For Online E-newspaper
Daily Nation : February 4th 2014
14 smart company business life Doing good and doing business at the same time It could be that merging your business and charity could be the way forward, but don’t be bound by what other companies do Q: My father has pancreatic cancer and I plan on creating a charity through which I can help people like him. But if I separate money-making activities from charitable ones, is my effort likely to succeed? — Joseph Wanjohi, Kenya ASK YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM HOW YOUR DIFFERENT BUSINESS AND CHARITY GOALS CAN AUGMENT AND INFLUENCE ONE ANOTHER Richard Branson father’s illness. It is always good to hear from entrepreneurs like you, who are just as interested in working on important social problems as they are in making money — for me, these are such challenging and exciting goals and projects. Well done for taking on such I an important issue! Traditionally, business and charity — and their purposes — have been thought to be mutually exclusive, but that divide is starting to dissolve. Take, for example, the rise of B Corporations in the United States. The B stands for “benefit”: These businesses are not in the game just to make a profit; they are independently certified by the nonprofit B Lab “to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.” So far, B Lab says, it has certified 910 companies from 29 countries and 60 industries. Whether you decide to keep your business activities separate MANAGEMENT » DAVID MUTURI There is a fine distinction between initiatives and tactics READING THROUGH the writings of Jack Welch recently, I found, in very precise terms, what I have struggled to explain for a long time. The distinction between initiatives and tactics. Initiatives live forever. Tactics are short-term interventions. Initiatives are the pathway to fundamental change in an organisation. They are like building blocks. They build on each other. All other organisational systems re- inforce initiatives. Initiatives, therefore, become a way of doing things in the organisation. They are cultural. Initiatives are rarely many, for you cannot have too many ways of doing things. You will otherwise end up doing nothing. In the 20 years that Jack Welch was the CEO of the great global company that is General Electric, they only had four initiatives! Those are the initiatives that made GE and Jack Welch as celebrated as they are. One of the initiatives that Jack Welch undertook was the Lean Six Sigma. This initiative uses a structured approach to solve problems and improve processes. First it defines the problem. The problem then becomes a project that will help to solve some other operational issues. It is then measured, ana- lysed, improved, and controlled. Tactics, on the other hand, being short-term tactical interventions, are needed to revitalise and energise a function or even organisation. They are quick fixes. They are meant to solve a short-term problem. They never become a long-term way of doing things. Tactics could, for example, be cost- saving interventions on, say, travel, on employees, or on space. Tactics will almost always be based on the initiatives. Cost management, for example, can be based on the Lean Six Sigma. The other thought that I found equally challenging was the distinc- tion between markets and mindset. Markets will hardly be mature, but sometimes minds are. Looking at the same business from a different perspective can change mindsets. What would otherwise look like a mature market can be revitalised by giving it a different perspective. The different perspective could be a slight differentiation or such other tactical approach to energise it. On people and strategy, the endur- ing solution is to get the right people in the right jobs. It does not matter how beautiful and well-thoughtthrough a strategy is. If you do not have the right people to deliver it, it will not work. It will stop at exactly that — a well-thought-out strategy that never went anywhere because no one was there to take it anywhere. This great leader talks about the common daily struggles of leadership that we all find ourselves in each day. Problems that were resolved and others that were not; some that were exaggerated, people who had to be kicked really hard and others who had to be hugged. Even enemies had to be made when it was unavoidable. All this goes towards the making of greatness! Mr Muturi is the executive director, Kenya Institute of Management from your nonprofit efforts or to embed your charitable goals into the structure of your business, your venture can be successful. The key seems to be to find a business model that achieves your goals in a simple and practical way, and then focus on delivering well. Here are a couple of examples to inspire you: Washing one’s hands fre- am sorry to hear about your quently is the best and simplest way to reduce respiratory infections and diarrhoea, the world’s two leading causes of child mortality, and the consumer goods giant Unilever is promoting this habit through its Lifebuoy soap brand. The firm has particularly targeted this campaign at developing countries like India where, according to the World Health Organisation, more than 1,000 children under five die from diarrhoea every day — the highest rate in the world. Unilever makes money from Lifebuoy while saving lives — a wonderful example of a largescale entrepreneurial approach to a serious public health challenge. Gandys is a smaller-scale ex- ample of a business that turns profit into good works. We stock and wear its special edition “Necker Red” flip-flops at the resort near my home. The brand was created by Rob and Paul Forkan, two brothers from Britain whose parents died in the 2004 tsunami when the family was vacationing in Sri Lanka (the young boys just barely escaped). At present, they are using profits from this venture to build an orphanage in India; the funds also go to other projects designed to help orphaned children. Other models help to create jobs or foster entrepreneurial activity. Virgin Unite, our nonprofit foundation, has partnered with the international development charity, Christian Aid, since 2009 to bring health care to remote rural communities in Kenya. While health problems ranging Richard Branson ENTREPRENEURSHIP from malaria to Aids to respiratory tract diseases are common there, transportation can be difficult to find, which means that distance can dictate whether a person lives or dies. Our organisations built the Ru- ral Transport Network to provide local health care workers with the motorbikes they needed to travel the distances required: More than 30 riders are currently delivering supplies, care, and advice to remote locations in Kenya. The entrepreneurial element of this programme is an especially interesting innovation. The health care workers deliver their services for half the week, and the rest of the time they can use the motorbikes for free to build their own businesses — some have entered microcredit programmes as these small ventures have grown. It is a win-win for everyone. Remember to look externally too — explore partnerships with people and organisations that have the skills or perspectives you need. The best partners may not be the obvious ones. I recently came across a great example, where SimplyHealth, a health insurance provider, is funding a study by doctors in a group practice based in Stowmarket, England, academics at nearby University Campus Suffolk, and the team at McLaren Applied Technologies to explore how technology developed to monitor Formula One cars can help monitor activity levels for people who are struggling with obesity. Above all, dare to be different: Think creatively and entrepre- Tuesday February 4, 2014 DAILY NATION ADVICE » THE KEY SEEMS TO BE TO FIND A MODEL THAT ACHIEVES YOUR GOALS IN A SIMPLE AND PRACTICAL WAY FILE | NATION Consumer goods giant Unilever is promoting the habit of washing hands through its Lifebuoy soap brand. Washing one’s hands frequently is the best and simplest way to reduce respiratory infections. neurially about how to meet your goals. It could be that merging your business and charity could be the way forward, but do not be bound by what other firms are doing — your creative problemsolving skills could lead you to discover a new path to success. Whatever model you decide to pursue, after you have it up and running, you should continue to ask yourself and your team how your different business and charity goals can augment and influence one another. At Virgin, our group of com- panies works increasingly close with Virgin Unite. Just like all collaborations, a diversity of perspectives can result in real creativity. So, ask your business-minded people to tackle charitable goals and your health or nonprofit people to do the same with your business goals. Great ideas come from bringing together people from different backgrounds — it may turn out that in your field, charity and business are not opposed at all. Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Send them to RichardBranson@n ytimes.com.
February 3rd 2014
February 5th 2014