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  • Writer's pictureMichael Padilla-Pagan Pay


Dear Mr. Customer looking for the new hybrid company,

You know the conventional way of leading companies well. Processes, boxed things, standardized approach, creating products or services and then selling them, governed by numbers, statistics, finances, hierarchy in leadership and management. It might work well for predictable markets and environment. But can the same be expected in volatile, rough or hostile environments? With saturating markets and ever tougher competition for selling your output and getting the right inputs at the right price, war is the only option: Either the price war where you are operating now, or war-torn countries, unstable markets, with high potential of products sale or natural resources insourcing.

As the chairman of a group of companies providing Management, Risk Mitigation, Advisory, Security, Training, Logistical Support and Client Support Services worldwide, I believe a different approach is to be taken to be able to operate in these complex environments.

Losing sight of what customers want The problem that risk and security consultancies encountered is far more common than most organizations care to admit, and it can be difficult to spot. At the heart of the challenge is the isolated nature of service delivery and the insular cultures that flourish inside the functional groups that design and deliver service. These groups shape how the company interacts with customers. But even as they work hard to optimize their contributions to the customer experience, they often lose sight of what customers actually want.

Risk and security consultancy firms' salespeople, for example, are focused on closing new projects and helping the customer choose from a dense menu of services—but they have very little visibility into what happens after they hang up the phone, other than whether or not the customer went through with the program. Confusion about who is actually delivering the solutions, questions about the process, as well as in-depth manuals being delivered to the customers, and just lack of a visit or interaction by even the top management of the company often causes dissatisfaction later in the process and drive queries to the local or regional offices. But sales agents seldom get the feedback that could have helped them adjust their initial approach.

The solution to broken service-delivery chains isn’t to replace touchpoint management. Functional groups have important expertise, and touchpoints will continue to be invaluable sources of insight, particularly in the fast-changing risk and security arena.

The hybrid approach Instead of the aforementioned, companies need to embed customer journeys into their operating models in four ways: They must identify the journeys in which they need to excel, understand the manager in which they are currently performing in each, build cross-functional processes to redesign and support those journeys, and institute cultural adaptation and continuous improvement to sustain the initiatives at scale

In companies within Al Thuraya Holdings, ideas are more important than where they came from. We talk about how you drive insight. Our group company is very non-hierarchical in structure. We have partners and associates but you are supposed to speak your mind. We hash things out, even down to who gets an upgrade on a flight.

Catalysts instead of Leaders Most of our competitors in our industry have a different way to run an organization. We try to make sure the people with the strongest reputations within the company are making the decisions. A lot of companies say they want to run a meritocracy and they want the best ideas to win, but usually the decisions are being made by the most senior person. Within our group of companies we have a set of social network vehicles that allow people’s reputations to emerge.

People who have built a reputation in an area are the people who make the decisions in that area. We are very focused on being inclusive and getting many people’s opinions about how we make decisions. We use the word “catalyst.” A leader is a catalyst who doesn’t drive or make decisions himself.

The difference Our customers want to hear our point of view on risk and security. But at the same time we want to make sure we stay very customer-focused as well as on-the-ground focused. Those ideas can be in conflict. I believe that Henry Ford said, “If I listened to my customers, I would have built a faster horse.” In order to resolve the conflict between leading and listening to our customers, we started talking about that challenge at employee meetings. We said we didn’t want to lose our edge and our ability to drive creative and scalable solutions. But at the same time we wanted to listen to customers. I asked employees to try to build that challenge into what they did every day. Our OpsRoom and TOCs team then built a whole new system that can do proactive assessment with regards to a customer needs or desire in the AOR they are operating in.

We are able to support and input and create linkages to support the customer. Here is a snap shot of that: • No standard approach when working in zones of conflicts • Engagement projects and on the ground assets all ties to risk mitigation • Inter-community dependency and trust is the way to achieve stability • The community is the stake holder • Risk mitigation services need to leverage working with community outreach programs as well as working with and educating customers • Relationships with all parties in the communities, current and future governments • Human intelligence not dependent on technology • Build and foster relationships, face to face meetings with elders and tribal leaders. With leveraging the above, we build solutions based upon ground activity as well as possible ground issues. Remember we said we catalyze the idea by saying that customer focus is important. Then our people go and do it. I don't have to say, “Let’s build a solution or form a customer council.” The organization just did it. In short we remove the inherent organizational flaws that most risk and security companies operate:

 Risk Mitigations companies should advise the client how to adapt to the region;Recognize technology and SOP helps with protecting assets not creating stability;Human intelligence is fundamental;The plan starts locally in the area of operations: Analyze the day to day task;Allying with government is no longer the corner stone of risk mitigation;

We live in an ever changing market. The number of factors influencing our decision rise while we count and no standardized solution is to work today. Having tons of information is priceless, but having the one right information in right time, applied into right decision, is the key. Don’t just walk the talk. Work as you walk.

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