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Leadership and Differentiation: enterprise leaders in Dubai hear from Prof, Coulson-Thomas PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen   
Sunday, 19 April 2015 13:02

There is a particular requirement for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas.

idea graphicSpeaking in Dubai to business leaders he suggested, “Current consumption patterns with consumers queuing up in shopping malls to pay hefty premiums for imported brands may not be sustainable. They set a poor example for a world that needs to make more effective use of available resources.”

The University of Greenwich academic suggested some questions that need to be addressed:

  • Where are local entrepreneurs and locally designed goods and services that would better suit local needs?
  • Where are local architects who could use traditional methods and styles and provide alternatives to the services of international practices that better match local topography, history and climate?

According to Coulson-Thomas “Goods, services, buildings and practices could be differentiated and developed to stress what is unique, special or different about the local situation, circumstances and context.

The vision for Dubai is an exciting one, but simply importing overseas goods and services can lead to buildings that could be found in any number of cities.  Replicating international icons rather than developing distinct and home-grown cultural themes, is reflected in the sight of obese children waddling through Malls in many locations.

The author of Winning Companies; Winning People suggests that: “If responsible entrepreneurship is to thrive, business practices and approaches need to change. In particular a new balance between freedom and control is required.  Building checks into the support provided to key work-groups can enable them to be set free to develop new solutions and create additional options.  The provision of 24/7 support can allow employees to be given new freedoms in terms of where, when, how and with whom they work. New leadership shifts the balance from monitoring people to helping them.”

The professor's advice was, of course, yet another import - but one that argued for greater capacity in local solutions.

Essentially he was asking if more could be done to produce local/domestic alternatives to imported goods and services and whether the result might be an infrastructure, lifestyle, diet etc that is more in keeping with local history and culture and more energy efficient and sustainable.  He argued this in the context of a fresh approach to venture management - one that is more focused on employee support in contrast to an imported (or default) management culture that is robotically centred around  process and control.

If more of the enterprise budget were spent locally, would this encourage local entrepreneurs and domestic alternatives to foreign/international brands? 


Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas was speaking in Dubai at the Etisalat Academy Centre of Excellence on the subject of New Leadership and HR: A quicker, affordable and more sustainable route to high performance organisations.

The findings of his recent investigations into less expensive, disruptive and time consuming ways of transforming performance and simultaneously delivering multiple benefits for both people and organisations are set out in three reports: Talent Management 2, Transforming Public Services and Transforming Knowledge Management. They set out the change of emphasis and new leadership required and can be obtained from 



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