Best Practices of Microsoft


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has credited his best practices or new rules of how to function in the new digital business infrastructure. They can be applied in other businesses. The rules include:

  1. Insist that communications flow through email
  2. Study sales data online to share insights easily
  3. Shift knowledge workers into high level thinking
  4. Use digital tools to create virtual teams
  5. Convert every paper process to  digital process
  6. Use digital tools to eliminate single-task jobs
  7. Create a digital feedback loop
  8. Use digital systems to route customer complaints immediately
  9. Use digital communication to redefine boundaries
  10. Transform every business process into just-in-time delivery
  11. Use digital delivery to eliminate middlemen
  12. Use digital tools to help customers solve problems for themselves.

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.

Miscast Workforce


It is tempting to believe that some roles are so simple that they don’t require talent. Misled by this wisdom, many managers don’t bother selecting for people who have talent for these roles. They hire virtually anyone who applies. Consequently, they end up with a hopelessly miscast workforce—thousands of employees who see their roles as demeaning and who can think only of getting  out of it as fast as possible. Thus cursed, their managers respond with strict legislation. They impose procedure manual on their people in the hope that they can make the role idiotproof. Their rationale: if I give these people the chance to make choices, many of them will use that freedom to make the wrong choices.

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 Right Thing for your Company


Make sure that the outcomes you define for your people are in line with your company’s current strategy. With the dizzying pace of change in today’s business world, it is sometimes hard for managers to keep track. The key distinction is between mission and strategy. A company’s mission should remain constant, providing meaning and focus for generations of employees. A company’s strategy is simply the most effective way to execute that mission. It should change according to the demands of the contemporary business climate.

Although the constant reassessment of strategy is vital to the health of the company, it does place managers in a rather difficult position. They are the intermediaries, charged with explaining the new strategy to the employees and then translating it into clearly defined performance outcomes.

Often this can be as simple as telling your salespeople that with the new company strategy focused on growing market share rather than profit, each salesperson will now be encouraged to focus on the outcome, ‘sales volume,’ rather than the outcome ‘profit margin per sale.’

However, sometimes the changes in strategy are more radical and the pressures on managers to refocus employees on different outcomes are more acute. For example, the most effective strategy for many high-tech companies used to be innovation. Hence the large R&D budgets, the hordes of dishelved but creative software designers, and the unpredictable, slightly unfocused work environments. For the major players who dominate the marketplace, critical mass—getting your product to be accepted as the standard—is now more important than innovation. Innovation can be brought from the smaller boutique houses. Thus these larger companies need to change the way they operate to ensure that virtually everyone’s efforts are focused on spreading the new language/platform/product into the marketplace. This means that managers in these companies will have to hustle to redefine the desired outcomes and find new definitions of success. Number of users, for example, may now be more important than revenue per user.

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 Consequences of a Bad Boss


The leading cause of stress is the bad boss. In most organizations everyone in the company expect the chief executive officer has a boss, or has the potential to become a boss, even if that means you are instructing an apprentice or a student who is at the company for a short time on a work orientation program.

In terms of making our own choices in response to stress, even the very lowest person on the work ladder is still a boss—a boss of his or her own department. Thus, what a lot of people complain of having a bad boss, the corollary is that most of us are bad bosses—if not of others, then at least of ourselves.

The damage that a bad boss does is sometimes far more widespread than is seen at the time. With the ultimate control, as well as, knowledge of the bigger picture, the boss escapes the highest levels of stress at work, but can still be a powerful stress carrier. In just the same way that a child who is humiliated by a bully comes home and yells at a younger sibling, a boss can transfer anxieties and stresses to employees without ever letting them know the reasons behind the negative behavior.

When an employee is frustrated all day by the boss, these frustrations tend to get transferred along to innocent bystanders, rather like one of those dreadful chain letters. One may see drastic repercussions, ranging from demoralization and loss of self-worth, to burnout of virtually any organ system in the body. In the brain this burnout takes the form of fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, or obsessive behavior. Aggression can be triggered, causing such tragedies as life and child beating or even mass murders during a sudden wild shooting spree. Bad bosses are even the motivation for some suicides. In the stomach or heart, the results of a bad boss are often seen in ulcers or heart attacks.

