Adding Value 11

I enjoyed ‘breakfast with Blade’ recently. The Minister of Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, and the FP&M SETA teamed up to engage with stakeholders in the sector.

Dr Nzimande expressed concern, among other things, about how South Africa’s raw materials leave the country to be manufactured and then sold back to us. He mentioned Italy buying our diamonds, turning them into watches, jewellery and other high-end goods and selling them back to us unrecognisable from the product we supplied. Why is it, he asked, that we cannot add the value ourselves?

It struck me that his question is not just something for big business to answer. It’s a question for each and every one of us. How can I add value?

We are given raw materials every day. How can we add value to them before we hand them on?

We have the raw material of time. Like other raw materials, time is limited. And, like other raw materials the question is what are we going to do with it? What do you do best? What should you be spending your time on? What does your company, your partner, your family need you to spend your time on?

Stephen Covey describes four quadrants containing the things we get up to. He recommends that we take time to recognise where each activity belongs and treat it accordingly.

Quadrant one contains those things that are urgent and important. The fires we seem destined continually to put out. They cannot be ignored, but it may be possible to delegate some of the items.
Quadrant two contains the important but not urgent: the preparation, the planning, the relationship-building exercises and such like for which we ‘don’t have time’. They are constantly sacrificed for Quadrant one items until they themselves force their way into Quadrant One and cannot be ignored any longer.
Quadrant three (the urgent but not important) is often full of other people’s Quadrant one issues.
Quadrant four (the not urgent and not important) is Facebook, sport-watching and other such activities. Saying no to Quadrant three and four items is the only way we will make time for Quadrant two. As someone said, Mark Zuckerberg built a billion dollar empire out of our inability to say no.

Where will you spend your time today? How will you ensure that what you do with your time will add value to the important elements of your life?

Our relationships are also raw materials with huge potential. How we build and encourage others and the value we add to their lives may have incalculable consequences for them and for us and for the wider community.

We often blame others for our responses and reactions. ‘You made me angry.’ ‘You leave me no choice.’ The latter might be true of a referee handing out (another) red card, but it is not true of how we respond when we feel angry, disappointed, uncomfortable or any of the myriad emotions we experience in our relationships at work and at home.

Grumpy is a choice. Irritability is a choice. A smile is a choice. A word of encouragement is a choice. Someone once asked, what do you want people to say at your funeral? More immediate, perhaps, is what people say about us now when we arrive at the office or leave? Do we make it easy for our colleagues to excel? What about the staff of our local supermarket or restaurant? What about our partner or family? or does our presence bring additional burdens?

How can we add value to the various relationships that make up our lives? They are not incidental. They are integral to who we are. How will you add value to your relationships this week?

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About Ian Webster

I have been running my own consultancy (Simply Communicate) for five years – training and consulting in all things people management and development. Prior to that I was 16 years in corporate HR in a unionised environment becoming Training Manager and Human Resources Manager. I have a Degree in Theology and a post-graduate diploma in Human Resources Management.

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11 thoughts on “Adding Value

  • Charles Dey

    Thanks Ian, I find that complaining about things that I can’t change generally leads to loss of libido, ulcers and dandruff, none good (especially at my age). 

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Good morning to all and thank you – yes Charles and Ian – that is the approach that I would support.  What can I do every day in my world to make a difference?

    Unfortunately, we have a portion of our population, who in my opinion seem to want to sit on the sidelines and criticise the current government.  Whatever this government does or does not do, it will not justify the past. Let’s focus on what we can do – not what we can criticise.

    Also to be fair to Minister Nzimande, he only took over skills development in 2009 and he was the first to shout that too little had been achieved by the SETAs. Also in my opinion he has done a good job of re-deploying some of those monies.  Pointing the finger right back at employers, I would ask: who was it that was sitting on all those SETA boards?  Did employers then – and do they now – make a positive contribution to skills development and what constructive steps have been taken towards beneficiation?

    It might be useful following Charles and Ian’s comments to ask: what companies are making constructive efforts to develop South African skills and industry?  What are they doing right and what can we learn?

  • Charles Dey

    @ Dale and Wessel. I prefer to take a more fox (as Clem Sunter puts it) view: what can I do to develop courses which result in improved performance in MY workplace environment? When I develop courses am I sure that I have produced the very best that I can (or only enough to meet those each to reach SETA standards)? Am I creating a learning environment and implementing training programmes which will actually improve productivity in my environment, or am I only aiming for maximum B-BBEE scorecard points?.

    As those responsible for skills development implementation I believe that if we as individuals focus our attention on improvements in our immediate environments and share what we have learnt through forums such as this, then we will bring about real, sustainable improvements. I sometimes think that we underestimate the power we have for real sustainable change just by concentrating on our professional delivery. We are very special people, us trainers. 

