So a friend of mine told me a of a one of a C-Level manager responsible for one of the 2020 National Transformation Plan (NTP) initiatives, well he holds many initiatives but he only sat with him on this particular one. Now this manager was rushing toward presenting the initiative and discussing with my friend on the plan and what to do. The headlines are clear but my friend, as the project manager here, was begging the manager for more time study the plan and the inner-connecting phases to derive the final cost which then have better view of the initiative’s budget. Well, the manager, frustrated he was, reached his hands to the table to grab his iPhone and started to bumbling numbers to reach to one billion Riyals. To his amazement, my friend asked him a billion for what? to which the manager angerly responded “That is the budget, you will attach to this initiative and submit it as soon as you reach your desk”. Uncomprehending the situation, my friend started to sweet talk his way with the manager and saying he needs more time just in case they don’t under-budget the initiative and delay it or even scraping it. Again, annoying as he was, the manager responded back that he included 30% risk for lack of money just in case and instructed him to just fill the papers and submit it to the NTP team; to which my friend actually did.

Another friend of mine is working as an advisor for a multi-billion company that is providing consultancy/solutions to the government agencies. When I met with him he said he just wish to buy a farm in part of the world and retire there. Now this guy is young, he didn’t even cross his 36’th birthday! But asking him what made him wishes for this he answered me that he have seen some really incompetent leaders within the government sectors asking for anything, even if it doesn’t add value to the government, just to solidify their positions and to present something to their superiors with almost absolutely no return of investment.

As for the first example I mentioned, I was really pleased when I heard that the manager was forced out from the leadership position he held, and that whole initiative is under review. But this still raises one of my earnest concerns and that is the lack of the competent and sound managers across the majority of the government sector. I have no doubts about the 2020 vision, nor the 2030 vision. My fear truly materialize whenever I hear about those C level managers, the one who raise the initiatives, and their lack of experience or knowledge for that matter.

The only silver lining is from rumors that the Ministry Of Economy and Planning have noticed the lack of vision across all those initiatives an they are in the process of establishing a committee to manage the government’s digital transformation as a whole instead of letting every ministry or agency to work by themselves.