Jordan FlagInnovation = Regenerating Knowledge | Integral Innovations

Revitalisation of the Moral Core
of an Enterprise in Jordan and the Middle East
by Manar Agha Al-Nimer and the Medlabs Social Innovation Team, Jordan

Manar Agha Al-Nimer, Co-founder of the MedLabs Group in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan focused, together with the Medlabs Social Innovation team, on the “Revitalisation of the Moral Core of MedLabs” in a holistic approach to enterprise-in-community, social and corporate integration. The result was the establishment of a CARE-ing Integral Enterprise, operating with CARE Circles accross the organisation to achieve ongoing organisational renewal and orienting the enterprise to contribute to a “Healthy Society”


Manar Agha al-Nimer

Year 2018 is the year of my (Manar Agha al-Nimer) PhD graduation which is just one part of the joy I have experienced during the last 4-year journey. I am writing this profile not only to share with you the innovation, findings and conclusions of my research but to proudly share a project which began with an idea and grew through hard work and team effort to full implementation at the corporate level. This lead to a corporate culture transformation based on a CARE-ing path towards an integral enterprise. The fact that today visitors at MedLabs say they “can see”, they “can feel” the synergy across all functions is a testament to the process of holistic development we have all undertaken. Here, I will share with you my and MedLabs’ experience throughout this journey and how we have contributed to our community and will continue to contribute through the planned MedLabs Learning and Innovation Academy (MLIA).

Overview on MedLabs

MedLabs is a Jordanian Company established in 1993 as the first Group Practice in Laboratory Medicine in the Region. It started with 4 private laboratories and 25 staff. Today, as we celebrate our 25thanniversary, MedLabs is the largest network of private medical laboratories in the region boasting 50 Clinical and Surgical Pathology Laboratories in Jordan, Palestine and Northern Iraq, providing jobs to more than 450 scientists. These include 11 MDs, 7 PhDs, 52 MScs, 320 BSc graduates and 50 highly qualified management staff. We have achieved the highest International Quality Accreditations in Laboratory Medicine Services, as well as being honored with the King Abdullah II award for excellence in 2011. We proudly provide exemplary care to patients and their physicians as well as being a regional Reference Laboratory. MedLabs has journeyed from the pioneering phase (1993 -1999), through the differentiation/systemization phase (2000 – 2011) and now MedLabs is in the phase of integration to become an Integral CARE-ing Enterprise. The implementation of my MSc findings (2003) on “Transformation Management” helped MedLabs during the differentiation/systemization phase to transform its’ management style to a Self-Organized style which has reduced centralization and encouraged innovation. Today, my PhD is helping MedLabs to achieve the Integral CARE-ing Enterprise contributing to a healthy CARE-ing society as well strengthening corporate sustainability.

Research Question

Despite the successes of MedLabs during the pioneering and differentiation/systemization phases, at the end of the latter phase (2011) and post a rapid growth period, the consistency of work flow was disrupted. The organizational spirit and employee morale which was very high during the pioneering phase was weakened and was slowly declining further. As a result, motivation was low, productivity was dropping, threatening organizational sustainability. So the 1stresearch question was how can we enhance the morale and spirit of MedLabs employees in order to strengthen its inner human-centered development? The 2nd question was how will the evolution of employee morale and spirit within the corporate culture consolidate corporate sustainability?

To seek the answers to these two question MedLabs had to direct its efforts towards building its internal and external communities thus becoming an Integral CARE-ing Enterprise and an active contributor to “Healthy Societies”.

The chosen Research Designgoes parallel with the 4C research methodology and the CARE for society as an action research movement which is started with a call in a narrative method.

