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Back To Basics: Can Lean Thinking Offer SA A Route Out Of Recession?

Africa’s eighth lean management summit will highlight simple management systems that can boost efficiency and customer service in both the private and public sectors.

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As costs rise and resources are squeezed in all sectors and industries across a stagnating South African economy, organisations need to find new ways to unlock value. And lean thinking – a back-to-basics management tool – is demonstrating that it is possible to build capability – even in challenging times.

“Lean management can have an enormous impact on the way an organisation functions, and its popularity is growing as people experience how quickly lean can impact customers, staff morale and budget by eliminating waste,” says Professor Norman Faull, founder and Chair of the Lean Institute Africa and Emeritus Professor at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB).

Primed to host its eighth biennial Lean Summit Africa at Cape Town’s Vineyard Hotel in October, the Lean Institute Africa (LIA) is hoping to draw public sector players as well as business delegates. Lean management methods, long respected in the private sector, have also shown strong results in bumping up efficiencies in SA’s notoriously challenged public sector, notably in health services and hospitals.

Related: How to Build a Lean and Efficient Business Plan

Faull, who will be speaking at the Lean Summit on the topic of ‘What government needs to get right,’ said that working in the health sector in recent years, lean management systems have been used to cut queues and waiting times dramatically in several hospitals around the country by addressing simple things like punctuality, absenteeism and a shift from batch processing to individual processing.

The Summit will highlight how a simple, disciplined approach to systems and operations has the potential to revolutionise efficiency and customer experience.

Proven within the Japanese automotive industry through the Toyota Way, lean management looks to pare down and re-arrange systems without throwing more resources at the problem or blaming staff, which can be a knee-jerk response in the public sector, says Faull.

To achieve results in the healthcare sector, Faull said that practitioners examined frontline services and introduced simple, visible charts for staff tracking such basics as punctuality and absenteeism on a daily basis.

Seen as a process rather than a solution, the system requires senior management to engage with challenges on a daily basis and to get buy-in from those on the frontline. He likens it to a daily hygiene routine like brushing your teeth and says that such an approach can bring stability and predictability to a system beleaguered by chaos, stress and time pressure.

“Change in any organisation, whether public or private, needs ongoing commitment,” says Mike Rother from the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering who will be the keynote speaker at the Lean Summit. “Don’t look for an answer and think you’re done.”

Rother will be drawing on wisdom from his book Toyota Kata, which has had a profound influence on lean practitioners globally. Through his Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata (a Japanese term that is typically used in martial arts but which can be applied to routine or patterns) he sets forth simple steps towards continuous improvement, adaptability and achievement within an organisation.

Faull adds that the process invites people to be open to constructive criticism. This can be difficult in South Africa, he says, particularly with race playing a role in the South African historical context. “But in the Toyota way, faults are there to be acknowledged and improved upon. In such a culture risks can be taken, and significant changes made.”

Related: 15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

It is only by taking such risks and making those changes that organisations can start to build resilience. And in a world of shrinking resources and increased competition, the rewards for those who get it right are worth the effort, says Faull.

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The Lean Summit Africa 2016, Building Capability in Challenging Times, will run from 19 to 21 October at the Vineyard Hotel and Conference Centre, Newlands, Cape Town. To register log onto www.lean.org.za/summit2016.

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Start-ups Require A Strong Legal Foundation Webber Wentzel Ignite

Entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups are a lifeline to South Africa’s economy.

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Entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups are a lifeline to South Africa’s economy.  It is however a harsh environment and many entrepreneurs find themselves in a situation where they are wearing many hats and navigating potential pitfalls without the knowledge that many professionals have from years of experience.

This is especially true from a legal point of view where entrepreneurs are faced with real world regulatory challenges that could have far-reaching consequences on their fledgling business, such as financial regulatory, tax, exchange control and intellectual property.

A common example is that start-ups often forget to secure the rights and licenses they need to operate. For example, would you invest or partner with a company that:

  • doesn’t have a legal right to use their brand
  • doesn’t have proprietary technology; and/or
  • is reliant on a third party agreement that doesn’t permit commercial use?

