The Contemporary World


By the end of World War 11 in 1945, the Industrial Revolution was complete. The need for war goods required the development of new forms of production and technology, which later were used to produce consumer goods. Inventiveness was at high peak. Synthetic plastics and chemicals replaced natural substances as the basis for many products. Better machinery made it possible to manufacture products to produce precise specifications. (This type of precision is what lead eventually to the Apollo moon shot, which required components that were accurate to several one-hundred thousandths of an inch.)

In the 1970s, widespread use of computers enabled the management to process large quantities of data. Factories could be automated, with computer-controlled machinery carrying out many routine activities that could previously be completed only by time-consuming human labor.

By 1980, more than 80 percent of US 500 largest businesses were multinational, operating facilities in five or more foreign countries. And even for smaller companies and individual consumers, the world has become more like a large neighborhood than a huge, unknowable planet. High-speed computers, orbiting satellites, fluctuating exchange rates, and worldwide scarcities of natural resources bind us together with common needs, concerns, and goals.

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.

Employee-Employer Contract


Employees and employers are engaged in a stakeholder relationship that includes numerous expectations by both parties. The employer, for example, has assumed various duties and obligations. Some of these responsibilities are economic or legal, others are social or ethical in nature.

The relationship is clearly more than simply paying a worker for the labor provided. Cultural values and traditions also play a role. In most Western countries, employers feel they have a duty to include workers on the board of directors to assist in forming company policy. For many years, Japanese employers have offered their workers lifelong employment, although this practice has become less widespread in recent years.

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.

Technological Change and Diffusion


Both the rate of change of technology and the speed at which new technologies become available and are used have increased substantiality. Perpetual innovation describes how rapidly and consistently new, information intensive technologies replace a competitive premium on being able to introduce new goods and services quickly into the marketplace. In fact, when products become somewhat indistinguishable because of the widespread and rapid diffusion of technologies, speed to market may be the only source of competitive advantage.

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.

 

Attitude


Attitudes are hypothetical constructs, they cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. Because attitudes cannot be observed, a variety of perspectives have developed over the years in attempting to describe what they are. Fortunately, there is now widespread agreement that the term attitude should be used to refer to a general and enduring positive  or negative feeling  about some person, object, or issue.

The effective component  is what is generally  being referred to when people use the word “attitude.” However, attitude theorists recognize two additional components, cognitive and conative. The cognitive component refers to a person’s beliefs (knowledge and thoughts, which sometimes are erroneous) about an object or issue (e.g., “Reebok shoes are more stylish  that Nike;” “Nike Air Jordans are high-quality basketball shoes”).

The conative component represents one’s behavioral tendency toward an object. In consumer-behavior terms, the conative component represents a consumer’s intention to purchase a specific item.

Attitudes are learned predispositions to respond to an object or class of objects in a consistently favorable or unfavorable way.

An attitude is characterized by progressing from “thinking” (cognitive), to “feeling” (affective), to “behaving” (conative).

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.

 

Consumer Affairs Department


Many large corporations operate consumer affairs departments, often placing a vice president in charge. These centralized departments normally handle consumer inquiries and complaints about a company’s products and services, particularly in cases where a customer has not been able to resolve differences with local retailers. Some companies have installed consumer hot lines for dissatisfied customers to place telephone calls directly to the manufacturer.

Many companies now communicate with their customers and other interested persons through Websites on the Internet. Some sites are interactive, allowing customers to post comments or questions that are answered via e-mail by customer relations staff.

Experienced companies are aware that consumer complaints and concerns can be handled more quickly, at lower cost, and with less risk of losing goodwill by a consumer affairs department than if customers take a legal route or if their complaints receive wide-spread media publicity.

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.

 

Just About Money


Strictly defined, money is anything generally accepted in exchange for goods and services. To be used as a medium of exchange, money must be acceptable, divisible, portable, stable in value, durable, and difficult to counterfeit.

Acceptability: To be effective, money must be readily acceptable for the purchase of goods and services and for the settlement of debts. Acceptability is probably the most important characteristic of money: If people do not trust the value of money, businesses will not accept it as a payment for goods and services, and consumers will have to find some other means of paying for their purchases.

Divisibility: Given the widespread use of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies in the United States, it is no surprise that the principle of divisibility is an important one. With barter, the lack of divisibility often makes otherwise preferable trades impossible, as would be an attempt to trade a steer for a loaf of bread. For money to serve effectively as a measure of value, all items must be valued in terms of comparable units—dimes, for a piece of bubble gum, quarters for laundry machines, and dollars (or dollars and coins) for everything else.

