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To The New Home

Hello All …

I am glad to let you know that I have moved the blog to a new home; it is self hosted now.

I am now at http://www.aneyeonsaudi.org

Please modify your bookmarks/RSS readers with the new address; see you there :)

Saad Al Dosari

Playing Your Believes

Marketers can sometimes create a powerful influence over customers by taking advantage of their believes and practiced rituals.

So if I want to sell you a bottle of juice and convince you that it is good for your blood pressure, bones, aging skin, hair, and the bonus, it helps you lose weight! Then, this is how it gonna be:

  • Give it a strange name, and preferably a name of something real, rare, and its benefits have never been scientifically proven. So try a fruit name from South America!
  • It should be pricy; you know, scarce stuff cost!
  • It should not be available everywhere. Choose only some big stores as your distribution outlets; or better yet, try phone and home visiting marketing techniques!
  • Now the big trick! To convince people that a singe kind of unknown drink can virtually solve all their health problems, they better perceive it as some kind of medicine! So regardless of the fact that you are selling it as 100% natural juice, you better convince them that they need to take it in dosages. You know, small spoon before breakfast, and one after sleep, I mean before sleep! That would emphasis the image of a medicine, wouldn’t it?
  • Give them an extended period of time to start noticing changes. Again, to start noticing!  Something like a month could be good! And hey, if it did not work, they must have done something wrong, maybe did not commit to the precise dosages or times of taking the medicine, I mean the juice!

p.s. this post is based on a true story!

‘We have the best working environment around here’ … ‘we changed the whole competition landscape, we are the best now and our competitors have to live with it’ … ‘Our products/services are not comparable to others, we are the best’

Once such kind of mentality starts flying around your organization, then it is in need for a serious therapy; it is going through the ‘illusion of the best’ syndrome! And once you have it, it is the downhill road thereafter.

There is no doubt that the marketplace is a competition arena. However, deciding who is the best should be left to stakeholders and unbiased observers, certainly not to the organization managers only!

And let’s give it some thought; in a business environment, what is the best? the best compared to what? and in which categories? And should we compare our products/services/practices to our competitors only? in our environment only? or should we do that globally? I am sure you can come up with endless series of question like these …

My argument is that the whole concept of being the best should have no place in a business environment. The ‘best in ….’ is a relative term even if based upon ground measurements, because, at the end, those measurements are based on agreements between a number of people.

The illusion of being the best could be damaging on the long run. It generates demotivation and kills innovation; why should we do more, we are the best?!

It happened that I have being sitting once with one of the so-called-managers of one of the biggest companies in the country and he was talking about how they are conducting some of their business. The strange thing is that he was referring to many managerial flaws in his talking, and he was acknowledging those flaws! I asked him ‘it is great that you can put your fingers on the wrong doings that are causing pressure on your staff and your productivity. So why don’t you solve these issues?’ His reply was ‘this is how we do business around here!’ I said ‘but there are many companies around the world that faced similar problems and there are many lessons that you can get advantage of.’ He replied ‘No No No … do not talk about companies around the world. Tell me about local companies. We are the best company in the area and this is how we are running our business’!!!!

I hope you got what I mean now!!

 

p.s. I think the ‘illusion of best’ syndrome fits Jim Collins’s stage number one of declining organizations; the stage he calls ‘Hubris Born of Success.’ Read more about it in his book ‘How the mighty Fall, and Why Some Companies Never Give in’ published in 2009.

One of the most bizarre techniques that is sometimes adopted by weak managers of culturally weak organizations is the use of threatening language in the communication channels across the organization levels!

The repeated use of expressions like (or else … those who are not with us are against us … I will remember that in the annual appraisal … if you do not want to stay on the ship) in meetings, emails, circulations, or even in the company written policy, cause nothing on the long run but the loss of trust, disappearance of loyalty, and performance tardiness.

What provoked this post is a memo by one of the international brands working in Saudi Arabia. It is hanged beside one of its warehouses in front of everyone to see. It is written in Arabic; but here is its translation:

Attention!!!!!!!!!!!! For all staff, please do not set anywhere outside the store unless it is a permitted area. If these instructions are not followed, the store management will have to take any necessary action.

Regardless of the main topic of the memo, which is the staff seating arrangements, the memo was going somehow OK till the threatening language begun. As someone who knows nothing about the internal processes or culture of this company, reading these few lines I can tell that it is based on fear and intimidation. I can picture how demotivated their staff are and how the internal communication channels are filled with tension.