Inner Calling

My inner callingtoday, as Manar the Vice CEO of MedLabs Group, originates and is reflective of my journey from my native Nablus, where I was born in 1964. I was raised in a loving family, my mother was my inspiration and she was a proud and strong woman, that even as a child I recognized her strength and drew from it. When my father passed away at an early age, my mother did not go into grief like most people. Instead she stood up and transformed the pain and loss into determination to raise her children to be motivated and successful as we are today. The political situation in Palestine in the mid-eighties due to the Intifada of 1986 was difficult and not safe under the Israeli occupation. This forced my mother to seek a safer haven for her daughters. Living under occupation taught me to be determined and proud, yet humble and honest. Moving to Amman was a big change for me, in Nablus we were one big family supporting and helping one another. In Amman I felt like a foreigner. Still, with the encouragement of my mother, I was determined to succeed. I worked hard on my career and worked hard to build my own family maintaining a delicate balance between them. Today I am reaping the positive results of the hard work and the balancing act. When my mother passed away, I felt a great emptiness and deep sadness. However, like my mother before me I was determined to transform the pain into gain, I had to get involved in something useful that would challenge me and benefit my family, work place and the communities I live in. As a result I joined this PhD program and I took on the renewal path that I am and will remain involved with.

Outer Calling

MedLabs pioneered Group Practice in Laboratory Medicine in the region through the vision of its founders. Dr. Hassib Sahyoun, one of the founders and its CEO, has been a great supporter of my MSc and now my PhD because he could envision MedLabs phases of transformation. Dr. Hassib was also born in Palestine and soon after that his family became refugees in 1948. He was brought up in Egypt, completed his schooling in Lebanon and went to the UK in 1967 to complete his education. He attained his Masters in 1975 and his PhD in 1978 and stayed on as a post-Doc for 3 years. His research in the UK allowed him to publish 19 international papers. After 15 years in the UK he decided to go back to his origin to make a difference. He moved with his family to Jordan, the closest he could get culturally and geographically to the land of his birth. He co-founded MedLabs in 1993, starting with 4 laboratories and 25 staff. By the end of the 6 years pioneering phase MedLabs grew to 12 labs and 60 staff. During the differentiation phase (2000 to 2012) MedLabs grew to 32 laboratories and more than 200 staff. To consolidate this growth and to maintain the synergy between the different organizational functions internally and with the communities externally, in 2013 MedLabs needed to initiate the CARE-ing integration phase. 

MedLabs Integral Enterprise Evolution

Building the Integral Enterprise

To build the Integral Enterprise we need to transform:

  • Human Resources and OD to CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION
  • Functions (Science, R&D, Quality, IT, Material) to KNOWLEDGE CREATION

This is where we link these transformations to the 4C, the “Call” to Community Building, “Context” to Conscious Evolution, the “Co-Creation” to transforming the operations to Knowledge Creation and then of course, “Contribution” to Sustainable Development.

Context – Activation through Innovation Ecosystem

MedLabs Integral Enterprise Workshop 2017

To start my research journey, it was necessary to build a supportive innovative Ecosystem to help bring about innovation in theory and practice. The ecosystem had to consist of the HODs from all MedLabs functions as well as from the operations. They were the facilitators and catalysts. The Ecosystem and my research was continually guided and supported by the educators, Professors Ronnie and Alexander.

As Avicenna said: “all things have causes, it’s not acquired or complete unless it is known by its’ causes”. That’s why we needed to research the causes of the imbalances at MedLabs. The following imbalances were identified: (1) Transdisciplinary: As result of rapid growth & systemization of MedLabs, the organizational spirit and employee morale which was high during the pioneering phase was weakened and was slowly disappearing. (2) Transpersonal:  Weak response to employees’ voice.  To address these imbalances we needed to get everyone on board towards the integral journey to cultivate the combined power of Body, Mind, and Soul to evolve to our ‘higher selves’. MedLabs and employees will either “transform together or not at all” as stated by Owen.

Co-Creation Integral Innovation

To understand the path and our role as an ecosystem we had to dig deep individually & organizationally into the imbalances & challenges facing us. We needed to engage the internal and external communities, this was the grounding.

To understand the path and our role as an ecosystem we had to dig deep individually & organizationally into the imbalances & challenges facing us. We needed to engage the internal and external communities, this was the grounding.

