TEDxCasablanca: An event in review

Image courtesy: TED.com  

Disclaimer: Ok, I gotta be honest, it’s a half review since I couldn’t stay till the end although I wished I could!


TEDxCasablanca is the first TEDx event to take place in Morocco. I secretly envied the organizers because the idea was lurking in my head since last May but I just didn’t get the time to think about it seriously. In the end, I’m just glad someone did it! The event, which obviously took place in Casablanca last Saturday, was greatly orchestrated within the calm atmosphere of the Mohammed Sekkat Library. Between the great books and the enlightening insights, we couldn’t but marvel at the beauty of sharing, of openness and of the amazing gift that is the human mind.

What I liked about the event:

  •        It’s a TEDx! It’s inspiring by construct
  •        Well organized, not much of delays
  •        Speakers from all walks of life: Public sector, business, art…
  •        I finally got to meet @Hisham_G (more about this later!)
  •        I loved the fact that not all presentation were in French!
  •        I got to catch up with friends as well

What I disliked:

  •        The Food: Just kidding, I’m not that lame!
  •        Internet Access: Would’ve loved to live-tweet and interact with the audience. I really hope the upcoming event will take this vital geeky need into account

The event started by a brief presentation from the man behind the event. Mr El Ourouba talked about how knowledge has metamorphosed from point to point to multipoint to multipoint thanks to web 2.0 and TED-like communities. He also brought to attention that there are 3 golden rules to grasping knowledge:

  •        Open mind
  •        Tolerance to difference
  •        Embracing new ideas

1st  talk: The power of non domination

Speaker: Mr Driss Alaoui Mdaghri

Main ideas: When we talk about leadership, we are often speaking out of a domination logic. While it could certainly drive success, leadership doesn’t not necessarily lead to happiness nor the happiness of people around us. Success is rather achieving our objectives together, no domination involved.

  •        Every decision we ever make has a negative aspect to it.
  •        Every decision triggers legitimate opposition. Don’t fight it; embrace it.
  •        Everything is important and nothing is important. Accept that tiny actions can often have tremendous effect
  •        We’re social animals, our professional lives are a continuum of our personal lives.
  •        Always put yourself in people’s shoes to understand their motives and difficulties
  •        It’s important to dominate your real or symbolic violence, your anger for instance.
  •        Art saves humanity. Permanent creativity is an absolute need for people and societies
  •        Art teaches us Freedom: Do it your own way!


2nd talk: Identity is diversity

Speaker: Mr Ahmed Ghayet

Main ideas:

  •        Diversity, plurality, tolerance… have become Big words
  •        Growing up in Barbes – France makes one feel he’s a citizen of the world (multiple nationalities, rich cultures…)
  •        Everyone of us holds a plurality within himself that could be beneficial to the “us”
  •        We need to rethink our identity with a constructive spirit, with addition in mind (not subtraction, nor division)
  •        We needn’t be afraid of who we are, rather proud but not arrogant.
  •        The enemy of identity isn’t openness but withdrawal and confinement

3rd talk: Morocco 2.0

Speaker: Mr Taieb Debbagh

Main ideas:

  •        Prospective: approach that aims to prepare for the future by elaborating scenarios based on the available data
  •        Generations have changed from Digital retards – Digital immigrants to Digital Natives (Generation Y)
  •        As water and electricity, the flow of information via Internet is going to become a given
  •        Enterprise 2.0 is the future of enterprise
  •        Administration 2.0 is the future of public Sector (egov.ma)
  •        M-commerce (purchasing via mobile) is supplanting e-commerce
  •        Education 2.0 is becoming collaborative and collective.


4th talk: from culture in general, to the documentary in particular

Speaker: Mrs Nezha Drissi

Main ideas:

  •        There is nothing as powerful as sharing to help us face our solitude of creating
  •        He who wants to do something finds a way, he who doesn't finds an excuse
  •        Today’s utopia is tomorrow’s reality
  •        Documentaries are tools for popular education
  •        Documentaries share the vision of the producer, therefore are subjective
  •        A society that isn't open can’t be enriched, nor will it enrich others
  •        FIDADOC: International festival of documentary is taking place in Agadir, 9-13 November 


5th talk: I blog, therefore I am

Speaker: Mr Hisham Khribchi

Main ideas:

  •        Eugene deLacroix thought truth existed only among individuals, not among the masses
  •        Web 2.0 have given people the chance to create content of their own
  •        Web 2.0 gives voice to citizens and a stage for them so they can be heard
  •        Morocco = stereotypes: Camels that run in the streets of Casablanca as you may have all noticed
  •        There are few details about the density and passion of our lives
  •        It now takes less that 6 degrees of separation to reach people on the web (5 for Facebook, 4 for Twitter)
  •        TalkMorocco has been created to overtake the francophone sphere reigning Morocco

I’m a great fan of Mr Hisham’s work and dedication to a noble cause that is Freedom of speech and human rights. He even was kind enough to grant me an autograph that I’ll cherish along with my Seth Godin and Tariq Ramadan dedicated Books. You must be jealous, I know!



