How can a small country with limited human resources managed to organise and host such major international events like APEC 2000, the SEA Games and other national celebrations successfully? In theory, it’s just like managing a project. You define the scope, determine the available resources, check timeline, assemble project team, develop and work a plan, monitor progress, keep everyone informed etc etc.
Hey that’s what the theory says. In reality, it can be very different here. A story I heard many times about a sinking ship gave a true insight of the Brunei way. What does a group of Bruneians do first if they find themselves on a sinking ship? First, set up a committee, have a lengthy discussions and if they are lucky save themselves from drowning.
It seems, the Brunei key to success in almost everything we hosted and organised are:
- Setup at least a committee (we are legendary in having many committees, sometimes the ratio of committee members to the participants were so big! at the same time we do look after their welfare very-very well);
- The committee will sit down and make lengthy deliberations on what to do, how to do it, determine resources (money, people etc) and comes up with a plan;
- As the D day approaches, nothing has been done, everyone slips into panic attacks mode, pray and hope for the best, try to implement the plan and end up just doing anything resembling the plan;
- Then in truly magical way, everything done and in place, the event or project a huge success.
Some people refer to this sarcastically as “Bujang SiGandam” No planning, all adhoc, always last minute.
To me, the spirit of Bujang SiGandam reflects the “can do” spirit we have. A characteristic we all must be proud off. Nothing is impossible, anything can be done even in the last minutes. Nya orang Brunei selagi baduk or takbir alum bebungi, selagi atu tah perhiasan rumah kan berubah. The Americans will say “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” ( why must it be a fat lady? Why not a small lady? Why not just any lady?). Bujang SiGandam requires amongst others high self belief, leadership, innovations, creativity, perseverance, competency, patience, passion, resilience and trust. On top of that great teamwork!
So forget what people say, put aside all the so called modern tools. We keep it simple. Use the simple “to do list”, set a timeline and above all, do what we do best, practice the spirit of “Bujang SiGandam”.