Saturday, June 16, 2007

Practical Strategical Management

This is basically a tutorial on practical strategy and how to approach this in a top down manner. This tutorial is based on great works by porter, mintzberg and mathur on how to add value to an organization.

This tutorial will not delve into details of each but a brief introduction and the problem solving approaches

There are two types of strategies - 1. Operational Centric Strategies 2. Customer Centric Strategies

I. Operational Centric Strategies-
This is based on how to increase your operational effectiveness to increase the value given to your customers.

This can be achieved by the following -
  • Total Quality Management
  • Business Process Re engineering
  • benchmarking,
  • outsourcing
  • partnering
  • change management
Industry best practices can be adopted by all competitors and no one company can have distinctive competitive advantage from others.

Total Quality Management-
This stratergy has been losing its value in the recent years. But the idea is to bring quality into all phases of the organisation not just QA sampling procedure.

Business Process Re engineering-

Benchmarking (also "best practice benchmarking" or "process benchmarking") is a process used in and particularly stratergic management, in which organizations evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practise, usually within their own sector. This then allows organizations to develop plans on how to adopt such best practice, usually with the aim of increasing some aspect of performance. Benchmarking may be a one-off event, but is often treated as a continuous process in which organizations continually seek to challenge their practices.

II Customer Centric Strategies-

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Management Consulting

Its almost as though you approached everything looking for ways it could be better, whatever it was. A part of you is always asking, " Why is some thing done this way?Is this best it can be done? You have to be fundamentally skeptical about everything.


1. Fact Based -
Once a problem is defined gather facts as possible to understand the problem. Process is basically High quality analysis of the components of the problem an aggressive attitude towards fact gathering.

2. Rigidly Structured
MECE - Mutually exclusive Collective exhaustive

MECE starts at the top level of your solution- and the list of issues making up the problem you have to solve. When you have determined the issues take a hard look at them . Is each one a separate and distinct issue. If so each one is Mutually exclusive (ME).
Once you have all the issues , you have to check it includes every issue or item relevant to the problem. (ie it is collectively exhaustive).
Total issues should be no more than 5 but no less than 3 and have the top issues first.

3. Hypothesis Driven

Define the Initial Hypothesis- - Basically what you feel is the solution to the problem. Solution map is as follows define the Initial Hypothesis and go about and prove that the IH is correct. Basically this is a focus driven approach.

IH is generated by facts and structure. You don't need all the facts, just enough to have a good overview of the industry and the problem.
Structure your IH begin by breaking the problem into its components - the key drivers. NExt make actionable recommendation for each driver.

Basically you come with a issue tree.

Issue Tree For ATG
Problem: Increase Sales of ATG
1. Change Sales Stratergy
- Sales Force Organisation
- Sales Force Skill base
- Promotion Stratergy
2. Improve Marketing Stratergy
- Prodct Quality
- eMArketing Stratergy
- Direct Mail Stratergy
3. Reduce Unit Cost
- Reducing Consultancy rates
- Improving efficiency in the development of CAD layouts
- Usage of IT to reduce redundant work functions.

Testing IH: HAve you thought of all issues, Have you considered all the drivers, All yor recommendations and provable.


1. Problem is not always the problem - Client might come out with a problem but it is not really the actual problem. Get the real facts.
2. Dont reinvent the wheel- Most business problems resemble eachother than they differ. This means with a small range of problem solving techniques we can solve broad range of questions. These techniques are somewhere in the organization or use use your own experience to develop your own kit.
Simple Analytical Framework like Forces At Work which lists all the competitive sources like suppliers, buyers, sellers, competitors and their changes would help. Another new tool is Business Process Redesign.
3. No Cookie Cutter Solutions- Even though there may be similarities between business problems still every client is unique. So the Initial Hypothesis need to be validated by fact based analysis.
4. Dont let the facts fit your solution- Avoid the temptation to view your initial hypothesis as your answer and problem-solving process as an exercise in proving your IH.

5. Make sure your solutions fit your client - There can be a situation that a good solution cannot be implemented because of the clients organizational structure. So it is better to understand the organization's strengths and weaknesses before proceeding.

6. Sometimes you have solutions cme to you - In cases you have no IH because problem is so huge or you are in a problem domain. Putting together fact based analysis and some creative thinking you could form a solution.

7. No solution exists - Redefine the problem, tweak your way into solution and work through politics.


1. 80/20 is the most important rules of business. 80% of the sales come from 20% of sales force. Basically 80% of all accomplishments are done by 20% of the people. unearthing 80/20 rule is by data and by asking intelligent questions.
2. Dont Boil the Ocean - Work HArder and Not Smerter. Dont try to analyze everything. Be selective; figure out the priorities of what you are doing. Know when you have done enough to stop.
3. Find the key drivers - Identify the top three priorities and stick with. Square law of commputation state that for evry component of a system - for every additional equation in a problem - the amount of computation required to solve the system increases as fast as the square of the number of equations.
4. Elevator Test- Know your solution (or your product or business) so throughly that you can explain it clearly and precisely to your client in 30 seconds. If you can do that , then you can understand what your doing well enough to sell your solution.
5. Pluck the low hanging fruit - Sometimes in the middle of a big problem solving process you can come up with easy victories. Try to ackle them first and increase the morale of your team. Which reinforces the fact that you mean business. Once you have built enough credibility you can tackle the more difficult ones.
6. MAke a chart everyday - During the problem soving process you learn something every day and it is good to write it down in a blog such that you can go back revisit it.
7. Hit Singles - Dont try to do everything. Just do what you are supposed to do and leverage the work of others. If you manage to do all at once then expectations is increased and you are expected to do more and more. If you fail, you are sent to the dog house.
8. Look at the big Picture - Every now and then take a mental step back and look at the big picture. The task you are currently doing can be intellectually curious but does it solve the problem. So basically prioritize and solve the big problem.
9. Just say I dont know - Do not fake in front of others and in reality there is nothing wrong in saying I dont know and being honest.
10. Dont Accept "I have no idea"- People always have an idea if you probe them a bit. I have no idea is a code word I'm too busy to think about this.

Further Reading : Mckinsey Way By Ethan Rasiel