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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Minimal Attributes for a Good Story

Authoring good stories for a developer is an art and science. The business analyst needs to be able to articulate the pain the customer is facing and translate that into a meaningful requirement for the developer to implement. 

Equally important is the need to ensure that the requirement meets the objectives of the business. Below are some attributes of good requirements or stories to ensure the delivered implementation is what was expected by the customer.

Mandatory Attributes

  • Requirement ID: Unique Number with a dot followed by digits for sub requirements
  • Requirements Title: Free Text
  • Description: Includes a function, actor/role, input and output
  • Requirement Origin: Could be the User, sponsor, BA, developer
  • Requirement Specification: Originated (base requirement due to a business need), derived (from another requirement), implied (assumed by default), emergent (new due to a change)
  • Requirement Acceptance Criteria: Free text explaining how to verify a requirement has been developed
  • Priority: 1, 2, 3 (1 = high, 3= low)

Optional Attributes

  • BA Comments: Free text explanation or notes from BA to clarify points, provide examples
  • Requirement Validated: Yes, No (has it been validated by the business)
  • Business Value: The purpose of this requirement, the pain its solving or gain its providing to the business
  • Verification Method: Demo, Testing, Inspection

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Basic Design Document Components

1.       Systems Context Diagram

This illustrates a high level concept of the WMS system for each release and provides a black box perspective showing interfacing systems, release boundaries and high level view of the system main blocks.

2.       Functional Concept

Provides details of the functions of the WMS release and the design details of each function. It includes functional diagrams to show locations of where functions are implemented and an inventory list of details of each function. It includes coding and implementation details for each function.

3.       Entity Relationship Diagram

Offers a detailed view of the relationship across the various SFDC objects including dependencies

4.       Operational Concept

Provides details of the operational design of each function of the system, including triggers rules, workflows, and thresholds. It also includes data flow diagrams, process flows, field dependencies, formulas, and report / dashboards designs. The design has details of the all the coding and implementation decisions related to the operational aspect of the system.

5.       Design Constraints

Provides an understanding of any limitations imposed by SFDC environment, business rules, scalability or other non-functional requirements, cost and budgets, operational procedures and development tools.

6.       Interface Details

Includes definitions of interfaces, fields and data details across interfaces, data transmission attributes (frequency, source / destination formats, security, , interface controls and rules.

7.       Integration Design Spec

Includes details about interfacing systems, configuration needs, web services, APIs, XSDs and other integration styles used in the design such as messaging gateways, mappers, dispatchers, control buses and service layer details.

8.       Non-Functional Design Spec

Includes all non-functional design decisions and configurations for security, scalability, accessibility and interoperability.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Estimating Project Efforts

Project effort estimation involves both science and art. There are well known approaches and techniques for estimating project sizes and effort, these approaches and techniques however do not work well with all project sizes. For example, small projects (less than 5 team members) are severely impacted by team instability, and models used for large projects (teams larger than 25 people) are not applicable to small projects. The best approach for small projects is a bottom-up estimate using analogous techniques to speed up the estimation exercise.

In estimating a common approach is to count, compute and assess. Counting involves counting the number of elements in the projects, such as features, capabilities, web pages, use cases, stories, reports, requirements or similar components. Computing involves calculating an estimate for a per unit count, counts could come in different T-shirt sizes (small, medium and large). The computation should always take into consideration a range and not a fixed value. For example to compute the average time for developing a use case, we should consider the worse case situation, the best case and the most probable. Using a formula like the PERT formula we can then estimate the duration, cost and effort for the average use case development. The same exercise can be repeated with different stages of the project, for example the use case definition, design, development, testing, documentation and training. Assessments are the art part of the estimation and are based mostly on expert opinions and "gut feeling". There is no hard rule on when to use expert opinions, it depends on the project, the experts weighing in, the complexity and novelty of the problem being addressed by the project. In many cases experts opinions have been found to be very reasonable and a great quick estimate approach, however in many more cases it has failed its originators due to factors not considered or accounted for when the expert judgments were rendered, bottom line, use with caution. Some good resources on estimation are Steve McConnell's book software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Aspiring World-Class Universities: A Snippet On Clemson

As it becomes more challenging to compete in a global village, institutions of higher education look into their back pockets for ideas to differentiate and grow. These aspiring institutions do not need to replicate what top universities are doing, on the contrary their innovation in distinct new ways can unleash value and competitiveness.

