Time to say goodbye with a last thought

Published: 28 July 2023

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It is already widely known that this is officially my last editorial in SA Graan/Grain. It was indeed a great privilege for me to be a part of the team for a relatively short time and to serve South African agriculture on another level.

I just say thank you. Especially in the last month, I often wondered why my time at Grain SA was over so soon. Given how everything fell into place, my conclusion is simple – my task is complete. How do I see it? My role was like a catalyst: just enough at the right time to set off a reaction.

When I started at Grain SA in August 2021, my main assignment and focus were to take the organisation back to its members. Focus on the member, the client, the shareholder and consequently the value of the organisation. I met an incredible amount of people – not only producers, but also other role-players in the value chain. For this I am extremely grateful, it was wonderful.

After two years, it is clear to me that there are still many producers and other role-players who do not fully understand and comprehend the value and role of the organisation. The mere fact that it is a producer organisation, indicates that ‘it belongs to the producers’. Derek Mathews (chairman) often talks about ownership of the organisation being crucial. That is the crux, yes – and with ownership comes responsibility. In today’s hustle and bustle it means only one thing and that is effectiveness. What I am saying is: It is your responsibility as a member to ensure that your organisation is effective and sustainable and this means effectiveness for the collective that involves agreement and unity.

In my conversations and search for answers and ways to ensure effectiveness, Dr Johan Beukes referred me to the work of Daniel Pink, specifically his vision/theory/model for workplace motivation – as he calls it: Motivation 3.0. Please read it, it definitely made me think about effectiveness. ‘To achieve maximum productivity with minimum input loss’: Now that is optimality – and just what an economist needs to make his crankshaft turn? No, anyone. A little more than ten years ago the move to the Pretoria office was also about effectiveness. A brilliant choice of location and indeed a home to be proud of. After a few conversations with team members, Dr Johan confirmed that they were ‘… some of the most passionate and dedicated staff that he had encountered in a long time’. Something I have also said repeatedly to and about the team.

Pink’s simple model is based on three pillars: mastery, purpose and autonomy. When you read it, the theory makes so much sense. The way in which people are motivated has changed over time: Initially, primary survival was the driver, after which the ‘carrot and stick’ approach worked for years, but this is no longer sufficient for creative and innovative workplaces. He argues that to motivate someone intrinsically (self-motivated because someone has the freedom to do the work they enjoy), the individual should be allowed to do the work he/she is really passionate about.

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I greet you by repeating: I have often said that our staff are passionate and truly masters at what they do and need to do. I know those who know and understand the organisation will agree with me. What is lacking is the autonomy. This is what is needed to remain relevant and once again sustainable in the future with innovation and creativity. It is just a different way of thinking and it is your responsibility. It is actually that easy to become a part: You pay the few rands of your levy; you get to be a full member; you can and may and should have your say. In this way you take control of your own future and help to steer it in the right direction.

The team trusted to do the job, can do it. They are well-equipped and well on their way to do it. So many new things are happening with our novel member support system and I really want to encourage you to regularly listen to the podcast (scan QR code to listen) where we talk about Grain SA matters to discuss it. My message: Allow them to do it creatively and innovatively for you and on your behalf – they will do it responsibly.

Once again thank you, until we meet again.