Mawaddah International taps Four Principles for lean transformation

08 November 2018 4 min. read

Saudi Arabian hotel and religious tourism operator Mawaddah International has brought in specialist consultancy Four Principles to help institute lean management practices across its portfolio of operations.

Specialised in the provision of Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage services, Mawaddah International has a number of hotels under management in the holy cities of Makkah (Mecca) and Madinah (Medina), and works with an extensive network of tour operators worldwide to provide services to local and international religious tourists, such as through the arrangement of Umrah travel visas, local transportation, and travel to and from the Kingdom.

Described as one of the first full-scale operations designed to serve the needs of pilgrims visiting Islam’s holiest sites, Mawaddah caters to a wide range of clients from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds, aiming to meet their needs as effectively and cost-efficiently as possible for what is often a defining, once-in-a-lifetime journey.

In an effort to further enhance its guest experience, as well as improve efficiency, Mawaddah has now tapped Four Principles to help instill a lean management culture across the company’s operations. Founded in 2010 by managing partners Seif Shieshakly and Patrick Wiebusch, following individual stints at Porsche Consulting (a German consultancy) and respectively Toyota and Oliver Wyman, Four Principles is a MENA-based globally operating consulting firm specialised in lean management – or the philosophy of Kaizen – a now cross-sector management approach originally derived from the Japanese automotive industry which stresses the notion that small, continuous positive changes can affect major long-term improvements.

According to the firm, which takes its name from the four Kaizen principles of ‘pull’, ‘zero defects’ ‘one piece flow’, and ‘takt’ – together broadly designed to eliminate waste, boost performance and maximise the use of resources – Four Principles was established to bring Kaizen to a new and wider audience in a more accessible and easily implemented manner than before, with the firm since establishing a diverse, cross-sector client roster including locally Avis, food packaging firm Lamina, and Abdul Latif Jameel Motors among others.Mawaddah International taps Four Principles for lean transformationNow operating under the Abdul Latif Jameel banner (since December 2017), Four Principles will soon apply its lean expertise in the transformation of Mawaddah’ operations, with the consultancy describing lean as more than a management tool-kit, but rather a “profound change of corporate culture, from the bottom of an organisation to the top, which is typically based on cooperation and commitment rather than radical changes or top-down edicts.”

“Our mission is to deliver a reliable and valued service to our guests during their stay at the country’s holy sites,” Mawaddah International CEO Karim Al-Sharif said of the collaboration. “We look forward to engaging with Four Principles and are confident this shared effort will optimise our processes and therefore enhance our customers’ satisfaction. This project represents an important step toward our vision to offer pilgrims a memorable religious experience through exceptional hospitality.”

With Kaizen’s underpinning philosophy based on perceiving a business’s value from the customer’s perspective and gearing everything towards optimising that value, the Four Principles partnership with Mawaddah will focus on the implementation of transformation initiatives across multiple value streams – from hotel operations, financial processes, sales strategy and visa issuance processes to procurement, warehousing and stock management – including implementation services in addition to advisory.

The consultants will join internal teams of Mawaddah to identify waste in processes, products and organisational structures. Examples could include double work/rework, excess waiting time or approval bottlenecks in processes, unclear roles and responsibilities and silo mentality in how organisations are run, and over-specification or idle offerings in the products realm. Following analysis and conceptualisation, pilots will be run to trial how waste is replaced by added value, with successful initiatives brought to broader roll-out. Continuous improvement backed by training and coaching will be applied to embed the change.

“In line with the government’s Vision 2030 plan to boost the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia, the hospitality sector continues to witness tremendous growth aimed to cater to domestic and international tourists,” Four Principles Managing Partner Shieshakly said in conjunction with the announcement. “We at Four Principles are proud to be part of supporting this growth through implementing continuous improvement projects with local hospitality establishments in order to deliver additional value to their customers.”