Land reform in SA might be struggling, but Andrew Cunningham and his family have a successful chicken-producing business employing 260 rural families in neighbouring Mozambique. How has he done it?
Like you, I have a number of inbuilt biases and one of them is over-optimism. But when it comes to fast-tracking the development of emerging farmers, I’ve seen nothing that makes me optimistic. We South Africans are messing up big time. ’ve read all the horror stories, but when visited a number of projects in Mpumalanga and Limpopo recently, was hoping to find at least one glowing success. It was not to be. In every single case, despite the energetic and well-intentioned efforts of all managers involved, production was well below the farm’s potential. O f course there are many reasons for this.
Apart from the normal droughts, floods, frost and heat waves, there are the very real problems of run-down farms handed over to new owners; ownership and governance structures riddled with division and discontent; owners or shareholders with no understanding of the different roles of ownership, directorship and management, making life a misery for managers; and last but not least, unhappy and struggling farm managers with no training or experience of operating in this hostile and difficult environment. It was all so deeply depressing. An encouraging story B ut that’s all in the past. I’ve just had the privilege of visiting a project in Mozambique which sent my optimism soaring.
Andrew and Clare Cunningham and their two young children moved to northern Mozambique in September 2004. They settled on a small farm that they called Novo Horizontes (New Horizons), living in tents under the mango and cashew-nut trees. The local community welcomed them, and government, despite its history of oppressive central planning and bureaucratic red tape, supported them enthusiastically. Cunninghams got busy. T oday there are 140 family-owned chicken houses, each capable of holding 1 000 birds, in the villages surrounding Novo Horizontes.
By the end of next year, 260 families will be growing chickens for the Cunninghams, and 40 000 birds will be going through the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-approved abattoir weekly. To top it all, Novo Horizontes started turning in positive cash flow just five months ago.
The secret is in the organogram t’s an amazing story, but why has Andrew succeeded so spectacularly when back home in SA we do so badly? There are many reasons which I’ll leave you to ponder, but there’s one you should know about. When asked Andrew to draw his organisation chart, it looked like Diagram A below. He positions himself at the bottom of the organisation serving his subordinates, not the other way round. told me his job was to make it as easy as possible for his people – the ones in the front line – to do their jobs. M y organisation chart looks like Diagram B. I’m at the top. might tell you have the same objective as Cunningham – to make it easier for my people to do their jobs – but the way draw my organisation chart sends a very different message, doesn’t it? How do you operate? Redraw your organogram Cunningham-style and start operating that way, and it may just be the key that unlocks your ability to really develop your team. – ([email protected], or call (013) 745 7303) . |fw