Convenience Stores


Convenience stores are actually mini supermarkets. They carry many of the same food and nonfood items that are sold in supermarkets, but they offer a limited selection of brands. The products are normally packaged in small sizes, to allow shelf space for other items. Convenience stores do not have meat or fresh produce departments. One of the most significant changes in convenience stores has been the addition of gasoline.

Since convenience store prices on non-gasoline items are typically higher than supermarket prices, we should ask why people shop at them. Many shoppers tolerate the higher prices because the total of their convenience store purchases is quite small. They are willing to pay a little extra for the convenience of being able to make purchases quickly and easily. Consumers recognize that they are paying a little more for these products than they would at a supermarket. But most people are not willing to invest the extra time and effort to go to the supermarket to save a few cents on one or two items. In effect, the convenience store retailer charges the consumer a premium for this time savings.

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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Ethical Expectations and Public Values


Ethical expectations are a vital part of the business environment. The public expects business to be ethical and wants corporate managers to apply ethical principles—in other words, guidelines about what is right and wrong, fair and unfair, and morally correct—when they make business decisions.

In the global arena, ethical standards—and even what is meant by ethics—can vary from one society to another. In spite of differences in ethical meanings, cultural variation does not automatically rule out common ethical agreement being reached among people of different societies.

Human rights issues have become more prominent and important for business. For many years that pressure was exerted on South Africa’s political leaders to halt racially discriminatory practices of apartheid and its business leaders to challenge the South African government’s enforcement of the policy.

The question is not, ‘Should business be ethical?’ nor is it, ‘Should business be economically different?’ Society wants business to be both at the same time. Ethical behavior is a key aspect of corporate social performance. To maintain public support and credibility—that is, business legitimacy—businesses must find ways to balance and integrate these two social demands: high economic performance and high ethical standards. When a company and its employees act ethically in dealings with other stakeholders, they are improving the organization’s contribution as a social actor. When they fail to act ethically, there is the risk of losing the public support an organization needs to be credible and successful.

Business leaders are faced with the continuing challenge of meeting public expectations that are, themselves, always changing. Yesterday’s acceptable behavior may not be tolerated today. Many forms of harassment and discrimination were once common. Today, however, social standards make such actions unacceptable. Public expectations of service and ethical behavior are as relevant to a business as customer expectations regarding products such as automobiles and computers.

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.

Delayed Performance


Delayed performance will always justify a claim of damage where it can be shown that loss was occasioned by the delay. Most courts hold, however, that delayed performance will not be a material breach justifying rescission unless performance by a certain date is a condition precedent in the contract. If the late performer has any reasonable excuse for delay, the courts may allow damages but will seldom agree to rescission.

In agreements for the sale of marketable merchandise, however, a contract calling for shipment or other performance within a designated time is generally held to be a condition precedent. The difference between merchandise contracts and other contracts is in the position of the injured parties. A delay of a week in obtaining possession of a new home would not likely be crucial to the average home buyer. But a merchant’s success depends on the prompt delivery of goods to customers. Often advertising and sales programs are scheduled around specific delivery dates. Consequently, a delay in the shipment of merchandise is usually held to be a material breach.

Delay cannot be tolerated indefinitely in any kind of contract, however. After the passage of a reasonable time without performance the courts will permit rescission in almost any kind of contract. What is a reasonable time will vary with the type of agreement and all the surrounding circumstances. If no date is specified in the agreement, the courts interpret this to mean that performance must be done within a reasonable time. When time is of great importance, the contract should always be drafted to read that “time is definitely of the essence in the performance of this contract.”

In a bilateral contract, the injured party cannot regard the other party as being in default until the injured party has offered to perform. In legal circles, this offer by the injured party is called a tender. Depending on the terms of the contract, the tender must be either an offer to pay or an offer to perform a service.

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 Group and the Team


When interacting in a common cause, people can become a cohesive group. Understanding one another as individuals, being consciously sensitive to one another, and knowing how to aapt to individual peculiarities are what make a functioning group that will hold together. Common regard and the psychological benefits that group members derive from the association make group activity desirable and reasonable to achieve. Such a group, however, is not a team.

 A team is built primarily on the technical capabilities of its members working in pursuit of specific goals, only secondarily on attraction among the members as individuals.. the members of a team must be able to tolerate one another enough to work closely together. Beyond this, all the members must be committed to a common goal and the same set of procedures for achieving that goal.

 An athletic team does not wqin a game because the bunbers like to be together. It wins because it plays smart, knows how to play the game better than the opposition, avoids unnecessary errors, and pulls together as a coordinated unit. Camaraderie may grow out of mutual respect for one another’s abilities, but this is usually the result, not the purpose, of the team. Most certainly it is not the mechanism that makes the team succeed. The overall goal of a team is to win, and every member keeps this firmly in mind. But when you analyze how a game is won, you discover that it happens because all the players know what to do and how to coordinate their efforts.

 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

Selecting the Team Leader


Given the overall strategy and the decision on just how much team the firm needs for the job at hand, it is time to select a leader. Sometimes, this is automatic—for example, when the firm uses a product manager system and the new product concerns an addition to a particular person’s product line.

 Leaders must be general managers. They lead without direct authority, and so must win personal support. Team leaders must have strong self-confidence (based on knowledge and experience, not just ego), have empathy (be able to look at things from another person’s point of view), have a good self-awareness of how others see them, and be expert in personal communication.

 But the irony is that they probably have to be strong in one set of directions and strong in opposites too. Team leaders must have a total ego yet no ego, be an autocrat and a delegator, be a leader and a manager, tolerate ambiguity yet pursue perfection, be good at oral communication and at the written form as well, acknowledge complexity yet be a KISS (keep it short and simple) fanatic, think big and small, and be an action-fanatic while building for the future.

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

Compelling Business Principles


The development of the business principles is a first stage for developing and raising the standards of practice in countering bribery. The fair business principles provide a practical tool to which companies can look for a comprehensive reference to good practice to counter bribery. Business principles are becoming an essential tool in the future for businesses and the companies of today should encourage using them as a starting point for developing their own anti-bribery systems or as a benchmark.

I had heard and even observed how corrupt practices are carried out in businesses that add the extras to win export orders. For toting up luster to the evenings of the visiting business partners particularly from Gulf States, they fix up their visits to discotheques and nightspots. They also maintain luxury flats outfitted with floozy beauties for making the stay of the business guests a unique affair.

Unfortunately, such unethical practices have sneaked into the system via some (not all) businesses in different countries. That’s what I personally experienced when once as member of a foreign business team visiting an Asian country and staying at a luxury hotel, a businessman tried unethical tricks to win business contracts. He called from the lobby and told about the undeserved and undesired gift he brought for me.

Years ago in a domestic flight to the capital in a country in Asia a passenger seated next to me told that he was visiting the capital about a government tender. He was confident that he would win the contract. When I asked about the source of his confidence he pointed to two girls seated in the rear and said, “Those butterflies (exquisite women) will make it happen.”

Most of companies contribute to election campaigns of this candidate or that. Interestingly sometimes some companies sponsor candidates of two opposing political parties. The idea is to get unjustifiable favors after the horse wins.

There can be endless list of such companies, which are ready to do anything to get business favors.

It is no mystery that a lapse in business ethics or even the appearance of one can significantly harm the reputation and business of a company. Once a company is suspected, accused, or found guilty of corporate wrongdoing, it often becomes subject to the scrutiny of governmental agencies, the corporate community and the general public.

Private sector organizations must now take account of increasingly stringent domestic and international regulatory frameworks. There is growing corporate awareness of the risks posed by bribery, particularly in the light of scandals, and the public is expecting greater accountability and probity from the corporate sector.

Emphasis needs to be laid on business principles for enterprises to prohibit bribery in any form whether direct or indirect. They should also commit to implementation of programs for countering bribery. These principles are based on a commitment to fundamental values of integrity, transparency and accountability. Firms should aim to create and maintain a trust-based and inclusive internal culture in which bribery is not tolerated.

Thus an enterprise’s anti-bribery efforts including values, policies, processes, training and guidance will become tools of future corporate governance and risk management strategies for countering bribery and unethical practices.

As part of civil society, at macro level, Federation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry should work out a framework reflecting size of the companies, business sectors, potential risks and locations of operations. This should, clearly and in reasonable detail, articulate values, policies and procedures for preventing bribery from occurring in all activities under their effective control.

Such programs should be consistent with all laws relevant to countering bribery in all the jurisdictions in which an enterprise operates, particularly laws that are directly relevant to specific business practices.

At micro level each enterprise should develop programs in consultation with its employees, trade unions or other employee representative bodies. It should ensure that it is informed of all matters material to the effective development of the program by communicating with relevant interested parties.

While developing its program for countering bribery, the companies should analyze which specific areas pose the greatest risks from bribery. The programs should address the most prevalent forms of bribery relevant to each firm but at a minimum should cover areas such as bribes, political contributions, facilitation payments, gifts, hospitality and expenses.

A company should prohibit the offer, gift, or acceptance of a bribe in any form, including kickbacks, on any portion of a contract payment, or the use of other routes or channels to provide improper benefits to customers, agents, contractors, suppliers or employees of any such party or government officials.

It should also prohibit an employee from arranging or accepting a bribe or kickback from customers, agents, contractors, suppliers, or employees of any such party or from government officials, for the employee’s benefit or that of the employee’s family, friends, associates or acquaintances.

The enterprise, its employees or agents should not make direct or indirect contributions to political parties, organizations or individuals engaged in politics, as a way of obtaining advantage in business transactions.

Each company should publicly disclose all its political contributions, charitable contributions and sponsorships. It should ensure that charitable contributions and sponsorships are not being used as a subterfuge for bribery.

The enterprise should prohibit the offer or receipt of gifts, hospitality or expenses whenever such arrangements could affect the outcome of business transactions and are not reasonable and bona fide expenditures.

The board of directors, CEOs and senior management should demonstrate visible and active commitment to the implementation of the business principles.

The business organizations should assert elimination of bribery; demonstrate their commitment to countering bribery; and make a positive contribution to improving business standards of integrity, transparency and accountability wherever they operate. Business principles are going to evolve reflection of changes in anti-bribery practice as well as the lessons learned from their use and application by 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight