If culture is an organization’s only truly sustainable competitive advantage(which it is), and a winning BRAVE culture is comprised of behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and the environment (which it is), then you need to think about how your work environment is communicating and informing your corporate culture (which it is whether you’re thinking about it or not).

From “I” Space to “I” and “We” Space

layout of a social/learning space

layout of a social/learning space (Photo credit: University of Michigan MSIS)

Steelcase is in the business of creating work environments, offering workplace products, furnishings and services. As CEO Jim Hackett explained to me in a recent interview, workspace design historically mirrored the organizational chart, with people jockeying to be as close as possible to the seat of all power – the CEO. But now that information revolution has made information the new seat of power, there is much more flexibility in workspace design. Thus, as Hackett explained, the workspace of the future needs to:

Celebrate the shift of what we call the ‘I’ space to the ‘we’ space… Space has to enable and empower information in ways we only imagine… (across) a continuum of I and we work… people need a range of settings to accommodate focused, collaborative and social work in both open and enclosed environments – in other words, a palette of place.

This manifests itself in Google’s corridors set up for impromptu information sharing, in Microsoft’s celebrating the power of programming in its team settings as people “conquer the code,” and in conference rooms where information has a seat at the table.

Workspace as Leading Indicator of Cultural Evolution

Darwin made it clear that survival of the fittest is not survival of the smartest, strongest or fastest, but survival of those best able to adapt. As organizations adapt to the changing macro environment, their internal environment must change as well. Hackett has seen some examples of this done well in offices including Deloitte University’s in Plano, Texas. As Hackett put it:

Learning represents the strategy of the company.

Deloitte celebrates its expertise across the university facility from the “story wall” in the lobby to the “associate finder” that enables anyone to find anyone else in the massive facility. In many ways, the whole university is one large “we” space.

Allocate Workspace to Issues Instead of to People

Steelcase’s own offices have evolved as the company has changed, and serves as another example of how to use workspaces to communicate and enable corporate culture. When Hackett became CEO in 1994, one of the first things he did was to move all the executives off of the same floor and into a leadership “we” space.

Now, instead of designing traditional offices, Steelcase creates “we” spaces around the three-four most important meta issues. According to Hackett, executives don’t need homes, “command-level projects” do. So there might be a project room for a team working on a merger, product launch or a recall. Instead of people bringing information into meetings with executives, the information stays in the project rooms and executives travel to it. As Hackett explains, they made this shift because:

Innovation requires collective ‘we’ work. To this end, it’s critical to design spaces that not only support collaboration, but augment it (with) spaces that promote eye-to-eye contact, provide everyone with equal access to information, and allow people to move around and participate freely.

Manage Your Environment in Context

Your office environment is not just the context for what you do, it’s an important choice itself. There is no one best environment for all organizations. Instead, plan and put together your office environment as a core component of the BRAVE culture you choose to create. Create an environment that:

  • Supports behaviors which lead to business productivity.
  • Enables people to relate to each other and to information the way you want them to relate.
  • Reinforces your attitude, more severe and hierarchical or more relaxed and fluid as appropriate.
  • Lives and breathes your organization’s values.

This is a good example of step 2 of The New Leader’s PlaybookEngage the Culture and Your New Colleagues in the Right Context

Be careful about how you engage with the organization’s existing business context and culture. Crossing the need for change based on the context and the cultural readiness for change can help you decide whether to Assimilate, Converge and Evolve (fast or slow), or Shock.

Click here to read about each step in the playbook

Click here for YouTube videos highlighting each step

————————————————————-

The New Leader’s Playbook includes the 10 steps that executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis uses to help new leaders and their teams get done in 100-days what would normally take six to twelve months. George Bradt is PrimeGenesis’ managing director, and co-author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and the freemium iPad app New Leader Smart Tools. Follow him at @georgebradt or on YouTube.


Source:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2012/08/07/steelcase-ceo-on-how-office-layout-impacts-corporate-culture/

There was nothing that could contain the joyful outbursts at the table occupied by KWV’s wine and brandy team in the final moments of the Veritas Awards, held on Saturday. Having been named overall winners last year, the team repeated the rare feat and again collected their haul of medals in front of one of the industry’s biggest gatherings in Cape Town.

