The Diamond Dream Business System
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.