Top Management Attitudes


Whether employees behave ethically depends largely on the actions and attitudes of top management. For instance, if a code of ethics tells employees that bribing overseas clients is against company, but management looks  the other way when bribes are successful in winning large contracts, the code is likely to be taken seriously. Also, companies must not encourage unethical behavior by setting unrealistic goals that can be met only by cutting ethical corners, and they must not condone cheating to help the company.

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.

Great Advertising Precedes Great Research


It’s not difficult to turn up a marketing pro who will tell you that the three most important things to do to market anything successfully are to test, test, and test. That is a pretty good advice. But it is unrealistic for those with resource poverty, who cannot shell out big bucks for sophisticated research.

The big secret is that you need not shell out any money to learn about your market. If you know what to look for and where to find it, you can obtain critical information for nary a cent. Here below are some of the things you might want to find out:

  • What should you market – your goods, your services, or both?
  • Should your marketing feature some sort of price advantage?
  • Should you emphasize yourself, your quality offerings, your selection, your service, or merely the existence of your business?
  • Should you take on your competition or ignore all competitors?
  • Exactly who are your competitors?
  • Who are your best prospects?
  • What income groups do they represent?
  • What motivates them to buy?
  • Where do the live?
  • What do they read or watch or listen to in the way of media?

The right answers to these questions can prove invaluable to a marketing effort. The wrong answers, or no answers, can prove disastrous. Do what you must to get the right answers. In most cases, great advertising is preceded by great research.

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 Drive for Speed


The ‘time culture’ can impose unrealistic deadlines upon those who are charged with the responsibility for delivering improvements. When a supply chain is improved, the single company may be no more able to achieve a tangible impact upon the external environment than it can deliver all the value that is sought by a final customer. When others are involved, there is likely to be bargaining and negotiation.

Environmental initiatives should not result in the pressure for speed or ‘response’ driving out the long-term thinking that is required. Assuming ‘results’ are required, these might best be achieved as a result of flexibility within the framework of a longer term relationship.

Today’s craze can be tomorrow’s memory. Too many managers assume that trends will continue longer than subsequently turns out to be the case. With many environmental and social policies taking many years to have a significant impact, companies face a dilemma similar to that encountered by those seeking to change attitudes and behavior. By the time the outcomes initially sought have been achieved, the requirement may have changed. Will there be a backlash when people count the costs? Will they become bored?

Attempts to deal with ‘isms’ can open a Pandora’s box of dashed hopes and unfulfilled expectations, especially when initiatives are not thought through. Enough noise may be raised to alarm some, while not enough is done to appease or deliver to others. Companies should beware of cosmetic programs.

Winners assemble a comprehensive, complementary and coordinated set of initiatives, embracing all the parties involved, that are likely to have a significant impact upon an environmental or social issue. They achieve significant changes of attitude or behavior, because all the various change elements that are necessary have been put in place.

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.

Facing the Harsh Facts


Many companies that have lost profits or market share have managers who are still waiting patiently for their business to “get back to normal.” Others are looking for government help for their declining market and profit positions. Neither of these approaches is a viable situation. What is needed is less wishful thinking and rhetoric and greater willingness to squarely face the true facts about their markets and competitive positions. The demand changes that have occurred in many markets are structural, not cyclical, and it is unrealistic to expect any kind of a dramatic recovery or turnaround that will restore demand to former levels.

It is extremely difficult for managers who have built their entire careers around specific products and technology to accept the fact that their former business base has now leveled out from prior peaks, or worse yet, become obsolete or irretrievably lost to new competitors or technology. Obviously, many old-line steel managers could not imagine today’s world of aluminum cans, plastic auto parts and bodies, or Japanese, Korean, and small regional producers who constantly “beat their pants off.” Nor could managers in the high flying semiconductor business foresee the situation where their markets have not only ceased to gallop ahead, but decline dramatically, and where foreign sources, including Brazil, Korea, and Taiwan, have captured the bulk of the remaining business. Unfortunately, these are the facts, and an equally discouraging set of forces applies in many other markets.

It is understandable that managers who have grown up and lived through the growth years in any of these industries find today’s conditions difficult to accept. But they must change their myopic or unrealistic views of their business so they can tackle the hard work required to regain a profitable competitive footing. Otherwise, their situations will not improve and will most likely deteriorate further.

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

Change and Leadership


Change is nothing new to leaders or to their organizations. Around 500BC, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted that: “You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing on.” He was one of the first Western philosophers to address the idea that the universe is in a constant state of flux.

As we move further from the “stable state,” effective change leadership has become a challenging calling. Today in the language of business, organizations, academia, and consultancy, the word “change” has come to mean different things to different people. We need to define “change leadership” in a way that establishes a congruence between leadership and the benefits of the change being implemented; and articulate it properly. Change can refer to any of the following and more:

  • External changes in the market/industry, technology, customers, competitors, social, political and natural environment;
  • Internal changes that determine how the organization reacts and adapts to the external changes at great speed;
  • Top-down programs such as business process reengineering, restructuring, cultural change, for example, and
  • Business transformation programs which can be described as comprehensive organizational initiatives.

It can also be a combination of all the above.

Major change is those situations in which corporate performance requires most people throughout the organization to learn new behaviors and skills. These new skills must add up to a competitive advantage for the enterprise, allowing it to produce better and better performance in shorter and shorter time frames.

