Production Management


Production is the use of people and machines to convert materials into finished products and supply these products to customers. Production includes three key stages: product development, purchasing, and manufacturing.

The development of a new product involves six steps: idea generation, screening, business analysis, product development, test marketing, and commercialization. Roughly, one in 58 new product ideas becomes a commercial success.

When the product development department designs a new product, a make-buy decision determines which components will be bought from outside suppliers and which will be made by the firm itself.

The six steps in purchasing raw materials and semi-finished and finished parts are 1) recognizing what is needed, 2) developing specifications, 3) requesting bids and selecting a vendor, 4) following up with the vendor, 5) receiving the order, and 6) evaluating the vendor.

Mass production and automation have revolutionized manufacturing methods and have made higher quality, standardized products available at lower prices.

The three classifications of manufacturing operations are standard versus custom manufacture, continuous versus batch process, and analytic versus synthetic process.

Once final products are assembled, the transportation section must ship them to customers on time and in good condition. The managers here use one of the five modes of transportation: highway, rail, air, water, and pipeline. Developments such as piggyback service and containerization allow a business to use two or more transportation modes to move shipment over long distances.

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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Attitude and Customer Liaison


Attitude is not always easy to understand, train or instill. It is generally defined as a positive, enthusiastic and helpful attitude – somebody that seems more alive and dead, it means somebody who seems to enjoy what they do or enjoys dealing with customers, not just somebody who happens to do this as a job to earn a living. Even though this may be true, a good customer service experience is one where the customer service person pretends if nothing else, that they enjoy their job – they like doing what they do and they are pleased to see the customer. If the customer representative can do this, the customer will pretend to enjoy buying from them and pretend enough that they will probably come back.

One of the most important aspects of attitude is when the customer is dissatisfied. The customer will then seem to view life through a telephoto lens and every detail or every aspect of the interaction will come under scrutiny. Therefore, the attitude must be to look at a glass of water as half full, instead of half empty.

One of the most important and outward expression of attitude is the verbal and non-verbal behavior that people use at critical times. Simple expressions, such as: ‘I can do that’ or ‘There’s nothing I can do’ or ‘That’s our company policy’ or ‘I only work here’ or ‘You’ve come through to wrong extension,’ only frustrate the customer. Some of these factors, of course, may not be because of anything the person can do; however, it is their attitude that will often create more of an annoyance with the customer than the policy itself. A simple solution to this is that whenever somebody has to be told they can’t do something, within the same sentence they have to know what they can do or may do.

The attitude that will work, if you can instill it, is that every single customer is your most important customer. Instead of seeing a customer for the transaction value that they spend at that time or for the nature of their enquiry, see the customer as a million dollar customer, somebody who has access to large revenue, either through their direct spending or indirectly through referrals and repeat 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.

Coping with Red Tape


No business operates in a vacuum or under a glass dome. New businesses are subject to the pressures and requirements of society’s legal and regulatory system. If you need a trademark, a company brand, or a patent, or if you’re thinking of becoming incorporated, you will definitely need legal help. Many other situations require the help of a lawyer too.

Likewise, you’ll be coping with government regulations, many of which were written with larger businesses in mind are applied to SMEs anyway. Disposing off hazardous wastes, for example, may be difficult for small companies, which typically lack their own water-treatment facilities. Similarly, small businesses may have problems complying with disabilities laws, designed to ensure that disabled consumers receive the same level of services as other customers. Thus SMEs may be required to make costly modifications to their facilities or prove that doing so would pose an economic hardship.

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 Greening of Management


Environmental regulations, such as the laws governing clean air, water, and land establish minimum legal standards that businesses must meet. Most companies try to comply with these regulations, if only to avoid litigation, fines, and, in the most extreme cases criminal penalties. But many firms are now voluntarily moving beyond compliance to improve environmental performance in all areas of their operations. Researchers have sometimes referred to the process of moving toward more proactive environmental management as the greening of management. Green management can improve a company’s strategic competitiveness.

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.

