Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 27th, 2012

A new Constitution for Syrians: 58% of eligible voters participated and 89% of them said YES

The Constitution the Syrian were invited to vote on in this referendum is a “heavy book” of about 80 pages, and very comprehensive. Many clauses target the workers rights, syndicates, rights for education, for health care…and many wishes that were available and decently extended, before Bashar Assad decided to privatize national enterprises and hand them out to his family members, military officers, and oligarchic element of the regime…

The main clause is the abolition of the “one-party Baath” dictatorship and substituted by multi-party “democratic process”.  The clauses relevant to Islam Sharia considered as an important source for laws, and the President to be Moslem were unchanged.

I would have loved to see these religious clauses eliminated from the Constitution  so that the referendum would exhibit the deeper secular nature of the Syrian society.  This opportunity was missed in order to validate the claims of the Syrian intelligentsia that the Syrian people are mostly secular.  The French ambassador has written a report claiming that “Islam fundamentalists” can barely secure 15% of the vote, and this claim will not be validated for the time being.

Since the Constitution can be reviewed and modified after 18 months, I expected the Constitution to take a good risk for evaluating the secular tendencies in Syria by abolishing two clauses most preponderant in most Arabic States that have a supposed Constitution like in Tunisia and Egypt and Iraq…It was an excellent opportunity to alleviate the fear of religious minorities who constituted 20% of the Syrian population and sending the strong message that “Syria is different from the other Arabic communities…”

Maybe the Syria and Near-Eastern intelligentsia (in Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq) are more violent and more ideological in their behaviors than the ones in Egypt and Tunisia, but they are definitely different from the other Arabic intelligentsia…

There are two other very nasty clauses:

One: The President is elected for 7 years, and be re-elected for another term! Don’t you think that a 7-year stint will enable, even the most idot of president, to secure another term?  When a President has been in function for 14 years, isn’t that a strong precursor for dictatorship and stable oligarchic system?

Two: The President appoint the vice presidents who swear allegience to “Him”, and he names the Prime Minister, the ministers, the civil servants, and military officers…And he has the right to dissolve the Parliament, and to constitute the councils in the Parliament and define their tasks…And the President appoint the highest Supreme Court members, as well as the Constitution Council…What else lacks the Syrian President to be characterized as an absolute monarch?

Basically, the Syrian President will have qualitatively the same power as the US president, with the exception that it is not the Supreme Court (appointed by the US President) that is eligible to destitute the US President.

What the latest counts demonstrate? What that mean that 58% participated (about 8.4 million)?

The districts of Aleppo and Damascus (the least engaged in this uprising) constitute 50% of the population.  The other 50% are mostly Sunnis in Homs, Hama, and the districts at the extremities of the country.

In the best cases and best available conditions, less than 80% of the eligible voters participate.  Let us suppose that the voters in Aleppo and Damascus voted heavily, their contribution would account for 40% at best.  Thus, the remaining 18%, let’s say 20%, were Sunnis excluding the Sunnis living in Damascus and in the troubled regions.  Which means, less than 20% of who abstained from voting are those opponents refusing any political settlement or engaging in negotiations for a transitional government.

This referendum should be a valid basis for the western powers and the tiny absolute monarchies of the Arab Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia to desist carrying on their offensive push for military resolutions and sending arms to the opponents who refuse any negotiation…

The vast majority of Syrians have said it loud: “We want a negotiated political resolution”. Period.

The constitution is not serious in the kind of change expected, but Russia and China wanted the regime to demonstrate two things:

First, that the regime is in control of all the institutions capable of carrying out a referendum, and

Second, that the military of the regime is capable to putting down the armed uprising in Homs.

The Syrian regime of Assad has no alternative choices but to offer these two practical proofs of its viability.

For more details

After all “Who is a credible designer”?

I have read the interviews of about renown 22 designers of brands and products, and almost all of them said:

“A brand is a story, best if the story is telling an archetype mythical story that people are familiar with…”

“A brand is a promise, and experience…”

“A brand is joining a tribe of satisfied customers adopting common social values…”

“A brand is supposed to make you feel better, after enjoying the experience…”

“A brand must be human-centered…”

“A brand should send an authentic message…”

“A brand should be seductive to attract our short attention span…”

“Designers are excellent in pattern recognition and quickly ferret out what normal people skip in unusual situations…”

My position is that a success brand is wittily sending a daring message: “I challenge you to try this product…” People respond to daring challenges like the bitten Apple, the archetype mythical story of Adam accepting Eve challenge to try a state of consciousness…of the invitation of Nike to try sport…

The story is the witty means to conveying the daring proposition.  After the first experience with the product, it is no longer the brand responsibility, but the company sustainable promise to deliver good on the experience…

After all “Who is a credible designer”?

First, a designer must have a rich and varied background knowledge on the product, the history of the client company, the target users, their idiosyncracies, their particular culture…

Second, a designer is a modern “Renaissance Man” who dabbed in many artistic fields and was initiated to a variety of art production…

Third, a designer must conduct usability research with the targeted users..

