Monopoly Regulation


Monopoly is usually considered to lead to economic inefficiency. Excessive monopoly profits are commonly regarded as unfair to consumers. Policies for dealing with monopoly range from laissez faire or toleration at one extreme to “trust-busting” at the other. Another possibility is to put monopolistic enterprises under government ownership, as is commonly done in Europe for railroads and telephone service. Regulation of the monopoly’s price and quantity or quality of service by a government agency is important. In the US regulation is standard practice for privately owned ‘public utilities’ providing goods and services such as electric power, water and gas, telephone, and transportation—usually thought to be natural monopolies.

The standard philosophy of regulation aims at limiting the monopolist to a ‘normal profit.’ Normal profit is supposed to be just adequate to attract needed capital and other resources into the business, but not so high as to represent exploitation of consumers. Normal profit in the accounting sense corresponds to zero economic profit. Zero economic profit characterizes long-run equilibrium in perfect competition. In a sense regulation achieves the result that may occur if competition is possible.

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.

Order Cost


Order cost includes all incremental costs associated with placing or receiving an extra order that are incurred regardless of the size of the order. Components of order cost include:

  • Buyer time: Buyer time is the incremental time of the buyer placing the extra order. This cost should be included only if the buyer is utilized fully. The incremental cost of getting an idle buyer to place an order is zero and does not add to the order cost. Electronic ordering can significantly reduce the buyer time to place an order by making order placement simpler and in some cases automatic.
  • Transportation costs: A fixed transportation cost is often incurred regardless of the size of the order.
  • Receiving costs: Some receiving costs are incurred regardless of the size of order. They include any administration work such as purchase order matching and any effort associated with updating inventory records. Receiving costs that are volume dependent should not be included.
  • Other costs: Each situation can have costs unique to it that should be considered if they are incurred for each order regardless of the quantity of that order.

The order cost is estimated as the sum of all its component costs. The order cost is often a step function; it is zero when the resource is not fully utilized, but takes on a large value when the resource is fully utilized. At that point the order cost is the cost of the additional resource required.

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.

Organizational Paralysis


Within 6 months of life some organizations suffer a paralysis:

  1. Point zero minus six months: growing anticipation of the new organization is rife; most senior managers are preoccupied with networking amongst the organization’s rising stars in order to be well positioned for advancement.
  2. Point zero minus three months: the new organization is due shortly, so no one will do anything in case it is seen to be wrong in light of the new structure.
  3. Point zero minus one month: all senior managers desperately plead for a new job so the sin of the last year’s time wasting can be hoofed off onto another poor unsuspecting victim.
  4. Point zero: the planned reorganization is put back two months to accommodate the wishes of an intransigent director who keeps digging in his heels and refuses to listen.
  5. Point zero plus six months: senior mangers look forward to extremely generous takeover conditions and contemplating retirement

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.

 

Cardinal versus Ordinal


What do we mean when we say that a variable is “quantitatively measurable”?We do not necessarily mean that there is only a single way of measuring or scaling it. Temperature is certainly quantitatively measurable, but there are alternative ways of doing so. For example, 320 Fahrenheit is 00 Celsius, and each degree up or down of Celsius corresponds to 1.8 degrees up or down of Fahrenheit. The two scales differ, but only in zero point and unit interval. Similarly, altitude could be measured from sea level or from the center of the earth (shift of zero point) and in feet or meters (shift of unit interval). Both temperature and altitude are more technically called cardinal magnitudes, variables which have the following property: that, regardless of shift of zero-point and unit interval, the relative magnitudes of differences remain the same. In case of altitude, for example, there’s a bigger difference between the heights of the base and crest of Mount Everest than between the ground floor and roof of even the tallest building. This remains true whether we scale altitude in feet or meters or whether we measure it from sea level or from the center of the earth. If people can state that they prefer two million to one million—but not by how much—their utility is said to be an “ordinal” magnitude. Put another way, if Total Utility is an ordinal magnitude we cannot say anything about the  size of Marginal Utility but we can still say whether Marginal Utility is positive or negative.

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.

 

Commitment to Principles


We are increasingly convinced that there are several principles which tend to lead us to good process management. They are tough and often sacrificed.