A shining example is Clemson University in South Carolina. Clemson has been the traditional southern unviersity focused mostly on agriculture and mechanical engineering. Clemson has been able to transform its positioning and value proposition through a well articulated study of the regional economy. South Carolina had embarked on an economic development and conversion process to make the state one of the leading automotive regions in the US. Clemson formed a strategic alliance partnership with BMW [1] to recreate itself as the premier motor sports and automotive research and education university.

This transformation effort at Clemson was adopted and supported at all levels of the university - a key requirement for success - as was reflected in Clemson's vision statement [2], to be from among the top 20 public US universities. Clemson was 23rd in 2010 [3] up from 33rd in 2005 [4] and 74th when Clemson's President James Barker took office in 1999 [5]. Within a decade Clemson has been able to transform itself and achieve a new position through leveraging regional changes and collaboration with others outside higher education.

Each University will have a different catalyst for transformation and very different root-causes that challenges its aspirations. Leading universities are those who can carefully articulate their business challenges, understand the complexities of the societies and constituencies they serve, and apply the best strategies, approaches and frameworks to design an architecture that makes a lasting change.


[1] BWM, Clemson and the State Begin Historic Partnership, Clemson World, Fall 2002, available at

[2] Clemson's Vision Statement,

[3] Clemson Ranks 23rd Among Public Universities,

[4] Virginia Tech Undergraduate Engineering Ranked 14th in US,

[5] Clemson Civil Engineering in Top 20,

[6] Picture, courtesy of Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR),

To Read Further:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Responsibilities for Higher Education

In most nations across the globe, in particular the progressive ones, higher education has been driven by the societal needs and challenges. Both public and private institutions of higher education play a paramount role in the readiness of a nation to address its needs at a strategic level. While public policy play a major role in the direction of these institutes, many institutes also are on the forefront playing major roles in shaping the progression of technology, social sciences, life sciences and other major domains of knowledge, and in some cases even influencing public policy.

Today's challenges facing societies across the globe are of a new nature. They are complex, complicated and require in many cases a complete new paradigm of thinking and problem solving. Approaches to solve the economic crisis, unemployment, social ills, resource sustainability and many other new types of challenges require a new way of thinking and responsiveness. The transformation of many societies from product development to service development has introduced a major shift and position of higher education. It is no longer an option for many. As less manufacturing jobs become available more emphasis on knowledge-based economies becomes a key success element.

Optimized learning is a new responsibility on the shoulders of higher education [1]. Learning and knowledge delivery can no longer be one-size-fits all, nor can it be at an abstract level. Optimized learning allows students to become effective learners capable of meeting new challenges they encounter and allowing them to be effective workers and members of the society. Optimized learning allows for the achievement of learning outcomes that meets not only educational standards, but also the growing needs of society.

Optimized learning means that institutes take on the responsibility for :
  • improving learning abilities
  • increasing the number of students who persist and succeed in programs
  • closing the gaps in achievement while raising the bar.
  • developing curriculum and courses that directly reflect societal needs
  • engaging and leading partnerships with K-12, private sector, non-profits, government and other institutes
  • setting and developing standards that reflect how well an institution addresses societal needs and challenges
  • creating learning-centered environments

In addition to optimized learning, another demanding responsibility on institutes of higher education is their public accountability and its increasing scope. For example community colleges spending has increased more than 25% between 2003 and 2009 just to keep up with state and federal mandates and reporting requirements [2]. Most of this spending is reflected in information systems expenditures and satisfying legal liability.

Despite the fact that many of the challenges facing institutes of higher education are a result of decades of poor public policy and miscalculated strategic initiatives out of their control, they realize the need and responsibility to streamline business processes and offer learning centered capabilities to maintain their position as a driving force in shaping and developing local economies.

