The human face of enterprise

By KJ John
Jun 14, 11 | The Malaysian Insider

I disagree with Pas president Abdul Hadi Awang about his welfare state idea or ideal. Socialism had the same ideal and idea; but, it is now almost dead. Cuba is its last frontier and is closing down soon. Some others have called the same type of ideal, ‘capitalism with a human face’.

That is much better but not good enough. Capitalism presumes that ‘money is the root of all motivation and life’. But the scriptures say that the love of money is the root of all such evil. I prefer to call such an idea or ideal ‘the human face of enterprise.’

Why cannot man apply enterprise or initiative towards creating good values for all of life? Such enterprise must first subscribe to good universal values, and then create a process which offers a value offering which will transform the quality of human life. When such a creative process is productised into a full value innovation, people are willing to pay money, or even barter for it, and to exchange their personal offering for the new value proposition.

Let me give a simple example. Thomas Edison is said to have experimented on hundreds of ideas but we remember him only for the light bulb. But his light bulb was an excellent value proposition, which came to be ‘productised’ as the light bulb and then it was commercially reproduced. It gave light and revelation to a dark world lit only by fire.

Today, humans cannot live without the light bulb. In fact, many live only by the light of Edison’s bulb and forget an even greater light of wisdom and knowledge. The ultimate author of all these remains the only omnipotent one.

Ustaz Hadi’s welfare state ideal is thus flawed because it is premised upon the state and seems to ignore the enterprise from the individual. The welfare state is a proven abject failure and it is well-established that it is creativity and innovation of personal enterprise that moves groups and communities, not institutionalised systems, whether you call it the government, the state, or the community, or even any religious group.

The sum is greater than the parts

Teams are distinctly different. Unlike larger compliant groups, teams of individuals, like a flock of birds flying in formation, somehow learn to move in a coordinated fashion and their productivity is greater the sum of the parts; in short, there is synergy in such teams.

Well-organised and directed teams can become high performers and demonstrate their excellence. The recent Barcelona team victory over Manchester United spoke this message. A good philharmonic orchestra is another good example of the sum being greater than the parts.

Good teams require good leadership and an equally good followership as part and parcel of the organisational culture. I said leadership and followership but did not talk about personalities or cultic leaders and followers. Leadership theories are wrong when they just make one person the cult hero of leadership models and the failure of one single individual becomes the failure of followership, and teams. It is never that simple.

No man or woman is an island; work in modern settings can never be done by individuals alone without groups as natural coalitions that come together in organisational settings to achieve goals and targets. The missing ingredient in all excellent organisations is therefore good leadership and equally good supervisorship.

Supervision is truly that: they are persons who have a clearer goal and role clarity sharing their extraordinary vision about what needs to happen. When vision gets translated and further executed well; we get excellence.

Ustaz Hadi therefore needs to talk about how to motivate all Malaysians, and not just Muslims, to become not just enterprising but also to do so with a human face of concern for the “other”. The poor neighbor must also become their human concern from enterprise. That is not welfare or charity but love of the ‘other’ for a greater good. That good is often more than altruism and is religious in fervor. Most call it true spirituality, but it needs to transcend religion.

Therefore, it is not unsurprising that PM Najib Abdul Razak also talked about Umno already being a welfare club, too. But, let us be honest: after 50 years leadership of Umno, the welfare nature of their enterprise is not any more obvious. Umno has lost that older value of a leadership for national transformation and has today become the symbol of “how to get rich quick through Umno!”

How else can a simple unbranded and unimpressive dentist pay cash of RM6 million for house renovations, Balinese style? And the Internal Revenue Board was not even watching or asking questions!

GEM – a forgotten model of growth

Malaysia has a gem-like model of growth and development but which has been forgotten. It was called the Growth with Equity Model or GEM. It was what made us the envy of the world at one time. For no other known nation of the world had transformed an entire agricultural community into the ICT and engineering sector within one generation.

Malaysia did; and Felda was the most obvious and shining example of such a visible growth and development agenda of Malaysia’s GEM. Rubber and palm oil were the industrial enterprise drivers of that value proposition.

But, those were the days when teachers were grassroots leaders in Umno in Malaysia. Today, rather unfortunately, they are led by businessmen who believe that everything and everybody can be bought, or, at least have a price. How wrong they are.

Therefore, we get a clown as a state leader who is allowed to make cash payments for the “services rendered”. No wonder there was also the other fellow who was caught with millions in cash but got away because he could not read or speak English in Australia; so much for Malaysian education.

I would advise Ustaz Hadi to think through and develop the model a little more clearly, as his presumed model did not work in Kelantan or Trengganu either.

In fact, if you follow the new PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu’s (right) logic, Penang with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s CAT model may be a better value offering of the traditional communitarian ideal of helping one start at the level of the individual but end with up skilling the enterprise capability and capacity of the individual.

Lim drives that agenda as an individual with a mission and a passion. He is an accountant by training and a banker who knows these three words well. Moreover, his greatest value is that he loves his neighbor and was willing to go to jail for other people’s vision.

Come on Malaysia, just learn to read, understand and appreciate true development history in our own backyard and we will value our own self-image and creative power without the need to make others feel small. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “there is enough food in the world to feed all the poor, but there is not enough to feed human greed!” May God bless Malaysia.

  1. #1 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 16 June 2011 - 7:04 am

    To me, terms are being created to mean the same thing. What is the difference with such words: wlefare state, socialist society, egalitarianism and what nots? They are just terms coined by writers and professors who , just like the average goods in the market, want to rebrand their ideas. Great political leaders should not spend too much time in such branding process. Just remember: the job is to bring economic progress to the nation WITHOUT forgetting the bottom 20% of the population who needs to be PULLED along as the society moves forwards; they are laggards for some reason, notwithstanding the fact that GOD created all on equal footing! What is China’s version of communism today? Mao may be shaking his head! it is an inherent character of man to seek comfort as he progresses as an individual though he must be reminded that some would still need assistance in every aspects of their daily life. How would you brand Lau Lee’s style? To those outside Singapore, it is mighty good but like all human nature, what is easily available soon becomes boring. we certainly loves to be bored with such scenario!!

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