April 13, 2018
By Salahuddin Hisham
MASTERS in Business Administration (MBA) curriculum teach students that strategic planning is a five-step process of stating an organisation’s vision and mission, specifying the operational objectives, formulating and implementing strategies, and control and monitoring.
In today’s environment of rapid change in technology that is changing not only technology and its application, new advancement in communication and computing into new areas such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence et al change lifestyle and come with waves of disruptions to existing ways of doing things.
At a presentation on current trends in technology recently, this writer came to realise that the conventional top-down or/both bottom-up process in planning business strategies may not be relevant with a future of much uncertainty and vision that is not possible to be clearly defined.
It made stating the organisation mission difficult, specifying the operational objectives beyond challenging and leaving the organisation without the capability to formulate a business strategy.
Thus one would expect the subsequent process of strategy implementation to put structure in place, putting core values, corporate leadership, and so on could be deemed as irrelevant. Forget about the last process of control and monitoring.
It would need an academic exercise to ponder on how does one do strategic planning in an environment of rapid technological, economic and social change.
The only suggestion the presenter could offer was that vision has to be shared and it was a conventional idea to have wider participation in the planning process. But, he could not specifically describe the vision for the organisation to see itself be in the future.
Despite that limitation, the presenter delved into the good, bad and ugly of technology to equate it with the analogy of a knife as being both beneficial and dangerous.
There were many examples given but it was proprietary information that could not be revealed publicly. However, much was highlighted on the new breed of technology-driven “robbers, looters and plunderers”.
At the end, he suggested that the way forward in this unchartered environment lies in the core values of individuals’ morality, ethics and conscience.
It was unconventional for a business organisation. Nevertheless, the presenter reasoned out that the future success of organisation lies in the sense of identity and adherence to principles.
Organisations should be dedicated for the good of its community, country and the larger picture — for the whole of mankind.
Without the conventional thinking for the need to have in place the organisational direction and purpose, and its derived formulated strategy, it is unconventional to suggest that the way forward lies in the implementation stage of core values and leadership.
If what is in the heart is where lies the key success factor of organisations, corporate leadership will then require attributes beyond the usual of vision, values, character, motives, habits, traits, competencies, style, behaviours, and skills as role model, inspirer, enabler and achiever.
Leadership and stakeholders of the organisation that will face the unpredictability and waves of change in the future should be those with the strong sense of ethics and morality.
The immediate qualities that came to mind was the simple but far reaching relevance in the attributes of leadership in Islam, which is to emulate the attributes of Prophet Muhammad – siddiq (truthful), amanah (honesty), tabligh (propagating good values) and fatanah (wisdom).
An Islamic scholar, Dr Kalam Siddiqui elaborated the personal attributes as knowledge and hikmah (wisdom, insight); taqwa; ‘adl (justice) and rahmah (compassion); courage and bravery; shura (mutual consultation); decisiveness and being resolute; eloquence; spirit of self-sacrifice; and sabr (patience).
Certainly such attributes would not only apply to corporate leadership and planning the business organisation forward but applicable to political leadership and planning the country forward.
For corporations, it is shareholders and board of directors that will take account of those attributes in making the critical decision on the organisation leadership and its future with due considerations for welfare of employees and various stakeholders.
These considerations would be useful for voters as they decide on their representatives to parliament or state assemblies and indirectly the leadership of the country in the coming general election.
What is in the heart, intention and sincerity is only within God’s knowledge, but voters could have proxies of such knowledge from the words, deeds, and behaviours of the choices available within physical realities and tolerable level of human fallibility.