Among only 3.3% Double Gold winners in the wine and brandy competition across 1 700 entries, KWV received no less than seven of the prized awards. Another six won Gold. Overall, 44 of its entries were listed among the winners.

“Standards have risen; the bar has been raised,” declared Charles Hopkins, the new chairman of Veritas, in his opening address and in reference to the overall performance of competitors in the event’s 22-year history.

Veritas 2012 signalled a momentous occasion for KWV. The company not only increased its Double Gold award-tally of the previous year, but also collected other significant titles along the way – notably that of Most Successful Producer at the recent Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.

Furthermore, the spread of achievements within the portfolio is significant, says KWV chief winemaker Richard Rowe. “Here is a demonstration of consistency and strength across our various offerings.

“This is a fantastic result given where we’ve come from and is indicative of KWV delivering the right style of wine. These are wines made with finesse, concentration, and subtle and balanced used of oak. Most importantly – they’re wines that are very drinkable.”

An important part of KWV’s success, he said, has to do with the evolution of its wine styles while remaining respectful of heritage. At the same time, there has been a shift amongst competition judges to reward international styles. “The message for the industry is that the days of big blockbuster wines are over. Consumers have become particular about the wine styles they seek and the judges recognise this,” Rowe said.

He added that victory comes with much hard work and this was certainly true where KWV’s winemaking team was concerned. “We’ve made substantial progress. Of course, there’s more that can be done.”

As for KWV’s brandy makers, the evening ended delightfully for them too. “This year’s Veritas brandy judging panel was one of the industry’s most representative, comprising some of the biggest authorities in South African brandy,” said Pieter de Bod, KWV manager of spirits. “Having our work recognised by them in this way is a great honour.”

“Our goal was to produce friendlier brandies that are gentle, elegant and expressive. Innovation was a key part of achieving this. For example, we sourced fine honey and incorporated it into our distilling.”

Joining a handful of other winners on the Double Gold podium were the KWV 15 and 20 year potstill brandies, followed by Gold winner, the KWV 10 year potstill.

Among the wines, the Double Gold winners were The Mentors Pinotage 2010; the Mentors Shiraz 2010; the KWV Hanepoot Jerepigo 1969; the KWV White Jerepigo 1933; and, the KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny Port N/V. Gold awards went to the KWV Cathedral Cellar MCC Brut 2010; the KWV Cathedral Cellar Pinotage 2010; the Laborie Jean Taillefert Shiraz 2010; and, KWV Classic Collection Cape Full Cream N/V; KWV Hanepoot Jerepigo 1973.

The Veritas Awards competition is regarded as one of South Africa’s most authoritative events, providing a most highly-esteemed indicator of quality market-ready wines. Of the total of 1 381 medals awarded this year, only 58 were Double Gold and 147 Gold. A panel of over 100 wine specialists, including several international judges, tasted the wines this year.

Government has confirmed its support for SMMEs, stating its awareness that these small and medium enterprises are the answer to economic growth and job creation in South Africa and that banks and funding agencies are to assist SMMEs where possible. Where then is this support for SMMEs and how does one access it?

 

Vaalnest Boutique Hotel, the Gauteng winner of the 2010/2011 Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ETEYA), is an 85% black owned and managed company and the owners have invested more than R8 million into the business. Yet when applying for funding little or no response is received yet being the Gauteng ETEYA winner. 

 

In 2010 the hotel was given the opportunity to expand its capacity with an order that arose as the result of the World Cup. The development is zoned as Guest House Special and Other in the Midvaal Municipality. It is stated in the title deed that 50% of the land may be built up. With the extensions to the hotel, only 38% of the land would be utilised; being well within the 50% limit.

 

The correct avenues of approval were followed and confirmation of approval was received yet when manager of Vaalnest, Keith Attwell, arrived at Midvaal Municipality to collect the approved plans he was advised that it has actually not been approved as the project is too large. Vaalnest sought relief from the head of department at the town planning offices, the Mayor of Midvaal and, finally, the Premier. Vaalnest was eventually contacted by the MEC of the housing office who stated that the matter is being dealt with. A year and a half later the first meeting was held with the Midvaal Municipality and a representative from Gauteng Tourism, Sedibeng district. The outcome of the meeting was that the Municipality would assist Vaalnest with an application for re-zoning to hotel status.