Change leadership can be defined as altering groups to the need for changes in the way things are done; mobilizing and energizing groups; and tapping fully into the potential and the capacity of the organization. It involves taking the responsibility to champion the change initiative and effort through building and maintaining commitment and support. The situation determines who emerges as the leader and what style of  leadership he or she has to adopt. The situation will also determine the core skills needed to lead in that particular situation. Therefore, one can no longer discuss leadership in general terms.

The leader and the style of leadership required in a stable organization will differ from that which is required in an organization under threat. This is because leadership styles and behaviors are likely to be critical in times of threats.

The qualities, characteristics, and skills required in a leader are determined to a large extent by the demands of the situation in which he or she is to function as a leader.

In any major change program, there are many leaders because there are many people at many levels in the hierarchy who play different critical roles during the change process, including the CEO. In modern complex organizations, the notion of an ill-seeing, all knowing leader is unrealistic. Instead, different individuals assume leadership in situations where they have a unique competence or accountability. All the non-CEO change leaders are every bit as essential to creating high-performing organizations as are the more visible and dynamic executive leaders. In essence, the change leader could be the CEO, a line leader, internal network, or a change community.

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

Commitment to Plan


Management commitment to plan is a difficult concept to define and probably the most difficult area to probe. At the same time, it is in many respects the most crucial area. A deep-rooted sense of commitment is why certain management teams are able to overcome all obstacles and still achieve planned results. It is the same ingredient that enables a team to win against tough competition even though their best players are injured or all the breaks in the game go against them.

Without attempting to be a psychologist, there are several things to look for to determine whether this sense of commitment exists. What has been the track record of those submitting the plan? It is a positive sign if they have a history of fulfilling commitments. Conversely, if the group has not met its commitments in the past, it is essential to find out what has changed to make their commitment to the current plan any more meaningful. Is this evidence that individuals understand how a failure to meet their personal or functional commitments would jeoperdize the ability of the whole group to accomplish its plan? Is there any indication that anyone in the group feels that function has overcommitted or that they have been pressured into making commitments that are unrealistic?

 It is unikely that anyone will admit they are not committed to a plan they developed and recommend. But questions directed to each functional area about the certainty or difficulty of achieving their part of the plan help everyone see what musdt be done to successfully implement the plan. Such questioning helps to establish the importance of each individual’s personal commitments not only to the plan but to the rest of the organization. In a sense, it helps to develop a form of peer pressure, which is just as important in the execution of the business plan as it is in other walks of life. No one enjoys being in the position of having let teammates down.

 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

Avoiding Pitfalls in Case Analysis


Herebelow is the guide for evaluating analysis of cases:

1)      Inadequate definition of the problem. By far the most common error made in case analysis is attempting to recommend courses of action without first adequately defining or understanding the core problems. Whether presented orally or in a written report, a case analysis must begin with a focus on the central issues and problems represented in the case situation. Closely related is the error of analyzing symptoms without determining the root problem.

2)      To search for the “answer.” In case analysis, there are usually no clear-cut solutions. Keep in mind that the objective of case studies is learning through discussion and exploration. There is usually no one “official” or “correct” answer to a case. Rather, there are usually several reasonable alternative solutions.

3)      Not enough information. Analysts often complain there is not enough information in some cases to make a good decision. However, there is justification for not presenting all of the information in a case. As in real life, a marketing manager or consultant seldom has all the information necessary to make an optimal decision. This, reasonable assumptions have to be made, and the challenge is to find intelligent solutions in spite of the limited information.

4)      Use of generalities. In analyzing cases, specific recommendations are necessarily not generalities.

5)      A different situation. Considerable time and effort are sometimes exerted by analysts considering that “If the situation were different, I’d know what course of action to take” or “If the marketing manager hadn’t already found things up so badly, the firm wouldn’t have a problem.” Such reasoning ignores the fact that the events in the case have already happened and cannot be changed. Even though analysis or criticism of past events is necessary in diagnosing the problem, in the end, the present situation must be addressed and decisions must be made based on the given situations.

6)      Narrow vision analysis. Although cases are often labeled as a specific type of case, such as “pricing,” “product,” and so forth, this does not mean that other marketing variables should be ignored. Too often analysts ignore the effects that a change in one marketing element will have on the others.

7)      Realism. Too often analysts become so focused on solving a particular problem that their solutions become totally unrealistic.

8)      The marketing research solution. A quite common but unsatisfactory solution to case problem is marketing research. The firm should do this or that type of marketing research to find a solution to its problem. Although marketing research may be helpful as an intermediary step in some cases, marketing research does not solve problems or make decisions. In cases where marketing research does not solve problems or make decisions. In cases where marketing research is recommended, the cost and potential benefits should be fully specified in the case analysis.

9)      Rehashing the case material. Analysts sometimes spend considerable effort rewriting a two- or three-page history of the firm. This is unnecessary since the instructor and other analysis are already familiar with this information.

10)  Premature conclusions. Analysts sometimes jump to premature conclusions instead of waiting until their analysis is completed. Too many analysts jump to conclusions upon first reading the case and then proceed to interpret everything in the case as justifying their conclusions, even factors logically against 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight