‘Change or sink’, business warned


“For organisations to survive, they must change or they die.”
THESE are the words of Thomas Berkley, a black-American entrepreneurial newspaper owner and publisher.
Berkley spoke with the authority of a man who had ‘been there and done that’.
He was the first black person to serve as Port of Oakland commissioner, transforming the port to an integrated venture that moved more goods with cranes.
He also boasted co-owning two weekly publications, the Oakland Post and El Mundo.
Both publications date back almost half a century.
Among his many accolades, Berkley was recognised as an ardent civil rights supporter and during his prime, in 1955, had spearheaded the development of Berkley Square, a 250-house racially-integrated housing project in Las Vegas, US.
In a nutshell, Berkley was qualified to warn businesses around the world that for them to continue justifying their relevance, they needed to embrace change and move with the times.
Frightening as this might sound, in today’s business, change is the only constant and this is the reality on the ground.
The accelerated rate of change in the global village era is such that what used to work in the past has been proven not to work now and will definitely have no relevance in the future.
Organisations need to continually improve their products and services in order to stay ahead of the pack.
And there is no room for excuses.
At a time when Zimbabwe’s economy is grappling with a myriad challenges that have spanned a decade, there is a window of opportunity for businessmen and women to adopt a new paradigm where they are guided by the principle to grow their market share.
This is the new paradigm that confronts today’s business manager in Zimbabwe.
It is high time private companies stopped looking to Government for protectionist policies when they can be pro-active in tapping uncharted territory.
For instance, 30 years ago, who would have thought that the telecommunications industry, particularly the cellphone, was going to revolutionise operations and open new markets for thriving business ventures such as the sale of data bundles, mobile money transfers, social media platforms and the resultant benefits that have accrued with the use of this technology.
Life, as it is, is now unimaginable without a cellphone.
The cellphone has even replaced the use of other communication gadgets, creating a whole new market that is servicing industries from the very telecommunications industry, financial services, over-the-top applications, social media, mainstream media, the music industry, and the film industry, among many other applications.
We now depend on the cellphone for everything, be it communication, lighting in the home, entertainment, conducting financial transactions and other taken-for-granted uses such as checking time.
As you can see, opportunities are as vast as the market for business.
Excelling companies that quickly come to mind are the big four telecomms giants, namely NetOne, Econet, Telecel and TelOne which have raked in millions of dollars in profits over the years.
While there are a number of companies folding due to capital constraints, the bulk of the businesses that have either been liquidated or are under judicial management mostly failed to keep up with pace of change, thus they were rendered obsolete.
It is sad to say the bulk of struggling businesses – with the exception of Anglo-Saxon companies that joined hands with the country’s enemies to sweep clean their bank accounts in protest over the Land Reform Programme and indigenisation effort – have mostly failed to run like they are mad and change direction in the event there is a competitor copying their strategy.
Most of these businesses have therefore failed to depreciate their intellectual capital fast enough.
According to Tom Peters, author of The Circle of Innovation: “The business world is in a permanent state of chaos, if it is to survive, it must constantly re-invent itself through a ceaseless process of innovation and change.”
The philosophy advanced in The Circle of Life, one of the key handbooks used by management practitioners in the world’s excelling companies, many of which are Fortune 500-listed companies in the US, is that there is need for businesspeople the world over to take advantage of their operating environment and strive to maximise shareholder wealth.


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