I went to a “consultative meeting” between government bodies and affected citizens of Bahrain last month, and I left feeling disgusted and angry. Not because the will to help wasn’t there, nor because people weren’t trying their best. I left because the realization dawned on me: Our system is broken.
What makes a system successful? What is a system in the first place? A system is a collection of components functioning together, like your body. Now, what happens if the brain or heart shuts down? Bahrain has the heart and brain, but the rest of its organs are in question. And it has no veins or arteries. And selfish blood cells.
In that meeting, every organization was trying to fix mini-problems without taking the overall picture into consideration. Each representative would pledge time and attention to meet with each complainant while missing the essential point: There needs to be a better way. The moderator was floundering in a sea of simultaneous questions and complaints.
If the system isn’t functioning correctly, local companies struggle to improve themselves and expand, and foreign companies aren’t as interested in setting up. A lot of time and effort are wasted, we remain stagnant and inefficient, and neighbors that have their affairs in order end up benefitting from our weaknesses. Look at Singapore: They boomed essentially because they’re efficient.
What is our role as startups and companies in all of this? Our job is to make a buck and be successful, right? Wrong! Each company is trying to move itself and its affairs along by “hook or crook” so when there is a jam in the procedure we either slide it along, wait, or force it through: Focusing on the single individual transaction. That does not help our system because it doesn’t force the components (governmental departments etc.) to improve or communicate effectively to serve OUR needs: Us, the dynamo of the economy.
Our role as companies is to constantly fight. Fight to improve our environment. Fight to get the lawmakers’ attention. Fight to get our rights. Don’t be dominated by some consultant pencil pusher who just graduated. Take the pencil and jab it in his eye.
What makes Japan so successful although it’s a tiny island in the middle of the ocean? Discipline, honor, integrity, and a sincere desire to serve the rest. What keeps Arabs backward? I think you can answer that question yourselves.
When I got a speeding ticket in Germany they sent the ticket to my home in Bahrain. I transferred the money but after bank charges, it was missing approximately 10 Euros. The system penalized me by adding 100 Euros for being late/incomplete. After a three-minute phone call with the concerned officer, my issue was resolved and they dropped the fine. Why? Because the system is there to serve the people, and use LOGIC! We need a healthy dose of German logic and Japanese ethics.
Bahrain has always been ahead of its time in education, technology, and personal freedoms. I think, hope, and pray that we maintain that advance and correct each small wrong wherever we see it. If the new generation doesn’t tackle the system then we’ll just be stuck in that old-fashioned “it isn’t my problem” mentality. It might seem crazy, but if we help others improve the system then we are helping ourselves in the long run.
Finally, you might ask, “Ok, we got your point, but what am I supposed to do about it?” Be active in your fields, join unions and fight for improvement, be involved in the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, write about it, talk about it, run for parliament for the right reason, wear a t-shirt expressing your opinion. Be a good blood cell. Just believe.
Our generation needs to move. So get up. Move.