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

These avoidable shortcomings often result in failures at critical junctures. The specialist legal services needed to avoid these problems are typically not easily accessible to start-ups.

With this in mind, Webber Wentzel has launched a project called ‘Webber Wentzel Ignite’ – a legal incubation programme that will provide selected entrepreneurs and innovators from any sector with:

  • tailored legal services valued at up to ZAR 100,000;
  • bespoke mentoring and training support – focused on legal knowledge and developing key legal skills relevant to start-up businesses; and
  • targeted networking and profile-raising opportunities.

Video about Ignite

Webber Wentzel is not asking for equity or exclusivity; only an opportunity to connect and make a difference as a trusted advisor over the long-term. It is a wonderful opportunity that will set the selected entrepreneurs apart in the marketplace. Applications close on 15 January 2018

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SMMEs So Much Focus On Funding, But What About Skills

A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following.

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I think we can all agree that the funding of small businesses is only part of the solution. What is possibly more important (as an enabler) is the initial assessment of the level and adequacy of skills existing within new or developing enterprises and to evaluate what further skills development or training is required to ensure a firm business foundation and sustainable growth is achieved.

A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following:

  • During this time frame across the South African working population of households there was an increase in skilled labour (21% to 25%), with a shift away from semi and low-skilled labour.
  • What is interesting to note in the growth of skilled labour is the disparity within the different race groups.

*For the purpose of this analysis, the occupation types were used to infer skills levels based on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Skilled: manager, professional, technical. Semi-skilled: sales and services, clerk, machine operator. Low-skilled: domestic worker.

This is clear evidence that the role of enterprise and supplier development is a crucial one needed to up-skill and train the broader population. It is one thing to provide finance and access to markets, but without the appropriate skills development to make these investments sustainable is would be a fruitless exercise.

Related: 6 Money Management Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

The role that the private sector plays in post investment business support and capacity building is incredibly important. There is a requirement to build both technical skills as well as overall business management skills. This in my view is when we will start seeing real impact. In order for the enterprises to be effective in the contracts that they are awarded a focus on skills development (by both parties) is required.

In an economy where growth has crawled to a near halt, SMMEs cannot be expected to be the holy-grail for job creation. Making an impact in increasing the potential salary earning or employable workforce is key and therefore skills development requires a multi-faceted approach:

  1. From early education phase – where emphasis must be placed at school level for entrepreneurship training and opportunities is a key enabler. Entrepreneurship should in essence become a career option to consider. Innovation must be incubated. The world is changing and the skills required to be productive are changing as well.
  2. Clear regulations and commitment to quality interventions should be stipulated at policy level to incentivise skills development/ skills transfer from large corporates to small businesses.
  3. Without looking at the bigger picture these developmental areas are without support – so a holistic approach to skills development – mentorship, networking and overall business acumen are skills that often distinguish between those who do well and those who don’t in business. It needs to all work harmoniously and as an effective and efficient ecosystem reliant on each other’s strengths and support and mutually beneficial objectives.

Related: 3 Things You Must Have In Place To Get That Start-up Bank Finance

At the end of the day, an enterprise should leave an ESD programme empowered to stand and survive in the business world. We know that we are losing the challenge when time and time again we see developing enterprises moving from one ESD programme to another with nothing to show for it. Monitoring and evaluation of these enterprises is therefore also essential to track growth and success – but also to identify areas of weakness or need for further intervention.

At the heart of ESD is the notion that larges businesses/ corporates should move beyond compliance (aka box-ticking) and toward the heart of transformation. Intertwined here is the responsibility to use development interventions and activities in a deliberate and focused manner so that the skills level in small businesses can move upwards and ensure the longevity and success of growing enterprises.

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Become The Number One Pitch Hustler With The ENGEN Pitch & Polish Programme

The ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd and Nedbank, powered by Raizcorp and supported by national media partner, Caxton Local Media, is based on teaching entrepreneurs to present a winning pitch that is clear and focused.

