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Sunday, 17 April 2011

Summary of Process Oriented Approach: A competitive Advantage according to Quranic Philosophy

Study of Quran clearly indicates that Islam demands us to act, perform and do our best. Results are from Allah SWT, the emphasis is on our actions, this fact becomes very much evident when we see Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) being informed multiple times in The Holy Quran that his duty is to warn and inform the people only: Say: "Obey Allah, and obey the messenger", but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The messenger's duty is only to preach the clear (Message) (Surah Al-Nour, verse 54). Furthermore it's also evident that our actions will decide our eternal fate: "… in his favour shall be whatever good he does, and against him whatever evil he does …" Surah Al baqarah, verse 286.

These verses (and many others) lay down ample emphasis on Muslims to keep their focus on their actions, paradoxically guarantying success; and describing inaction to be the determinant of failure, worldly and eternal: "By (the Token of) Time (through the ages). Verily Man is in loss. Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy" (Surah Al Asa). Such a stress on action eventually develops a mindset which perceives results or success as natural outcome of actions i.e. you reap what you sow, actions bring results and right actions bring right results. It would be safe to assume that such a mindset ultimately cultivates qualities like persistence, determination, proactive attitude, thirst to improve, doing what's right, i.e. shifting our orientation toward process or the work content.

In business context, process oriented approach is paradoxical as it delivers results without allowing the individual to worry about them. The goal remains their but only to show the direction, only to judge that the path being followed is correct. The culture developed around such a concept is secure, people are candid, happy, and they get the job done on time and the exhibits other good things. The reason being, people here have no fear of any loss, what so ever, as their gains cannot be stolen, or lost, or depreciates with time. In fact their most valued achievable (knowledge, creativity, satisfaction to conscience) grows further when shared with others. People in process oriented culture remain at peace and tranquility, and on the path of continuous growth. The results keeps on flowing in, always reinforcing the fabric of the culture. Goal achievement and growth is always a natural outcome of a process oriented culture.

Please note that the fundamental root cause of all inefficiencies, wastages, procrastinations, organizational resistance to change, politics, etc is Fear! This is an inherent part of goal oriented approach. Lack of knowledge, skill, and experience also cause mistakes but it's only once. If mistakes are repeated then its fear, that is blocking the learning process. Fear of not reaching sales targets, fear of facing an embarrassing situation, fear of not reaching any personal goals (monetary or egoistic) etc. As natural instinct fear boost ego defensiveness, Fear creates a tunnel vision, it blocks thinking, it reduces empathy, it reduces synergy, and it increases selfishness. Fear can be a motivator, when the task involves only a single individual, but that's seldom in an organization. Interaction and team work is the name of the game, and fear alone makes it difficult or even impossible for the team to get synergize.

Realistically organizations are a blend of people who are 'goal oriented' and those who are 'process oriented'. Those organizations cultures where people are inclined more towards Goal Oriented approach has a propensity to die off in a shorter period of time as they are developed around tangible concepts like profit, brand image, market share, performance in stock market etc. since tangibles has perishable nature thus the organizations build around the same, behave like the same as well. Dramatically it can be said "since the 'ends sought' are perishable in nature, thus these ends itself takes the organization toward its 'end' ".

On the contrary those organizations which inclined more towards process oriented approach has a history of lasting multiple generations, for the simple reason they don't run after these tangibles rather treat them as a natural outcome of their actions, they in fact strive for things which are eternal in nature, thus bringing similar qualities within their culture as well. People comes, people go, the process oriented organizations remains intact for generation as shown by Jim Collins in his books 'Good to Great' and 'Built to Last'.

In such companies, the culture is not developed around the personality of the entrepreneur (for his pocket or profit) rather upon certain ideals, and universally accepted principles and a vision greater than the organization itself. This happens when it's about achieving something more important than the survival of the organization itself. Generically speaking the constituents of this vision should be the benefit and contribution to the humanity, the nation, or the community, the profit is indeed a byproduct and only treated as a need for survival, a means to achieve the vision.

Such visions are global; they cannot be achieved in totality, though paradoxically inspiring unbeatable and untiring action. They provide direction for the processes and an everlasting inspiration and energy for execution. The motivating energy felt by the individuals is the feature of their work, their activities (as Jim Collins proclaims in his book "Good to Great"), tasks or standard operating procedures designed around the organizational vision, naturally shifting their inclination toward process end of the spectrum.

Bringing oneself toward process orientation is more a matter of choice. Our inclinations are not hardwired rather they are a product of our choices based on our perception of externalities i.e. events which have been delightful, unusual or even painful in nature. The greatest misconception or misperception most people have that their fate is predetermined, i.e. they cannot choose to be in any different state of existence. If that would have been the case then why Allah SWT would have held us accountable for our actions? The concept of accountability in the hereafter is the greatest proof that our actions are our choice. And the result follows; right choice of action delivers favorable and flourishing results and wrong choice of actions: vice versa. That's the law of nature as designed by the Great Architect of the universe. The results are always promised as proclaimed many times in the Holy Quran.

"Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward," (Surah Nisa, verse 95)

In order to be process oriented we have to get our focus on the real satisfying and motivating factors which are learning, creativity and satisfaction of our conscience. In other words we must be very clear about the factual equation of causality between persistence and success. Furthermore we have to understand what is meant by success? Is it more wealth, more respect, a high profile job, sky rocketing standard of living? And if this is what we called success then would we be able really persist in our work if we focus on money and the so called respect and esteem or status attached to it?

The so called famous quote 'money can't buy happiness' (Washington Post, Monday, July 3, 2006; Page A02; Science Confirms: You Really Can't Buy Happiness) disagree just this. And it's obvious, and widely accepted concept, but seldom practically applied. Furthermore being a Muslim it's also imperative for us to understand the true source of satisfaction i.e. mentioned in The Holy Quran in Surah Ra'd verse 28 and 29: "Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah. For without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction. For those who believe and work righteousness, is (every) blessedness, and a beautiful place of (final) return." And when we do, the following eventually implies as well: "And whoever places his trust in Allah, He is sufficient for him." (Surah At-Talaq: verse 3), "And whoever fears Allah, for him Allah brings forth a way out, and gives him provision (rizq) from where he does not even imagine…" (Surah At-Talaq: verse 2~3).

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - Calvin Coolidge

If that's how our believes are aligned, then it's obvious to conclude in the context of the discussion that the focus should eventually be diverted away from the tangible goals and toward the process, actions, deeds, tasks, efforts, struggle, performance and persistence of course when inspired with the ultimate Vision of life; as that's where true happiness and satisfaction resides. And when we don't persists, disaster strikes, as warned in Surah Al Asar: By (the Token of) Time (through the ages). Verily Man is in loss. Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy. Further to keep us on track, we have been foretold that our acts, deeds, behavior, conduct and struggle will be questioned in the final examination, not the so called ingredient of success such as wealth, respect and esteem.

Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Man's feet will not move on the Day of Resurrection before he replies to 5 questions, he will be asked about his life, how did he consume it, his knowledge, what did he do with it, his wealth, how did he earn it and how did he spend or dispose it , and about his body, how did he wear it out.' (At- Tirmidhi)

The choice is ultimately ours …

(by Omar Javaid )

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