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The Story of the “Keep engaged group”​

Professor Samar Ahmed

By Professor Samar Ahmed

Professor Ahmed is an MD, JMHPE, FAIMER Fellow and faculty. She is the Director at Ain Shams Middle East North Africa FAIMER Regional Institute for Health Professions Education (menafri.faimefri.org).

When you are running a business, and all you can see is your target you tend to lose sight of the mice in the attic.

You might try to forget them and act as though they no longer exist but, unfortunately they do and they have unsupervised access to your cheese. Every now and then you hear the squeaks of the wooden ceiling moving under their feet but you tell yourself that this is a sound to ignore. After all it is not an earthquake! You continue to keep your composure and pat yourself on the shoulder and remind yourself to see the big picture but the squeaks still haunt you in the night every now and then. They call on you to use the stairs and check the attic…. They wake you up in the middle of the night to check for those who crawl in the dark. You build your courage night after night till one day your legs take you up the stairs and you peak through the squeaking door. it is then that you realize that all your cheese is replaced with crumbs and giggle through the dark knocks you off your guard….. Have you just woken up? Really? Creatures of the dark have been munching through your integrity and composition for days and days and now you have nothing to sell.

Stakeholder map

They taught us stakeholder mapping and analysis and this is what we tend to work on with every business idea we embark on. We focus on the HL group (High impact low interest) and we engage them in so many decisions and try to make them part of the team. We might work a little harder to focus on the LH group (Low impact and high interest) and we generate development plans for them and capacity building in hope that we might someday have enough faith in them to rely on them in tasks and actually expect performance. We keep an eye on the LL group who just don’t care and all you need from them is for them to let you be. But the problem is that we have so much faith in our team (the HH group) that we sometimes forget to check on them.

The market is an awful place a terrible place that is full of rivalry and a false sense of competition. In the market there are sales people who call out for their merchandise and others whose strategy is to burn down your inventory just to make sure their products are all there is to buy. We are taught to believe that successful people focus on their productivity and their target but we are not taught to keep track of the market actions that are fundamentally unethical and do not conform to any marketing theory you study and Harvard business school. The mice in the attic know well that there are Parmesan cheese worth every penny you pay for it and there is rotten cottage cheese made of stale milk. They kill for the the Parmesan and leave the attic drowned in outdated rolls of the least palatable cheese. They target your team and your HH group and map their insecurities. They ask rotten questions that raise negative feelings and leave them with an internal dialogue that crumbles their sense of security.

Good people are meant to be treated well and even when you think you do, there is always that person with the grudge who knows how to tap on and cultivate the sense of revolt in them. We were told to communicate openly with our teams but sometimes the team has a memory as short as that of a fish. They are impressionable and they become easy targets.

Figure 2Unfortunately you cannot work in the kitchen alone and keep it clean and expect to bake a great pizza. A great pizza comes out of an Italian oven underneath an exceptionally clean attic… An attic where all the mice are in traps and all the cheese is fresh and edible. More time needs to be spent on luring out the mice and keeping your cheese clean and happy. Unfortunately this is how we as humans work and how we function in an open market when instead of scaling up our business we nibble on each others’ foundations. This just makes the laws of business a little different and questions related do not always find answers in Maslow’s Pyramid.

You need to defend your vision and keep mice away. If you cannot keep them out then keep them in….but trap them where they cannot reach your cheese and where they can hurt no one but themselves. Make sure your team sees them for what they truly are…. MICE. Make sure they can see the world through your eyes and hear the voices of alternate motives as they are meant to be. Make sure they receive on the same decibles and wave length as you and when you are sure that they do, give them something to fight for. Make sure they own and know that they own the business.

When they fight their war they might feel for you and know who you are to them. When they fight the war they will know that you are losing your health and time and family to defend their existence, they might just find reason enough to shut their ears when the noise becomes too loud.

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