Writer’s Checklist


When writing a technical report ask yourself following questions:

  • What is reader’s name and job title?
  • What are reader’s chief responsibilities on the job?
  • What is reader’s educational background?
  • What is your reader’s professional background (previous positions or work experience)?
  • What is reader’s attitude toward the subject of the document?
  • What will the reader do with the document: file it, skim it, read only a portion of it, study it carefully, modify it and submit it to another reader, attempt to implement recommendations?
  • What are the reader’s likes and dislikes that might affect his/her reaction to the document?
  • How will your reader’s physical environment affect how you write and package the document?
  • What is your purpose in writing?
  • What is the document intended to accomplish?
  • Is your purpose consistent with your audience’s needs?
  • How does your understanding of your audience and of your purpose determine your strategy: the scope, structure, organization, tone, and vocabulary of the document?
  • Are there any organizational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any informational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any time constraints?
  • Have you checked with your primary reader to see if he or she approves of your strategy for the document?

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.

Writing a Marketing Plan


  • Use a direct, professional writing style. Use appropriate business and marketing terms without jargon. Present and future tenses with active voice are generally better than past tense and passive voice.
  • Be positive and specific. At the same time, avoid superlatives (such as terrific, wonderful). Specifics are better than glittering generalities. Use numbers for impact, justifying computations and projections with facts or reasonable quantitative assumptions where possible.
  • Use bullet points for succinctness and emphasis. As with the list you are reading, bullets enable key points to be highlighted effectively and with great efficiency.
  • Use “A level” (the first level) and “B level” (the second level headings under major section headings to help readers make easy transitions from one topic to another. This also forces the writer to organize the plan more carefully. Use these headings liberally, at least once every 200 to 300 words.
  • Use visuals where appropriate. Illustrations, graphs, and charts enable large amounts of information to be presented succinctly.
  • Shoot for a plan 15 to 35 pages in length, not including financial projections and appendices. An uncomplicated small business may require only 15 pages, while a new business startup may require more than 35 pages.
  • Use care in layout, design, and presentation. Laser or ink-jet printers give a more professional look than  do dot matrix printers or typewriters. A bound report with a cover and clear title page adds professionalism.

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.

Business Cards


Business cards can be plain and straightforward for big company executives. The executive’s name, company name, address, and phone number are enough. Perhaps a title is also necessary. But for a smart practitioner of individual enterprise, that business card ought to contain a lot more information.

A business card can double as a brochure, a circular, a walletized advertisement. The cost to produce such a card is not much more than one pays for a standard card. But the need is different. Lacking a large stockpile of hard currency, the small businessperson must make use of all the advertising media available. A business card can be more than a mere listing of one’s name, address, and phone number, it can be an advertising medium.

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.

Determining Salary Range


Responsibilities and salary are always related. Once you have drawn up a list of job duties and responsibilities and have written a job description, determining a corresponding salary range should be easy.

Roughly speaking, all jobs can be sorted into three categories:

  1. Nonexempt jobs are those that involve performing prescribed, internal tasks and include little problem solving.
  2. Exempt jobs are those associated with supervising the performance of internal tasks and dealing with problems related to those tasks. These employees do not need to be overpaid overtime for extra hours. A good rule of thumb for determining whether a job is exempt is this: if you miss a day of work and someone else does your work for you during your absence, your job is probably nonexempt. But if you return to work and find your work waiting for you, you’re probably exempt.
  3. Management positions are those involving responsibility for addressing internal and external problems and programs, such as business objectives and challenges.

Avoid the temptation to inflate a job’s title by pasting the management label on a task-based job. People with management skills cost more money in the job market and are harder to hire. Let’s say you decide to speed up your company’s inefficient employee healthcare claims handling process by creating a new position: someone who will collect claim forms and coordinate with your insurance carrier. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are hiring someone to perform a series of tasks, not to address a management problem. Advertise for a clerk or coordinator, not a manager.

Always establish the correct responsibility level and salary range for every opening you advertise. Doing so will provide consistency throughout your department and maintain internal equity in the structuring and compensation of jobs.

