…Move, Thinking Forward

“The Value Giving Principle”


“This is a story of how value giving principle, or lack thereof, makes the difference”


The story is simple; it asks the simplest question. Why must we give?

At first, it all started during a small friend chat where we questioned the role of businesses in current or modern time. We do these kinds of talks, all the time but this one seemed to reveal so much. So much of which has been on my face but did not notice.

As it turned out of our conversations, so much is being taken but not much is given. You probably know that saying. As entrepreneurs, leaders and business owners, myself included — we need to rethink the way we conduct ourselves and businesses if we are to be true industry leaders with integrity. There’s a line that Barak delivered on his first state of the nation address as a president of the USA. It goes a little something like “What the phoenix have not realised is that the ground has shifted beneath them”. I am not sure what he intended to say but since well it’s a figure of speech obviously we can interpreted however we want. What Obama was pointing out in simple English is that THINGS HAVE CHANGED., and people need to take note and possibly act on that.

The things we used to think are possible are no longer possible.
The people we expected a lot from now can’t even share a moment of gratitude.
Dreams we’ve always had from young age may not come true — because things have changed.

This is good, and bad. It is good if you realise that the ground has shifted beneath you and it is bad if you fail to acknowledge the change and assume all is well by continuing to live on your old habits. The famous line “Ignorance is bliss” has a deeper impact too. People get stuck in “Ignorance” and prefer to assume all is well just so they don’t live to face reality.

Let me bluntly break it to you. You’d be fooled to be thinking all is well, especially if you live in South Africa. The high walls in Fourways or Sandton will not save you from the reality and the state of affairs of this country. There is a high presence of unhappiness, anger and frustrations amongst people and most recently, young people — young scholars.

The strikes, the violent protests and the never ending vandalism are a sign of deep impact ignorance. Leaders, business people and everyone is still wondering what is going on.

I’m not a PHD student but I can tell you one thing. THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

Capitalism and exploiting workers will no longer be the norm not because workers have rights but because workers now know exactly how much their companies are banking monthly.

Treating, intimidating and racially excluding students from institutions of higher learning will no longer be norm because these very same students can read through the fine line of racially institutionalised concepts.

Politically breeding ideologies and mocking on restoring people’s hopes, promising an ideal life and good working condition in exchange for votes will be the thing of the past not because people are fed up, bust simply because –people have been taken on so many rides and they know exactly know how such a fairy-tale ends.

So what does it mean for us, future leaders, and entrepreneurs and how does it translate into our conduct in modern business world?

Things have changed and so must the current level of leadership. Things have changed and we ought to acknowledge it, by starting to think and act in a manner that is aligned with current state of affairs. One of the ways to start thinking in that way is to adopt the value giving principle.

BUT WHAT IS THIS VALUE GIVING PRINCIPLE?

The value giving principle is the intended thinking and the conscious effort to make a difference, regardless of the situation. In a perfect value giving principle world businesses are not only existing to make a profit but also have an intended effort to make the difference in the community they are serving or an the industry they are operating in. These efforts must not be regulated by local authorities or agencies but must simply be in the living cell of each business’s DNA.

The value giving principle is the intended desire and the conscious determination to make a difference, regardless of the situation. In a perfect value giving principle world leaders and entrepreneurs are not only in it for the “bucks” but also have an intended effort to make the difference using the companies and businesses they are running, in the respective industries they are operating in. These efforts must not be regulated by business codes or mission statements but must simply be in the living blood of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Notice the word intention. The word an intended effort implies that each business and leaders collectively engage in designing programmes that actually contribute to their business’s effort to adopt and implement the value giving principle.

This is the thinking that modern business leaders need to adopt.

But why does this thinking matter now more than ever!

There are 3 reasons.

1. DAYS OF TAKERS ARE RUNNING OUT

This matters because we are living in the age of taking and not giving, and those who will be living to give value in their approach and thinking, will prosper and flourish more compared to their “taking” counterparts. The matter gets deeper than we think. I am always thinking in terms of entrepreneurship and business economics so my approach is always thinking along business and leadership.

We are living in an era where the world promises us value without taking much from us.

Let’s be honest, the strikes, the frustrated people are a product of a non-working system that has been in place for so many years. Such a system, has been taking so much from people and has officially ran out of time and the evident are in the streets. Shallow thinkers will say South Africans are lazy because they demand everything. Yes you can say that the finer few know the real truth, so much has been taken from the people and much has not given.

