Now is the time we should relook at our organisations - David White


David White (CEO DRG and Chairman BusinessFit) Passionate about People development and helping business leaders to create
productive, engaged and sustainable work environments.

COVID-19 and its associated effects have left most of the world in a state of confusion and uncertainty. Many employees across the globe have been left wondering what their tomorrow may look like. Even highly skilled members of staff providing core capacity have been affected, and as such we need to look to business leaders for comfort, guidance and support as we re-enter the workplace and economy.

Business leaders more than ever are being asked to shed light on the way we as an integrated society of people with common needs will move forward and bring confidence and stability to enable the continuation of our desperately fragile economy.

This is a big task for business leaders, and it carries with it a huge responsibility. South Africa is particularly affected, as we already have a daunting challenge to create employment opportunities for the many skilled and semi-skilled people in our country. Business leaders do recognise the important decisions government needed to make to ensure the safety of sick and vulnerable people we have in our countries. But now business leaders need to respond to reboot their organisations for their continued contribution to the economy, and to stakeholders linked to their businesses.

Thinking we should go back to doing the same things in our business that we did in the past is a huge wasted opportunity. Now is the time we should relook at our organisations and consider aspects as:

• Are we serving our clients in a manner they understand and prefer?
• Are we ensuring that our organisations have plotted processes to ensure maximum workflow and operational efficiencies?
• Are we properly geared, with supportive funders and adequate cashflow to meet our financial requirements?
• Do we have suitable systems to ensure quality outcomes of our work?
• Do we have highly engaged staff members, taking action for the organisations desired outcomes and measures?
• Does our organisation culture create the right energy to support the mission and vision, and to encourage people’s contribution and purpose?
• Have we provided the organisation with a well-integrated functional activity foundation?
• Do we provide ethical services, that support social transformation and environmental sustainability?
• Do we have a platform of corporate governance and supporting policies and procedures?
• And, are we as leaders contributing to the organisations viability, or merely managing day to day processes?

These are just some aspects that come to mind when looking at Rebooting our organisations for Sustainability. Virtually every business in the world has been affected by the lockdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Essential Service Providers have grown quickly, and as such will face challenges associated with fast growing companies. But, most companies, have lost clients and suppliers, and also been affected with cashflow and funding challenges. These circumstances created through the closure of much of the economy have affected organisation stakeholders, of which the employment of staff has
perhaps been the biggest social concern. The numbers of people needing to apply for unemployment benefits both locally in SA, and across the entire world, is in a word “frightening”.

Business leaders now need to pick up the pieces of their organisations that are still intact and begin focusing on creating new steps and processes to ensure the organisations continuity, and its ability to meet commitments and promised services levels. Business leaders first responsibilities, as defined in King 4 are to create sustainable organisation’s and meet expectations and commitments to stakeholders, recognizing also that being a supplier of products and services to the economy requires an unhindered and business minded approach.

It is not often that business leaders get an opportunity to reboot their organisations, and to redirect their operations and intentions. Mostly business leaders are absorbed into the organisation’s daily activities and challenges, often managing more than their share of company responsibility.

Rebooting for Sustainability has a completely different approach to that of an upstart organisation getting its feet into the economy. Existing businesses have clients, suppliers, staff and commitments to funders and employer bodies. Most businesses cannot just close their doors, as they have financial and delivery responsibilities to various parties in their value chain. Hence, they need to reboot... but they need to so in such a way that they ensure their organisation’s will be in a stronger position both financially and operationally.

Where does a business leader start? Simply by taking a high-level view of our organisations, using a skeleton approach initially, and then adding on the support functions as needed to ensure the growth and sustainability of the organisation. Many business consultants will tell you that organisations are far less productive than they could be. In fact, a survey in the UK recently showed that on average companies are 40% productive. Another way of looking at
this statistic is that companies are in general 60% inefficient. Staggering figures for anyone... but on the positive side this also indicates that there are many businesses that could benefit from reorganizing and redefining their organisation’s efficiencies and process flows. The intention never being to reduce staffing, especially in the SA context, but rather to ensure that staff are energized and focused on the mission, vision and purpose of the organisation.

Organisations mostly have the same functional area foundation activities, these include HR, marketing and sales, financial management, operational processes, ICT support, legal infrastructure, strategy and research, etc. A leader worth his or her salt, would have defined these roles and their output requirements in such a way that they support customer and other stakeholder expectations and commitments. Too often we see functional area foundation teams caught up in their internal struggles, doing business with themselves, and not ensuring the collaborative advantage of having all the functional areas foundations working in a manner that supports the goals and intentions of the organisation.  It is collaborative outcomes of organisational objectives that businesses leaders need, as this is the most efficient and productive organisational structure possible. We want integration of functional area foundation support functions, and a collective organisational objective. As simple as this sounds, it is not something that many businesses leaders consider a core objective and function for sustainability. Too often we have functional area heads presiding over their portfolios, resulting in priority being given to internal
micromanagement details, rather than the collective approach in servicing the organisation’s customers, meeting cash flow requirement and funder hurdle rates, ensuring operational and safety quality assurance and adherence to minimum standard requirements. It is the combined approach that helps staff understand their role and contribution to the organisation’s purpose and success – something we refer to Zone of Influence. This per person contribution being focused on the business of the organisation, collectively ensuring a common understanding of why our customers choose to use our services and where we
generate income to cover our operational and staffing expenditure, so that people’s energy in the organisation is focused on the growth and stability of the organisation – to help ensure its ongoing success sustainability.

Rebooting for Success is an essential business leader responsibility. It is a united requirement for all businesses to re-enter the economy, and to support the contribution of products and services to meet customer and user needs and demands. Business leaders must recognise this responsibility, even if it means commencing with a downsized team, and then growing back into a more productive and sustainable organisation.

We encourage that business leaders take an objective view of their organisation’s, and invite comment from their staff and industry peers on how best they can improve efficiencies and sustainability of their organisation. The concept of two heads are better than one makes good sense, as it helps to draw in different perspectives and possibly fresh ideas and opportunities. During this period of change in working patterns and environments, people (in general) have a stronger willingness to share and support each other. We need to and should take advantage of this opportunity to collaborate and share.

DRG and BusinessFit are privileged to be associated with some of the best business consulting people and teams in the KZN market, and we encourage that business leaders contact BusinessFit for a personalized discussion along the lines of Rebooting your organisation for Sustainability.

Please contact Lindiwe Bhadi (BusinessFit Admin Manager) at to coordinate any interactions with BusinessFit