IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE – BASIL SPRINGER COLUMN WHICH APPEARED IN THE BARBADOS ADVOCATE’S BUSINESS MONDAY ON AUGUST 25, 2014

“You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it.” – Psalm 65:9

All businesses start small. Those businesses which are destined to remain small, because of their “DNA”, sell their products/services to individuals or other businesses. Some businesses which start small, may grow into big businesses themselves, primarily because they respect the principle “start small, do it right, make a profit, then expand”. Sustainable economic growth can only be achieved through this network of businesses, one successful business after another.

The start-up entrepreneur often promotes a brilliant idea and immediately focuses on investment funding. Here is an example of a typical request which I recently received from a budding entrepreneur: “I am seeking any guidance, notes or recommendations that you may be able to offer to a person such as myself who is seeking to fund a business start-up”. The implication here is that money is the paramount constraint.

Money may be necessary but it must be coupled with good corporate governance, efficient marketing, highly productive operations and the development of people, if the start-up is to be successful.

How do you convince the entrepreneur that he or she is living in a field of unlimited potential and should strive for the goal of ultimate prosperity? How does the entrepreneur prepare to carefully nourish the idea to the point where the start-up flourishes and realises the potential for a healthy yield? The answer is to assign a shepherd to the enterprise as soon as possible to respectively life coach the entrepreneur and business mentor the enterprise. How prepared is the entrepreneur for the journey in terms of his or her own human development? The shepherd must first do due diligence on the entrepreneur and the idea to determine the state of readiness for the journey.

I am reminded of the Parable of the Sower: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown”.

The analogy here is that the start-up entrepreneur “went out to promote his/her idea”. Does the entrepreneur have a formal education and technical training experience? If not, the idea may fall along the path of ignorance only to be trampled on and devoured by predators.

Has the entrepreneur been exposed to business training? If not, the idea may fall on the rocky ground of despair, and the more it is pursued the idea will wither because there is little knowledge of the impact of the power of business systems.

Has the entrepreneur been exposed to shepherding? If not, the idea will fall among the thorns of inertia, which will choke the business because there is no understanding of the need for life coaching and business mentoring.

Has the start-up entrepreneur been exposed to education/training and shepherding? If yes, then he or she will yield prosperity in abundance.

In conducting the due diligence exercise on the entrepreneur, the shepherd brings to bear experience to make an assessment of the entrepreneur or, indeed, the entrepreneur may undergo an objective diagnostic test to determine the preparedness of the entrepreneur for the journey in terms of the entrepreneur’s human development level.

In conducting the due diligence exercise on the idea, the shepherd makes an assessment of the idea in terms of the potential for growth. It may be that an idea, that is initially not attractive, after some reorientation, may display the potential to be an interesting prospect.

If the shepherd has doubts, after the due diligence process, then remediation may be recommended which addresses the weaknesses of the idea and the entrepreneur. If, on the other hand, the all clear is given then the Shepherd applies the ManOBiz Matrix™ shepherding tool to guide the business forward.

A friend, noting a reference to checklists in a recent column entitled “Discipline and Economic Growth”, just sent me a reference which led to “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande.

Here is Malcolm Gladwell’s opening paragraph of the review of the book:

“Over the past decade, through his writing in The New Yorker magazine and his books ‘Complications’ and ‘Better’, Atul Gawande has made a name for himself as a writer of exquisitely crafted meditations on the problems and challenges of modern medicine. His latest book, “The Checklist Manifesto”, begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world – and that is how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. It has been years since I read a book so powerful and so thought-provoking”.

Having read this review, I realised that the ManOBiz Matrix™ is indeed a management of business systems checklist of 25 cells, each cell with a myriad of key performance indicators. The feedback on its use as a planning and management tool has been excellent and augurs well for success.

Deepak Chopra advises: “If you focus on success, you will have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed.”

Let us pursue excellence in assessing the right balance of education/training and life coaching for our entrepreneurs and business mentoring for our start-ups to enhance their chances of ultimate prosperity.

Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. Columns are archived at: www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.

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