16 March 2013

Crystal Clear

MELA 4, DAY TEN: 16 MARCH 2013

Crystals are precious, resilient, well-ordered and pure. Their components are individual yet they fit together in a structured whole. They both capture light and send forth illumination. And, in a saturated solution, they branch and grow.

Remind you of anything?

 MELA crystals

We may shed a few crystal tears today now that MELA 4 is drawing to a close. And no one has a crystal ball to discern the future. Yet this at least is crystal clear: we shall meet again soon, and our deep connections, joint projects and collective vision will go on, reinforced and reinvigorated by our time together in Muscat.

According to Michael Kouly, we need at least twelve hugs a day for peace of mind. Maha and Zainab have decided to start early.

The morning's guest speaker is Steve Sosebee (President and CEO, The Palestine Children's Relief Fund). His description of PCRF's work, coordinating and conducting emergency volunteer medical missions to Palestine and refugee camps in Lebanon, brings the audience to their feet in respect and awe for his determination and achievements.

 A lot of people want to shake this man's hand.

Meet the press: Omani television interviews Michael about MELA.

What, no walls? The breakout groups have moved outdoors for a final wrap-up.

Understanding the power of MELA. With the Academy almost over, Jim looks forward to the follow-on activities of the network, and connections with MELA's partner organizations in USA, Central Eurasia and Southeast Asia.  

Thank you, Bill, for putting together a curriculum that stretched, educated and delighted us.

Hats off to Amy, Samer, Devyn, Sami, Tim and Massi. You infected everyone with your fun and positive energy and made the operations at MELA 4 run as smooth as crystal.

* * *


Participants are awarded a certificate of completion for the MELA Academy, and are officially inducted as members into MELA as a regional network organization.

A Sami Ammous panorama picture production

The ever-thoughtful Abdulrahman reflects on his MELA experience.

The ever-vivacious Abeer is picture-perfect in company with Meisa Batayneh, Michael Kouly and Hassan Alkabbani.

Ahmad receives a warm handshake and a cool MELA crystal from Sami.

Master of Ceremonies Dan poses with Verbal Maestro Ahmed.

Adib is returning home as a hybrid Lebanese-Omani.

The fabric of those dishdashas is thinner than you think. Hassan pins a MELA badge on Amer's chest – literally, it seems.

When Eman expressed so lyrically, in both poetry and prose, her feelings about the last ten days, you could have heard a pin drop.

The group shouts out so many positive words of appreciation and affection for Mater, he has to block his ears from the clamor.

For leaderly poise and grace, Manal has no peers...

... except for the charismatic genius of Reem!

 Riyadh discovers a long-lost friend on stage.

Salah's wit and intelligence spiced up the program.

Forget those Oscar Ceremony gift bags (worth a mere $45,000)... bah! Wait till Sanad finds out what is in the MELA gift bag! Like the friendships we built here, its contents are priceless. 

Wassim addresses his new MELA family.

Youmna is awarded her MELA certificate. Her mother Mme. Gemayel enjoys the moment from the back of the room.

The whole room chants "Zainab, Zainab" as the future Secretary-General of the GCC (insha'allah) takes the floor.

Said Alshanfari is one of the two MELA 4 representatives elected to the MELA Board.

Shadi Qawasmi is the second new Board member.

Congratulations to both these excellent gentlemen!

The room offers a standing ovation to the grandmaster and founding Board Member of MELA: 

 Guiding spirit Jim Crupi.

 Daggers for gentlemen, dhows for ladies

The warmth and welcome that we all felt in Muscat was embodied by the MELA Omani team, who presented to each of us a souvenir of an unforgettable time together, with a resonant message that we carry home in our hearts.

 ¡Viva MELA!

15 March 2013

Proud Melanians


This is a capstone: 

It represents the culmination of a process, and brings an object to aesthetic and functional completion. Comprising the agenda for Day Eight, the MELA Capstone Project engages participant teams to employ all the capabilities they have been practicing during the entire program. The goal by the end of the day is to elaborate and present fresh outlooks for the MELA organization under the rubrics of Growth, Branding, and Bonding. 

This is a beach:

It is the venue of choice for Reunion attendees, who meet for bonding exercises while luxuriating in the sun. 

Dan is impresario and moderator for the Reunion events, which include MELA member updates. Lama ("La Jabasini," see MELA 4, Day Eight) has won the prize for Best Story.

Lana shares the award and the limelight. (Or is that sunlight?)

Ali, too, has tales to tell.

This is a MELA Board Member:

This also is a MELA Board Member:

Both Michael Kouly and Abdullah Alkasabi have been cooped up in a room all day attending the marathon Board meeting. Michael celebrates his freedom by throwing himself on a deckchair. Abdullah celebrates by throwing himself on Adel.

