Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents column, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
With all this corporate financial failures worldwide and the never-ending crises, isn’t it time to let Islamic finance take the lead to fix all this mess?
LA: The term ‘Islamic Finance” is fascinating in the literal sense. It gives the illusion of other types of Finance, one that is Christian or Jewish, for example. I wonder what a Buddhist Finance would be like. Personification aside, Finance doesn’t have a religion. Islam has set some principles for society to spread justice in commercial transactions and to protect buyers from exploitations of greedy sellers. If such principles are needed, then anyone, Muslim or otherwise, can apply them ethically and legally to improve the outcome of their transactions. However, justice, no exploitation, reasonable dividends generated from investing in tangible ethical and responsible businesses are values that might not be of interest to all investors regardless of what their religious beliefs are. They’re after BIG profits, period.
There are many companies in the Muslim world that have been suffering since 2008 and they are Sharia compliant. They have been following Islamic principles wholeheartedly and yet they got badly hit like others – which makes one question the validity of such a system – or was “Sharia compliant” just a marketing label and the soul of their operation was Western capitalism in disguise? What the commercial world needs now is: First, to realize that the current system is clearly not working for the majority of investors. Second, to design or apply a system, be it based on Islamic principles or not, as a genuine attempt to take a different approach for better results rather than just wearing a different mask on the same face…and that’s just my two cents.
When it comes to hiring new managers, what do you recommend that we look for to have an exceptional performance?
LA: Depending on what generation you hail from, images of angry bores, lazy koalas (even slower than regular koalas) or slithering corporate ladder climbers come to mind when you think of the word “Manager”. Basically, companies with all their corporate wisdom decided that as labor needs a foreman, employees need a manager to handle them. Over the years, as the quality of employees got more sophisticated, work got more complicated and projects kept piling up on more desks making what looks like a paper file cityscape from across many departments’ floors, managers became responsible for executing work in addition to ‘handling’ their subordinates. Most companies have been applying this formula for decades without considering an alternative structure. A small number of brave companies dared to think different and experiment in unconventional formulas.
Meet Morning Star, the world’s leading tomato ingredient processor, serving food processors throughout the world. Chris Rufer founded the company in 1970 with the basic philosophy of self-management. The concept works around hiring professionals who are great at what they do and to give them the freedom to initiate communication with other strategic partners (colleagues, suppliers, customers, etc) to help them achieve personal corporate mission statements that have been mutually agreed upon by the employees to achieve the company’s goals. By eliminating nasty bosses, managers who do nothing but ‘supervise’ and directors who just spread fear and kill joy wherever they see it, employees are efficiently reaching targets with excitement and a great sense of entrepreneurial personal responsibility. If you want different results, try something different. Go ahead, give it a squeeze…and that’s just my two cents.
I care about the details. Many times, projects look good on paper but poor when it comes to execution. The problem is that I get sucked into the nitty gritty details and I lose track of the overall progress. Any tips on how to be balanced?
LA: When you look at an average simple digital camera (not your mobile’s camera, an actual camera) you’ll most likely see an option with a flower icon referring to a “Micro” setting. People use this option to capture details like the fuzzy hair on a flower leaf, for example, or the details of a fingerprint. In business, the term ‘micromanagement’ refers to those who are paying attention to the smallest details and forgetting or losing sight of the big picture. Macro management is an opposite term that refers to hovering from above like a helicopter pilot to see the whole scene where there’s a chance of missing small hidden objects. Men are usually good at macro management. Women are often better at micromanagement.
The Superman and Wonder Woman of Planet Business are the ones who possess the “Miacro” gene. This is the ability to zoom in on the tiniest issues while having the second part of the brain processing that data into the overall project and adjusting accordingly on the spot. Details are important, but not all details. So, be selective about what details you need to give more attention to. Also, setting a timeframe is a great way to cut short the microscopic research. Defining success criteria is an essential way to determine what matters and what doesn’t. Nobody likes a poorly executed product, service or event. Also, nobody wants one that’s over cost or behind schedule…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.