What other challenges do you believe higher education needs to deal with? How have you seen others address these challenges?

[1] "Partnerships for Public Purposes: Engaging Higher Education in Societal Challenges of the 21st Century", National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, April 2008.

[2] "Industry Profile, Community Colleges", First Research, May 16, 2011.

Monday, May 16, 2011

High Performance Teams: Got What it Takes?

Effective teams exhibit and embed in their daily activities several key elements of:
  • Trust and openness
  • Common purpose
  • Clear roles
  • Effective processes
  • Clear expectations
  • Leadership acceptance

Does your teams have these? Share with me your experiences in inculcating these elements into your team. What worked and what did not?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Achieving Team Excellence: Is an A Good Enough?

All it takes for a team to malfunction is for each of its members to score an average A in the team member's task. A grade of A is 90% or higher, so if we have a team of two people each scoring 90%, then out of 10 tasks they are working on, up to two could potentially have faults or defects in them. Pretty outstanding is in it! In reality if they are working on the same tasks and each team member had a defect in a task that is different from the one his peer reported a defect, we have an overall score of a B, and not an A.

Now imagine a team of five people working on a project, and each one of them has a set of tasks to accomplish, these tasks are intertwined and interdependent. With each one of the team members experiencing just one defect out of 10 activities means we have a total of 5 or less defects out of 50. If these activities are coupled and some could be common the actual impact is equivalent to more than just 5 defects out of 50, worse case is 5 defects out of 10 if all tasks are common across the team, which equates to an F.

Teams members need to not just achieve grade A quality, but reach above and beyond an A, to allow the team to strive for an A grade satisfaction and excellence.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Effective Listening and 139 Other Tips

My colleague John Estrella just published a book titled "Lessons Learned in Project Management: 140 Tips in 140 Words or Less". I contributed one of those tips in his book related to listening which I share below.

Effective listening is crucial, it avoids incorrect perceptions and ensures proper understanding. As I write this blog entry, I am part of mediating a large community fracture, the disagreements and conflicts started only because of poor listening skills by those leading this community, and that quickly developed in suspicion.

Tip 61: Listen more than you talk
Project managers are inherent leaders. You need to inspire your team to work harder to accomplish more work for less cost and
better quality. Listen to the team’s concerns, their understanding of
the value of the project, its significance and their role in the bigger
picture. Make sure your team is immersed in the mission of the

Listening skills for a project manager are crucial for effective
communication across the project. Make sure messages relayed to
the team by self or others are (1) clear, (2) accurate, (3) relevant, (4)
concise, (5) at the correct level of detail and (6) transmitted using
the most effective medium.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Demand for Business Architecture

As the business world and the impact of technology on our lives increases, the demand for an architecture governing how business gets done is of paramount importance.

A couple of months ago I gave a talk at the International Institute of Business Analysis on Business Architecture and one of the interesting observations I gained from the audience is that we have all become accepting of the fact that we can introduce some chaos and uncertainty to our business operations. I have seen this trend across the business spectrum recently, regardless whether the business is a startup or a multinational conglomerate. We are more accepting of delayed projects, loose guidelines, higher risks, less than optimum quality, rework, compromised rights and invalid solutions simply because we can not deal with the complexities of new challenges and complications.

Take for example the recent outcry by the public regarding the use of full body scanners across the nation's airports [1, 2, 3], or the European debt crisis [4, 5], or other failed technology and business initiatives such as the recent Indian Space Program [6] setback. All of these could have been mitigated, minimized or avoided should a business architecture existed which integrated well with other enterprise architectures of the organization.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Invite the Energy: 7 Ways

It has been a while since I last wrote back in July. Between leading the leadership institute, my work, family and a long list of other things, I had to balance the energy across the various demands.

To keep this posting short and to the point here are seven different ways to being energy into your circles:

1. Setting a Realistic and Compelling Vision
A vision of what tomorrow will look like, or what the to-be will be, is a strong energy magnet. However it needs to be relevant to the audience and not overwhelming. I recall years ago, a colleague of mine who worked at Cisco Systems, once described John Chambers' motivational drive as magic. He mentioned that whatever John envisions turns into a reality rally. Managers appreciate employees who not only identify problems, but also view problems as opportunities. Employees or team members who are constantly overly critical and non-generative are energy drainers. Creating an environment that allows team members to visualize solutions, predict needs, forecast demands and articulate the future will bring exponential energy into the team's environment. Cisco's technology is not necessarily the greatest or most advanced, however the clear vision that Chamber has set for Cisco has made it a leader in its industry.

2. Making a Difference
Being part of a team is one thing, and delivering part of the vision as part of the team is a totally different thing. Contributing and producing work that directly impacts the vision is a contagious act, the more work gets developed the higher the energy levels. People like to feel that their work is of utility and is making a positive impact on the final outcome. This is one of the reasons it is advisable to do consistently little than doing much in chunks, to keep that energy level above a level where it dies out. Energized team members are those who are active on conference calls and meetings, they listen, share and speak. They provide opportunities for others to get involved in discussions, they facilitate problem solving, and take on initiatives, they are humble and respect other people's opinions and are not blinded by their own sights and perspectives. It is not necessarily the smartest in the group that energizes the group, but rather the most consistent and committed. I have always found committed people to be people who have a sense of ownership, and really care about the cause. Even when they are extremely busy, they will be able to find a few moments to keep the momentum going.

3. Separation of Ideas from Sources
Energizers are focused on accomplishing and progressing. An energizer is someone who has a passion in solving the problem at hand. We usually notice that in discussing conflicting ideas energizers focus on the idea being discussed, and not the person who suggested the idea. This separation keeps the energy level high by decoupling the value statement from the contributor, so rather than mentioning to a team member "you said this, which will not work ..", an energizer would state something like "given our goals and the proposals on the table, here is another alternative which we also might wish to consider due to it advantages .."

4. Small Steps Lead to Huge Leaps
Starting somewhere early is better than starting later, or not starting at all. In many cases small steps might seem as if they are random pieces of a puzzle in the vacuum. They really are not, they are small components of a larger foundation that has just not been complete yet. Encourage small steps and ideas, as long as they tie back to the mission of the team, even if when these steps are isolated and seem to be random or ad-hoc. These accomplishments will fortify your sense of accomplishment and keep the energy growing.

5. Passion, Compassion and Love
We are humans,  not machines. Spreading passion about the cause and mission will only invite others to share the values and goodness resulting from the mission. We need to not only talk about team's progress and the difference its work has been making, but we have to explain it with passion, love and sincerity. Good people - those that you want around you after all - strive to compete in goodness. Everyone on the team will want piece of the rewards, and will not want to miss out on helping the next underprivileged group or great cause. Be the compassionate leader, clearly showing your empathy for others and appreciating the efforts and sacrifices everyone is contributing.

6. Lead with Integrity and Build Trust
Our behavior is a catalyst of how our social interactions are energized. Others are influenced by our characteristics and behavior, and integrity is on the top of the list. We are not talking about thugs that we are trying to energize, we are talking about the majority of the world out there. They will have a high appreciation of others' integrity and that will drive energy and motivation.

Energizing interactions are not only influenced by our behaviors, but also our interactions with others. Building trust is as simple as keeping a word, showing up to a meeting one is expected to be at, delivering what is expected, acting as promised and being the character we portray to others we are. Trust is making sure surprises do not happen, and others who depend on us are not left in the dark. Trustworthy people always get back to others even if the news is grim.

7. Sleep Well, Eat Good and Get Up Early
Nothing beats an early bird who gets up before the sunrise to reflect on the creation, remember the Lord of the Universe, thank the Creator, and appreciate a new day in one's life that will come only for once and never return after its sun sets.

Have other ways to invite the energy? Please share it with all of us in the comments here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Creating Energy

Creating energy within a group is a responsibility of each member of the group. The leader of the group is in the best position to facilitate the proper environment and group dynamics for the team members to bring energy. "Am I an energizer or a demotivator?" is a question each one of us should be asking each day.

Team members who walk away on the group, disappear, set the wrong priorities, can not keep up promises are big energy drains. They demotivate their entire team bringing performance and capabilities down to the bottom. Moreover, demotivators are contagious. I have witnessed entire organizations brought down to their knees because of a first demotivator, he starts to whine and complain rather than propose and solve, or she misses a deadline followed by another and another and eventually those dependent on her miss their deadlines. De-energizers are easy to spot and they suck the energy out of the whole team.

This morning a colleague sent me an email asking for advice regarding a board meeting she chairs that gradually its members started dropping off like birds on a utility pole being shot one after the other. In her latest meeting no one showed up at all.

In my next post I will share seven ways that one can bring energy into their circle. Until then enjoy the TED presentation below on first followers and the energy they bring into their domain, a demonstration that energy is created and the responsibility of the whole team and not just the leader. Just like first followers play a role in energizing a group, they also play a role in draining a group and leaving it as a dead corpse.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Social Network Analysis: Uncovering Hidden Value in Organizations

Social network analysis (SNA) is a powerful method for collecting and analyzing data about patterns of relationships among people in groups, it allows an organization to become aware of invisible flows of knowledge and turn them into visible flows. SNA allows an organization to assess its relationships' distance, ties, centrality and density.

As the common say goes, "its who you know that makes a difference and not what you know". This is very true, social relationships can cross barriers and formal boundaries that typically would never exist.

A real-life example that I just witnessed this week in our community, which is a beautiful manifestation of trust in a social network is a story of a homeless lady with four children, all four of them lived in a crammed room in a run down house. The lady worked hard to support her four children one of who had medical challenges, she utilized the normal and formal sources of assistance in her society such as food stamps, housing assistance and other state provided services. However none of these services were able to put her into a state of self-sufficiency and independence. One day she was about to lose her belongings that she had to put into a rented public storage facility due to limited space in her room as a result of late rent payments. She pursued the typical and traditional approaches for financial support through her local places of worship, the support she received was minimal and inadequate. It was only when she was able to create a social network with a number of people in her community that a small group of families were able introduce new knowledge and setup an electronic process to support needy people in less than an hour and pool resources and pay off her outstanding payments on her rented storage, instead of the legacy approach used by the typical support centers. This is an example where a social network removed a bottleneck that existed in an organization, and the social network was able to work around the bottleneck to provide value for the whole network.

I have experienced the power of social network as an 18 year college student some 20 years ago. Through a family member I was able to get introduced to the president of a large university, to whom I brought to his attention my interest for a summer job. Because of the trust he had in my family member and in my skills, he connected me with the hiring manager who interviewed me and gave me the job the same day. This is an example of a social network that reduces the number of links between nodes. We have heard in the news about job seekers who communicate directly with CEOs and are able to get an interview. Social networks as a concept is not new, however technology has enabled nodes to be more easily accessible and has brought down barriers of communications.

Social networks that bring value are those that are developed at not only the same social levels but different levels. Imagine creating bridges and networks across different demographics. For example networking an ex-inmate, homeless individual or at-risk youth through a trusted relationship to networks of employment, professional development and economic development. The power of social network analysis is that it will identify new nodes, decision makers and information flow paths that do not necessarily follow the traditional paths.  For example an ex-inmate will typically interface with the society through a parole officer, or an at-risk youth would interface with opportunities through a social worker, however through a social network the ex-inmate transitioning would be able to interact with a multitude of opportunities at different levels of the society through his social coach, and the same applies to the young at-risk person. Social networks can allow groups in a society or enterprise that are usually not highly connected to be closer and less isolated.

Trust is a key element in a successful social network, it is a relationship based not on need, but on mutual social benefit and sense of community.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Shoot for a Star Even if You Miss

Courage and boldness, two attributes of a successful systems engineer and leader that make a difference between opportunity seizure and status quo. It is not always easy to make decisions that result in a big change, or address a big gap. Sometimes these decisions are needed. I am a big advocate of evolutionary development, meaning changes that occur in phases and evolve over time. However the decision to initiate that change and stay in the game until the end needs to be done with a sense of urgency. So lets look at an example to clarify the point.

You are a community leader and you notice that the rate of growth of your community membership exceeds your forecasted studies, and people will not be able to park their cars soon on property. The decision to expand the current parking space versus acquisition of a new satellite office for future growth is a major decision, and is not easy, but it needs to be made quickly. The solution implementation itself (parking or site acquisition) itself should be evolutionary.

So what does this have to do with courage and shooting for the moon? Well, a conservative systems engineer will propose a solution which entails the least risk. In the case above that might be to expand the parking area at a conservative rate each 5 years. A bold systems engineer might propose an immediate expansion, with a partnership with the church next door, and the charter for expanding the community center horizontally in another locality with the vision of spreading throughout the State within 5 years. That is a very different vision, one that requires commitment, radical change, motivation, dedication and courage.

Courageous leaders shoot for a shining star, and if they fail they know that their chance of landing on the moon - which is still an achievement - is high. They are willing to take the risk, to plan effectively, have a backup plan and will not settle for less than the moon.

Do you know have a vision of your star and do you know where is your moon?

More on Zero is Hero

So Salah Elleithy dropped me a note ... and shared information about his intriguing blog name ... Take a guess and get a free book on job hunting !!

Something that when it is zero, it leads to prosperity, development and will prevent inflation and depreciation. What is that something? First one to get the correct answer will get a copy of my free book Pragmatic Job Hunting.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Authority and Influence Through Servant Leadership

Many leaders miss the whole point of leadership. It is simply to serve. An effective leader is one who can serve and has the influence to make things happen to allow him/her to serve. Unfortunately many leaders believe that their role is to control and police. That is a fallacy. Leadership is not about enforcement, it is about strategy, vision, developing others and sustainability. Enforcement is a tactical task and does not need a leader, it needs an executor in the form of an employee.

Servant leadership was introduced in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf, however the concept is not new to humanity. God through his revelations to Ibrahim (Abraham), Moses, Jesus and Mohammad (peace be upon all of them) guided mankind to the true understanding of leadership. When God addressed Ibrahim (pbuh) he informed him that he is making him a leader to all of the human race. Ibrahim asked God to give leadership to his offspring and generations to come, but God corrected Ibrahim and clarified that leadership is not to be given to transgressors. Those who go over the boundaries of God. God wants the human race to follow Ibrahim. The question then becomes what is it that Ibrahim possessed that made him required by God to carry the burden of leadership on his shoulders? The answer is submission. In the Quran, in the chapter of the Cow, God shares with us a beautiful conversation that took place between God and Ibrahim and it ends showing us that Ibrahim confirmed his submission to God, this submission encompassed compassion, love, service to God and care for mankind through his building the Holy Kaaba, making prayers and supplications that God accept from him and his son, make them remain submitters, and that God give the best of bounties, guidance, to his offspring, and send a messenger from among themselves that guides them and purifies them.

"the answer is submission, followed by compassion"

God teaches Mohammad (pbuh) that should he been harsh and difficult people would have walked away from him. After submission (belief), compassion is positioned at the heart of being a servant leader. We have many examples of the Prophet being a compassionate servant leader; spending long hours of time with the youth of his community, joking with the elders, caring for the orphans, looking after the needy, serving the neighbors and coaching the young to take over responsibility and leadership. Mohammad (pbuh) was an empathetic listener, when talking with others he would give them his full attention, and fully turn towards the speaker, he would never get go of a handshake until the other party did first, he would always smile in the face of others and be an attentive listener, reflecting on what is being said to him, analyzing it, acknowledging and sharing the feelings of the speaker. The Prophet (pbuh) always recognized others' needs and feelings. He was well aware of their issues and acknowledged their concerns and needs.
A servant leader is one that is able to accept criticism, just like Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, when a woman from among the audience one day jumped up and recited a verse from the Quran which contradicted Omar and strongly corrected him. Omar was accepting the advice and smiled. A servant leader is one who endures, and is courageous, such a leader is courageous to take risks to serve others with what pleases God. A servant leader will make sure policies and procedures are flexible and efficient to serve the people, the servant leader will take risks to try new things and will be courageous to stand next to his/her decision. Servant leaders do not hide behind bureaucracies and policies that are handicapping and find them as shelters for excuses for not serving the followers. Mohammad was a courageous leader, taking risks when signing treaties with his enemies, accepting behavior from others at times of distress. Omar was risk taking as well, he stopped the application of Hudud (Islamic rulings on major crimes) at times of poverty and economic downturns.

