Tuesday, 25 June 2013


By  Simphiwe Makapela

Change, being the kind of force that it is, men and women, young and old, Black and White, Asian and Indian - have a thing or two to testify about it. They know it when they see it. Sometimes they lead it. Or, at most times, they manage it. When the going gets tough, they try to avoid it.
South Africa is almost 20 years into democracy. The world at large, is just a hair over a decade into the 21st Century and within those periods, both in South Africa and globally, change has been at the centre of both frustration and progression. Companies in all corners of all industries are engaging in Transformation Programmes. Graduates who've been unemployed for long stretches are embarking on the entrepreneurial route. Individuals, at the risk of spreading themselves too thin, are faced with having to juggle 2 jobs in one day. The education system is constantly under construction. Change is there. Its in black and white. Its real. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, every normal person you see - is trying to make sense out of it. Every Saturday of every month a young couple gets married in one street and in the other corner, its an old lady's funeral. Professional Futurists, together with Economists, are doing all that's within their prognosticating prowesses to understand and predict where the world will be. Perhaps, even, both witches and prophets alike - whether through divinity or divine revelation, are so much into what will happen next. The question is: Can you see all these things? Can you see all this change around every aspect of your life? Its happening. Its real. Change, more than ever before, is now the new order of the day. Change is the new black.


If four drivers came to a robotless four-way stop at exactly the same time, whose turn is it? The red sports car? The black SUV? The green rusty school bus? (that looks like a house in the 15th century) - What about that Suzuki Boulevard motorcycle with a 1800cc engine and a 240mm rear tire? Whose turn is it?
Of course, without thinking about it twice, we know that's its the guy who'll decide to take off first. At that moment, it will be his turn for the simple reason that under such conditions, it isn't the size of their mode of transport nor its color that counts simply because vehicles have a tendency to be as good as their drivers.
Back to the four-way stop: There comes a time where your ability to respond quickly to opportunities regardless of age, skin color nor creed - can be your only source of comptetitive advantage.

It is somewhere in the 19th Century where it was first believed that "let he who says it can't be done, not stand in the way of those who are doing it." But along came Harry Forsdick in the 21st Century who boldly stated that "We now live in a fast moving world of change such that the man who says it cannot be done, will generally be disrupted by someone doing it. Again, it is Christofel Wiese, the man behind Shoprite stores who said, "Whenever you encounter a very successful business man, do not assume that they only had a great business plan but its simply because they had a great opportunity and quite frankly, they were the right person for that opportunity."

When it comes to opportunities of any kind, we always ought to pay homage to what linguistics have termed "Positioning Yourself." What this means in effect, is that in these Corporate lastdays, its not enough to be at the right place, at the right time and being in the presence of the right people who have the right resources. The litmus test lies in the issue of being the right person. Progressive change is lubricated when an individual facilitates a merge of all of the aforementioned "rights." When the right person meets the right people, change happens in the environment concerned.


A few months ago a friend of mine related a story of how, 13years ago, a lady approached her mother with a business idea. The lady, being a high school teacher - and my friend's mom, also working for the government, were faced with this gigantic decision of abandoning their salary-promising jobs and pursue this Real Estate idea while running families simultaneosly. Now here is the crux of the matter: My friend's mom, being the only breadwinner in the family of 5, she, out of fear, doubt and no contingency plan should all go south, turned the offer down. The lady then took the rejection like a "man" and pursued the idea solo. To cut the sad story short, its 13 years later, The lady is still alive, not as a school teacher. My friend's mom is still alive - still working for the government. Something else is alive ... The idea. It grew into a multinational Real Estates firm trading in all 9 Provinces of SA and about 10 other countries around Africa.
Its a sad story for my friend. Its a lesson for all of us. When change meets opportunity, possibilities are endless. But when opportunity meets resistance, we may find ourselves kicking our own behinds after a lapse of time.


It was in the year 1995 when Bill Gates suggested that the internet was a relatively useless fad. His thinking sustained him until it became clear that the internet of things held tremendous potential. Gates, the great billionaire, humbled himself and listened to his employees and adapted for the sole purpose of gaining ascendancy.
Adaptive intelligence, in the purest sense of the term, is the ability and courage to forget and do things differently. While discipline and obedience to the status quo got us here, erecting a strong edifice of our adaptive quotient will enable us to gain ascendancy and take heed in the fact that nothing stays the same for too long.

My last sentiment: Expect the unexpected. Plan for the best. Prepare for the worst. Adapt ... Or die.

No comments:

Post a Comment