Concepts of ISO 140001


This standard provides organizations with the elements for an environmental management system (EMS), which can be integrated into other management systems to help achieve environmental and economic goals. It describes the requirements for registration and/or self-declaration of the organization’s EMS. Demonstration of successful implementation can be used to assure other parties that an appropriate EMS is in place. It was written to be applicable to all types and sizes of organizations and to accommodate diverse geographical, cultural, and social conditions. The requirements are based on the process and not on the product. It does, however, require commitment to the organization’s EMS policy, applicable regulations, and continual improvement.

The basic approach to EM begins with the environmental policy, which is followed by planning, implementation and operation, checking and corrective action, and management review. There is a logical sequence of events to achieve continual improvement. Many of the requirements may be developed concurrently or revisited at any time. The overall aim is to support environmental protection and prevention of pollution in balance with socioeconomic needs.

The standard is not intended to create nontariff barriers or to change an organization’s legal obligations. In addition, it does not include aspects of occupational health and safety management, although an organization may include these aspects in the documentation.

In order to understand the requirements, a few definitions are necessary. Environment is defined as the global surroundings in which an organization operates and includes air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans, and their interaction. Environmental aspect is defined as an element of an organization’s activities, products, or services that can interact with the environment. Examples are wastewater discharge, air emissions, and energy use. Environment impact is defined as any change, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organization’s activities, products, or services. Examples are impacts on habitat, water supply, and soil erosion. Environmental objective is an overall environmental goal, arising from the policy statement, that an organization sets for itself and which is quantified when practical. They define how the policy will be achieved. For example, an objective could be to control the temperature of the wastewater effluent. Environmental target is a detailed performance requirement and should be quantified when practical. It needs to be met in order to achieve the objective. For example the wastewater temperature should be controlled between 10 and 14 degrees centigrade.

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.

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

The Dynamics of Social Responsibility


The various stakeholders of a firm can be divided into inside stakeholders and outside stakeholders. The insiders are the individuals or groups that are stakeholders or employees of the firm. The outsiders are all the other individuals or groups that the firm’s actions affect. The extremely large and often amorphous set of outsiders makes the general claim that the firm be socially responsible.

Perhaps the thorniest issues faced in defining a company mission are those that pertain to responsibility. The stakeholder approach offers the clearest perspective on such issues. Broadly stated, outsiders often demand that insider’s claims be subordinated to the greater good of the society; that is, to the greater good of the outrsiders. They believe that such issues as pollution, the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and the conservation of natural resources should be principal consideration in strategic decision making. Also broadly stated, insiders tend to believe that the competing claims of outsiders should be balanced against one another in a way that protects the company mission. For example, they tend to believe that the need of consumers for a product should be balanced against the water pollution resulting from its production if the firm cannot eliminate that pollution entirely and still remain profitable. Some insiders also argue that the claims of society, as expressed in government regulation, provide tax money that can be used to eliminate water pollution and the like if the general public wants this to be done.

The issues are numerous, complex, and contingent on specific situations. Thus, rigid rules of business conduct cannot deal with them. Each firm regardless of size must decide how to meet its perceived social responsibility. While large, well-capitalized companies may have easy access to environmental consultants, this is not an affordable strategy for smaller companies. However, the experience of many small businesses demonstrates that it is feasible to accomplish significant pollution prevention and waste reduction without big expenditures and without hiring consultants. Once a problem area has been identified, a company’s line employees frequently can develop a solution. Other important pollution prevention strategies include changing the materials used or redesigning how operations are bid out. Making pollution prevention a social responsibility can be beneficial to smaller companies. Publicly traded firms also can benefit directly from socially responsible strategies.

Different approaches adopted by different firms reflect differences in competitive position, industry, country, environmental and ecological pressures, and a host of other factors. In other words, they will reflect both situational factors and differing priorities in the acknowledgement of claims. Obviously, winning the loyalty of the growing legions of consumers will require new marketing strategies and new alliances in the 21st Century. Many marketers already have discovered these new marketing realities by adopting strategies called the “4 Es.” 1) make it easy for the consumer to be green, 2) empower consumers with solutions, 3) enlist the support of the consumer, and 4) establish credibility with all publics and help to avoid a backlash.

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

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