Every summer, I look forward to my annual vacation and the chance to disconnect from the daily work routine. One of my most cherished rituals is a ten mile morning walk on the beach that I am religiously committed to, which feeds mind, body and soul. It’s the time in the day where most of my new ideas come from, where problems are solved and where the mysterious inner workings of the mind help me shape what comes next. One of Omnipreneurship’s golden rules, Design Organically, is always at play during these walks as it helps me think about finding the best possible formula for achieving the absolute pinnacle of what’s possible, regardless of whatever preconceived notions I may have.
When you design organically, you set aside convenience and the already known for the sake of the possibly better-unknown options and the most optimal, as-yet-undiscovered outcome. We can’t assume that we always know what is best. At the same time, we should not simply allow others to design our systems for us.
I often find myself inspired by nature as it is the master of organic design, capable of the most elegant solutions with built-in resilience, efficiency and organising principles that yield the best possible outcome. One of the most essential tools of Design Organically is the Zero Based Review, which asks the individual or the organisation to use three key steps to help identify their objectives and priorities. The process requires:
Step 1: Conducting a thorough, on-the-ground observation and listening carefully to prospective stakeholders to identify the best operating model and organizational infrastructure, including core competencies needed to reach their finish line.
Step 2: Identifying which, if any, of their existing core competencies and resources can deliver on the task at hand.
Step 3: Filling the gap with fresh outside resources, either developed from scratch or acquired.
When it came to designing Al-Dabbagh Group’s Sustainability activities, the Zero Based Review was an essential process that helped inform how we can align all of our initiatives to respond to the 4 Ps – People, Profit, Planet and Philanthropy, the building blocks of our principle of Sustaining. We are invested in creating and maintaining systems that allow us to be cost-efficient while also mindful of how we are treating our home, the planet. Using the Zero Based Review, we were able to take an objective look across all our businesses in various sectors and identify areas that could be optimised to minimize emissions, reduce overtime for our people and the planet. Data gathering and benchmarking are an essential part of the process and the outcome delivered a comprehensive plan, a list of the ideal partners and a clear path forward that was designed to complement our mission.
The rule of Design Organically along with all its nuances including the Zero Based Review, has proven to be effective across our Earning, Sustaining and Giving principles, playing a hand in the creation of many programs and initiatives that advance our global mission. It’s also a rule that has been humbling throughout the course of my career; teaching me a great lesson about overcoming our “know it all” assumptions and going at things with a fresh and open mind. As Steven Pinker once wrote, “Overcoming naïve impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity’s highest callings.”
Amr Al-Dabbagh is CEO of the Al-Dabbagh Group, which operates 62 companies in 60 countries employing over 15,000 men and women around the world. Follow him on Twitter at @theomnipreneur. For more information on The Greatest Among You and the other components of Omnipreneurship, you can buy the book, Omnipreneurship, now available for Kindle and in hardback on Amazon.