Critical Need for Entrepreneurs in South Africa says Clem Sunter

Clem SunterRenowned business leader and scenario planner Clem Sunter spoke about the critical need for entrepreneurship in South Africa at BMGI’s recent business breakfast held at Sandton.

“We need to grow the economy and create jobs,” he said.  “In this context, the role of small business is critical.  Entrepreneurs – men and women who create new businesses specifically to satisfy needs they identify in their environment – need to be encouraged, assisted and rewarded.”

Entrepreneurship and the growth of small business cannot happen in isolation.  It needs to be the product of a helpful business and regulatory environment.  “Setting up a small business should be relatively easy.  Red tape needs to be minimized.  Access to finance should be easier.  Providing potential entrepreneurs with management, marketing, financial and administrative skills should happen more readily,” stressed Sunter.

“One of the characteristics of South African business over the decades has been the emergence of many outstanding entrepreneurial business leaders, from the early twentieth century mining trailblazers to amazing modern leaders like Adrian Gore and Elon Musk, to name just two.  There is no reason why there should not be many more such entrepreneurs.  They just need to be given the right environment,” he said.

Rewarding entrepreneurial spirit and success is essential.  “Starting a successful business is often reward in itself, but companies need to reward entrepreneurship within their own ranks as well.  Creative and innovative employees need to be recognised and rewarded.  Usually, the growth of a business comes from the innovative skills of a handful of entrepreneurial employees within its ranks.  These people need to be nurtured and rewarded.”

Clem Sunter  at BMGI Business Breakfast

Clem Sunter speaking at BMGI’s Business Breakfast in May.

As an international consulting firm that focuses on strategy, innovation, operational excellence and change management, one of BMGI’s core areas of expertise  is the management of innovation, a key success factor for companies operating in an environment where change is happening at an increasingly rapid rate.

BMGI consultant Dimitri Markoulides shared the podium with Sunter at the event.  “Companies need to focus on innovation as an important corporate philosophy and skill.  Not all people are naturally creative and innovative, but, in many cases, both companies and individuals can be taught to be innovative.

BMGI is currently rolling out South Africa’s first formal Innovation Champion Programme, which provides individuals with the skills necessary to manage the innovation process within a company.  “The Innovation Champion is the individual within the company tasked with driving the process forward.  We have shown that the course builds competency and equips the Innovation Champion with the tool sets required to successfully roll out and deploy innovation in the organisation,” said Markoulides, BMGI’s own innovation champion.

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Clem Sunter to Speak at BMGI’s Business Breakfast: What to Expect (Part 3)

More from the Renowned Scenario Plannerclemsunter_5

BMGI’s business breakfast will take place at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Sandton on May 20, 2015.  In this preview of the highlights of Sunter’s presentation, we look at Clem’s use of the ‘Mind of a Fox’ analogy as it relates to innovation and scenario planning. Read part one and part two here. 

‘You need the bright eyes of a fox to survey the world around you; you need the mind of a fox to map out the best way of handling the changes you see happening; and you need the speed and agility of a fox’s response to turn your decisions into action.  It’s all about looking out, then looking in,’ he explains.

BMGI Clem Sunter Gears‘Before you decide what you can do based on what you control in your business, you have to understand the environment around you and particularly the relevant factors you don’t control and how they may have changed or might change in the future.  In life there are things which are relatively predictable and certain; but equally there are many issues  which are beyond your power of prediction and which you have to consider before committing yourself to action.  If you follow these principles, you will capture all that is happening around you; and you will also acquire the speed and flexibility of response needed to pursue the opportunities and counter the threats posed by the changing environment.  According to Charles Darwin, the most successful species are not necessarily the most powerful ones, but those that most readily adapt to whatever nature throws at them. The same applies to human pursuits.’

Clem Sunter Headlines BMGI’S Business Breakfast – What to Expect (Part 2)

BMGI Clem Sunter

Clem Sunter, renowned scenario planner and international business consultant, will be addressing a business breakfast, hosted by BMGI, at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Sandton on May 20, 2015.

In the next of our highlights from Clem’s presentation, we look at Clem’s view on how companies can successfully develop a culture of innovation.

BMGI Clem Sunter Bulb Puzzle‘It is self-evident that innovation is crucial to the success of businesses in the rapidly-changing modern era,’ he says.  ‘Within companies, some people are naturally innovative and creative.  They think laterally without formal training.  Other people, highly competent though they may be, struggle to be naturally innovative.  In the end, it’s all about nature versus nurture, which is why formal training in innovation is so important.  Innovation can be taught, not only at the individual level, but also at the corporate level, where companies need to have formal structures in place to encourage innovation on a continuous basis.’

Clem believes that South Africa need not stand back in the innovation stakes.  ‘We have had numerous highly innovative and creative business people that can take their places on the world stage.  Two examples are Adrian Gore, founder of Discovery Health, and Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors.’

Clem Sunter Headlines BMGI’S Business Breakfast – What to Expect (Part 1)

What to Expect From the Renowned Scenario Planner

BMGI Clem Sunter

Clem Sunter, renowned scenario planner and international business consultant.

Clem Sunter, renowned scenario planner and international business consultant, will be addressing a business breakfast, hosted by BMGI, at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Sandton on May 20, 2015.

BMGI Clem Sunter PuzzleHighlights from Clem’s presentation will be posted by BMGI in the lead-up to what will undoubtedly be a memorable and valuable experience for everyone involved.

