Radical Transformation – Good or Bad

  • July 20, 2017

The term Radical Transformation is the new buzzword in BEE. But what does this mean? Is this something that one must embrace or oppose?

As with beauty, whether transformation is radical or not, is in the eye of the beholder. What is clear however is that participation in the economy is still heavily skewed in favour of white South Africans and not closely reflective of our population demographics.

There is growing frustration within society and in particular people who are still marginalised and excluded. Without giving the level of social discord much thought, I believe the next two to three years is going to be years filled with turmoil. Politicians and capitalists alike will realise that the true power in a democratic society sits with the people. “The people” will not be bound by organisational value sets, systems and processes if these do not deliver on promises and expectations. Expect great disruption.

Transformation initiatives can no longer be slow, protective programmes that bear fruit in 5 or 10 years. Transformation initiatives need to render quick results, be disruptive and inspiring – if not radical.

The industries that report their initiatives under sectoral BEE codes had the ideal opportunity to be disruptive and progressive. Instead, they opted for loopholes, driving protective industry agendas and rub their hands in glee because of their “clever” positioning and “skilful negotiation”.
Herein lies the opportunity. Conformists will ensure they comply with legislation and talk the superficial transformation talk. The bold will be innovative, leaders in transforming industries, and reap the rewards for being ahead of their time.

As with climate change, where the agenda has moved from pure reduction of environmental footprints to maintain our current way of living, to adaptive strategies, it is advisable for organisations to prepare themselves for regular disruption that will require regular change (read transformation), rather than retaining a compliance approach.

In the same breath, organisations cannot afford to react to every impulse of radical transformation. Our real need is for wisdom to distinguish between the legitimate calls for inclusion and participation, and the illogical propaganda driven by politicians and extremists.

I would like to see radical transformation as transformation that inspires, that creates shared value and results in meaningful impact and progress. It is transformation that listens and involves those effected by exclusion to design our common future.