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.

Business Process Reengineering: Things to Remember


  • Do not undertake reengineering of all processes simultaneously. Select only those which meet the following criteria:
  1. Processes that require immediate attention;
  2. Processes that will have significant impact on customers;
  3. Processes which are most amenable to redesign.
  • Communicate intensely to persuade people to accept and not resist the proposed changes.
  • CEO must be seen to commit, at the minimum, 50 percent of his time.
  • Set aggressive reengineering performance targets; incremental improvement targets will not create either urgency or excitement.
  • Monitor progress and initiate corrective action.

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.

Prioritization of Activities


One of the main aspects of time management is prioritizing activities. It has four quadrants. The activities are placed in each of the quadrants depending upon the importance and the urgency of the activity. Most urgent and most important activities fall in quadrant1. Least urgent but most important activities are in quadrant 11. The quadrant 111 has activities which are least important but most urgent. The least important and least urgent activities fall under quadrant 1V. it is needless to say that prioritizing should be done in the same order.

As the different activities are carried out, it is also important not to get bogged down with quadrant 1 activities. No doubt that these activities have to be finished because they are very urgent and important too. This leads to fire fighting. It has to be understood that activities have come to quadrant 1 because the quadrant 11 activities have not been done at the right time. The ideal situation will be to do the jobs at the right time so that the important activities are completed while being in quadrant 11. In such situations there will not be any activity in quadrant 1. That means no fire fighting and the situation will be cool and calm.

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.

Challenges of Execution


A successful change effort requires: a) adequate appreciation and planning, b) sufficient support by employees, c) competent execution by managers, and d) change managers with appropriate skill sets and capabilities. Less than one-third of all organizational change efforts are successful in producing anticipated results. There are eight reasons for this low success rate. Organizations that fail to produce results after undertaking change do so because managers in these organizations do not:

  1. establish a sense of urgency among employees;
  2. form a powerful guiding coalition for implementing change;
  3. create a powerful vision to energize employees;
  4. communicate their vision effectively to employees;
  5. empower employees to act on their vision;
  6. plan for and create short-term wins;
  7. consolidate improvements and produce still more change; and
  8. institutionalize new approaches.

The first four reasons deal with appreciating change and mobilizing support and the last reason relates to creating capability for change. Remaining three reasons concern the implementation of change. There are three prerequisites to effective execution of change, relating to empowerment, motivation, and consolidation.

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

Roadblocks to Transformation


The baggage from the past—old habbits, practices, commitments, and ways of thinking—that must be shed is enormous. Unless it is shed, however, the required changes cannot or will not be made. Let’s examine the roadblocks that will inevitably make it difficult for many companies to make the kind of transformation I am talking about:

  1. The first is a reluctance on the part of many managers to face the real facts about their markets and competitive positions.
  2. The second roadblock is a failure to recognize the crucial importance of being a lower cost supplier.
  3. The third is a bureaucratic approach to managing the business in a way that resists change and smothers the entrepreneurial sense of urgency.
  4. The fourth roadblock is an arrogant self-satisfaction with existing product offerings that makes the business vulnerable to being “blindsided” by shifting customer needs, new competitors, and new technologies.
  5. The final roadblock is an apparent lack of urgency and confiodence in the sales groups that have become conditioned to earning a living by simply taking orders.

 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