Tuesday, 2 August 2011

No direction

This is my first blog. So please, be kind or be quiet.

I was HR Director of Vodafone Egypt (Misrfone and Click GSM at the time), joining before launch of service. I remember a conversation with another director who had witnessed previous GSM startups and launches.

He was worried that once the launch was done, the company would lose direction. He said up until the day of going live with the service, all the people working there collectively have a clear, well-defined and agreed-upon objective, GOING LIVE.

He feared that as soon as that critical objective was achieved, each one of us (or at least each department) would go off on a tangent and start pursuing its own objectives. Sales would go sell as many subscriptions as possible (regardless of whether operations said the network could handle them), engineering would build the most sophisticated network possible (regardless of whether marketing said it was needed), etc...

The idea being that when we had a well-articulated and unanimously agreed goal, we could each identify our role in it and as a result we all worked towards it.

But as soon as that goal was achieved and nobody had given thought to the morning after, we were at risk of losing direction and getting distracted. Thankfully in the Vodafone example, we were smart/lucky/experienced enough to immediately set a new goal (100,000 subscribers) to refocus people's efforts.

Everyone began thinking of their role in achieving that goal instead of their own personal or departmental agendas with no framework.

It must be abvious that I am using this analogy to say that what is happening now in Egypt is a post-launch loss of direction.

Up until the minute Mubarak left, it was very clear to every Egyptian who was involved that getting rid of Mubarak was the immediate goal and we all worked towards it in different ways.

Some went to Tahreer but kept themselves safe, others went to the frontlines in the infamous and somewhat medieval Day of the Camel, some didn't come back, others attacked the Ministry of Interior, others still marched to Salah Salem, yet others stayed home and prayed. Some prepared vinegar-soaked cloths and coke cans, some painted the streets in patriotic colors, others sang.

BUT the key thing was, we all wanted to get rid of Mubarak. I believe that this single objective is one of very few, (possibly the only) goal which all revolutionary Egyptians considered absolutely necessary to the success of the revolution.

This is important, because once that was achieved, we had no common goals anymore. Some want Islamic rule, others want the trials for the murderers first, some want the money back, others want parliament, others a presidential council. Everybody's off doing their own thing following their own agendas (not a dirty word in my book), and using their own methods. Some sit-in, some don't, some block roads, others steer traffic, some scream, others talk and debate, some think it's ok to close off Mugamma3, others don't.

And then what happened last night of course shows how far astray this revolution has gone. While the army and police were beating people out the square, some citizens were congratulating them for doing this.

We had sworn never to be beaten again. Now some Egyptians are congratulating the police for beating other Egyptians?!

This is not the place for it, but I'm a new blogger so excuse my diversion. I was against the demonstrators blocking the square. They have no right to block my roads, to make it difficult for customers to reach the shops in Tahreer. BUT they have every right to demonstrate without stepping on people's toes. AND more importantly they have every right to dignified treatment by the police and army.Yet, some people were hugging and kissing police officers for forcibly dispersing the crowds in Tahreer.

Not only do we have no common big goal, we have no common vision of what our relation with the army and police should be. Scary.

And so I come to my point. We need direction. Now.

IMHO we cannot have direction without leadership. Therefore we need elections. Now.

The army has no experience or interest (nor desire if you take their word) in running the country.

Is SCAF good, is it evil? Irrelevant at this point. We need to maintain unity and regain direction.

People are getting bored with this revolution, which promises but does not deliver.

Elections will put someone in power. They will perform. If they do a good job, great. If they don't, then remove them in the following elections. Critical to the democratic maturing process is that we accept the will of the majority.

Tahreer is not for every time someone has a problem. Perhaps we should have a Hyde Park where people can voice their concerns and gather like-minded listeners around them. That is not the function of Tahreer. It costs too much. And with 40% below the poverty line BEFORE the revolution, Egypt can't afford Tahreer endlessly.

We need direction, we need leadership, we need elections.

1 comment:

  1. Very entertaining, and the parable should not be lost on anyone with a semblance of common sense.