Today, we look at Clem’s view on the relevance of scenario planning as a technique and the increasing importance of innovation in the modern business world.

‘Scenario Planning as a business tool has been around since the 1940’s and has yet to be superseded by any other formal planning technique.  It is now used world-wide by businesses and governments to plan for an uncertain future.   It has been fine-tuned by our group at Mind of a Fox to the point where we have written several books and have developed a website, mindofafox.com.  There is no doubt that scenario planning will be around for a long time,’ he says.BMGI Clem Sunter Bulbs

Clem believes emphatically that innovation is becoming more and more relevant in business.  ‘Innovation is crucial to success in business.  The world is changing rapidly, particularly regarding technology, but also in terms of consumer demands and economics.  The business world isn’t like the game of golf, which has changed little over the years.  Companies like Apple have embraced the need for constant change and have turned this into their most powerful competitive tool.’

Change Champions Needed to Drive Innovation

BMGI has developed the Certified Innovation Champion Programme to allow companies to innovate successfully.  One of the key components of the programme is identifying ‘change champions’ within an organization, individuals who are specially selected to drive through a well-defined process.

‘Usually, executives and others in a company come up with really good innovation ideas, but no one is specifically tasked with making them happen.  Change Champions are responsible for turning ideas into reality, supported by the executive team.

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Innovate by all means, but first select your innovation growth strategy

Successful innovation by businesses in South Africa is key if the triple challenges of low growth, high unemployment and poor international competitiveness are going to be beaten.  This is the view of Dimitri Markoulides, a senior consultant and Innovation Practice Lead with international management consulting firm BMGI.

‘Businesses need to be successful innovators if they hope to grow and compete nationally and internationally,’ he says.  ‘But most businesses know that.  It’s not a new concept.  There are two problems, however: the first is formalizing an innovation growth strategy and secondly there is the need to settle on the approach on “how to innovate”.  While it is easy to talk about the rewards of innovation, implementing a successful innovation strategy is not simple.  You need a properly structured programme, which is what we offer.’

Why does innovation often not work in the South African business environment, even though most businesses realise how important it is?  According to Markoulides, it is usually because they select an inappropriate innovation strategy.  ‘Companies often focus on becoming more efficient in their processes (EFFICIENCY INNOVATION), or simply replace one product with another in the market (SUSTAINING INNOVATION).  These strategies may improve cash flow and profitability, but are normally not truly innovative.’

BMGI

BMGI teaches companies EMPOWERING INNOVATION, which in essence provides a solution for a target market that was not able to afford the original solution; and TRANSFORMATIONAL INNOVATION, where the entire business model is adjusted to meet new market needs.

Really innovative companies are not scared to change their entire business model when needed.  This may be the creation of a totally new product as the result of new technologies, or backward integration into their supply chain, or forward integration, where they become their own customers.  This type of innovation has seen the most dramatic growth of businesses across the world, creating companies that have become household names.

‘We believe that innovation in South Africa has, generally, become stuck at the efficiency and sustaining levels.  It is our aim to take our clients into new levels of innovation, encompassing both empowering and transformational innovation,’ says Markoulides.

This is where BMGI’s Certified Innovation Champion Programme comes into focus.  The company offers local businesses a successful, road-tested programme that takes the idea of innovation and makes it a usable and reliable business tool that can transform a company.

BMGI has developed the Certified Innovation Champion Programme to allow companies to innovate successfully.  One of the key components of the programme is identifying ‘change champions’ within an organization, individuals who are specially selected and specifically tasked with driving and implementing innovation through a well-defined process.

Central to BMGI’s programme is the use of Rapid Innovation ‘events’ to teach members of innovation teams, under the leadership of innovation champions, how to move an innovation idea forward.  These events are termed ‘Structured Ideation/Concept Team Events’ by BMGI.  ‘We work with the champions and their selected teams in a way that allows them to learn how to implement innovation,’ explains Markoulides.  ‘It is practical and goal-directed.  Innovation is a skill like any other and needs to be taught by experts and learned by willing and motivated participants.  We teach what we call the four D’s.’

Firstly, the company needs to DEFINE the need for change.  ‘It could be a new market opportunity, a new territory or a competitive threat,’ says Markoulides. 

The second ‘D’ is DISCOVER.  The team lays out a variety of possible solutions through various ideation and provocation techniques to meet the innovation opportunity.  The solutions are evaluated and the best ones defined as the ideal.

Next comes DEVELOP Phase.  Team members create concepts and develop ideas specifically designed to achieve the solution required.  Ideas are integrated so as to secure a realistic model/product that will solve the problem.

Finally, the DEMONSTRATE phase arrives.  This is where the team puts the ideas into practice by building a working model of the product or service required.

Innovation is like any sport, the harder you work at it the “luckier” you become. No organisation will come up with radical breakthrough ideas if it does not practice innovation- it’s a lesson learnt back in the days of Edison’s Idea factories.

If this trend takes hold, then many of the problems inherent in the South African business environment could become things of the past.

Selecting the correct innovation growth strategy is key

 ‘Successful innovation by businesses in South Africa is key if the triple challenges of low growth, high unemployment and poor international competitiveness are going to be beaten,’ according to Dimitri Markoulides, a senior consultant and Innovation Practice Lead with international management consulting firm BMGI.

‘Businesses need to be successful innovators if they hope to grow and compete nationally and internationally,’

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