Economic Truths


Although there are few truisms that apply universally in the business world, there are four related economic truths that are valid in every business situation:

  1. Over the long term, it is absolutely essential to be a lower cost supplier or profit margins will erode.
  2. To stay competitive, inflation-adjusted costs of  producing and supplying any product or service must continuously trend downward.
  3. The true cost and profit picture for each discrete product/market segment is often obscured by traditional accounting practice.
  4. Real business winners concentrate as much or more on cash flow and balance sheet strength as they do on reported profits.

These points have always been valid, but they are far more serious today because there is much less margin for error in our more turbulent environment.

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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Knowledge Expands Enthusiasm


An old truism tells us the more we know about something the more we don’t know. Each new discovery in medicine or engineering or physics raises more questions than it answers. Knowledge also increases enthusiasm.

The more we explore space, the deeper our cameras see, and the more we discover about the structure of matter, the greater is our enthusiasm to learn still more. Enthusiasm comes with knowledge. Most people are bored with the idea of collecting stamps until they know answers to questions such as who decides what image appears on a stamp and why, how many stamps are issued each year, what makes some stamps exceptionally valuable, who invented stamps, and why all stamps are not the same size.

Knowledge does supply motivation and enthusiasm to learn more. We take an important step toward developing enthusiasm when learning more about a person, a thing, or an idea. Ignorance inhibits enthusiasm; knowledge expands it.

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.

 

Shaping the Corporation


What will be the shape of the new corporation—the company that survives and thrives on the difficult path to the twenty-first century? Will it be a flattened pyramid, a networked cluster, a hollowed-out donut, or possibly even a shamrock?

These and other nonhierarchical possibilities stimulate a great deal of interesting speculation. The art of organization design is at a significant crossroads. Many of its old truisms are coming under fire, and few new proven ones have emerged to replace them. But at least some sense of direction for the new corporation is apparent: It will be a business with few walls. Its structure will minimize barriers between staff thinkers  and line doers, between functions and divisions, and between the company and the outside world.

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

Everything is Tentative


It’s easy to imagine that building a new product is like building a house—first the foundation, then the frame, then the first floor, and so on. Unfortunately, product aspects are rarely locked in that way. Occasionally they are, as when a technical process dominates development, or when a semifinished product is acquired from someone else, or when legal or industry requirements exist.

We usually assume everything is tentative, even up through marketing. Form can usually be changed, and so can costs, packaging, positioning, and service contracts. So can the marketing date and the reactions of government regulators. So can customer attitudes, as companies with long development times have discovered.

This means two long-held beliefs in new product work are actually untrue. One is that everything should be keyed to a single Go/No Go decision. Granted, one decision can be

Decisive—at times, for example, when a firm must invest millions of dollars in one large facility or when a firm acquires a license that commits it to major financial outlays. But many firms are finding ways to avoid such commitments, for example, by having another supplier produce the product for a while before making a facilities commitment, or by negotiating a tentative license, or by asking probable customers to join a consortium to ensure the volume needed to build the facility.

The other untrue truism is that financial analysis should be done as early as possible to avoid wasting money on poor projects. This philosophy leads firms to make complex financial analyses shortly after early concept testing, although the numbers are inadequate.

Still another tentative matter is the marketing date. Marketing actually begins very early in the development process—for example, when purchasing agents are asked in a concept test whether they think their firm would be interested in a new item. Rollouts are now so common it is hard to tell when all-out marketing begins.

Often no one pulls a switch and marketing instantly begins. We more often sneak up on it, which clearly affects the evaluation system.

What results in some cases is a sort of a rolling evaluation. The project is being assessed continuously, figures are penciled in, premature closure is avoided, and participants avoid mind-sets of good and bad.

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