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Posts Tagged ‘Jeddah crisis’

The special committee investigating the Jeddah flood has launched a web site to provide its latest news and, most importantly, to give the chance to public to report any information that might be related to the ongoing investigation.

I have to say that I find this move unprecedented in the Saudi government work. Simply, it is a public relation kind of moves. In such cases, the website will act as an official source of news and announcements coming out of the committee. Also, the move reassures the public and delivers the message that ‘we are working … and we are working fast.’ Because of the scale of the disaster, delivering such message is undoubtedly important in easing public stress and frustration. In addition to that, opening a communication channel to people to report investigation’s related testimonials is another message that ‘we are deadly serious finding the responsible people.’

 However, there are some points that should be carefully weighted. After all, we have to realize that this is an investigation committee; they cannot make their own judgments of guilt or innocence. So we should not expect them to publish any details of their findings, and even if they decide to take some names to the court, those names should be looked at as innocents unless proven otherwise in a court of law.

For that, the idea of using the website as a PR channel seems to be fine with me although I am not sure what kind of news they may want to periodically release. Nonetheless, the idea of online reporting troubles me a bit. I can hardly imagine the work this committee is going through investigating years of names, projects’ papers, contracts, etc … I am afraid the website will be publically misused by reporting stories and allegations without providing any sharp evidences. The required efforts to scrutinize such stories will consume tremendous resources and will definitely add more burdens on the committee members’ shoulders.

Finally, the website is also giving the choice of ‘proving any suggestions to develop and improve services in order to avoid any similar incidents in the future.’ I am not totally getting the purpose of this particular option because it simply does not fall into place. The website is dedicated to the investigation committee and, as far as I understand, service improvements are not part of its duties.

What do you think?

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When a situation gets so complicated, when hope vanishes and concerned people feel boiling anger inside; that’s a time for a leader to step up and rearrange the scene.

This is almost a historical lesson. Whether we are talking about religions, politics, businesses, or any group of people who come together for a shared purpose, when things reach the level of ‘total mess’, a leader intervention is inevitable.

However, this intervention is crucial and could cause significantly contradicting results. On one hand, such intervention could resurrect the lost hope, refocus the distracted views, and in some cases, gives back the sense of justice. On the other hand, some poor leaders’ interventions could push the matter more out of hand, emphasis the sense of loss, and just kill the hope and foster disloyalty.

King Abduallah, the custodian of the two holy mosques, intervention yesterday just came in the right time and it is definitely a reviving hope type of intervention. Jeddah residents’ anger was not only caused by the losses generated by the flood, but it was majorly caused by the feeling that there is no one admitting the responsibility of the city poor infrastructure, no one admitting the failure of planning and projects management, and caused by the city officials ignorance to at least step out and apologize.

King Abduallah provided all that in his yesterday intervention and in his orders to form a committee to investigate the real causes of the tragedy and to find out those responsible for the city hideous infrastructure status.

I am ready to take this as an indication that my city learned from its mistakes. Unfortunately, it learned the hard way!

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Since the moment we took our first breath, we have been programmed to think about immediate results. We go to school to pass tests and get certificates regardless of how we benefit from whatever we are taking. We ship the whole family to London or Paris for a summer vacation regardless of how this will impact our coming months’ budget. That’s on individuals level; on corporate level, we open stores, offer discounts, and produce aggressive ads to capture customers immediate attention and score quick profits regardless of our core purpose of existence and our long term vision. That’s why you always hear someone says that he/she only cares about getting the certificate, and that’s why a company that haunted you wherever you went for some times ceases to exist in few months or few years.

The problem is simple; the term ‘Strategic Thinking’ is not part of our vocabulary … it is not part of our lives.

What is happening in Jeddah these days is a definitive evidence on that. For a long time, the city lacked a strategic eye looking into its future. The forgotten city has been carrying the burdens of poor infrastructure, intense traffic, and high pollution without anybody to provide a long term vision to release these burdens. However, once a disaster takes place, we are pretty good at providing quick fixes, pointing fingers, and then, just go back to our normal routine.

What really pisses me off is that the concept of strategic planning is part of any management related books (for those who read) and it is also part of any managerial preparation courses or trainings (for those who take trainings); and for God sake, please do not tell me that nobody amongst our city officials reads or takes training. Having said that, I do not believe that Jeddah problems need books or trainings to be noticed, just ask anybody of its residents and he/she will list all its problems in a blink of an eye!

I really hope this disaster will be a slap on the face for us all to wake up. To start looking into the future and plan for it. We are really bored of being reactive, let’s be proactive for a change!

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After a compulsory absence from this blog for about two weeks; I am back. I was in China for a business trip and as surprising as might sounds, all social networking sites are censored out in China. No blogs, no Facebook, no Twitter, and no Youtube.

Anyway, leave all this for other posts; I am planning to write about this trip and about what we can learn from China. In the matter of fact, I was planning to start blogging about China right away, but I changed my mind after seeing what is happening in my beloved city; Jeddah. Although I got a glimpse of the news, I did not expect the situation to be that bad … that devastating!

If anybody wishes to write a management book about project management failures, he will find plenty of examples in this aged bride of the red sea; Jeddah. Project management failures, this is my only explanation to what happened in Jeddah this past week.

Millions and millions of riyals have been spent on projects that promised state of the art infrastructure to the long time forgotten city and guess what; those projects could not stand four hours of rain!

If you are a resident of this city, or ever been there in the last five years, you have all the right to wonder and ask; what are those companies digging out each and every street in the city doing? Where is the long time promised water draining system that every now and then one of those city officials comes out and smile in the front of camera flashes to state that we finished 60%, 70%, 80% of the system!! So can you please tell me how an 80% completed project to drain water floods could not stand a shower of water? And hey, how come a project that took five years and millions of riyals to complete like King Abduallah road turn to be a swimming pool of death?

I believe that the situation is self-explanatory. Most, if not all, projects carried out in this city are big … big failures. Most of them are over budgeted, usually passes any reasonable time constraints, completed in poor quality, and it is clear that they do not know anything about contingency planning! Now these are the corners of project management and, forgive the language, our city planners sucks at all of them!

Now thanks God we are not on the way of any tsunami or typhoon … otherwise, a city named Jeddah would become a history by now …  Having said that, watching the below videos gives you the impression that a tsunami has just passed from here … what a poor city!

 

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