Four, designers implicitly tap into the current sociopolitical ideology of value system and figure out where the balance is leaning (conservative or protest behaviors…)

A credible designer must be able to say to his client: “You cannot promise something you have no intention of delivering…Your product with fail and my brand will fail on its challenge and my name will be tarnished…”

A credible designer would say to his client: “You should not expect me to design a success brand that will provide jobs so that you fail on your deal to delivering better than expectation experiences…I am not interested in a project that will ruin the first experience, my name, and my credibility…”

A credible designer would say: “You need to negotiate, educate, and come forth as a force of change:  offering beautiful, accessible, affordable, safe and healthy products, friendly with the environment and exempt of toxic materials…”

A credible designer is not in the business of “art for art sake”: “I am designing in a human-centered mind, and I am not interested in a one-piece, museum product for downtown galleries…”

What of consumerism, power of consumers…? Any benefits when you let consumers lead?

Consumerism” was a term coined in the 60’s to mean a movement for protecting consumers and pressuring companies to caring for the safety and health of consumers in their products.

Currently, “Consumerism” connote over-consumption, the frenzy with which people keep buying things that they really don’t need or will rarely use. Actually, fans of a brand get very upset when it becomes mainstream…

Apparently, there is a Consumer’s Bill of Rights that was authored by John Kennedy in 1964, and this is an indication that relationship between company and consumers could evolve.

Companies have many more rights that individual citizens lack:  companies have limited liability, they have the right to give in unlimited ways to political campaigns, they can make an employee take a urine test…

Morning exercises at Ojom community primary school, Katine

Photograph: Dan Chung
If a company wants to bring about positive change, should it involve consumers from the outset?
Are consumers rarely engaged in developing a company’s social mission?
Is there any opportunity for higher benefits if business “gets it right” connecting with consumers in the beginning phases?

 Toby Hopwood, Mary Rose Cook, and Zoë Stanton wrote on how companies can benefit if they let consumers lead:

“Few organisations are better at engaging their customers than businesses. Whether it is developing sophisticated insight into audience characteristics or top-quality customer service… the commercial sector still leads the field. Without it, individual businesses could not compete.

So it’s surprising that we don’t always see this level of engagement when businesses set their social missions.

While some do engage their customers, particularly those who must directly and regularly interact with consumers, the relationship is usually one in which business takes the leadership role.

For example, supermarkets stocking green products or utility companies encouraging households to save energy are positive signs. But they are relationships in which business is in the driving seat, with consumers being led – or “nudged” – into positive social change.

Letting consumers lead is something that the public sector is doing with increasing frequency and success.

Local (British) authorities and NHS organisations throughout the country have produced effective, innovative solutions, to issues as thorny as anti-social behavior, harmful drinking and energy efficiency, by engaging the public and letting them shape the agenda.

When we’ve worked with public sector organisations to help tackle difficult social challenges, each case has involved recognition that the people on the receiving end of an initiative cannot always be led into a solution.

If you really want to bring about positive change, you must involve your audience from the outset. By doing this, not only will you deliver social benefits, but create stronger customer relationships and more cost-effective services.

Our work with Barking and Dagenham council is one example.  Collaboration between residents and council staff led to improved waste disposal in the area. Rather than ask us to address a specific issue, our brief was to see how engagement with residents could uncover and solve local problems.

To do this, we developed a method called “conversations for improvement” (CFI), which involves engaging residents, listening to what they have to say and then bringing them together with council staff to co-create ideas for improvements. This approach led the council to find that some residents were confused about how to get rid of bulky waste.

Giving their customers a voice, and the chance to contribute and develop suggestions for how things could be improved, led to innovative ideas, a more effective service and cleaner streets. And beyond the immediate gains to the social environment, it also created a positive relationship between the council and local people. The council is now rolling out the CFI model in a number of localities.

The CFI model works because it enshrines consumer participation. It recognises that since people are experts in their lives and many of the problems that affect them, they should be allowed to contribute to the responses – especially when these involve expectations that they behave in a certain way.

So why don’t businesses tend to involve their customers in defining and devising social missions?

Is it because consumers don’t care or would prefer to be left alone?

Not according to Asda’s Julian Walker-Palin. And even if we accept that some consumers’ intentions to do more to improve society don’t translate into action, there remains a significant proportion of people who will act if they are engaged in the right way.

For example, the Co-operative Bank routinely empowers its customers to lead its social agenda by letting them vote on which courses of action it pursues.

There are other examples where degrees of consumer empowerment have led to a range of benefits for both business and the public.

The first of the seven “pillars” of Marks & Spencer’s acclaimed Plan A was “involving our customers”.

At a local level, Waitrose’s Community Matters scheme, which allows customers to vote for the social initiatives pursued by individual stores, recently won the prime minister’s “big society” award.

Quentin Clark, Waitrose head of sustainability and ethical sourcing, told us that devolving decision-making has resulted in gains for customers, the business and the wider community. Clark said: “Not only does the scheme provide the obvious financial benefit to good causes and charities, but research shows that it also significantly raises our customers’ awareness of what goes on in their local area, helping them feel part of their community. Many of our customers choose to shop with us because they know that we are committed to doing the right thing, and research shows us that the scheme helps enhance our shoppers’ loyalty and trust in our brand.”

Given the opportunity and appetite for business to do well by doing good through consumer collaboration, why don’t we see more?” End of quote

Note:  Post inspired from “The benefits of letting consumers lead” by Toby Hopwood, Mary Rose Cook, and Zoë Stanton for the Guardian Professional Network, on Monday 20 February 2012;

Mary Rose Cook and Zoë Stanton are co-founders and managing directors of Uscreates, and Toby Hopwood is a communications associate at Uscreates




February 2012

Blog Stats

  • 1,516,363 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: