“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” – Hebrew 12: 1-2
At this time of the year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour. I am no exception to these celebrations. As is my wont, I attended the 5 am service at James St. Methodist Church on Christmas morning with my sister and was appropriately inspired by the message. Of course, this is the Church from which we have many a childhood memory, so the atmosphere was amenable to high levels of reception. However, this 2010 December morning seemed special.
Foremost in my mind are my 2011 new year resolutions to run with endurance the races set before me, as follows: (1) convert concepts into commercial realities for the first ten enterprises in the Bimventures programme, which will be experiencing their first full operational year in 2011; (2) fully capitalise the Bimventures Venture Capital Fund (VCF) as an important and attractive financial option for spawning start-up enterprises; (3) support the VCF with a Shepherding process to mitigate the risk of business failure; and (4) contribute to the achievement of the targets set by the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) for the Summit in Nov 2011, en route to the goal “Barbados is the #1 entrepreneurial hub in the world by 2020”.
There is a culture of “excellence” which is common to these races and which may be otherwise stated as a “zero defects culture”.
I m reminded of an interesting story about a Japanese manufacturer who had adopted the total quality management or zero defects culture. This manufacturer received an order from an American company for 10,000 units of a given product. The Japanese company thanked the American company for the order, but had a query. “What do you mean when you say that you would accept 10% defects?
The Americans explained that they would accept 1000 defects out of the 10,000 ordered. The Japanese were still at a loss but decided to fulfil the order. When the Americans received the items there were two packages one marked “9000 good items” and the other “1000 defects”. Of course, in the Japanese culture defects were not defined so they deliberately created defects and delivered them to their client in a separate package.
In Barbados, if we want to become the #1 entrepreneurial hub in the world by 2020, we must adopt and practise a zero defects culture. This implies total quality in whatever we do: quality of product or service, punctuality, productivity, innovation and access to finance.
An enterprise must always: seek perfection; clearly understand its responsibility for delivering a world-class product; not settle for mediocrity; protect the interests of all stakeholders; insist on punctuality; engender high levels of productivity.
Bimventures had a call recently from a company in the US who wants to set up a business in the Caribbean. They thought that the advent of a Bimventures VCF was excellent and further stated that the Shepherding process, in the way that it is practised by Bimventures, is innovative and certainly, in their opinion, did not exist in the US market. Since Shepherding mitigates the risk of failure, then a VCF that is supported by a Shepherding process should be very attractive to VC investors.
There is a temptation to treat the Bimventures Shepherding process as if it is mentoring, angel investing or hand holding, in the traditional sense. But it is not. Indeed, there is a school of thought that denigrates the concept of shepherding for whatever reason. Bimventures believes that its shepherding is different and has to branded as such. A shepherding manual of operations is currently being prepared based on the experiential evidence collected over the past year.
Indeed, if we draw on the words of a Christmas carol “While shepherds watched their flocks by night, All seated on the ground, The angel of the Lord came down, And glory shone around” and I might add creating and atmosphere of magnificence, splendour, beauty, wonder, grandeur, brilliance, exaltation in preparation for the birth of the Christ child.
If we convert this biblical Shepherding concept in the context of Bimventures we might end up with a first pass lyrical shift which goes something like this: “While shepherds and business advisers continually assist their enterprises in every aspect of their business, The blessings of the Lord will come down and the Mission targets will be systematically bowled over one after the other in a world of continual improvement guided by a beacon of excellence.”
The corollary is that if shepherds are not watching over their enterprises, then chaos reigns and failure rates of start-ups maintain their 90% levels and economies continue to slide.
In terms of Developng the Leader that is within you, today’s leadership promise from John Maxwell is: “We cannot lead anyone else farther than we have been ourselves. Too many times we are so concerned about the product we try to shortcut the process. There are no shortcuts where integrity is involved… Recently I heard a consultant interviewed about quality control. The consultant said: ‘In quality control, we are not concerned about the product. We are concerned about the process. If the process is right, the product is guaranteed.’ The same holds true for integrity; it guarantees credibility.”