Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the business.

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.

Interpersonal Competencies


  • Empathy: Sensitivity to and concern about others’ emotional states, ability to see one’s own behavior from the other person’s perspective
  • Effective Communication: Actively listens in genuine dialogue and presents ideas clearly and persuasively
  • Social Awareness: Understands group relationship issues and interpersonal dynamics between them between team members and among organizational stakeholders
  • Relationship Development: Fosters constructive networking relationships within diverse internal and external organization groups
  • Leadership: Takes on a leadership role and responsibilities for benefit of the group or organization
  • Collaborative Teamwork: Actively builds dynamic teams of diverse individuals to collaborate in creating new solutions to achieve goals.

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.

Best Practices of Microsoft


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has credited his best practices or new rules of how to function in the new digital business infrastructure. They can be applied in other businesses. The rules include:

  1. Insist that communications flow through email
  2. Study sales data online to share insights easily
  3. Shift knowledge workers into high level thinking
  4. Use digital tools to create virtual teams
  5. Convert every paper process to  digital process
  6. Use digital tools to eliminate single-task jobs
  7. Create a digital feedback loop
  8. Use digital systems to route customer complaints immediately
  9. Use digital communication to redefine boundaries
  10. Transform every business process into just-in-time delivery
  11. Use digital delivery to eliminate middlemen
  12. Use digital tools to help customers solve problems for themselves.

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.

Planning Outcomes


The agenda is a product of two intermediate outcomes. The first is the list of the strategic issues faced by the organization. These issues may have their origins in many different places; the list, however, is likely to be a product of the strategic planning team’s deliberations. The second is an arrangement of the issues on the list in some sort of order: priority, logical, or temporal. The listing and arrangement of issues should help people consider the nature, importance, and implications of each issue.

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.

Two-way HR Planning Process


Like other business strategies, human resource strategies are shaped through both top-down and bottom-up processes in an organization. A top-down processes provides the strategic context necessary for team and unit planning.

Through a focused company environmental assessment, it provides information on possible future trends and issues affecting  the business and influencing the shaping of plans and objectives. People close to the operating business may not readily take such a broad future view. It requires looking outside the company to external competitive practices, economic and social trends, and possible future conditions that may some day have an impact on the business.

A plan is strategic in character if it is focused on important issues raised in an environmental assessment. In today’s competitive organization, it is important that employees at all levels be attuned to external  forces and changes and to the strategic direction being taken to address them.

In a bottom-up approach, planning of human resource actions is a cumulative process. Instead of broad strategies being broken down into progressively greater detail, detailed strategies are aggregated and synthesized into  meaningful umbrella strategies. Each business unit or department is asked to identify the human resource issues of concern, taking into consideration the guidance of the long-term planning inputs. They are also asked to specific analyses, forecasts, and assessments regarding these issues. Specific action plans are selected and adopted. Both human resource staff and managers should participate in this effort.

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.

Entrepreneur


Most businesses start as a dream in somebody’s mind. An entrepreneur is a person with an idea. He or she also is someone with the energy and drive to turn that idea into a business. An entrepreneur needs these characteristics because in a young firm he or she must often do everything at once—manufacture the product, sell it, find enough money to keep going, and manage few employees.

The entrepreneur must be willing to take great risks, too, for most new businesses fail within a year. The odds against success are stiff, partly because many business ideas simply are not very good. After all, whoever wanted to buy paper dresses or quadraphonic sound. Factors that create special risks for new businesses are those over which entrepreneurs have little control. Also, technology has become highly complex and many new products—a filter to remove the salt from sea water, for example, require many years and teams of scientists and engineers to develop. Then, too, a vast array of government regulations creates additional burdens of time, energy, and expenses for owners of new businesses.

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.

Disharmony in Top Teams


Enormous animosity and rampant, mutual dislike exist in management teams charged with cooperating together for the good of an organization. No one can choose their own family and you don’t always get the opportunity to choose your colleagues, but when you accept a job within a team you have a responsibility to put personal animosity to one side for the good of the organization.

In some organizations, personal vendettas are allowed to bubble to the surface non-stop and the amount of both personal effort and organizational resource that is wasted as a result can be frightening.

The issue with many of these managers is of course that the memory they are wasting is not their own: it belongs to shareholders or comes as a grant from some government pot or other. If it were their own money they might not behave in quite the same way, even in owner-run organizations where pretty bizarre and wasteful behavior can be found.

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.

Personal Selling: Two Approaches


Personal Selling: Two Approaches

Many American companies do not put nearly enough effort into direct, personal communication. Japanese success in displacing the US as Saudi Arabia’s leading supplier is instructive. Japanese exporters and small teams to meet with Saudi importers: Japanese exporters; they go to Saudi workshops, travel to secondary towns, and meet with sub-agents. The Americans, on the other hand, invite all their Saudi agents together for a luncheon, do not have private meetings, do not get their hands dirty, and never travel to secondary towns—they tend to stick to the three market centers. Saudis complain that US effort is misdirected: American personnel devote infinitesimal detail to making advance arrangements for visiting executives, going so far as to specify rooms overlooking a certain view from the hotel.

Japanese firms supplement their direct, personal efforts with heavy local advertising. They use gifts generously in product introductions, and warrantees on Japanese consumer electronics range up to three years. To carry out this business, Japanese trading companies have large staffs of professional international marketers who have been cultivated since graduation from a Japanese international trading university, schooled in English and Arabic, and rotated worldwide as international trading specialists.

Compared to most other cultures, particularly non-Western. Americans are extraordinarily preoccupied with the tangible aspects of a product. They round up all their sales agents and give a product presentation instead of putting their energies into the more important component of international marketing—people. In American and only a few other countries it is normal to do business from a distance, between strangers, by mail or telephone.

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.

Promoting Sales


First stage marketing strategies should focus on sales promotions that will attract immediate customers and selling methods that will ensure repeat business. First stage companies can also benefit from sales and promotion activities, but with a focus on short term rather than long term benefits. Ideas include:

  1. Invite a local newspaper to write an article on some unique aspect of the company.
  2. Invite television reporters to cover a special event sponsored by the company (fund raising drive, a banquet honoring an employee, or the introduction of snappy new product).
  3. Start a charity book collection drive at local schools.
  4. Sponsor a young people’s athletic team.
  5. Sponsor a civic band or float in a local parade.
  6. Donate materials, space, or services to community theater groups.
  7. Sponsor a paper, glass, aluminum, or plastic recycling drive.
  8. Get behind a social cause.
  9. Donate used computers, office equipment, etc., to local schools, hospitals, or welfare agencies.

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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