Tuesday, November 18, 2008

6th Interview: about constructive paranoia and decreasing complexity

1st order: the 6th interview was held with the managing director of an executive leadership consultancy.
Challenges for Triple-C PM in Dubai
According to him the challenge of project management in Dubai lies primarily in communication. Challenge in two ways, first in terms of scope for confusion and second in terms of wrong assumptions. Confusion stems from a different understanding of commitment, e.g. you will someone with a Middle Eastern background never hear saying 'no' to his superior. This would be considered as a weakness and a loss of face. A second barrier is the language. Although English is the business working language you have to consider that many people are not native speakers. This can lead to absurd misunderstandings in alignment. For example for some reason Asians mean with behind the building beside the building. It is important to assure making yourself clear, simple language as lowest common denominator. Second, confusion out of wrong assumptions increases uncertainty. For someone coming from a Western background it might be confusing that what is correct today might not necessarily be correct tomorrow. And perhaps the most important thing to understand is that business in the Middle East is relationship-orientated and based. It goes that far that what Westerners consider as nepotism Arabs consider as duty.
Management by “constructive paranoia”
One thing that is very important when doing business no matter in which emerging market you act is to consider eventualities, I have been told. That is, the environment is more variable, which leads to a greater uncertainty. Don’t rely on just one plan. Play with eventualities and make a plan B, C, D. Things change often in theses countries and than you should be prepared, that needs sort of creativity.
Cultural change in local business
From his work as a recruiter and head-hunter the interviewee observed a change in local business culture. More and more local corporations recognize that they have to professionalize their business in terms of getting the best people for an executive job, not someone who is part of the family. Along with that goes also the cultural shift implemented by the next generation of leaders, who were send for their studies abroad. This generation is now often a sponsor for change.
When asked about obstacles I have been told that the obvious are the infrastructure. Traffic is difficult (see article: Getting a taxi or survival of the fittest >>>). However more serious are the lack of transparency and critical thinking. This leads in the long term to a lack of confidence, which might backslash especially in the times of a financial crisis. However there are improvements on the way as the current investigations of local personalities might indicate.
Decreasing complexity
In terms of complexity I was introduced to an interesting perspective. Due to the fact that developer, land owner, regulative authority, ruling family are one and the same entity the complexity rather decreases than increases. That’s why it is possible to accomplish such amazing endeavors as the palm, Burj Dubai, the metro in such a short time span.

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