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.

Fear Appeals


Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger. For example, mouthwashes, deodorants, toothpastes, and other products make us aware of the social disapproval we may suffer if our breath is not fresh, if our underarms are not dry, or if our teeth are not white.

Aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all,  the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be.

When using fear appeals, advertisers stand a greater chance of converting numerous of a product to its use than of convincing consumers to switch brands.

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.

Imitability


If a firm is making profits from core competences, the question is, why can’t other firms imitate it and build similar competences. This takes us to one property of competences: imitability—the extent to which a competence can be duplicated by competitors.  A firm would rather have competences that are difficult to duplicate or substitute. The question is, how? If the knowledge that underpins the competences is tacit in that it is not coded but rather embedded in organizational routines and cumulatively learned over time, potential imitators have three problems. In the first place, it is difficult to know just what it is that one wants to imitate in the second place, even if a firm knew exactly what it is that it wants to imitate, the firm may not know how to go about it since competence is learned cumulatively over the years and embedded in individuals or routine of firms. In the third place, since competences take time to build, imitators may find them themselves always lagging as they spend time imitating while the original owners of the competences move on to higher levels of the competences to newer ones.

If a competitor cannot build competences, the next question is, why not buy them? One answer is that competences may not be tradable or easily moved from one firm to another. Two reasons have been advanced for why. First, because of the tacit nature of the underlying knowledge, it may be difficult to tell just what it is that one wants to trade and who has the property rights for what parts of the underlying knowledge. What is it that we will buy from Honda that allows us to build zippy engines for cars, motorcycles, lawnmovers, and marine vehicles? Who has the rights for what part of the technological knowledge that underlies this competence? Second, the underlying knowledge may be sticky in that it is too costly to transfer. Because of the tacit nature of the data, one may need to observe the seller over long periods in order to learn. This may be too complex and expensive.

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.

 

Analytical Skills


Analytical skills refer to the ability to identify relevant issues and recognize their importance, understand the relationships between them, and perceive the underlying causes of a situation. When managers have identified critical factors and causes, they can take appropriate action. All managers need to think logically, but this skill is probably most important to the success of top level managers.

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.

A Bad Boss


Bad bosses are people too, with their own fears, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Sometimes the pompous ones are basically shy and insecure. The ones who yell at people and unduly assert their aggression may be having significant family problems. Bosses with personal health problems may take these out on the staff. Still other bosses may be nice people who are simply in over their heads, and have absolutely no aptitude for the jobs.

By realizing that human frailties often underlie even the most objectionable qualities of bad bosses, employees can be in a better position to deal with them, and to judge whether the situation is temporary or hopeless. They may help them decide whether to stick it out or quit the job.

Even though a bad boss counts on the inertia of the human spirit, you can break free of the intangible bonds that bind. Also beware of some of the tangible bonds. Whatever you do, don’t lock yourself into an enormous mortgage, or you will not have the option of cooling off in another job at a reduced salary. There is a shortage of skilled labor, and a tremendous shortage of versatile labor (people who will accept a total change in career direction when circumstances dictate). Even if you end up with a different bad boss, at least the change will be refreshing. Remember that the average worker will have between four and six complete job changes in the course of working lifetime, so you don’t need to be caught in the “one company, for better or for work” trap for your whole career.

People need a mission in life. If this is denied by a bad boss at work, there are other ways to fulfill this need—ways that will still allow an overall sense of accomplishment. It is obviously bad business for any company to have such a reversal of energies affecting its operation. However, concentrating most of their energies on pursuits outside of work is a common defense against the bad boss when employees elect to stay with their jobs rather than resigning.

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.

Acknowledging Conflict


Too many managers conceal problem rather than solve them. A range of tensions and conflicts sometimes exist within organization. The realities underlying confrontation need to be addressed. Beneath the symptoms, a latent conflict may be lurking. The drive to impose a change of culture, or a standard approach throughout a corporation, can bring issues to the surface. Under the pressures and demands of corporate transformation, the cracks may widen until the organizational structure blows apart. The managers must acknowledge existence of conflict.

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 Profit Chain


Starting from end of the chain, a firm makes profits by offering  products or services at a lower cost than its competitors or by offering differentiated products at premium prices that more than compensate for the extra cost of differentiation. The question is , how do low cost and differentiated products come about, and why is it that some firms can offer them better than others?

A firm’s competencies, or skills are its ability to perform the activities that underlie the offering of low cost or differentiated products or services to customers. These abilities can be in anything from designing high performance automative engines to finding attractive markets and locating the right products in the right position in these markets. Endowments are attributes other than skills, such as brand names, patents, reputation, geographic location, client relations and distribution channels, which allow a firm to leverage its competencies and get more out of them. Competencies and endowments reinforce each other and together underpin the firm’s profitability. They are themselves a function of technological and market knowledge.

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 Asif J. Mir.