6th talk: DabaTeatr: anchoring here and creating for the long drive (in dialect Arabic)

Speakers: Mr Hisham Khribchi

Main ideas:

  •        People don’t dream as they used to
  •        We need to educate our children to believe in their dreams.
  •        Dreams educate
  •        Theater offers the possibility to dream
  •        In the continuum of everyday life, theater brings pauses
  •        The state needs to realize how art is important to the education
  •        Dabateatr: bringing theater to the center of community

My adventure with TEDxCasablanca stops here. Kudos to the organizers who brought us an exquisite event that we hope will get only better and better in the upcoming editions.

More details about the speakers can be found on: http://www.tedxcasablanca.com/


Lamia Ben


Working in a governmental agency: a year in review


Image courtesy: Dilbert.com

This post is a location-focused blog post and a result of personal reflections. If you think Moroccan governmental agencies are any different than the one I work in, please drop me a line, I’d be glad to push the discussion further.

 It’s been a year since I started working at a governmental agency. To be frank, the thought of working there has never crossed my mind. But with my PHD taking over my time, I had to switch from the hectic-private-sector lifestyle into a more measured environment where I can get more control over my time. It turned out to be a good compromise –considering my constraints. 

Most people think governmental jobs aren’t as challenging as the ones from the private sectors. The thing is, they are, just on different levels.  Working in a +6000 employees organization is definitely not a piece of cake, addressing the traditional paradigms and dealing with bureaucracies and office politics isn’t either… and the list can go on and on. 

As this year went by I have come to confirm some thoughts I had about public sector, refute others. But I believe a profound national discussion should be triggered in order to bring efficiency into the public workspace.

What I have learned since last year:

On collaboration: Collaboration is very scale-sensitive. The bigger the team, the more time it takes to collaborate. The more cross departmental the team is, the harder it is to work together… and expecting work to go faster while using rudimentary platforms is obviously delusional. 

On planning: There is nothing as frustrating as the fire-fighting phenomenon. Fire-fighters can go on days without having much to do, but once a fire breaks, urgency is the main trigger. In the workplace, I think this happen for 2 reasons:  Inaccurate planning and the illusion of urgency. And productivity is the number one victim. Working under constant stress can get things done faster but are they done well?

On Rationalizing spending: There are alternatives to proprietary software, there is proprietary software that can replace expensive proprietary software, and there are local consulting firms that would do a better job responding to your needs than the well-pronounced international consulting firms. Thinking about rationalizing the expenses of everyday choices has to become part of the process. And as the saying goes: you can find in a river what you can’t find in the sea.

 On sustainability: You cannot expect your employees to innovate if they’re worrying about fulfilling more basic needs. Harnessing employees’ engagement can only be a result of an effective HR strategy. Training your workforce isn’t an option anymore; it’s the only driver to better performance. Offering a less bureaucratic, less politically charged atmosphere is the basis of the organization’s sustainability. 

How I would love to see all this changing: (Pic: tweet about time travel and Intranet)

Collaboration platforms and Intranet 2.0: The traditional Intranet used solely to announce the organization’s latest press releases or the reorganization of some entity in a far away region is so Outdated! There is a solid business case for Intranet 2.0 and I can’t do a better job describing it than Oscar berg on his blog post : The business case for social Intranets

 Transparency: Beyond office politics, shady strategies etc., transparency has to be harnessed for it is what builds trust. And trust is a major ingredient for collaboration to succeed.  Better collaboration can only mean better performance.

 A more People – centric environment: Employees are not supposed to be cogs in a giant machine; they’re independent spirits, with ideas and insights that can greatly benefit the organization. Treating them as such is the only way to tap into the hidden and unbelievable power of collective knowledge. Breaking down silos (not all of them, at least some) between management and knowledge workers is essential to nurture innovation, and God knows how we desperately need that in public sectors.

As I’m writing these lines, I came across a very interesting article on HBR by Saul Kaplan: Confessions of an Accidental Bureaucrat. Saul brings out an interesting point: “I think there is much that the public and private sectors can learn from each other.”


Do you work in Private sector? What lessons do you think public sector can learn from you?

Lamia Ben