2. THINGS HAVE CHANGED, SO MUST THE LEADERS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE BUSINESSES CONDUCT.

In an entrepreneurial management book by Robert J. Calvin, the author speaks of some of the basic trends of avoiding failure for business leaders and business in general. One of the trends that stand out the most is that leaders, businesses and entrepreneurs need to develop an inherent nature of constantly moving with the trends. Call it adaptation or flexibility. R. J. Calvin refers to this trait as the ability to continuously unlearn the past and reinventing the future. The lack of such a trait in entrepreneurs, business or modern leaders will result in struggle and they will perish but those who unlearn their past will sure become today and the future’s industry leaders.

It goes without saying that some of companies and leaders in SA have faced such struggles because they refused to move away from the past. African Bank, Retail outlets and major mining and steel companies are closing down or continuously face strikes.

3. CHANGE OR DIE

It’s your choice.

The value giving principle matters because if you do not move with trends you become irrelevant. Like the Kodak company, a once upon a time industry leader that seemed to have had it all together got hit but the mighty digital revolution and Kodak to this day is still in ICU fighting for survival.

A friend of mine, Mitch — has the saying, that people who are suffering or stuck at “planet unhappy” lack the character that allows them to develop character traits that allows them to navigate through life and survive their era, i.e. their struggles.

The same goes for companies today, especially in South Africa. Companies are faced with similar dilemmas, if not challenged with BEE compliance it is transformation. Those who responded well to such changes are coping and continuously leading their pack. Those who are still holding on to a broken past; the “non-value giving principle” will continue to struggle.

So then, does the value giving principle not matter?

A CONTEXUAL ANALYSIS

Let’s start with the story of Apple, the computer manufacture. I know the story is old and over told many times but please allow me. The founder of the company is a person whose interests are vested in quality over anything else. Such values are reflected and highly visible in the products and services that Apple offers. He might have been unconscious of this but the value that Apple gives you is the high quality products and that is their value giving principle, Quality.

What happened to Apple? It is the world’s finest computer manufacturing company.

We can swing the conversation and go into the creative industry and talk about Kanye West. Kanye west is regarded as someone who takes his music production way too serious. He makes sure that each track is well produced, when he goes on to stage the lighting needs to be well set, and should any of this be compromised he’s most likely to fret about it. The same can be said about Black Coffee. When black coffee goes to play, the sound needs to be well balanced by a sound engineered, yes a sound engineer. If the sound is bad he will not play.

Why though?

These guys understand what playing on a quality sounds means, it gives high quality output. Kanye knows that maintaining a leveled consistency of quality in any work makes you the best in the game. These guys are giving value in the most interesting, and that indirectly yields results. They are the best in what they do and that’s how the value giving principle matters.

Let’s come to South Africa and let me present some of our tragic examples. There is a high level of “quick buck” mentality that is driven by capitalism, get rich quicker and leave before anyone finds out. This is present in all industries from politics to construction. We also have the mining industry that systematically still applies the lack of value giving principle. The mining industry for so many years underestimated the value giving principle and today the very same notion is catching up with them.

Let me use the classical example of the Marikana Mining tragedy. The mine was serviced by a high labour force which at the end of decades of working, they wanted to emancipate themselves out of the minimum wage struggle. If you know Marxist theory you will know this well. Unfortunately the emancipation never went their way and this is the result of lack of value giving principle at the founding of such companies.

Value giving does not only mean monetary value. There is so much to it. The company failed to recognise to value its employees and the community even under governed licence conditions. Value giving is ensuring that people life and work at the end of decades of mining has improved. But because we live in the world where we are being promised things without much is taken, things happens at own will. The result is such a tragedy of the Marikana massacre.

The same goes with companies that operate in the country with no vested national interest. They have no value to give and pose a danger to society. So overtime the people get upset, get stressed, get fed up and politics, economsts always pin out how unproductive and how lazy workers are forgetting that a miserable worker is the most dangerous worker

So my appeal, especially to modern day capitalists, appitalists, innovationists and all kinds is that at your company’s founding, do not forget the value giving principle. Not only will it allow you to succeed but it will also ensure that history does not repeat itself.

HOW ARE YOU GIVING VALUE?

Does your products and service in your company guarantee success and happiness of your clients? If not then give value. Invest in quality.

Does your current boyfriend or girlfriend wife/spouse/husband significant to you and are you also significant?

Does your fiend contribute any significance and are you doing the same?

It also all boils down to you. What’s your value giving principle?

Do you give value? Do you love and support your girlfriend or boyfriend as you should be doing?

As a leader in your organisation, are you value driven?

Does your business give value somehow?

Perhaps the question I have been meaning to ask all along is: Are you adding any value to someone’s life in some way or another?

It is in the value giving principle that future leaders, entrepreneurs and their respective business will become industry leaders.

Let’s give value, let’s move, thinking forward.

Nelson Moropana (Jo’burg, South Africa)