Focus: In very competitive situations managers often go to focus; that is, they try to zero in on part of the playing field, part of the market, or part of the technology. Narrowing focus yields greater capability and a shared vision, like the power of a laser. However, in a reverse twist, focus always means we try to solve the customer’s whole problem, at least as much as we can. Ours is not a point solution. For example, product disposal is now getting attention in the design stage, and designers resist the rush to completion mentality of cycle time.

End User Drive: During technical development today, the end user’s problems are the top of every page. Technical development isn’t over until the customer agrees that we have solved the problems we began with.

Productivity: Everyone seems to agree that we must destroy oppressive bureaucracy in the new products operation. Any organization, however, even on a kid’s baseball diamond, needs some bureaucracy, and even ventures teams that have been spun out from their firms need a little. It is a glue, and its policies reduce the time spent on routine decisions.

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.

Drive


A person’s drive is not changeable. What drives him is decided by his mental filter, by the relative strength or weakness of the highways in his mind. His drives are, in fact, his striving talents.

Take the striving talent of competitiveness as an example. Some people have a four-lane highway for competition. Show them scores and they will instinctively try to use these scores to compare their performance with that of their peers. They love scores, because what you can measure you can compare, and if you can compare, you can compete.

However, people with a wasteland for competition will see the same scores and not feel any jolt of energy at all. Putting themselves on a level playing field, putting their best efforts against their peers, and winning means nothing to them. They rationalize their behavior by opining, “I don’t like competition; I prefer win-win scenarios,” or the classic, “I prefer to compete with myself.” But these comments are just signs that their filter is, understandably, trying to describe itself in the most positive light.

The truth is that they are not competitive. There is nothing good or bad about this. It is simply who they are. And there is not much that either they or you, their manager, can do about it.

Similarly some people have a four-lane highway for constant achievement, a striving talent we call achiever. They may not have to win, but they do feel a burning need to achieve something tangible every single day. And these kind of people mean, “every single day.” For them every day—workday, weekend, vacation—everyday starts at zero. They have to rack up some numbers by the end of the day in order to feel good about themselves. This burning flame may dwindle as evening comes, but the next morning it rekindles itself, spurring its host to look for new items to cross off his list. These people are the fabled “self-starters.”

Not all roles require employees to possess this striving talent of achiever. Nurses, for example, do not have to generate all of their drive from within. Instead they have to respond caringly and efficiently to the urgent needs that face them everyday—for nurses the altruistic striving talent mission is much more important than achiever. But if you manage roles that do require achiever—like an insurance agent, a pharmaceutical salesperson, or any role where the person must initiate rather than respond—then remember; You had better select for it. Because if a person does not feel this burning fire, you cannot light it for him.

The same applies to all striving talents: the need to be of service, the need to be on stage, the need to be seen as competent, the need to help others grow. All of these drives are talents, and therefore they have the same characteristics as other talents. Namely, they are part of each person’s mental filter. They are unique and enduring.

A manager can never breathe motivational life into someone else. All she can do is try to identify each employee’s striving four-lane highways and then, as far as is possible, cultivte them.

When describing human behavior, stick to the clarity of skills, knowledge, and talents. Tread carefully when using habits or competencies—they lump too much together rather haphazardly. Likewise, if you feel a need to use attitude or drive, be cautious. Remember that a person’s drive and his prevailing attitudes are talents, and as such, they are very hard to change. When you hear yourself berating the person to “get a better attitude,” watch out. You might be asking him to tackle the impossible.

None of this implies that a person cannot change. Everyone can change. Everyone can learn. Everyone can get a little better. The language of skills, knowledge, and talents simply helps a manager identify where radical change is possible and where it is not.

