In a startup, the dream is not the problem; The dreamer is
We often accuse an unfulfilled dream of being unrealistic, but how often do we realize that who sabotaged the dream was the dreamer himself?
“More than 90% of startups fail,” a Startup Genome Report had revealed in 2011, “due primarily to self-destruction rather than competition.”
Indeed, the dream can be great, but the dreamer themselves might bring about its demise.
Sadek Al-Assaad, HR/Business Expert and CEO of human resource consultancy Zeder Group, talks about this and more in the second part of his interview with AMEinfo. You can find the first part here.
In this part of our interview, we discuss his company’s Open Source Management (OSM) service (in partnership with Open Source Management Group), and the personal development entrepreneurs need to consider before they bring their business idea dream to reality.
AMEinfo: What is Open Source Management (OSM) and why would you recommend it to entrepreneurs?
Al-Assaad: Open Source Management [Group] is a consulting firm that’s dedicated to helping business owners. Their OSM tool is made by business owners for business owners.
Business owners don’t think like corporate management. For these owners, most of their actions and decisions are decisions that are outside of their comfort zone.
AMEinfo: Yes, because business owners have a vested interest – their decisions can either make them financially successful, or financially bankrupt. Executives, on the other hand, are more managerially inclined. You do you a job, earn your salary and go home at the end of the day.
Al-Assaad: Exactly. And this is what Open Source Management is. It helps the entrepreneur – the person himself. We start with them. The company image is the image and personality of its owner. If I am unorganised, my company is going to be unorganised. If I am the best salesperson, my company will be very good with sales, but maybe operations will fail. Our own research [at Zeder Group] has shown that no one is able to have the idea, implement it, operate it, and count the money at the same time. If you go to any business that has succeeded, their entrepreneurs have had a team behind them.
When people decide to become entrepreneurs or start their own business, they start with a big dream. As soon as they try to implement their dream, they begin compromising bit by bit. They realize things like ‘I was not practical, because I have to control my expenses, control the time of my employees, manage the cleaning of the office,’ etc. They get sucked into the operational day-to-day activities, and then they start changing their dream.
With OSM, what you learn is not skill-based, but personality-based to fuel personal growth. This is what will make the difference for a business owner, CEO, etc. Corporate today say that they want to be agile, embrace change, and undergo transformation – which has become a buzzword – but then they resort to their old way of doing things. It doesn’t work that way. We need to empower people and work on their personal development.
AMEinfo: If you don’t have a motivated team, you can’t really get anywhere.
Al-Assaad: That’s right. And the motivated team doesn’t become motivated because of money. The overall job experience is what engages employees, be it personal development, fulfillment, an expanded office space, etc.
To feel fulfilled, they need to have a sense of belonging to the business they’re working in. Employees need to share the same values, culture, and beliefs as the entrepreneur himself, and his/her company. And they become a replica of yourself in a sense, working with the same mindset and motivations.
It’s a major challenge [to get employees to care as much about the business] because what we’ve been doing has been recruiting people for skills and then asking of them to share our values and motivations.
AMEinfo: But do you think that once you receive CVs or you interview someone, you can ascertain these values, or do you need to learn this about the individual over time? How do you find this out?
Al-Assaad: OSM’s assessment tool works on identifying these values. It doesn’t tell you how good my project management skills are, or how much I like data. The OSM tool we use, the iProfile, tells us how assertive someone is, or how tolerant, and so on.
More often than not, people whom you think are high-fliers (because they’re selling a lot) could be toxic in the workplace, contributing negatively to employee morale. This person will burn the ground around them, but he/she would have secured owners the sales they want.
But now, Operations are not happy anymore because of the negativity of this person. This then reflects on overall employee performance and customer satisfaction rates.
AMEinfo: Should business owners look differently at GCC millennials when hiring them?
Al-Assaad: GCC millennials are more exposed than millennials from other countries because of the melt of expats and different cultures in the Gulf region.
They have short attention spans, and they’re not looking for someone to tell them what to do. They want to know why we’re doing what they’re doing.
Attention spans are so short that if these millennials don’t start seeing results from their work, they leave their job and look for another.
As corporates, we can’t just draft a 5-year plan – we can’t just ask employees to follow a certain action plan where each has a predetermined role. It won’t work anymore. We need to empower this younger generation – they need to be agile enough to be able to act on their own, see the results, and keep on moving.
Again, this is easier said than done, because relinquishing power is not in human nature. People like to have power and be in control.