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Thursday, July 16, 2009

10 Attributes of a Learning Oganization


Communications is a key component of effective leadership. Leaders don't sit in their offices behind their desk, they are out in the field dealing with customers, suppliers, employees and other constituencies of their organization. This interaction between the leader and these other groups and individuals yields tremendous amounts of experience and knowledge. An organization which shares knowledge and learns from its members is a learning organization.

Learning organizations are characterized by the following:

1. Possess solid systems for communications among its members.
2. Knowledge and intellect is respected and appreciated.
3. Team work and collaboration is the norm.
4. Members consult one another on a continuous basis.
5. Members update others on a continuous basis.
6. Teams learn from past experiences, and mistakes are rarely repeated.
7. Information, knowledge storage and retrieval is efficient and effective.
8. Team members are accessible and known for their expertise, contributing to centers of competence.
9. Realizes continuous growth and innovation.
10. Encourages diversity and systems-based thinking.

Is your organization a learning one? How can you assess its learning capabilities?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Instilling Change: A Key Component of Leadership

Leading change is by no means a trivial job. Only the experienced leaders with astute vision can lead their teams to change. The Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is a role model for not only change, but transformation.

Our Creator informs us that no group of people will change unless they take initiative to embrace change themselves. Indeed the only things that is constant is change itself, or as Muslims know it as the sunnah of Allah (ways of Allah).

Scholars of management [1] define a few steps which are key for successfully leading change. I summarize these points [2] and provide references from the Quran and teachings of the Prophet (PBUH).

1. Intention:
Quran: Indeed Allah does not change the condition of a group unless they change themselves.
Hadith: Indeed deeds are based on their intentions

2. Urgency:
Quran: So flee to Allah quickly indeed I am to you from him a clear warning
Quran: And hasten to a forgiveness from your Lord and a paradise the width of the skies and earth

3. Clear Vision:
Quran: And Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship him, this is the straight path (Mary 36)

4. Stick to a Good Team:
Quran: And seek patience in your soul with the ones who remember their Lord in the early morning, and the evening late at night, seeking his pleasure and acceptance (Cave 28)
Quran: Wow to me, I wish I have not taken him/her a close companion (friend) (Al-Furqan 28)

5. Self Critique Self:
Quran: Oh you who believe fear Allah, and shall a soul see what it has prepared for its tomorrow (hereafter), and fear Allah, indeed Allah is with what you have performed all knowing
Hadith: Seek forgiveness, for indeed I seek forgiveness 70 times in a day

6. Take Action and Perfect it:
Hadith: Indeed Allah loves if one of you do an action, that you perfect it

7. Be Consistent:
Hadith: The best of deeds are the continuous, even if they are little

8. Take Small Steps:
Hadith: This way of life (Islam) is deep so get in it slowly and gently

9. Don't Give Up:
Quran: Tell my servants who have transgressed upon themselves to not despair from the mercy of Allah, indeed Allah forgives all the sins.

10. Offer Value and Increase Benefit:
Good deeds wipe out bad deeds

11. Ensure You are Working on a Sound Foundation:
Fix your beliefs and values
Quran: And Satin said when the matter was over (life on earth, and the day of judgment), indeed Allah promised you the promise of truth, and I promised you and broke my promise, and I had no power over you, except that I invited you and you accepted, so do not blame me, and blam yourselves. (Ibrahim 22)

12. Set and Realize Realistic Goals
Quran: Indeed Allah does not burden a soul with more than what it can handle

13. Stay Away from Distractions
Quran: Do not even come near fornication
Quran: So flee to Allah

14. Remember Your Mission in Life:
Quran: I have only created jinn and mankind to worship me
Quran: Is it not that with the rememberance of Allah that hearts have tranquility and content

15. Remember Life-cycles End:
Hadith: Remember the destroyer of all pleasures (death)

16. Never Execute Trivial Work:
Hadith: A human's accountability on the day of judgement will not be over until he is asked about four things, from among them is his time and how he utilized it

17. Forecast Risks:
Quran: Indeed the plotting of Satin is weak
Be vigilant and forecast problems and risks




[1] Dan Cohen and John Kotter, "The Heart of Change Field Guide", Harvard Business Press, 2005.
[2] Ayman Nassar, "Implementing Change", Friday Khutbah, Hanover, PA, July 10th, 2009