  • Dale Holdstock

    Education and Training for EMPLOYMENT that ADDS VALUE to our RESOURCES to break the shackles of poverty and unemployment. [Education] The MONEY needs to go to upskilling the TEACHERS. [Training] The MONEY needs to go to competent EMPLOYERS. [Employment] Partnerships between ‘teachers & employers’ [Add value] THIS IS WHERE THE ‘BIG MONEY’ MUST BE INVESTED, PARTNERSHIPS, PARTNERSHIPS PARTNERSHIPS. [Resources] No raw resources should be allowed to cross our borders. [Poverty & unemployment] Should, in 2 or 3 generations be history. There is your answer Blade, now see if as a Minister you can cut it! 

  • Ian Webster Post author

    Yes, Steve,

    I think the problem is we all prefer to talk about things out there for someone else to fix.

    As I see it, the problem is not whether we understand the value of nurturing people, but whether we DO it. So benefication (as we like to call it) is, as I suggested, not merely something for big business (and government) to get right, but for each and every one of us at every level and at every opportunity. Otherwise the debate will continue with no value being added.

  • Steve Short

    IMHO this would have been a great post WITHOUT the opening paragraphs @ Ian.  Instead it opened the door for Wessel to (rightfully) pose several $M questions.  I believe that members of this forum (given their background as HR/Training practitioners) DO understand the value of cultivating and nurturing positive relationships with everyone in our respective spheres of influence.  

    Another $M question for Dr Nzimande would be why, after pouring Billions of taxpayer funds into education (for over 2 decades), do we have so little to show for it?   Perhaps if the ROLLOUT of strategies emerging from his ministry were more effective, we would now have a sufficiently skilled workforce to provide him with the answers to his questions.  

    Many Skills Universe members clearly try their best to add value, but can they do it in isolation?  Has Dr Nzimande not clearly stated that the future lies within the FET’s?  Does the answer now lie in pouring billions into the FET’s?  I would submit that we all add value in micro contexts – how else will we survive?  Within a macro context, I say “you lead the way Dr Nzimande… include me/us and I/we will be right behind you…  If you think the FET’s can do it on their own, then show us”. 

  • Wessel PIETERS

    The beneficiation debate will never stop…..Of course SA can beneficiate subject to the appropriate opportunities, risk orientation, skills, policies and business acumen:

    Diamonds have been discovered in SA since the 1800’s notwithstanding Israel, Italy and the USA is cutting diamonds.  Why not Africans?  SA should be the ideal place for the diamond industry dominating the market.

    Gold was lying openly in the veld in 1887 in JNB since 2Billion years.  Why did Africans not pick it up and created a gold industry?

    Africans are musical people and loves the guitar but Japan is making all the guitars for Africa.

    Africans loves music and singing, but where are the theatres, the concerts?  Is rap music and toi-dancing sufficient for the soul?  Where are the ballerinas and the orchestras?  where are the African composers of substance?

    In Brazzzaville they consume 250.000 chickens a day.  All imported by plane from Paris.  Why are there no chicken farms in Brazzaville Congo?

    Now about Blade:

    SA has iron ore.  SA has manganese. All lies within 40km from each other.  SA could be the biggest and most modern steel producer in the world.  China is.

    Add to the steel-making the chrome some 500km further north, SA could be the biggest stainless steel producer in the world.  China is.

    SA could be a enriched uranium producer under supervision, and SA could be leading the nuclear power plant industry (pebble reactors).  We have (had) the technology.  All lies in the West.

    SA should be exporting power to Africa.  Now we do not have enough for an economy that hardly grows.  Shame.

    Why are other countries doing such projects? This is the question Blade should answer.  BBEE produced no benefits for SA, in fact it alienates investors and skilled people.  The labour laws are only there for those that are employed.  Unemployed people has got no chance, no quality skills.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Hi Charles, thanks for your response.  Yes, I also agree with you that beneficiation of our raw materials is definitely the required strategy.  But I do also recall that the stategy has been identified since 1994.  

    So your question is appropriate: why is it so difficult to implement such a strategy?

    Our skills development infrastructure is intended to do 1, 2 and 3 that you identify.

    So could it be that there are very powerful vested interests that benefit from the current situation?  These will not support and may actively obstruct such a strategy? So we should look into the detail of implementation of skills development.  

  • Charles Dey

    To my mind if beneficiation is to be the solution to our problems to economic growth (and I couldn’t agree more with Blade that it is) then the key strategy must be on:

    1. Partnering with investment partners to develop manufacturing plants with the capability of turning our raw materials into semi- or fully- finished products

    2. Upskilling labour to operate the plant and machinery to international standards of best practice

    3. Upskilling management to lead enterprises into world markets.

    Why is it so difficult to implement such a strategy?