Unique Superior Product


It is not enough to have good strategy, good management preparation, and a good organization. These will permit good new products management, but too often it just doesn’t happen. Why? If there is one reason above all others, if there is one concept that should be the last one violated, it is the commitment to producing a unique, superior product. Obviously, if things are well organized, if there are capable people doing the work, and if good process is used it probably will happen. But research shows that more products are lost to this factor than any other.

Note the two words—unique and superior. That means no me-too products, unless there is important uniqueness in the augmentation circle, such as service or warranty. But the more critical term is superior, and that means superior in benefit to the end user. Some phrases used by managers on this point are: “meets customer needs better,” “solves problems customers have with competitive productive,” and “has better value-in-use.”

Products are thought to fall when end users lack the problem the product solves, or the product doesn’t solve it, or the marketing (communication) fails to get the message across. These are all measurable, in advance, by three key tests in the recommended process. We can learn, for sure, whether our new item is unique, and whether it offers a superior solution to a problem the end user has.  Whether we know the product is superior is not as important as whether the customer knows. Superior products can fail if communication fails, even when the item is a piece of medical equipment.

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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Memos and Letters


When people have accomplished something extraordinary, put your praise in writing. Words are easy to say but it takes time and effort to write them down. Even if it is a two- or three-liner, people will appreciate it.

Letters on your personal stationery should be reserved for those special occasions when a person has worked exceptionally hard and has accomplished something truly outstanding.

Memos and letters can also be effective when a person has made a major error or has made the same error on numerous occasions.. when you want a person to think long and hard about what he has done wrong, put it in writing. This should only be done on rare occasions.

There are two rules that should never be violated when giving people feedback via memos and letters:

  1. Make sure the memo or letter is sent very close to the time of the event or accomplishment. A thank-you note or a note of raprimand sent two or three weeks after the fact defeats the purpose of the memo in the first place. In either case, the memo or letter ahould be marked “Confidential.”
  2. Always personalize the memo or letter. If a group of people has worked exceptionally hard, don’t send the individuals a memo addressed to the group. Sending an individual a memo addressed to the group is like throwing a crumb to a hungry person. When a person has given his all to a project he needs to be recognized as an individual, regardless of how many people were involved in making it happen.

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

Plagiarism and Copyright Violation


Plagiarism and copyright violation are complicated issues, especially in modern technical writing.

Plagiarism is the practice of using someone else’s words or ideas without crediting the source. Many organizations treat authorship of internal documents, such as memos and most reports, casually; that is, if the organization asks you to update an internal procedures manual, it expects you to use any material from the existing manual, even if you cannot determine the original author.

Organizations tend to treat the authorship of published documents, such as external manuals or journal articles, more seriously. Although the authors of some kinds of published technical documents are not listed, many documents such as user’s guides do acknowledge their authors. However, what constitutes authorship can be a complicated question, because most large technical documents are produced collaboratively, with several persons contributing text, another doing the graphics, still another reviewing for technical accuracy, and finally someone reviewing for legal concerns. Problems are compounded when a document goes into revision, and parts of original text or graphics are combined with new material.

The best way to determine authorship is to discuss it openly with everyone who contributed to the document. Some persons might deserve to be listed as authors; others, only credited in an acknowledgment section. To prevent changes of plagiarism, the wisest course is to be very conservative: if there is any question about whether to cite a source, cite it.

A related problem involves copyright violation. Copyright law provides legal protection to the author of any document, whether it be published or unpublished, and whether the author be an individual or a corporation. Unfortunately, some companies will take whole sections of another company’s product information or manual, make cosmetic changes, and publish it themselves. This, of course is stealing.

But the difference between stealing and learning from your competitors can be subtle. Words are protected by copyright, but ideas aren’t. Rare is the manufacturer who doesn’t study the competitor’s users’ guides to see how a feature or task is described. Inevitably, a good idea spreads from one document to another, and then to another. If one manual contains a particularly useful kind of troubleshooting guide, pretty soon a lot of others will contain similar ones. Even though this process of imitation tends to produce a dull uniformity, it can improve the overall quality of the document. Under no circumstances, however, should you violate copyright by using another organization’s words.

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