Leadership Insights



In this month’s issue of the leadership insights, we look at the principles of turning around a business function; and asked Moloko Komane, Head of Business Advisory (MAL) to share with us, the success factors pertaining to how to turnaround a department into a high performing team.


Principles of turning around a business function

I would say that the success in turning around any department is mainly attributed to five factors:


1) having a vision.

2) Obtaining the team's buy In for the vision.

3) Conducting a diagnosis assessment to understand the underlying reasons behind not being where we aspired to be.

4) Partnering with all relevant business stakeholders to align the CII (MAH) strategy with the business strategy.

5) Providing the team with the resources needed to succeed.


Having a Vision

Borrowing from the words of Paul Arden who said that,

“Your vision of where you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal it's difficult to score”.

We started our turnaround journey by creating a vision that clearly articulated where we aspire to be in the bigger scheme of things, and the role we wanted our department to play towards the realization of the organization Group Strategy.


We understood that our company wanted to become an insights-led organization, where business decisions are guided by what the data tell us, and that placed us in a good place to position the team as a strategic partner to the business, providing insights needed to make business decisions


Having this vision guided our plans on how we were going to approach the task of improving the services we offered to the MAH business.


Obtaining the Team's Buy-In for the vision

No man is an island, and neither is your team. Arriving at the set vision was dependent on getting the buy-in from different stakeholders. The CIO, COO and other Group executives supported the vision and employed their respective teams to work together with our team to bring about the desired changes.


The most critical buy-in is the one that was obtained from the members of my own department, the team that was fased with the cumbersome task to execute the plans because,


“Everything depends upon execution; having just a vision is no solution”- Stephen Sondheim.

The team was motivated to bring this vision to life, and took ownership of our success, committed to be the change that we wanted to see.


Conducting a Diagnostic Assessment

With the knowledge of where we wanted to be, the next step was to figure out how to get there, by first understanding our starting point. A diagnostic analysis was conducted with the members of team to assess the underlying reason behind why things were not working as they should, in the first place.


The process also included engagements with the business stakeholders to understand level of support needed, from which a scoping exercise was conducted to distribute the available resources efficiently, guided by the needs for each business unit. The findings from the diagnostic exercise were instrumental in deciding on the actions to take in order to turn the team around, including the need to work together with other business stakeholders.


Partnering with Relevant Business Stakeholders

Aligning the business strategy with the data strategy is a critical factor in building a healthy Data-Driven Organizations. For the information or insights generated to be relevant, they need to answer a business question or solve a business problem at hand.


It was a joint effort between CII, the Group Executives, Corporate teams and teams from Regions and Operating Countries to unpack the business strategy and priorities for each business unit and identify the CII support needed to enable the business functions to deliver on their priorities.


The output of this process was translated into our department’s KPIs, that were aligned to the business needs. This enabled the team to spend time and effort on the work that had an impact on the business KPIs.


Governance forums were held throughout the cause of the year to track the status progress on agreed upon deliverables, as well as facilitate joint prioritization sessions, enabling the CII team to constantly be in the know when the business priorities changed, and continuously produce output

that was found to be relevant by the business at any given point in time. Furthermore, this process created visibility of the support that the team was providing for the business.


Providing the Team with the Needed Resources

No matter how cliché it may sound, when assessing the resources needed to implement the plan to turnaround the department and improve the CII support for our clients, the focus was on People, Systems and Processes.


People: The team was structured in a way that will enrich the quality of insights produced by creating a dedicated structure where individual resources were allocated to one business function at a point in time, with an intention to enable to team to develop commercial acumen for the areas they support. This structure did not only improve the quality and relevance of insights produced, but in enabled the individual team members to focus on one area at a time, increasing the speed at which the deliverables were completed.


Systems: Additional systems were developed to make use of existing systems more efficiently. A self-service portal was created together with EBS team to empower users to generate their own report.


Process: A number of processes were amended to improve our ways of working and making the teams to be more agile in our approach to work, enabling for increased output.



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