in an employee’s abilities, carefully evaluate what the employee can and cannot do. You may want to check your impressions with others, because people sometimes pigeonhole other people based on one or two vivid events. Then delegate work the person can do, and provide coaching as the work proceeds.
  • Fear of failure. Many managers are concerned that if mistakes are made, the consequences will be disastrous. Identify the  possible risk with the employee, if the risks are really large, ask that contingency plans to be made. Ultimately, you need to be  willing to take responsibility for your employees’ mistakes on delegated tasks to help them grow and develop.

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.

Service Culture


Any policy, procedure, aspect, action, or inaction of an organization contributes to the service culture. This includes employee appearance, the way employees interact with customers, and their knowledge, skill and attitude levels. It also encompasses the physical appearance of the organization’s facility, equipment, and any other aspect of  the organization with which the customer comes into contact.

Service culture has following elements:

  • Service philosophy:  Direction or vision of the organization that gives you day-to-day interactions with the customer.
  • Employee roles and expectations: Specific communications or measures that indicate what is expected of you in customer interactions and define how your performance will be evaluated.
  • Policies and procedures: Guidelines that define how various situations or transactions will be handled. These can help or hinder service delivery depending on your flexibility in interpreting and applying them.
  • Management support: Availability of management to answer questions and assist you in customer interactions, when necessary.
  • Motivators and rewards: Monetary, material items or feedback that prompts you to continue to deliver service and perform at a high level.
  • Training: Instruction or information provided through a variety of techniques that teach knowledge or skills, or attempt to influence your attitude toward excellent service delivery

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.

The Skill and the Will


All training, whether it is provided by the training department or by you, should accomplish two objectives. It should provide people with the skill, meaning the ability, to do the job. Or it should provide them with the will or the desire to do the job. Some training will accomplish both.

The skills training you provide your people will be dictated by the needs of the business and the current skills of the people. First you must determine what your people need to learn. Here are some questions that will help lead you to the answer:

  • What are the goals and objectives of the area?
  • What are the responsibilities of each job?
  • What are the standards the people are expected to meet?
  • What are the skills needed to meet the standards, fulfill the responsibilities, and achieve the objectives?
  • What are the current skills and abilities of the people?
  • What is the deficit between the skills needed and the current skills of the people?

Providing people with the skills to do the job is only half the training job. People must be motivated to apply the skills they have learned; therefore, some of the training should be principally motivational in nature. As you develop plan for motivating your people, you will want to ask yourself these questions:

  • What should they know about the company in order to have a sense of pride?
  • What I can teach them about the department that will give them a sense of pride?
  • What kinds of personal growth training will enhance their self-confidence and personal pride?

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.

Leader as Teacher


Leader as teacher does not mean leader as authoritarian expert whose job it is to teach people the ‘correct’ view of reality. Rather, it is about helping everyone in the organization, oneself included, to gain more insightful views of current reality. This is in line with a popular emerging view of leaders as coaches, guides, or facilitators. In learning organizations, this teaching role is developed further by virtue of explicit attention to people’s mental models and by the influence of the systems perspective.

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.

Changing Company’s Culture


A short list of mechanisms leaders can use to establish, embed, and reinforce organizational culture. There are five:

  1. Make it clear to your employees what you pay attention to, measure, and control.
  2. React appropriately to critical incidents and organizational crises.
  3. Deliberately role model, teach, and coach the values you want to emphasize.
  4. Communicate your priorities by the way you allocate rewards and status.
  5. Make your HR procedures and criteria consistent with the values you espouse.

Don’t stop there. Use secondary mechanisms—such as redesigning physical space—to further reinforce the desired cultural changes. These secondary mechanisms are just that secondary, because they work only if they are consistent with the five primary mechanisms:

  1. What leaders pay attention to, measure, and control
  2. Leader reactions to critical incidents and organizational crises
  3. Deliberate role modeling, teaching and coaching
  4. Criteria for allocation of rewards and status
  5. Criteria for recruitment, selection, promotion, retirement, and communication.

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.

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.

Smart People Add, Foolish People Take Away


The most important way we learn is by thoughtful observation. Lessons that teach us success fundamentals are available in every encounter with other people.

Consider this example. You visit a candy store and order a pound of unboxed candy. The person behind the counter puts a big scoop of candy on the scales, maybe 20 ounces, and then begins to take away your candy, piece by piece, until the weight is exactly 16 ounces.

How do you feel? Cheated. Subconsciously, you perceived the big 20-ounce pile of candy as your candy. Now, as the person behind the counter takes some of it away, you feel your candy is being stolen.

Intelligent people behind the counter use the add-to approach. They put a relatively small amount of candy on the scales, maybe 10 or 12 ounces. Then, they add a few pieces until the scale shows 16 ounces. Subconsciously, this makes you feel good because you perceive you are getting extra candy.

Sixteen ounces are still 16 ounces. But the way a pound is counted makes a mighty big difference. To be sure, computer personnel must be careful in weighing merchandise. The point is that never make the customer feel cheated.

Successful business search for creative ways to use the generous add-on tactic to increase sales. The magazine subscription that includes a free pocket calculator, a remote-control device that comes free with the purchase of a television set, and the two-for-the-price-of-one sale by a drug chain are examples. People like you and buy from you when you give more than they expect in exchange for their money.

Evidence that generosity, the add-on approach, works wonders is overwhelming. Nevertheless there are still many businesses that believe success is spelled CHEAT. Store that advertise non-existent appliances at a ridiculously low price and then try to browbeat and intimidate the customer into buying a much higher priced product are common examples. Observe such scoundrels only to learn how to succeed.

You can use the “add-to” principle in every facet of life:

  • Give unexpected, extra service to your employer and you become a candidate for more pay, for more fringe benefits, and for promotion.
  • Put something extra into your assignment at school and get a better grade.
  • Give more time to your kids and get more love and cooperation in return.
  • Show respect to the parking lot attendent and your car gets better treatment.

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

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