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 Master Plan


Many people assume that a formal business plan is only for big time businesses. Wrong. A business plan is for anyone who wants to give their enterprise their best possible shot. It is where you detail out all the operational, marketing, and money matters of your business. It is, in essence, a road map. With it, you will better be able to reach your goal. Without it, you run the risk of spending precious time and money traveling in circles or unwittingly wandering into danger zones.

In response to the question, what a business plan is, follow the following”

  • A business plan is written by the home-based business owner with outside help as needed.
  • It is accurate and concise as a result of careful study.
  • It explains how the business will function in the marketplace.
  • It clearly depicts its operational characteristics.
  • It details how it will be financed.
  • It outlines how it will be managed.
  • It is the management and financial “blueprint” for startup and profitable operation.
  • It serves as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

A study for “why” of creating it, note:

  • The process of putting the business plan together, including the thought that you put in before writing it, forces you to take the objective, critical, unemotional look at your entire business proposal.
  • The finished written plan is an operational tool, which, when properly used, will help you manage your business and work toward its success.
  • The complete business plan is a means for communicating your ideas to others and provides the basis for financing your business.

While you are to be the author of the document, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help when it comes to areas outside your ken, such as accounting, insurance, capital requirements, operational forecasting, and tax and legal requirements. Finally, in response to the question, “When should Business Plan be used?” note:

  • To make crucial startup decisions
  • To reassure lenders and backers
  • To measure operational progress
  • To test planning assumptions
  • As a basis for adjusting forecasts
  • To anticipate ongoing capital and cash requirements
  • As the benchmark for good operational management

If you have been doing your research and homework all along, you probably have most of the raw material for the business plan, so it won’t be such an awesome task.

Business plans differ greatly, depending on the nature and scope of the enterprise. Some elements a person in a retail sales business would need in his or her business plan may be totally irrelevant for your service business. Similarly, business plans vary in length—from five or six pages or a virtual booklet; some are written in an engaging narrative style while others take another approach—just the facts. However, while business plans may differ in style, tone, length, and components, there is some common ground. Below is a list of items that should be in almost every business plan:

  • A summary of the nature of your business and its principal activity with a detailed description of the product(s) or service(s) you will offer.
  • A statement as to the form your business will take (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation) and how it will be managed and operated (with information on employees or subcontractors if applicable).
  • A discussion of any extra-ordinary (and potentially problematic) matters revolving around such things as space requirements, production processes, and operating procedures.
  • A discussion of major trends in your trade or profession.
  • A discussion of your competition and the basis on which you will compete.
  • A description of your target market that might include a profile of a typical customer or client.
  • A discussion of your plans for pricing, sales terms, and distribution.
  • A discussion of how you intend to advertise and promote your products or services.
  • A detailed statement of startup and operating costs for at least the first year.
  • A discussion of how your business will be financed.
  • Profit and loss and cash flow statements for at least the first year of business.

If this list has made a business plan seem all the more scary and arduous a task, don’t panic. There are books on the market that will guide you through the process.

A clean attractive business plan is a sine qua non if you will be applying for a loan or looking for investors. But even if the document is for your eyes only, you owe it to yourself to produce a professional-looking document. Since it is your road map, the neater it is the better it will serve you when you refer to it at various stages of your entrepreneurial journey.

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.

Electronic Meetings


If it were possible to travel at nearly the speed of light, you could, in a single day, meet with managers in London, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, and Stockholm, spend time preparing for each meeting, then be home for dinner at a reasonable hour. That sounds like an impossible schedule, because we can’t travel at light speed. Yet, executives are holding those meetings, all on the same day, and never going far from their offices. While our bodies resist transport through space, our voices and our images, carried by electronic impulses, encircle the globe in seconds, allowing us to personally communicate with others in virtually every place on earth.

This new age of global electronic communications has opened the need for learning a new series of meeting skills. The electronic meeting is not only a reality, it’s an everyday occurrence. There are two types of electronic meetings in which participants offer views in a personal exchange. The first is the teleconference. The videoconference is the second electronic meeting method.

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.

