Wherever smart people work, doors get opened

Wherever smart people work, doors get opened
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Highlights

We all work hard in life. We work hard in our jobs so that we can excel. We work hard to maintain our relationships.After working hard for an extended period of time we all realize that there’s only so much we can achieve by working hard. We need to do things differently not do different things. 

We all work hard in life. We work hard in our jobs so that we can excel. We work hard to maintain our relationships.After working hard for an extended period of time we all realize that there’s only so much we can achieve by working hard. We need to do things differently not do different things.

However, when we have only 24 hours a day, just like everyone else, we will have to start working smart too apart from working hard to get the maximum value for our time and effort. Working hard gives us results and working hard and smart at the same time gives us the best results and top billing.

Smart work is doing things that bring about the desired end result.Smart work is result oriented. And that end result is faster, easier, more productive and efficient. At the same time the person doing Smart work does not feel overtly tired or worn out. It is not the number of hours that a person works on an assignment that is important, rather it is the output that is expected and achieved that matters.

Hard work is a conditioned belief from times immemorial. Working hard was important and crucial. We believed back breaking long hours was work and that it was hard work.

Things have changed and the way we look at work too has changed. Work itself is no longer seen as pursuit that is done repeatedly for years at a stretch. It is only the means to the end. Organizations too have started to take a dynamic view and a smarter way of doing things. Smart work has picked up stream and there are many examples of companies bringing in new concepts and practices based on the concept of smart work.

Outsourcing: Outsourcing is an arrangement in which one company provides services for another company that could also be or usually is provided in-house. Services and activities that have been regarded as intrinsic to managing a business have been outsourced.

Benefits: Work gets done at the same cost or even at a lesser cost than earlier and employees are freed of mundane and repetitive work. They can concentrate their efforts on more productive and fruitful activities.

Seamless working: Seamless things are connected so well that you can't see what's holding them together. They're flowing, consistent, and well-put-together. If an employee leaves, another employee takes over effortlessly and does a great job immediately and this can be referred to as seamless transition.

Benefits: More work can be done with lesser people. WhatsApp the world’s most popular messaging service has an annual turnover of US 1.5 billons dollars but has only 55 employees on its rolls. The productivity of each employee works out to a whopping 183 crore Indian rupees/employee!

Matrix organizational structure: It is a company structure in which the reporting relationships are set up as a grid, or matrix, rather than in the traditional hierarchy structure based on a single boss and many subordinates. In other words, employees have dual reporting relationships - generally to both a functional manager and a product manager.

Benefits: Inter-departmental conflicts can be avoided. Employees become work and task oriented. Bosses also become less protective of their departments and become more employee, task and organization oriented.

Employee stock option (ESOP): It is a stock option granted to specified employees of a company. ESOPs carry the right, but not the obligation, to buy a certain amount of shares in the company at a predetermined price.

Benefits: One of the biggest challenges that many companies face is the attrition rate. Attrition is the number of employees who leave an organization in a year. ESOPs can work as motivators. They have to be paid in the future and are linked with performance. As they are future oriented, employees tend to stick to the organization.

Flexible manufacturing system (FMS): It is a method for producing goods that is readily adaptable to changes in the product being manufactured, in which machines are able to manufacture parts and have the ability to handle varying levels of production. Benefits: There is no need to have independent factories and assembly lines for each product.

The same production facility can be used to produce different products. For example the same car manufacturing facility can produce a 1000cc car, a 1200cc car, a sedan, a hatchback or even SUVs. Thus, fixed costs get apportioned to many products and cost of manufacturing individual products comes down. Products can be manufactured as per demand and there would not be any idle production capacity.

Kaizen: It is a Japanese term that means ‘improvement’. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the ordinary workers.

Benefits: Responsibility of running the organization become democratic and everyone in the organisation is empowered. There is democracy and a sense of ownership.

Just-in-time (JIT): It is an inventory method that companies employ to increase efficiency and decrease waste by receiving goods only when they are needed in the production process, thereby reducing inventory costs. This method requires producers to forecast demand accurately.

This inventory supply system represents a shift away from the older method, in which companies carried large inventories in case of higher demand. Benefit: Too much of inventory means locking up of valuable resources. High Inventory storing costs and loss of value of inventory add to product costs in the earlier system. JIT eliminates unnecessary storage and releases valuable factory space.

A quality circle: It is a group of workers who do the same or similar work, who meet regularly to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems. Normally small in size, the group is usually led by a supervisor or manager and presents its solutions to management.

Wherever possible workers implement the solutions themselves in order to improve the performance of the organization and motivate employees.

Benefits: The beauty of the quality circle is that the workers who produce the product are also responsible for quality assurance. In the earlier system there were clashes between the production workers and the quality assurance checkers. In the Quality circle concept the production workers produce the product, check the quality and if the quality is not satisfactory, come out with remedial actions. Quality circle localizes the problem, tackles it quickly and sees that a solution is put in place as soon as possible. It is the most decentralized method of decision making.

Reverse engineering, also called back engineering is the process of extracting knowledge or design information from anything man-made and reproducing it or reproducing anything based on the extracted information.The process often involves disassembling something (a mechanical device, electronic component, a product, computer program, or biological, chemical, or organic matter) and analyzing its components and workings in detail and producing the same at a fraction of the original cost.

Benefits: This was the smart work that propelled the Indian Pharma-companies, especially the bulk drug manufacturers into the world stage. The Indian Pharma-companies, before the coming of the product patents regime, reverse engineered the world renowned bulk drugs. They produced the same drug in a different process and marketed it at a fraction of the original cost. Reliance on Reverse engineering also made China the word leader of cheap mass produced products.

Benchmarking is the process of comparing one's business processes and performance indicators to industry’s best practices. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time and cost. In the process of best practice benchmarking, management identifies the best firms in their industry, or in another industry where similar processes exist, and compares its own results and processes with the industry’s best.

Benefits: Typically, when we buy a product there are many features in the product that we like and there could be features that we want but are not available. This leads to Cognitive Dissonance, a sense of uneasiness with our product choice. We are happy with our purchase but we have a niggling doubt that we could have bought or should have bought some other product. Benchmarking provides us a solution.

Indica the car that Tata introduced is a classic example of Benchmarking. Tata compared its car with the best available in the Indian automobile industry. They found out that Ambassador had the most roominess, Premier Padmini had the best looks and Maruti 800 was the most compact and the least priced.

Tata introduced Tata Indica and Indica has the roominess of an Ambassador, the looks of a Premier Padmini, the compactness and the attractive price of a Maruti 800 and to top it all, Indica was a diesel car. The icing on the cake was the name, Indica or the Indian car.

By:Dr M Anil Ramesh

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