The Di­a­mond Dream Busi­ness Sys­tem

Finweek English Edition - - Finweek -

OVER THE PAST few years De Beers Con­sol­i­dated Mines (DBCM) has made some ma­jor strides when it comes to pro­duc­tiv­ity im­prove­ments. MD David Noko has taken the bull by the horns, us­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence from other in­dus­tries to in­tro­duce a shakeup in think­ing when it comes to achiev­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity gains in the min­ing in­dus­try.

Be­tween 2003 and 2007, De Beers has im­proved pro­duc­tiv­ity by 152% in terms of carats mined, tons mined have im­proved by 106% in terms of pro­duc­tiv­ity per em­ployee and rev­enue has climbed by 180%. Says Noko: “Those pro­duc­tiv­ity im­prove­ments are fig­ures that we can be proud of. We’ve op­ti­mised our­selves, we’ve main­tained our out­put, we’ve grown our profit and our abil­ity to gen­er­ate more cash has been im­prov­ing year on year.”

Pro­duc­tiv­ity im­prove­ments are some­thing that all of South Africa’s in­dus­try has to em­brace and Noko’s abil­ity to achieve that comes with the in­tro­duc­tion of a new global phi­los­o­phy of work­ing at De Beers. It’s called the Di­a­mond Dream Busi­ness Sys­tem, based on 14 points that fo­cus on im­prov­ing the un­der­ly­ing work­ings of the busi­ness. The sys­tem has its roots in­ter­na­tion­ally and De Beers has adapted it lo­cally.

Em­ploy­ees have to em­brace those new goals and take work­place ac­count­abil­ity for their per­for­mance. De Beers is in­tro­duc­ing the no­tion man­age­ment is there to en­able top per­for­mance and that change in the way of work is ap­proached in a steady and con­certed pro­gramme.

DBCM has just been awarded the Pro­duc­tiv­ity SA Chair­man’s award (the au­thor­i­ta­tive in­dus­try, Gov­ern­ment and busi­ness stan­dard set­ter in pro­duc­tiv­ity). Noko says the Con­tin­u­ous Busi­ness Im­prove­ment (CBI) way of work­ing is yield­ing good re­sults when it comes to im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.

In 2003, five of the com­pany’s then seven op­er­a­tions were run­ning at a loss. In 2004, at a se­nior lead­er­ship fo­rum led by Jonathan Op­pen­heimer, a turn­around strat­egy was for­mu­lated to pro­tect DBCM from the risk of a fluc­tu­at­ing rand and pro­duc­tiv­ity be­low po­ten­tial – a “can­cer” of un­pro­duc­tive prac­tices that put De Beers un­der sig­nif­i­cant risk.

CBI has evolved from 2004 as a phi­los­o­phy with the aim of em­bed­ding bet­ter prac­tices into its main op­er­a­tions and in the smaller, cor­po­rate head­quar­ters of DBCM. Over the next four years the CBI turned DBCM around while sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing a num­ber of op­er­at­ing risks.

“Build­ing on the achieve­ments of a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion process and a tech­ni­cal lim­its re­view the CBI ini­tia­tive is a sim­ple and fit-for-pur­pose so­lu­tion to as­sist all as­pects of our core busi­ness to im­prove and sus­tain the im­prove­ments to­wards ex­cel­lence in a stan­dard­ised, log­i­cal and struc­tured way, bring­ing to­gether our prin­ci­ples, stan­dards and world-class ways of work,” says Matt van Wyk, leader of the CBI team.

“Cen­tral to the de­sign of the CBI strat­egy is our Di­a­mond Dreams Busi­ness Sys­tem. This sys­tem aims at guid­ing us on our CBI jour­ney in a stan­dard­ised way.”

Through­out all its op­er­a­tions a num­ber of suc­cesses were re­alised. Pro­duc­tiv­ity as a whole in­creased, prof­itabil­ity im­proved and the new com­pany cul­ture is tak­ing root. With skilled re­sources and scarce cap­i­tal CBI has be­come a dif­fer­en­tia­tor in achiev­ing com­pany strat­egy – a rea­son for op­ti­mism.

Over­all win­ners of the Pro­duc­tiv­ity SA Chair­man’s award. The man­agers im­ple­ment­ing the pro­duc­tiv­ity pro­grammes at De Beers cel­e­brate dur­ing the 15th World Pro­duc­tiv­ity Con­fer­ence: Mpumi Zikalala, Jef­frey Mu­la­bisana, Mike Brown, Jo­han Nortje, joined by Leanne Manas (of the SABC’s flag­ship pro­gramme Morn­ing Live), and Mal­com Hen­drickse, Rob De Pretto and Sihle Magubane.

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