Stumbling on Leadership


Using today’s methods of managing the technical development process, the most important decision top management makes on a new product is the selection of the group leader. The second most important decision is to stay out of the way and let the leader lead.

But who is a leader? Or, better, who will develop into a leader? The person has a non-authoritative position; that is, a leader has no line authority over such co-workers as peers, peers’ subordinates, temporary employees, vendors (subcontractors, suppliers), customers, and bosses. The leader leads in a milieu that can change from supportive to hostile overnight, with parameters that are almost completely unknown (e.g., competitive reactions), and with a new and even more inexperienced team of people.

Yet that person can overcome virtually every obstacle. That person alone can enthuse and motivate a group of people to do what seems impossible. Fortunately there is lots of this leadership around, managers with successful track records in this work and many managers who are as yet undiscovered. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to pick out the undiscovered.

Compounding all of this is the conviction of some firms that a new products project actually needs two leaders, a creative, inspiring type for early on, and a tough disciplinarian for the later stages. Very rarely do we find people who can do both.

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.

Setting the Example


One of the best ways to get people to achieve excellence is to inspire them through your own example. No matter how much you talk or what you do, if you aren’t stretching and growing, if you aren’t giving until it hurts, forget about asking them to do so.

Most Olympic athletes got to where they are because they were inspired by an Olympic athlete who preceded them. Few of us, if any, have the capacity to be self-inspired. We need another person to help light the flame. You are their role model. How your people perform will always reflect to some degree the behavior and ideals you live out day-to-day basis.

Virtually everything you do in some way implies a standard to your people—the way you dress, the way you interact with peers and superiors, whether or not you start your meetings on time, the quality of your work. It is a good idea to do a quick check on yourself from time to time to see if you are performing the way you want your people to perform.

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.

Organization’s Specific Capabilities


Successful projects are associated with quality performance (proficiency) by one or more key players in the new products operation. A firm’s key players will vary some, depending on strategy, but we usually see the same bunch. First on most lists is technology. But technology does not mean just in research labs. A technology is a system or set of people and things that permit work. A soft drink bottling system is a technology.

In a virtual tie with technology is a bundle of skills in marketing. The needs and desires of the marketplace are an essential input to product innovation. And the end product must be presented to the end user in a way that stimulates trial and adoption. Just as some marketing firms have lacked technical skills, some technical firms have lacked marketing skills.

A new member of the triad is operations/manufacturing—maybe a factory, a laboratory, a set of carpet cleaning franchisees, an actuarial department in an insurance company, or even the legislature in a government. It is where the good or service is prepared or offered. It could be the classroom where this subject is discussed tomorrow. No matter how well designed or marketed, if the organization cannot deliver on the promised product, success cannot be assured. In the best firms today, manufacturing capability begins its development at the very start of the project, and may even be decided in the strategy if that is where the technology strength is located.

There are some other capabilities needed today, though the list is industry dependent. Two skills are moving up the list—human resource management (HRM) and technology (IT). They both relate to how new product projects are being managed today. HRM people are apparently critical in building the inventory of potential team leaders, and in training those selected for this most difficult task. IT people hold the answer to collocation, the physical grouping of teams that contribute so much to a new product project. Their answer: digital collocation, or the virtual collocated team. On a slightly broader plain, IT also permits effective networking, something we will see actually makes the “company within a company: that new products projects become.

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.

Virtual Corporation


As more and more companies are outsourcing various organizational functions and are paring together down to their core competencies, they might not be able to perform all the tasks required to complete a project. However, they certainly can perform their own highly specialized part of it very well. Now, if you put together several organizations whose competencies compliment each other and have them work together on a special project, you’d have a very strong group of collaborators. This is the idea behind an organizational arrangement that is growing in popularity—the virtual corporation. A virtual corporation is highly flexible, temporary organization formed by a group of companies that join forces to exploit a specific opportunity.

Technologies are changing so rapidly and skills are becoming so specialized these days that no one company can do everything by itself. And so, they join forces temporarily to form virtual corporations—not permanent organizations but temporary ones without their own offices or organizational charts. Although virtual corporations are not yet common, experts expect them to grow in popularity in the years ahead.

My Coultancy–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

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