Why Arabs Won’t Rise Up Anytime Soon

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Building on my humble knowledge, I get to have some observations and analysis of the world I live in. So here’s one for the day: Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon!

My aim here is not to push you  to lose hope on Arabs progress, but rather trying to shed light on certain elements of why are the Arab nations still way behind in terms of technology, economy, civil-rights, and politics, just to name a few.

Yes, I’m an Arab and I sadly got to the conviction that Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon. If you observe how nations grew into world powers you will realize that most of them have two main factors in common: Institutionalization and care for public good. Apparently, those two factors are missing (either one or both) from almost all Arab countries!

We’re mostly an individualistic nation: a nation formed of hundreds of millions of individuals who want to shine individually rather than as a nation. Collaborating together for the common good in a well-structured and institutionalized manner is something perhaps beyond the short-term wins that those individuals perceive.

We dislike systems, processes, policies, procedures, long term goals and the common good when it contradicts with personal gain and hence we try to avoid them as much as we could! So if we can avoid filling a form, not follow a procedure, rule, or policy (or at least get away with it), take a shortcut, or go for a quick win, we’d will go for it.

Examples of what I mean here can be as small as not standing in line whenever there is a queue to not stopping on a red light or following the road signs. It can also be as major as politicians not acting as part of an institution with a system, but rather acting like heads of mafias, bending and changing the rules, the governmental institutions and policies to fit their own needs and desires. The bigger problem is not that they do it, but rather no one actually holds them accountable for what they do. Many people accept such a behavior and thus the issue exacerbates with time. Even with the so-called “Arab Spring” and the people rising to demand for their rights, the same thing was done all over again, “leaders” took charge and bent rules to fit them and their “group”.

Just to be fair, there are some positive deviants from the norm, like in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where they actually plan years ahead, put systems and policy in place, and do proper enforcement and follow up. In Egypt, though millions go on demonstration, they leave the roads clean and ensure things are properly back in place.

Nevertheless, most of us are always chasing the quick wins, the individual recognitions, the shortcuts and the “what’s in it for me” attitude, at least for the time being. So in a nutshell, we’re mostly an individualistic nation, we produce endless shining stars but not a collaborative galaxy!

My recommendation would be to start learning the following, so we can perhaps start taking baby steps towards progress:

  • Willingness to learn, humbleness, and long term strategic planning from the Japanese
  • Willingness to put the nation before self, economic agility and discipline from the Chinese
  • Structuring and building systems, pragmatic thinking and financial wizardry from the Americans
  • Strength and value of team work and communal wellbeing from the Penguins
  • Perseverance, discipline and working as one from the Ants

I’m saying all of this not with a perspective of despair but rather a belief that everything is feasible and if we learn to change how we think and act, we can definitely do wonders.

 

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Creating Organizational Structures that Work

The more I see companies, NGOs, associations and other organizations struggle to make sense of who’s doing what in the organization the more I become convinced that structuring is crucial.

When I say structuring, many people directly imagine hierarchy, bureaucracy and lack of flexibility… yet that does not have to be the case. Organizational structures, if done well, will build on the expertise of individuals involved, the organizational capacity, needs and goals. These elements are the corner stone to building a successful organization that can secure sustainability and growth.

Simple yet crucial questions I ask to the organizations I consult include:

  • Who sets the organizational structure?
  • Who decides when and how new positions/responsibilities are added to the structure?
  • Is the organizational structure Functional, Projectized or Matrix?
  • Does everyone know their roles and responsibilities?
  • Does everyone know how their tasks fit with others’ tasks?
  • Is there a promotion/growth plan for the organization?
  • Does everyone know what is needed to do to move up the ladder?
  • Does everyone see the big picture, the overall structure and the logic behind it?
  • Is there a chance to solicit feedback about the structure from grassroots up?
  • Did you research structures of organizations in your industry and learn from them?

Surprisingly, most people know the answer of 2 or 3 of the above 10…and that’s when they realize they’re facing a problem with the organizational structure. The structure often seems so foggy as if it is coming from some alien planet, rather than being something that grew organically with the organization in a way to better manage its work…and reach its goals.

Building on my humble experience and the research I’ve made…the few recommendations I can give to people who are working on establishing/improving an organizational structure are as follows:

  • Observe how the organization is functioning right now, see where the bottlenecks are, and the loop holes.
  • Assess the performance of the whole organization by taking input of everyone possible, from senior management to interns to all other stakeholders.
  • Ask yourself what other structures exist for your industry and how can you best learn from them.
  • Focus on roles, responsibilities and tasks…not on the titles and positions, as they should come last after having set the structure.
  • Make sure you have the right people in the right places, the Person-Role must match or they will already be sabotaging your organization.
  • Resistance to change is normal, deal with it with utmost positivity and be as considerate and understand of other’s worries as possible or else you’ll lose their productivity.
  • Give your structure a margin of change as it might need to evolve a bit from your original plan to accommodate to some personal and organizational needs.

I hope the above gave you a better insight on creating organizational structures that work… I’m ready for all questions, suggestions and comments.

Happy Structuring!  😀

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