I am not saying that companies policies should not contain rules against misbehavior and so forth, but I am saying use them wisely, trust your staff, and do not threaten them. If you cannot build your company, department, or team culture based on trust, rest assured that you are going … nowhere!

If you are ‘that-kind-of-manager,’ then you will must enjoy the following tips on how to burn your staff. And you do not have to worry about what other people would say or think about that, they just do not understand your style and how you think you are driving your staff to be big performers. And hey, you are ‘The-Manager,’ people have no right to question your ways of conducting business … and from there we start:

  • Keep reminding your staff, and everyone around, that you are The Manager. If they are working as your subordinates, then they should better understand it very well because there are consequences (read the next tips). You can remind them of your superiority in various ways: in meetings (e.g. start the meeting with something like ‘as the manager, I have decided’), in phone calls (e.g. you can say something like ‘tell them to do it because the manager said so’), and in emails of course (e.g. send emails saying stuff like ‘I have noticed, as The Manager, that …’).
  • Try to integrate some military practices into your style. Your requests should be treated as orders; do-first-ask-later kind of why (on the long run, they should be trained not to ask at all!).
  • Do not share your strategy, your plans, or the company strategy with them. They do not have the mental capacity to deal with it.
  • Take away these words from your dictionary and pretend that you do not understand them: overloading, logical arguments, and work/life balance!!
  • Do not allow them to discuss or circulate modern management articles; this is a place of work, not a university. And they have to understand that your abilities and experience exceed all that academic mumbo-jumbo.
  • Do not care much about processes nor scope of work. Let there be processes, but they should know that you have the power to overrule them whenever you like.
  • From time to time, ask them to do illogical or irregular stuff. Lists of things nobody cares about, check ups that do not make sense and alike. By doing so you are training them on obedience. You do not have to explain yourself, remember the tip about military practices.
  • Always, and I mean, all the time, give them a very tight time limits to deliver your requirements. If a certain study normally takes 3 days to accomplish, come at the last minuet and ask them to finish it before the end of the day.
  • Keep the sense of urgency and every-thing-is-a-priority way of work. They should know that you do not care about them because there are always bigger picture that they do not, and cannot, see!

So … do you have any more tips to share with us?

The Forbes’s list of the 100 most powerful women in the world is out. And out of the 100, only 4 Arabic women are there.

The magazine claims that its decisions to sort out the powerful women was based on their influence, creativity, and entrepreneurship. These women have not been chosen because they are celebrities, but because they are making a difference in their societies, if not in the whole world. These women are creating paychecks, forming new cultures, and challenging status quo.

One of the really interesting findings is that 39 of those powerful women are categorized in the business sector (the most influential sector followed by the political one). For those still debating women abilities to lead and inspire, they should read the profiles of these women who are running companies considered among the best in the world. Throughout their tenures, they created values, strengthen brands, and made differences. Maybe in Saudi we need some more time to comprehend such realities, we are still debating if women should be working in cashiers or not!!!!!!!

Anyway, from the Arab world, 3 politicians and 1 businesswomen made it to the list; that could give you another indication that Arabic women are still behind when it comes to the business world and to its top positions.

Here it goes according to the list:

  • At the 70th position comes the UAE’s Minister of Economy Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi. The first woman to hold a cabinet in the UAE and what cabinet it is! For a country that has many economical aspirations while going through many challenges, standing in her shoes is not that comforting idea.
  • At the 74th position, Sheikha Moozah Al Missned, the first lady of Qatar. She is well known for her many initiatives when it comes to education, children welfare and charity in general. In addition to that, she is the exceptional first lady in the whole conservative gulf area that officially represents her country in many international events.
  • At the 76th position, the glamorous queen of Jordan, Queen Rania Al Abduallah. Well spoken and Internet active queen who focuses on women rights and children education issues. That’s in addition to her efforts in bridging the cultural gaps between the East and the West.
  • At the 94th position, thanks God Maha Al Ghunaim saved the face of Arabic businesswomen and made it to the list. Regardless of the heavy challenges facing her group at the moment, her leadership personality has inspired many women in the area to follow her lead.

 

 

Sometimes a phone call can serve the purpose of a series of emails and get the job done faster … and sometimes it does not!

I believe that each and every staff should develop his/her own style of communication and should know when to use emails, phone calls, or call for a meeting. Such styles, or skills, are built with training and experience. Eventually, a staff should have a sense of how to get the job done and in the most efficient way.

For that, I cannot really understand managers who shout things like ‘Why did not you call him? do not send more emails … call him!!’ or ‘send an email and after 10 minutes, follow up with a phone call.’!!

Help your staff build their skills instead of telling them what to do!!

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