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We had a successful workshop “Transforming Work to Worship” held at Sasana Kijang, organised by Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals (CIIF) on 27th July 2017
The idea behind the workshop was to provide an introduction to Work as Worship, exploring the Qur’anic approach to work and life, reconciling the here and the hereafter.
We would like to thank Dr Azura Othman (CEO, CIIF) and her team for organizing the event as well as to all the participants for attending.
Knowledge work, workers and organisations differ significantly from Industrial work, workers and organisations. In industrial organisations, workers are hired for “what they can do” while in knowledge organisations, workers are hired for “what they know.” Industrial organisations rely on money/finance as capital while knowledge organisations rely on knowledge as their source of capital.
Industrial work is characterised by specialisation as observed in Adam’s Smith’sneedle factory example and through the work of guru’s such as Henri Fayol and Fredrick Taylor with the overarching goal of raising combined outputs through the improvement of productivity by using scientific management techniques. Post World War 2, the success of scientific management propelled the West and later Japan into economic successes with rising real incomes and standards of living. As a result, much of our education and knowledge on the subject of work, workers and the management of it is deeply rooted in this industrial worldview.
With the rise of the services sector, organisations, workers and work transitioned from industrial to knowledge. in 1957, Peter Drucker coined the term knowledge work to represent a type of work whereby the inputs are information and the outputs are decisions followed by action. This conversion of information into action is a function of knowledge that resides in the minds of the workers and as articulated by Fredrick Herzberg, these workers can either be motivated or demotivated to give or withhold their knowledge depending on a set of factors. This giving or withholding of knowledge is know as “discretionary effort” and it is for management to create the conditions that maximise the giving of discretionary effort.
Herein lies the problem. Many of our concepts of “management” and “leadership” are still rooted in an industrial worldview, examples of which are the use of KPI’s, performance incentives, the “bell curve”, job design and job sizing. Unfortunately, for knowledge organisations, workers and work, these industrial modalities run counter to what is required for maximising discretionary effort. No amount of leadership training, employee engagement programs, performance management systems tweaks, etc. is going to change this until our understanding and beliefs about knowledge organisations, workers and work change. The moment we are able do this we will be able to empower minds and unleash potential of our people and our organisations.
This has been reproduced from INC.c0m; Geoffrey James, Sept 5, 2012 (click here to see original version)
These common buzzwords hide a world of sloppy thinking. Don’t get stuck in any of these jargon traps.
Making a company successful requires, above all, clear thinking.
Unfortunately, there are dozens of management concepts that, far from making success easier, tend to encourage fuzzy ideas and bad decisions.
Here are a few of my favorites. Make sure you’re not falling into any of these traps:
Managers often strive to reach consensus among groups and individuals before any important decision is made. That sounds reasonable (hey, it’s the “wisdom of crowds”), but in practice consensus drives weak decisions.
Strong decisions–the ones that create powerful futures–entail cutting away other options, and that generally means disappointing somebody. Consensus favors what’s bland over what’s innovative, what’s safe over what’s risky, and the status quo over carpe diem.
2. Customer Focus
If you focus on the customer, you’ll be better able to satisfy the customer’s needs, right? Well, not really. “Focusing” on the customer is viewing the situation from your own perspective as a vendor. What’s really required is the ability to listen to and absorb what the customer is saying and project yourself into the customer’s shoes.
Understanding a customer is not so much a visual act (like using a microscope) as a passive act: It involves rapport, empathy, and imagination.
Getting people together to bounce ideas off one another (in a supportive environment) sounds like a great idea. Until you actually try making it work, that is. Creativity is not a group process, and great ideas do not emerge out of dumb, half-baked ones.
What’s more, no matter how supportive the environment, people know they’ll be judged on the quality of their contributions. That’s why brainstorming usually creates nothing more than a dull drizzle.
Rightsizing is a weasel word intended to make mass firings seem as if they’re strategic. The real truth is that big layoffs are always the result of lousy management. Though it’s sometimes necessary to make staffing changes, well-run companies with farsighted management never require such drastic surgery. So let’s stop using jargon that hides the fact that management failed.
5. Human Resources
The problem with calling humans “resources” is that you just dehumanized them into objects. The term puts human beings conceptually in the same bucket as raw materials on the factory floor or the network wires inside the wall. It ignores the fact that people are complicated and multifaceted, and that getting them to work together requires treating them as individuals rather than as plug-and-play commodities.
Before he died, the management visionary Peter Drucker pinned the excesses of corporate America on the bloated concept of leadership. He believed businesses have more than enough leaders; what they really need are competent managers who can do the hard work of decision making, planning, and coaching.
In my experience, the typical business leader is like the leader of a marching band–he waves a stick while other people do the work.
Needless to say, feel free to leave a comment if you disagree.