“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
On the occasion of International Consultants’ Day, June 4, 2015, I was honoured to be asked by the Caribbean Association of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC) to dedicate my weekly column to this occasion. When the request was graciously prefaced by “You have not been forgotten, never will” and “the Father of Consulting in Barbados”, how could I refuse!
The concluding paragraphs of my June 1 dedicated column stated: “The management consulting profession is the one that can address these issues (governance and leadership) and help us to improve performance in the public, private or NGO sectors. The CICMC must rise to the occasion as the body responsible for guiding the future of this noble profession. International Consultants’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate successes in the management consulting profession. May it also be a reminder that if we ignore the importance of this profession we do so at our own peril.”
The CICMC thank you letter was equally complimentary.
The content for this column was inspired by my day-to-day experiences in working with start-up enterprises and laying a foundation through the shepherding process. I reflected on the formal advent of my business consulting career at Systems Caribbean Limited (Systems or SCL) in 1977. My thoughts then went to the establishment of the Nation newspaper in 1973, probably because the Nation was one of Systems’ first clients.
Whereas the Nation was given birth by many hands, it is acknowledged that the two men who were most influential in its birth and survival against the odds were Sir Fred Gollop and Harold Hoyte. The former was for most of the early years the chairman and business leader of the Nation Publishing while Harold Hoyte became its Editor-in-Chief and is now Director and ‘Editor Emeritus’.
One Caribbean Media Limited was born in January 2006 from the merger of two of the region’s most distinguished and long-standing media enterprises, the Caribbean Communications Network Limited (Trinidad and Tobago) and the Nation Corporation (Barbados). This metamorphosis, along with many other examples in the Caribbean, is the phenomenon which must be heralded as an example to be followed in our region.
SCL, although not having the vision for such a metamorphosis, is still alive 38 years later, albeit under a change of name and ownership. The new Systems Consulting Limited has been operational since 2000.
These two examples have bucked the global trend of 90 percent of start-up businesses failing within the first five years of operation. The Caribbean is replete with examples of success and enterprise metamorphosis but we also experience the situation where many good business ideas never see the light of day with the corresponding loss to national economic growth.
As I say over and over again there is no shortage of new businesses ideas in the Caribbean, but there is just a lack of vision in the terms of supporting the enabling environment and our propensity to reinvent the wheel.
Examples of business success must be heralded from the roof tops. Business risk mitigation is paramount if the situation is to be reversed to put us on a path of sustainable economic growth.
When I review my current portfolio of shepherding projects, I am heartened to see that many of them, after six months of laying a foundation of business systems management, are beginning to exhibit green flashing lights on their monitoring dashboard across all business systems of corporate governance, marketing , operations, people development and investment finance.
Guided by the Global Business Innovation Corporation concept which espouses open innovation, communications, global market pull and shepherding services, there is much interest being shown and it should not be long before a few initiatives take root and evolve under this initiative.
Only last week I was advised that there is a new cohort of businesses embarking on the National Integrated Business Incubation Services (IBIS) programme in Trinidad and Tobago. The focus has to be on ensuring that as many of these businesses as possible are given a good foundation and defy the international failure rate statistics. We have to be an example to the world.
Let us be guided by the butterfly life cycle. The butterfly metamorphosis includes all four stages of life. Each butterfly has a complete metamorphosis. To grow into an adult they go through four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Each stage has a different goal – for instance, caterpillars need to eat a lot, and adults need to reproduce. Depending on the type of butterfly, the life cycle of a butterfly may take anywhere from one month to a whole year.
Let us be conscious of the business life cycle. The business metamorphosis includes all four stages of life. Each business can have a “complete metamorphosis”. To grow into an adult they go through four stages: concept, start-up, growth and maturity. Each stage has a different goal. The concept and entrepreneur are shepherded through due diligence to determine whether it has the “DNA of an Elephant”. The start-up is shepherded to lay a good foundation for growth. In the growth phase the businesses are shepherded to clear all obstacles on the journey to sustainable success. The adult is shepherded to engage in spin-off and scale-up activities. Unlike the butterfly, the business life cycle has no fixed length.
Let us engage in healthy dialogue and encourage the development of new business ideas by building on our own experiences so as to engender a bright future and a hope for posterity.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)