Tuesday, September 09, 2008


On Massar-ness

We have started a very basic and simple excellence programme inside the project. The aim, and method, is to get everyone without exception to think about what excellent means for just one element of their work, then to find a way to work towards it, and then expand from there. We discussed this at a team meeting recently and I suggested one shared component of excellence - for us - was Massar-ness, doing things in a way that complemented and reinforced Massar's values. Which of course prompted some reflection on what Massar-ness was.

I had chatted earlier with the senior team about this, and to some extent the results were as you might have expected. Massar-ness was seen as including attributes such as - collaborative, involving, inspiring, fun, celebratory, learning. But there was one element which struck me as both different and very defining of Massar in its Syrian context - being unafraid to fail. Fear of failure, both individually and organisationally, is completely corrosive. It inhibits an essential characteristic of creativity, in which interim failure is such an innate contributor to eventual success that it has not only to be accepted, but welcomed and sought out.

In Syria, avoidance of failure is culturally embedded in young people and their parents by the very traditional school system. So one of the most important things Massar can provide for them is a space where failure is okay, where they can learn from it and recognise its value. Failure happens; it's how we go on from it that defines us. And that is true of us as a team too. We are doing new things, often they are going to be messy, and sometimes they won't work. That's fine. That's what we want. That's Massar.


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