Other Board members, meanwhile, have gathered in the ballroom as a committee to listen to the Capstone Project presentations.

The first team (a.k.a. Fifth Dimension Consulting Group) illustrated the potential to maintain connectivity and bonding with the concept of "the MELA Grid."

Team 2 declared themselves "Proud Melanians." Their interpenetrating recommendations to ensure MELA's bright future included an original vision of male bonding.

Team 3 focused on the challenge of leadership in the region, where nominal leaders do not necessarily exercise the kind of true leadership which MELA catalyzes and supports.

Team 4 laid out a development plan for MELA from 2013 to 2016 with annual benchmarks along three parallel tracks: network bonding, program branding, and membership vitality.

Team 5 applied the Y Methodology (studied earlier with John King) to evaluate whether MELA's resources and behaviors were sufficient to reach its objectives. The thrust of their recommendations was a more concentrated branding effort.

There was an abundance of fruitful ideas and valuable questions contained in today's presentations, from a committed group of Melanians whose productive criticism was a way of saying, "We care." Huge thank you to all!

14 March 2013

Do Not Abandon Hope, Ye Who Enter Here


Shangri-La is heavenly. There are many myths and stories, however, in which one must first pass through regions of pain and darkness in order to gain access to paradise  for example, Dante's Divine Comedy

With MELA Reunion members joining in today's program, extra excitements are in store. Behind the doors of Ballroom C, something thrillingly ominous is brewing. No trespassers, capisci? – Capiamo!

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate 
(Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!)
 – Dante, Inferno, Canto III

Anand Sharma (Chairman and CEO, TBM Consulting Group) leads the sessions on operational excellence. Operational excellence is a foundational element for value creation, competitive advantage and growth. 

Participants will now be thrust into a simulation involving a poorly organized factory with the attendant frustrations and inefficiencies. This is a ghastly, Mephistophelean plan. But we shall not abandon all hope, we who enter Ballroom C...

Participants receive their work assignments.

The factory produces widgets. Widgets are a devilish invention. Making them consumes time and energy, yet nobody knows what they for.

Basma Essa and the Egyptian duo try to make head or tail of their work instructions. They are doing their best to cope with a management system that is seriously flawed. 

Hamoud Al-Tobi and Lana Dajani pretend to understand what is going on by looking busy. 

Ali Fadhlani and Monther Almamari are not impressed by what they see.

Nader Al Fardan and Amer Al Jabri are in the house! They don't care about widgets. They are  just pleased to be attending the Reunion.

Saif is the customer in the factory simulation. He does care about widgets. He is extremely dissatisfied. Zainab makes a vain attempt at damage control.

To get out of widget hell, we must supersede the shortcomings of outdated, 20th-century management systems and implement a superior, 21st-century model... 

Do not abandon hope! "Lean" tools and kaizen methodology can hugely improve a manufacturing or service organization.

Eman has a plan.

Yasser Al Fadhil is in the house!

As neutral observers, Asha and Anu are spared the pains and tensions of widget hell. 

Meanwhile, matters on the factory floor are improving. Let's check to see if our customer is any happier yet.

Our customer is still grumpy. Nonetheless, the factory's transformation is taking place and it is on its way to becoming a world class organization.

In real life, though, MELA friends are the only customers who count. A photograph of satisfied MELA customers Vicky and Randi.

Andrew Summers catches up with Saif Al Hamhami.

There certainly is nothing lean about these lunches.

Khalid Al-Harthy is not in the house. Very intelligently he has decided to enjoy the sunshine and beauty of Oman outdoors.

Falah Al Sukaiti is another welcome face at the MELA Reunion.

Lama Jabasini reveals herself as the secret puppeteer of the MELA program.

Even Adel El Dayasty is mere putty in the hands of this power-mad, manipulative mastermind (known and feared in Sicily as "La Jabasini"). Soughit Abdelnour cheers her on.

Salim Al Aufi (CEO, Public Authority for Civil Aviation, Oman) leads one of the evening's small group discussions on the subject "Getting Your Organization to Move Where You Want It."

Wissam Darwiche (Executive Director for Principal Investments, Waha Capital) examines the best options for securing financing in the region.

Obay Ghazal is in the house!

No business can succeed in today's widespread global markets without harnessing the power of social media. Rabea Ataya (Founder, Chairman and CEO, Bayt.com) discusses how.

We emerge from a long yet fulfilling day from the confines of the meeting rooms to admire the Omani night sky... and to smoke shisha...

Ali Mortagui and Carolanne not smoking shisha

...tanto ch'i' vidi de le cose belle
che porta 'l ciel, per un pertugio tondo.
E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.

(... until I saw some of the beautiful things
That heaven bears, through a round opening.
And from there we came out again to see the stars.)

  Dante, Inferno, Canto XXXIV