Is The Islamic Economy Focused On People?

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Joy Abdullah
By Joy Abdullah*

It’s amazing how little we actually focus on ‘people’ in business in spite of the fact that it is people who make everything happen. An organisation exists because of its staff, partners, customers and other stakeholders, i.e. people. The value proposition of any organisation, and any industry, is totally dependent on the people involved.

Globally, behaviour of people across countries and across socio-economic strata has changed vastly. Impacted by financial crises and the rapid proliferation and use of social media, people are now interacting more and more as interest-based communities.

Where does the ‘Islamic economy’ fit in among all this?

With the Halal & Islamic finance industries having seen double-digit growth in recent years’, the Islamic economy has come into the spotlight, and with Dubai’s announcement of re-inventing itself as an ‘Islamic economic center’ these twin industries have taken center-stage.

Whilst this is great news all around for a variety of reasons:

  1. Business growth opportunities for multinationals, regional and national businesses with the twin industries of Islamic finance & Halal.
  2. The UAE’s seven pillar strategy brings to fore additional industries that would benefit.
  3. Increasing employment requirement, i.e. job opportunities, which will then impact on increasing consumption.
  4. Increased requirements of up-skilling of industry professionals.

What is not being addressed is how the organisations involved would tackle their business strategies.

The driving force for the Islamic economy is the Islamic financial services & Halal.

These would be in pole position whilst the powerhouse that would provide the fuel to these two sectors would have to be the education sector.

Looking across organisations in these sectors one notes that the approach to strategic development still appears to be using the classical method of having a ‘USP’ – unique selling proposition – i.e. developing strategy from a product perspective.

Not that this is wrong.

But given the massive behaviourial changes that occurred in the last decade, not acknowledging the impact of those changes in business strategy is akin to ignoring reality.

For organisations to be successful in this endeavour of being instrumental in establishing a robust Islamic economy, a very clear focus and emphasis on developing business strategies based on understanding their people who are involved in the business eco-system have to come about.

There are two key points here:

  1. Robust economy: This means ensuring sustainability of individual organisations’ earnings so that the organisation stays in existence and industry growth is maintained.
  2. Understanding People: Business is run by people – the organisations’ staff – for people – customers, vendors, partners. Without acknowledging and understanding what motivates people, business strategies would be way off mark.

Why is there a need to focus on people?

A focus on people has to be taken on board as the behaviour of the people impacts very heavily on an organisations’ ability to perform well.

Here’s how:

  1. Culture:
    With business growth opportunities shifting towards Asia and Africa, organisations are now faced with understanding what the new consumer behaviours is like in these new markets. Within such vast markets the end consumers’ behaviourial patterns differ across and within countries. Simultaneously, organisations have had to look at on-boarding knowledge workers and millenials in their work-force in order to manage this growth. Knowledge workers and millenials have different behaviours based on age, experience and environmental background.
    So today the need of the hour for organisations is to take on board how these diverse behaviours from people connected to their business are affecting their performance and acceptance of their brands. Internally, these behaviours impact the work culture within an organisation. This culture, in turn, manifests externally, and focuses on the way relationships are built with the external stakeholders.
  2. Leadership & Engagement
    The people or staff of an organisation are the physical manifestation of that organisation. The behaviours the staff display are, in essence, a representation of the organisation’s culture and values. This brings to fore an emphasis, for the organisation, on its leadership and employee engagement.
    Increasingly, the demand on leadership is becoming one of creating influence and social buy-in or, in other words, developing engagement based on aligning personal values and mission (of an employee) with that of the organisation.
    Leading to having, as far as possible, engaged and happy employees in order to ensure the organisational brand is seen as delivering authentic value.
  3. Involvement
    Engagement leads to having the employees at the center of the overall brand experience. This focus involves understanding the organisational culture prevailing, discussing change areas if needed, fine-tuning desired behaviour and communicating it to the employees in a manner that brings about acceptance. Active involvement of employees becomes critical as without this the brand vision and brand delivery cannot be achieved.

So what’s the next step for organisations involved in the Islamic economy?

Focusing on people means re-calibrating how business strategy is approached.

Instead of a product-centric approach, one has to move into a people-centric or behaviour oriented approach that fits the environment.

Here’s how:

  1. Develop business strategy from a perspective of fitting the environment and not the product.
    This will entail understanding cultural behaviour of all the stakeholders i.e. people involved in the organisations’ eco-system.
  2. Develop the organisations’ leadership & management strategies to fit the business strategy which is aligned to the environment.
  3. Lastly, undertake activities, as initiatives, which clearly show the organisations’ understanding of the cultural behavioural nuances of its stakeholder.

* Joy Abdullah is a Malaysia-based expert in brand-based business sustainability

See his other posts:

Sustainability in Islamic economy

Leadership for business sustainability in the Islamic economy

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[caption id="attachment_21068" align="alignleft" width="250"] By Joy Abdullah*[/caption] It’s amazing how little we actually focus on ‘people’ in business in spite of the fact that it is people who make everything happen. An organisation exists because of its staff, partners, customers and other stakeholders, i.e. people. The value proposition of any organisation, and any industry, is totally dependent on the people involved. Globally, behaviour of people across countries and across socio-economic strata has changed vastly. Impacted by financial crises and the rapid proliferation and use of social media, people are now interacting more and more as interest-based communities. Where does the...