To achieve MedLabs co-creation, we needed to start with the individual via the Critical Theory, to Change the attitude: From “I don’t care” to “I do care.” And from there to the organizational co-creation by uncovering power relations within MedLabs and to promote Emancipation. We needed to Socially Innovate Organizational Reality with multiple interconnections by bringing out the “hidden potential” of people and promote the learning of additional skills. Furthermore, to develop team spirit, we had to eliminate interdepartmental conflicts, create a positive work environment and help advance staff to a higher motivational level.

Contribution – Integral Impact

In the contribution, we built the methodology of cooperative inquiry, by combining and integrating “The four modes of knowing”, the “GENE cycle”, the “CARE Path” with the “4Cs”. We start at the grounding with the experiential knowing; Imaginal knowing emerges from and is grounded on experiential knowing; Conceptual knowing, carried by presentational forms and ultimately grounded in experiential knowing reaching finally at the practical knowing. Practical knowing brings them to fruition in purposive action and consummates them with its autonomous celebration of excellent accomplishment.

MedLabs’ Four Modes of Knowing

We start the imaginal and presentational knowing by understanding the CARE path. As you can see in the figure below the C is 2 people connecting with each other representing community building; the A is 2 people holding onto light representing consciously awakened; the R is a microscope lens focusing on knowledge creation, new concepts and new theories; the E is partly a person aiming to higher levels of consciousness and partly nature and the environment both leading to sustainability.

MedLabs’ CARE Logo

Through CARE we will revitalize the morale and spirit of the employees. To do so, it is necessary at this stage to have all staff, old and new, re-live the pioneering experience and to give them all a voice by the following measures:

  • In 2017 a Re-orientation program was performed for all staff by the founder, CEO himself, re-living the MedLabs journey from Pioneering to the present, emphasizing the MedLabs Culture and SPIRIT. All new staff post the re-orientation program will also receive an orientation to take them through the same journey.
  • The entire journey from the formation to the Integral CARE-ing Enterprise will be shared by MedLabs with all its staff and customers in a publication called the “MedLabs PULSE” which will be published within the next 3 months.
  • A pillar of the CARE Path is the implementing of the “Care Circle” concept in each laboratory and department throughout MedLabs. This aims to: improve communication, solve internal problems, improve systems and improve personal relations through synergy, sympathy, respect, appreciation, trust and support. In parallel are implementing the quarterly feedback program “The Employee Pulse” to give the staff a voice.
A MedLabs CARE Circle

Results & Outcome

In 2018, the Re-Orientation, Orientation, Employee Pulse and in particular the CARE circles concept, started to impact the staff in all branches and departments positively.  They increased approachability, improving inner-laboratory and laboratory-management communications, and there is more free and comfortable communications leading to a higher level of inter-function support. This in turn created a united community feeling, encouraged transparency, more knowledge sharing and less defensiveness during audits. Furthermore, decision have become easier to take within the department and laboratories. This developmental momentum is being observed, analyzed and research.

To sustain and share the Integral CARE-ing Journey with the external community we need to have the tool to roll it out – this will be achieved by developing a The MedLabs  Innovation  and Learning Academy   (MILA) that can serve the renewal of society on a long term basis.

So as a direct result of my research, MedLabs has become an active contributor to “healthy societies” within all the diverse societies it serves promoting Renewal and to journey towards the Integral CARE-ing Societies.

My journey through all four years of the PhD is but a small part of a longer journey which has touched everyone involved. It has also touched and will touch all corporate associates, customers, trainees, and friends and family, our experience will touch them all. Finally, I say, when you fall short of your aim, perhaps you can say, “Yes, but look at what I found along the way! Look at the wonderful things which have come into my life because I tried to do something”. My lesson is in the digging that life is lived and in the end, it is the joy in the journey that truly matters.

Creating Community Health Awareness
MedLabs offering free Laboratory Days to the Community
MedLabs Pulse Book “Living the Integral Enterprise” (Cover Shot)