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10 March 2010

"Creativity - What Is The Islamic View?"

Datuk Nik Mustapha bin Nik Hassan
Ketua Pengarah

09/03/2010 | The Star

The Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister Department had gathered heads of Ministries and Senior Officials for a briefing on 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015). Interestingly one of the strategic approaches to be adopted in the Plan is to develop creative and innovative human capital with 21st century skills.

In addressing this issue one cannot deny that the role of individual commitments at all levels will be a determining factor. For the Muslim workers, the religion guidelines in improving one's performance can be a very supportive factor for them to be more committed.

The Holy Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h) said: "Allah loves those workers who perform their works to their best abilities". (Al-Bayhaqi). This saying of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) is a general principle for all Muslims to work hard and continue to improve their work performances. Performing excellent work is a religious virtue and effort taken towards achieving this noble objective becomes an act of worship in Islam. Islam believes in human potential and all individuals can create value through creative and innovative approaches to work.

In the present reality of Digital Era, the challenges of creating value for example in business sector, require Muslims to understand the business reality and to acquire right attitude, knowledge and skills to enable them to play leading positions in order to realise the above principle. The ultimate objective is to improve human quality living.

It is a recognised fact that the business world is being transformed, as digital technologies shift the basis of competition from machine-intensity to human-intensity. Alf Chattell in his very recent book entitled: Creating Value in the Digital Era commented that the challenges of creating value in the Digital Era require a revolution in thought, outlook and practice. New models of business are required to provide new perspectives on what it takes to create value in an economy founded on insight, imagination and innovation.

In order to succeed in the present business, Alf Chattell is of the view that the companies need to generate unique insights into customers' needs, and their dreams. Customers' tastes and requirements today are becoming very complicated. They are more well-informed and can made better choices. Failure on the part of business company to develop this insight can be detrimental to her performance.

The power of imagination is also highly demanded for business performance. In this competitive era, companies must be comfortable with viewing imagination as the raw material of the future. The ability to imagine the market demand of the future, generate vision for future business. The vital purpose in applying insight and imagination, is to guide our perceptions of what is require to meet the customer demands in the future.

The present digital revolution enable all companies to have the opportunity to develop learning relationships with customers. They can stay in touch with and influence their customers' evolving needs. This reflects that the capacity for intelligent behaviour will be central to success in the 21st century.

Despite this realistic analysis of the importance of intelligent behaviour attributed by knowledge to the future strength of business companies, it will equally important to appreciate the understanding of knowledge in its comprehensive sense. In our approach to human intensity of the Digital Era, knowledge should not be understood in its limited scope or only within the realm of economic production. Instead, it should be understood as an instrument to build a strong business company which fulfill all dimensions of human requirements at individual and company levels. The true knowledge will also guide individuals towards recognising the importance of spiritual fulfilment. This holistic approach to knowledge can produce workers who are able to lead and orchestrate change from within and can co-operate with others as a team.

The development of proper worldview, character refinement, and organisational responsibility of all workers in a business organisation are equally as importance as in the advancement of their knowledge in technology and communicative skills. The integrating requirements of all these branches of knowledge acquired by all workers can develop them into well-rounded personalities, who possess a noble attitude, character and skills to be creative and innovative.

A sophisticated society in the making like Malaysia, requires a serious thinking, highly trained business captains and working forces. The noble interest to follow-up with new findings and ideas of others can generate interests among our business leaders and workers to undertake initiatives to explore and discover their own new findings in order to add value in the present Digital Era.

The demand for our business sector to be more creative and innovative are more paramount now than ever before under the present economic crisis. To Nick Kirkbride: "The greatest risks lie in doing nothing, and there are ..... companies whose record in innovation makes them look as if they are frightened rabbits .... caught in the headlights of an oncoming car." The human capital can be the true force that can turn around the present business predicament.

A central goal in the development of human capital is to guarantee that all individuals in business company have the courage and ability to be creative and credibility to continuously improve their performance and the inclination to change the business condition for the better. The valuable human resource of the future will be that which is capable of creating something that did not exist before. Alvin Toffler is of the view that the manager who can't conceive of a radical alternative now to the way things are being done in his or her own organisation isn't going to survive very long.

The challenges ahead for all of us in creating value in the Digital Era require us to adopt a revolution in thought, outlook and practice guided by religious divine guidance. This is because religious guidance provides the sense of mission and views the future as something that everybody should work hard to improve the quality living of the entire mankind. In Islam the future is an opportunity for everybody to strive for success.

Islam guides humanity to continuous success by maintaining human idealism. It does not envisage any change and transformation in human society merely by concentrating on economic forces alone. It is a change in the inner being of man that crystalises itself in a change in external conditions. By upholding human ideal, an organisation can attain success continuously.

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