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

Creating an Integrated Marketing Communications Program (IMC)


a)        Use zero-based budgets. Most companies use incremental approaches in allocating promotional budgets. A preferred approach is the objective and task approach. Start with a zero budget and force all promotional managers managers to justify their investment.

b)        Focus primarily on current customers. Many organizations direct 80% or more of their advertising and selling effort activities to trying to win new business (conquest marketing).  An Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program recognizes the importance of retention marketing and inverts that ratio so that a majority of the promotional activity is earmarked for relationship building with existing customers. This reduces customer defection, upgrades business relationships, and creates advocates for the firm’s services.

c)        Use highly targeted mass promotion. Direct mail, specialized lists, trade publications, and the Internet can be used effectively to reach prospects rather than suspects. A website has become an indispensable marketing technology for 21st century companies. It has evolved into a one-stop, online corporate information source, customer support tool, distribution channel, order taker, product catalog, price list, promotional vehicle, research technique, segmentation source, and a strategic and tactical marketing differentiator.

d)        Build marketing relationships. Strategic partnering is a major part of a good IMC program. In addition to Internet and intranets (protected corporation information resource centers), progressive companies are creating extranets which link an enterprise’s extended family of suppliers, distributors, retailers, and partners. Hence, customer, channel, referral, and stakeholder relationships can all be nurtured through carefully conceived promotional efforts.

e)        Note that everything an organization does send a message. Image and atmospherics are very important in communicating value to customers. The little things, such as stationery, signage, telephone greetings, and website design, etc., should all reflect professionalism and a consistent message to the marketplace.

f)          Two-way dialogue is key. In an over-communicated society, the marketing challenge is to establish a meaningful dialogue with customers as to how the firm’s service mix can provide maximum benefits/value. Interactivity and involvement on the part of the customers is important for sharing information and creating firmer bonds. The Web is an ideal medium to accomplish this objective. Its selectivity and flexibility create a customized business experience for each user.

g)        Use 21st century communication technologies. In today’s changing marketplace, companies must seek new and better ways to stay in touch with their target markets. Appropriate communication options include e-mail, electronic commerce, fax-on-demand, telemarketing, point-of-sale promotion, special events, multimedia, etc.

h)        Measure promotional effectiveness. Traditionally, advertising executives competed with sales managers for their “fair share” of the corporate promotional budget. Today, management requires accountability and demands to know and justify the return on investment of limited resources—they will no longer accept the non-measurable communications methods used by marketers in the past. A marketing information system/database is the key tool for effectively monitoring and measuring the success of an IMC program. As part of this process, job descriptions and reward systems are likely to be redesigned. In a strong IMC-centered environment, in-house competition is replaced with cooperation and teamwork. Joint rewards help the organization do what is best, rather than just project individual turfs.

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

Slow Cycle Markets


Slow-cycle markets reflect strongly shielded resource positions wherein competitive pressures do not readily penetrate the firm’s resources of strategic competitiveness. In economics, this situation is often characterized as a monopoly position. A firm that has a unique set of product attributes or an effective product design may dominate its markets for decades. This type of competitiveness position can be established even in markets where there is significant technological change.

 

Although the idea of monopoly, which has a single seller, restricted output, and high prices, is largely disallowed because of government policy restrictions, subtle and more complex variations are possible at local markets.

 

Effective product design may enable the firms that produced them to dominate their markets for many years. These firms’ advantages are drawn largely from their special core competencies, because their resources and capabilities are difficult to imitate. Because these markets (and hence the firms that operate in them) are largely protected, they usually enjoy the highest average price increase over time. Alternatively, price increases in standard-cycle markets often vary closely around zero.

 

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

Advice to Entrepreneurs


Whether it is the best of economic times or the worst, being an outrageous consumer debt is fundamentally a foolish way to live. If you have that problem start making amends. Go on a money diet. Study your spending habits to see where you waste money. Is it eating out? Ordering in? Impulsive buying? Talking on the telephone? Too many ritual splurges? Take the money you would otherwise fritter away and apply it to your credit cards—one outstanding balance at a time. Of course, you don’t want to penny-pinch yourself into a state of low-grade misery, but you do want to get into the habit of living lean. Consider it a preset for the lifestyle you may need to adopt in the early stages of your business.

Reducing your debt serves several purposes: 1) starting a business is anxiety-producing and debt-incurring enough without beginning it with a lot of extra-business bills; 2) the closer to zero your charge card balances are, the more available credit you’ll have for business purchases and cash advances; 3) should you need a bank loan to capitalize your venture your prospects will be all the better.

If you don’t have a lot of credit card debt but are presently paying off a small loan (personal, educational, home equity) that is open-ended, go on the same diet and get rid of it. That is, beef up your payments against the principal of the loan in order to pay it off ahead of schedule and save yourself some interest payments in bargain.

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