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.

Levels of Management


Many organizations have multiple levels of management—top management, middle management, and first-line, or supervisory management. These levels form a pyramid. There are generally more middle managers than top managers, and still more first-line managers. Very small organizations may have only one manager (typically, the owner), who assumes the responsibilities of all three levels. Large businesses have many managers at each level to coordinate the use of the organization’s resources. Managers at all three levels perform all five management functions, but the amount of time they spend on each function varies.

Top Management: in business top managers include the president and other top executives, such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), and chief operations officer (COO), who have overall responsibility for the organization. Top managers spend most of their time planning. They make the organization’s strategic decisions, decisions that focus on an overall scheme or key idea for using resources to take advantage of opportunities. They decide whether to add products, acquire companies, sell unprofitable business segments, and move into foreign markets. Top managers also represent their company to the public and to government regulators.

Middle Management: Rather than making strategic decisions about the whole organization, middle managers are responsible for tactical planning that will implement the general guidelines established by top management. Thus, their responsibility is more narrowly focused than that of top managers. Middle managers are involved in the specific operations of the organization and spend more time organizing than other managers. In business, plant managers, division managers, and department managers make up middle management.

First-line Management: Most people get their first managerial experience in first-line managers, who supervise workers and the daily operations of the organization. They are responsible for implementing the plans established by middle management and directing workers’ daily performance on the job. They spend most of their time directing and controlling. Common titles for first-line management are foreman, supervisor, and office manager.

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.

Realigning the Organization


Organization or reorganization schemes have been proposed ad nauseam as solutions to many business problems. As a general rule, organizational changes, especially those that simply reshuffle the same names into different boxes on the organization chart, don’t improve anything. This does not mean suggesting some new organization approach that is better suited for these turbulent times. However, many organizations are too top-heavy, over-structured, and over-satisfied to be responsive to market needs and too costly to be competitive. The structure and staffing of any organization must be rigorously challenged to ensure it is really geared to accomplish the fundamental objectives of the business in as cost-effective a manner as possible. An honest evaluation of the answers to the following critical questions will provide a good function for action.

a)        Is the organization structured to serve markets or simply to manage functions and sell products? Have priority markets been identified? Does someone have primary responsibility for ensuring that the product/service package is tailored to each target market? Do mechanisms exist to ensure cross-markets? Is there any kind of a market focus in the selling organization?

b)        Are there enough discrete profit centers? Do enough managers feel the burden of full profit responsibility? Is the business unit larger than its most successful smaller competitors? Are there any big cost centers that are not assigned or allocated to someone who has a profit and loss responsibility?

c)        Are there corporate group or division staff redundancies? Do the same titles exist at different levels (e.g., corporate controller, group controller, division controller, plant controller)? If so, does it make sense? Can staff position or groups show how they actively contribute to profit results? If so, do line managers agree that these functions are worth the cost?

d)        Are there too many layers? Are there more than five layers between the business unit manager and first level workers? Are there managers with assignments limited to managing one, two, three or four people? Why? Can any of these activities be combined under one manager? Why not?

e)        Is the ratio of supporters to actual results producers satisfactory? How many people actually make a direct contribution to results (e.g., first-line sales personnel, direct hourly workers, sales order engineering and order entry workers, handlers of incoming materials, and storing and shipping personnel)? How many managers, staff, and support personnel are cheering them on? If there is more than one support person for every two producers, what do they do? How do they contribute to profits?

The questions are not new, but the answers are more important now than ever. Traditional or experience-based answers are probably wrong because conditions have changed so dramatically. Moreover, it is doubtful whether existing management can or will ever come up with the right answers, because they have vested interests and the changes needed are simply too tough for them to swallow. These organization structure questions are not as serious for many small to medium-size companies since they are not as likely to be troubled with highly structured, functionally focused organizations lacking a dedicated market orientation. However, even managers in these companies must constantly fight the natural tendency to become more structured, bureaucratic, and lethargic.

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