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ENGEN Pitch Polish final 30 Nov 17

The word “hustle” comes from a Dutch word that means “to shake things up”. Traditionally, the English word “hustler” was used to describe a dishonest person, who would do anything to make money. Hustling is, however, no longer a dirty word; nowadays, a hustler is someone who makes things happen. Hustling is about movement, activity and shaking things up in a positive way – the very things that entrepreneurs need to succeed!

Successful hustlers exist everywhere, and all entrepreneurs have much to learn from those who have mastered the art of the hustle! Whether they are building a business, selling a product or offering a service, hustlers focus on their goal and do whatever it takes to achieve the goal. Hustlers put in the hours and don’t waste time doing things that don’t contribute to their success in some way.

Hustlers grab every opportunity to pitch their business to potential funders and clients. They are seasoned pitch artists, and having secured the opportunity to pitch, know exactly what they want to say. Hustlers present a polished pitch! For this reason, the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd and Nedbank, powered by Raizcorp and supported by national media partner, Caxton Local Media, is based on teaching entrepreneurs to present a winning pitch that is clear and focused.

Related: What Type Of Pitcher Are You?

“With us you are number one”, the headline sponsor Engen’s slogan, could just as easily apply to the hustler’s attitude towards his clients and business. Hustlers put their clients first. Their elevator pitch is ready to go and hustlers, always thinking on their feet, can adapt their pitch to meet the needs of different audiences.

Nedbank, a co-sponsor of ENGEN Pitch & Polish, encourages people to “make your money hustle for you”. Hustlers know how to do this. They think carefully about their pricing model, know how to calculate profit, and make their money work for them!

Hustlers do not give up when they hear “no”. They see rejection as an opportunity to be overcome, not a roadblock. At ENGEN Pitch & Polish, entrepreneurs are subjected to many “no’s” as they learn to perfect their pitches. Those who learn to use this feedback to their advantage – are the hustlers!

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Bruce Diale

The pitch that was delivered from the heart, with the greatest ease, confidence, and precision – as well as energy and enthusiasm – were the qualities that caught the eye of the judges, and resulted in Bruce Diale, from Polokwane, winning the 2017 ENGEN Pitch and Polish programme, at an exclusive and prestigious event, held in Johannesburg, on 30th November. Bruce’s Agri-consulting business has developed, and patented, Gardenizly, an innovative vegetable gardening product, which is both water and space efficient.

This was not the only reason for his victory. “We chose Bruce as this year’s winner,” says Joe Mahlo, GM for Sales and Marketing, from Engen Petroleum Ltd, who was one of this year’s judges, “because he was clear on the value that his product and business will add to his clients and, indeed, to the world.” This is yet another indispensable quality of the hustler. Watch this space. A hustler has been born!

Related: 10 Ways To Beat The Odds And Get That Funding For Your Start-Up

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Refilwe Matsaneng

Second place was awarded to Refilwe Matsaneng, from Welkom, for her hair products business, GloLooks. Third place went to Renschia Manuel, from Cape Town, for her portable urban veggie growing boxes, GrowBox, business.

“It’s intimidating and unnerving to ask for money,” says Grace Govender, Head of New Business and Support for Relationship Banking, Nedbank. “To overcome this, entrepreneurs must focus on being properly prepared and authentic.”

To further help the entrepreneurs, Caxton Local Media, with over 140 publications, whose roots, too, are deeply embedded in the country, awarded the winner with R20,000 in advertising. “Caxton is firmly established in, and supportive of, local communities in South Africa and the partnership with ENGEN Pitch & Polish, along with Engen, Nedbank and Raizcorp, is a natural fit. We all believe in building small business, from grassroots up,” explains Dejane Poil, Head of Innovation at Caxton.

There was magic on the night as esteemed guests offered these three entrepreneurs further opportunities for growth and expansion.

ENGEN Pitch & Polish’s power lies in its ability to identify, through their pitch, the entrepreneurs that are number one hustlers. “These are the entrepreneurs who demonstrate the ambition to excel and the motivation to put in the work,” says Allon Raiz, the originator of the Pitch & Polish concept, now in its eighth year of identifying entrepreneurs who truly understand what it means to up the hustle!

For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com.

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