(adaptation of a 2009 article; part 2 of 2)
In adaption of a 2009 article I described my conviction that crisis is good for a reason: lazy organizations disappear, customers become more critical and anxious in spending and organizations are forced to reaffirm their reasons for existence: understanding their customers and providing them with what they need. And it all seems so logical….
As we have been establishing Q management in Oman since 2012, we have been witnessing a similar process. However, in Oman a new challenge arises.
For decades, the economic growth and increase in societal welfare has been tremendous and, in my humble opinion largely due to the vision of H.M. Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. As of 1970, when he came into reign, his vision was one of establishing vital societal functions and benefits that are essential in establishing a nation.
As there was none of these functions, he used the national oil revenues mainly for the benefit of the people, building roads, bridges and ports, establishing safety and security for the nation as a whole, realizing the necessity of an educated people, thus creating an education system and erecting a health care system for all the people to rely on.
And maybe most importantly, he molded one Omani people with beautiful traditions being proud and capable of doing anything.
In short, he took the country by the hand to take a giant leap into development.
This development has only been going on for a very short while and organizations have been designed accordingly: quick and dirty to the example of the nations that helped them in cultivating the functions mentioned. However, these nations and the organizational models they propose are not the most progressive ones to say the least, in fact they are the ones aimed at status quo and growth through efficiency.
As I described in part 1, growing through efficiency is limited, as your potential remains the same. Unless you are increasing markets, customers and revenue, you will be chasing your own tail. To stand still is to go back.
But this only becomes apparent, when it is vital to be flexible. As long as markets are steady and there is a status quo in them, it doesn’t show that your organization is inflexible. Only when times start to change, when customers become restless and uncertain about the future or when the cork that you seem to be floating on starts to sink it will become clear. In fact, when it does become clear, you better be ready to sense the urgency first; this is often hard enough as it is, and then act forcefully in a way that breaks with all of the etiquette, procedures and rules in your organization.
As some regions like Dubai have made their choice in the core competency they want to pursue (tourism and innovation) and as others like Venezuela have no clue where to go and what to cultivate, Oman is at a crossroads. Fortunately, I see and work with organizations where the sense of urgency of changing philosophies is activated. But at the same time, the country and its people is facing big challenges.
First of all, how to replace expats with Omanis to multiply the Omani economy threefold? An attempt is made to achieve this by way of the Omanization, but this is battling symptoms; only when you are able to generate a better output and organic transition, this is a sustainable approach.
Secondly, how to deal with decreasing governmental income and consequent decreasing public benefits, like decreasing fuel subsidies for example? The people of Oman have gotten used to these benefits and, let’s be honest, they have helped build the nation in an incredibly short time to an economic force to be reckoned with. But decreasing income means decreasing purchasing power and aggregate demand, so the economy could get hit twice. That is why there almost seems no escaping taxation; income taxes? VAT?
But thirdly, and most importantly, in adding to the oil and gas of the nation, what is Oman’s core competency? What is it that the country can pursue to facilitate their second wave of professionalism?
When we came to Oman the first time, after having met many beautiful Omani people in the years before, we recognized two main elements that we immediately loved: pioneership and eagerness. The first makes Omanis want to investigate new things, take on new challenges and pursue new directions. The second makes Omanis use others in this, drain and develop knowledge, adjust it to the Omani society and facilitate the pioneership.
Now, stating what industry or what technology the country would need to develop and aim for is a little patronizing or even a form of neo-colonialism.
What I do know, is that those 2 elements of pioneership and eagerness form the basis for developing a sustainable new phase in the economy. They will be the basis for effective markets, new partnerships and the discovery of the true competencies of the nation.
But most importantly, they will turn a scary crisis into a challenging new beginning and we will be there to witness it and help facilitate it, insh’allah…