A servant leader is one who transforms an experience and a follower, a leader who not only embraces change, trust, delegation and integration, but also one who acts in a powerful way to transform the behavior of his followers. Mohammad (pbuh) has many instances when he transformed Omar from the angry disbeliever who was after killing him to the submissive crying believer. He transformed the ruthless thug and disbeliever who attacked him under the tree while sleeping into a humble, compassionate believer. He transformed Arabia, he transformed the world. Ghandi is another modern example of a servant leader who exhibited transformation in our times.

"A servant leader is one who transforms an experience and a follower, a leader who not only embraces change, trust, delegation and integration, but also one who acts in a powerful way to transform the behavior of his followers."

Servant leaders humble themselves and work for serving the cause of God through serving the people with wisdom and best of advice. They build bridges of cooperation, trust and compassion. They care for others more than they care for themselves.

Servant leaders are leaders who are hard to spot in the middle of a crowd, they are easy going, cheerful, accepting and trustworthy. They have authority not through control, but rather through love and admiration. They respect others, the can not sleep the nights when they know that one of their followers is hungry, has a problem or is in need.

A servant leader is one who cares that each young person under his responsibility is protected in his deen (way of life, religion) and has the means to get closer to his/her Lord. A servant leader is one who cares that each elder person under his responsibility has their needs fulfilled and the capabilities to look forward to a bright tomorrow.

"Ibn-Al-Khattab did, .. ask yourself did I cry today because I fell short in my leadership responsibility?"

Servant leaders care about the core and not the surface. They care that the hearts are satisfied and the minds are at peace. They do not care too much about what people say about them, or how they view them, or whether people see them following policies and rules. After all policies and rules are to benefit and assist in growth, not to block success and impede progress.

To every leader out there, I remind myself and you if you want to lead, then be a servant. Put your face in the dirt and humble yourself just like Omar Ibn-Al-Khattab did, and ask yourself did I cry today because I fell short in my leadership responsibility?

"I follow the footsteps of Omar when coaching leaders .... and I follow the footsteps of Abu Bakr when I coach followers"

When I coach leaders I follow the footsteps of Omar when it comes to coaching leaders, I bang on them real hard. I do not just criticize, I send them a blow into their face. Call it a wake up call, call it a reality check. No sugar coating, no sweet talk, direct dump of feedback from the heart. Coaching a follower is very different. I follow the footsteps of Abu Bakr when it comes to dealing with followers.

In 2000 Larry Spears summarized Greenleaf's servant leadership writings into ten characteristics:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Conceptualization
  • Foresight
  • Stewardship
  • Commitment to Growth
  • Building Community
Servant leadership is deeply rooted in the Islamic way of life. Traits of compassion, submission, patience, generosity, frugal life-style, humility, humbleness, love, caring, sincerity, integrity, courage, honesty, dedication, commitment, perseverance, steadfastness and ihsan are all components of a servant leader.

"compassion, submission, patience, generosity, frugal life-style, humility, humbleness, love, caring, sincerity, integrity, courage, honesty, dedication, commitment, perseverance, steadfastness and ihsan"

I share this little knowledge I have with every leader out there, whether a member of the board of a non-profit, a county executive, a country president, a teacher, a parent, a principal, a CEO, a head of class or a self-leader.

pbuh = peace be upon him