“Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. There’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.”
“If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build, end up building us.” – American business mogul Jim Rohn
So your company’s been ‘doing’ broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) for several years now. At first, it was this hugely overwhelming task that no one really understood. Then you started to grasp the basics. And now, years later, you’ve got systems in place. You’ve got plans, you’ve got strategies, and you’ve got a verified B-BBEE certificate to prove it.
But is a certificate really the “BEE”-all and end–all (excuse the pun. We couldn’t help ourselves :D) of transformation?
The businessdictionary.com defines transformation in an organisational context as follows:
“A process of profound and radical change that orients an organisation in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness. Unlike ‘turnaround’ which implies incremental progress on the same plane), transformation implies a basic change of character and little or no resemblance with the past configuration or structure.”
Can a certificate, which quantifies shareholding, head counts and expenditure in relation to targets, really capture the vastly encompassing definition of real transformation? There’s no doubt that it is a helpful measure. But to evaluate where your company really is on the journey of transformation, you need to look further and deeper.
That process can be painful and discouraging. However, it’s also honest and necessary: it’s what your company needs to ignite and shape its goals.
Here are four ways to ensure you get the latter. So, when you’re up for it, sit down your senior management, your B-BBEE steering committee or whoever else is involved in the “transformation” process and collectively ask yourselves the following questions:
1. What Was Our Goal When We Started To Implement B-BBEE?
We’re not pointing any fingers here, but in the early days, B-BBEE was generally a knee-jerk reaction. Companies were suddenly told they had to “comply” with new legislation and so they took necessary steps to do so. And frankly, that’s okay. It was a starting point for a brand new process.
But ten years down the line, it’s important to stand back and evaluate whether the company is still being driven by the same goal. And if it is, it’s probably time for a rethink.
2. Can We Identify Three Areas Of ‘Profound And Radical Change’?
If your company has been ‘transforming’ for a decade, then the fruits of this change should have started to manifest. Where can you definitively say that you’ve seen radical change? Again, honesty is the key here. As the above definition points out, we’re not talking about the incremental progress that would likely have taken place organically anyway. We’re talking about an overhaul of some sort.
If you can’t identify any change of that nature, that’s okay too. It’s time to put plans in place to make it happen.
3. Does Our Transformation Plan Orient Our Organisation In A New Direction?
Your B-BBEE efforts take their cue from a broader transformation plan. But is that plan doing what it is supposed to do – that is, steering the organisation on an entirely new path?
Could your transformation plan be seen as a working document that literally maps out a new way of doing things and a new destination? Perhaps it is – and if so, great!
Or maybe you thought it would, but there is some disconnect between the actions identified on paper and the direction in which your company is travelling. If so, why?
4. If The Transformation Plan Does Chart A New Course For The Company, Do We Still Agree With That Course?
By nature, a transformation plan is long-term. It has a ‘grand vision’, and it aims to achieve that over time. But market forces change, and so do politics and the economy. Case in point, three years ago, would you ever have guessed that Donald Trump would be a presidential candidate for the most powerful country on earth?
Neither did we.
So, as the world around as changes – sometimes more quickly than we anticipated – we need to ask ourselves every so often if our ‘grand plan’ is still appropriate. Chances are, it’s based on sound principles. But it may need a slight directional tweaking.
Transformation as a concept is difficult. The need to comply with B-BBEE legislation has posed a great challenge for many companies. But you’ve overcome these odds. It’s worth going through this introspective process every few years to ensure that your efforts are producing maximum value. In short, it’s worth ensuring that we’re building the best thing we can. Because, as Jim Rohn points out, it will end up building us.