Ramadan in the GCC – A lesson in ECM & BPM Project Governance August 16, 2011Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management.
Tags: Bahrain, bpm, Business Process Management, ecm, Enterprise Content Management, GCC, governance, information governance, Kuwait, Oman, project governance, Project Management, Qatar, Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, UAE
The Holy Month of Ramadan brings forth a religious and spiritual ambience to the GCC. How it manages to create this mood is through reduced working hours ( 6 hours a day) and enforcement of abstinence from food and beverage
consumption during the fasting hours ( dawn to dusk). Both, the reduced hours and the abstinence are applicable to one and all, irrespective of their religion.
For those less aware of Ramadan, it is a holy month in the Islamic (Hijri) Calendar when Muslims all over the world fast from dawn to dusk without water and food. During this period, Muslims also give plenty in charity (Zakat), abstain from all sins and maintain discipline and order. In the GCC, this is encouraged by less work pressure but is also enforced through regulations that support the practices of the month.
How this impacts the Muslims and Non-Muslims is very interesting to observe. The Muslims, obviously, welcome the environment in the GCC as it helps them go through the month through social support and acceptance. The Non-Muslims, especially new arrivals from countries with minimal Islamic exposure (expect the next generation French to lead this group), tend to be frustrated and then over time adjust themselves with great difficulty at being forced not to eat or drink in public (Funnily, they rarely tend to praise the convenience of reduced working hours and pressure).
Yet, the governments are able to manage this in spite of the fact that they have a strong Non-Muslim expatriate workforce that is also necessary to keep their country functional and their economy alive. Bear in mind that there is no excessive force applied to enforce these practices upon others. Also, the Non-Muslims are not forced to fast; they are merely restricted from consumption in public as mark of respect. In fact, there are a few restaurants open and all restaurants are allowed to do home delivery.
How then, do the governments manage this?
It’s simple, through Acceptance and Enforcement.
While the majority Muslims accept with open and spiritual arms, the significant minority Non-Muslims swallow it as a spoonful of culture and a bowl full of strict regulations. A heady mix of belief and fear has worked its magic to ensure the Holy Month of Ramadan has for decades kept its sanctity and structure in the GCC as per the practices of this region.
As an inspired ECM and BPM professional, my challenges in projects have always been about bringing best practices and standards of both domains into active use. I would not be bold to say that they have been major successes most of the time with respect to the initial objectives of such projects (see ECM = Enterprise Culture Management: The GCC Analogy for the rationale).
Just like the month of Ramadan, ECM and BPM projects also require discipline (to maintain consistency), abstinence (to avoid old bad habits) and regulations (strong policies to enforce practice). If one is able to add charity (flexibility to function) to this mix, a recipe for better project success may be there for us to savor.
ECM and BPM projects must address the requirements of the larger public (the business users) to gain Acceptance while restraining the old habits of the significant minority (the management) through Enforcement as most deviations originate from management than the “Average Joe” workforce.
Perhaps, the Rest of the World can learn something from GCC on how to apply governance through a mix of acceptance and enforcement. Now, if only GCC corporates also learnt this, I would have more satisfying projects delivered to write home about.