Portability: Clearly, for money to function as a medium of exchange, it must be easily moved from one location to the next. Large colored rocks could be used as money, but you couldn’t carry them around in your wallet. Paper currency and metal coins, on the other hand, are capable of transferring vast purchasing power into small, easily carried bundles.

Stability: Money must be stable and maintain its declared face value. The principle of stability allows people who wish to postpone purchases and save their money to do so without fear that it will decline in value. Money declines its value during periods of inflation, when economic conditions cause prices to rise. Thus, the same amount of money buys fewer and fewer goods and services.

Durability: Money must be durable. The crisp new dollar bills you trade at the music store for the hottest new CD will make their way all around town for about 18 months before being replaced. Were the value of an old, faded bill to fall to line with the deterioration of its appearance, the principles of stability and universal acceptability would fail. Although metal coins, due to their much longer useful life, would appear to be an ideal form of money, paper currency is far more portable than metal because of its light weight. Today, coins are used primarily to provide divisibility.

Difficulty to Counterfeit: To remain stable and enjoy universal acceptance, it almost goes without saying that money must be very difficult to counterfeit—that is, to duplicate illegally. Every country takes steps to make counterfeiting difficult. Most use multicolored money, and many use specially watermarked papers that are virtually impossible to duplicate.

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.

Assessing Competitors’ Areas of Strength


  1. Excellence in product design and/or performance (engineering ingenuity)
  2. Low-cost, high-efficiency operating skill in manufacturing and/or in distribution
  3. Leadership in product innovation
  4. Efficiency in customer service
  5. Personal relationships with customers
  6. Efficiency in transportation and logistics
  7. Efficiencies in sales promotion
  8. Merchandising efficiency—high turnover of inventories and/or of capital
  9. Skillful trading in volatile price movement commodities
  10. Ability to influence legislation
  11. Highly efficient, low-cost facilities
  12. Ownership or control of low-cost or service raw materials
  13. Control of intermediate distribution or processing units
  14. Massive availability of capital
  15. Widespread customer acceptance of company brand name (reputation)
  16. Product availability, convenience
  17. Customer loyalty
  18. Dominant market share position
  19. Effectiveness of advertising
  20. Quality salesforce

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

Leadership for Corporate Transformation


So how are boards performing as enablers and facilitators of corporate change? Many of them are most systematically assembling the building blocks. The board establishes the vision and wrings its hands as the gap between aspiration and achievement grows wider. The role of the board is the formulation and implementation of strategy. It puts its backs into the former, but when it comes to implementation it hands it over to management and hopes for the best.

 Top management commitment continues to be a major barrier to change. It is essential in view of the complex nature of the change task in many organizations, and the number of individuals and groups that must be involved.

 The widespread perception of a lack of commitment in the boardroom is understandable. How can they believe they are committed when they have not put in place all the actions that are necessary to make it happen?

 Many boards are abdicating their responsibility for leading the process of corporate transformation. Determining vision, mission and strategy appears to be perceived as ‘direction’ rather than as an aspect of ‘leadership’; while the term ‘leadership’ is applied to the ‘management’ process of motivating people to understand and achieve vision, mission and strategy, once these have been defined by the board.

 ‘Leadership’ appears to be seen by the chairmen of many boards as a management responsibility rather than a boardroom competence. It is not surprising that many management teams perceive a lack of commitment on the part of the boards of their companies.

 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

Just about Joint Ventures


Joint ventures (JV) are the waves of the future. There is hardly a Fortune 500 company, active overseas, that does not have at least one JV.

JV represents a higher risk alternative because it requires various levels of direct investment.  A JV involves sharing risks to accomplish mutual enterprise. JVs, incidentally, are the next most common form of entry once a firm moves beyond the exporting stage to a more regular overseas involvement.

JVs provide a mutually beneficial alternative to domestic and foreign businesses to join forces. For both parties, the ventures are a means to share both capital and risk and make use of each other’s technical strength.

JVs, however, are not an unmixed blessing. The major problem in managining joint ventures stems from one cause: there is more than one partner. With patience and flexibility on the part of both partners, JVs can be managed successfully. But one of the partners must play the key, dominant role to steer the business to success.

Widespread interest in JVs is related to:

  1. Seeking market opportunities.
  2. Dealing with rising economic nationalism.
  3. Preempting raw materials.
  4. Risk sharing.
  5. Developing an export base.
  6. Selling technology.

Even a JV with a well-qualified majority foreign partner may provide significant advantages, such as:

  1. Participation in income and growth.
  2. Low cash requirements.
  3. Preferred treatment for the venture.
  4. Easier access to a market and to market information.
  5. Less drain on a company’s managerial resources.

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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