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Joy Abdullah
By Joy Abdullah*

It’s amazing how little we actually focus on ‘people’ in business in spite of the fact that it is people who make everything happen. An organisation exists because of its staff, partners, customers and other stakeholders, i.e. people. The value proposition of any organisation, and any industry, is totally dependent on the people involved.

Globally, behaviour of people across countries and across socio-economic strata has changed vastly. Impacted by financial crises and the rapid proliferation and use of social media, people are now interacting more and more as interest-based communities.

Where does the ‘Islamic economy’ fit in among all this?

With the Halal & Islamic finance industries having seen double-digit growth in recent years’, the Islamic economy has come into the spotlight, and with Dubai’s announcement of re-inventing itself as an ‘Islamic economic center’ these twin industries have taken center-stage.

Whilst this is great news all around for a variety of reasons:

  1. Business growth opportunities for multinationals, regional and national businesses with the twin industries of Islamic finance & Halal.
  2. The UAE’s seven pillar strategy brings to fore additional industries that would benefit.
  3. Increasing employment requirement, i.e. job opportunities, which will then impact on increasing consumption.
  4. Increased requirements of up-skilling of industry professionals.

What is not being addressed is how the organisations involved would tackle their business strategies.

The driving force for the Islamic economy is the Islamic financial services & Halal.

These would be in pole position whilst the powerhouse that would provide the fuel to these two sectors would have to be the education sector.

Looking across organisations in these sectors one notes that the approach to strategic development still appears to be using the classical method of having a ‘USP’ – unique selling proposition – i.e. developing strategy from a product perspective.

Not that this is wrong.

But given the massive behaviourial changes that occurred in the last decade, not acknowledging the impact of those changes in business strategy is akin to ignoring reality.

For organisations to be successful in this endeavour of being instrumental in establishing a robust Islamic economy, a very clear focus and emphasis on developing business strategies based on understanding their people who are involved in the business eco-system have to come about.

There are two key points here:

  1. Robust economy: This means ensuring sustainability of individual organisations’ earnings so that the organisation stays in existence and industry growth is maintained.
  2. Understanding People: Business is run by people – the organisations’ staff – for people – customers, vendors, partners. Without acknowledging and understanding what motivates people, business strategies would be way off mark.

Why is there a need to focus on people?

A focus on people has to be taken on board as the behaviour of the people impacts very heavily on an organisations’ ability to perform well.

Here’s how:

  1. Culture:
    With business growth opportunities shifting towards Asia and Africa, organisations are now faced with understanding what the new consumer behaviours is like in these new markets. Within such vast markets the end consumers’ behaviourial patterns differ across and within countries. Simultaneously, organisations have had to look at on-boarding knowledge workers and millenials in their work-force in order to manage this growth. Knowledge workers and millenials have different behaviours based on age, experience and environmental background.
    So today the need of the hour for organisations is to take on board how these diverse behaviours from people connected to their business are affecting their performance and acceptance of their brands. Internally, these behaviours impact the work culture within an organisation. This culture, in turn, manifests externally, and focuses on the way relationships are built with the external stakeholders.
  2. Leadership & Engagement
    The people or staff of an organisation are the physical manifestation of that organisation. The behaviours the staff display are, in essence, a representation of the organisation’s culture and values. This brings to fore an emphasis, for the organisation, on its leadership and employee engagement.
    Increasingly, the demand on leadership is becoming one of creating influence and social buy-in or, in other words, developing engagement based on aligning personal values and mission (of an employee) with that of the organisation.
    Leading to having, as far as possible, engaged and happy employees in order to ensure the organisational brand is seen as delivering authentic value.
  3. Involvement
    Engagement leads to having the employees at the center of the overall brand experience. This focus involves understanding the organisational culture prevailing, discussing change areas if needed, fine-tuning desired behaviour and communicating it to the employees in a manner that brings about acceptance. Active involvement of employees becomes critical as without this the brand vision and brand delivery cannot be achieved.

So what’s the next step for organisations involved in the Islamic economy?

Focusing on people means re-calibrating how business strategy is approached.

Instead of a product-centric approach, one has to move into a people-centric or behaviour oriented approach that fits the environment.

Here’s how:

  1. Develop business strategy from a perspective of fitting the environment and not the product.
    This will entail understanding cultural behaviour of all the stakeholders i.e. people involved in the organisations’ eco-system.
  2. Develop the organisations’ leadership & management strategies to fit the business strategy which is aligned to the environment.
  3. Lastly, undertake activities, as initiatives, which clearly show the organisations’ understanding of the cultural behavioural nuances of its stakeholder.

* Joy Abdullah is a Malaysia-based expert in brand-based business sustainability

See his other posts:

Sustainability in Islamic economy

Leadership for business sustainability in the Islamic economy

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