 

Vaalnest now needed funding in order to finance the development of the hotel as the window for funding from sales had lapsed. Being directed to GEDA by the head of department in the MECs office, an application for funding was made. A prompt response was received, an assessment was executed of the property and the site plans and a report was given confirming that the account had been handed over to the GEP. After six weeks it was established that GEP does not recognise GEDA’s assessments and a new application had to be made. After the application had been completed again, Vaalnest was advised that the GEP was taking a break from funding due to new management.  Once notification was received that GEP was again supplying funding, but no response has been received to date. The frustrated management of Vaalnest has experienced similar grievances with the job fund.

 

There is great disappointment in the manner in which Government has handled the various requests by Vaalnest management. Should this funding have been received, 128 permanent jobs would have been created with a further 60 temporary jobs arising and ten new businesses would have been developed in the Mamello township.

 

As a result in the delay in the above, Vaalnest came under financial pressure and this led to Vaalnest being put into liquidation. Without notice boards were put up on the 2nd of October 2012, confirming that it would go on sale by auction on the 9th of October 2012. Despite urgent communication and requests for help sent to Sedibeng Tourism, CEO of SA Tourism, CEO of Gauteng Tourism, the MEC and HOD of Economic Development, the CEO of GEP, Chief Director Sector Transformation of the Department of Tourism and the Minister of Tourism, no response has been received. The owners of Vaalnest will have to bid on the hotel along with other buyers and invest even more money to keep their business.

 

Until Government takes its municipalities and Government agencies in hand, turning them around to become more competent, with faster turnaround times and more reliable systems, SMMEs will continue to fail at the current rate of 96% and South Africa’s economic and employment crises will continue on.

Asia Pulp and Paper has spent the last few weeks telling customers around the world that the company’s latest sustainability pledges mean that this time, the changes the company has announced are genuine. To the untrained eye new pledges to stop forest clearance in limited areas and plans to only source from plantations can sound promising.

But today in Indonesia, as part of Greenpeace’s latest ‘Tigers’ Eyes Tour’ Greenpeace Indonesia and WALHI (Indonesian Environmental Forum) activists, along with Robi, lead singer of famous Balinese grunge band, Navicula, came across the fresh clearing in the middle of a plantation run by PT Asia Tani Persada.

This again highlights the real problem: If words aren’t matched by immediate action to stop forest clearance, APP’s commitments are meaningless.

Top line pledges by the company to halt forest clearance until conservation plans are agreed come with major caveats. APP is actually only referring to about 40% of the areas it sources from in Indonesia, with these areas being where most of the forest was actually cleared years ago.

APP commitments to end forest clearance by 2015 comes with a large dose of small print as it still plans to rely on rainforest timber for a significant percentage of its production after that time. And given that the company has repeatedly claimed previously that it would end its reliance on forest clearance only to then miss the deadlines, how can APP be trusted this time?

If these issues weren’t enough to sow the seeds of doubt then news that APP is planning to build one of the world’s largest pulp mill’s in South Sumatra certainly does. The company makes no reference to these plans for a 2 million ton pulp mill in its sustainability announcements, yet they appear to blow a massive hole in claims that all targets to stop forest clearance can and will be met as planned.

It’s within this context that the news that APP is now working with The Forest Trust (TFT) must be seen. If APP isn’t able to stop clearance of Indonesia’s rainforests for its pulp and paper production, then its choice of NGO partner and the glossy PR campaigns that surround it’s activities remain meaningless.

APP has spent years and tens of millions of dollars on greenwash whilst Indonesia’s forests get pulped for throwaway paper products. The evidence from the front line in Borneo today suggests that we are a long way from seeing the real change needed to stop forest destruction in Indonesia. Greenpeace and other NGOs are judging the value of APP’s commitments by its actions in the forests.

By Bustar Maitar, Head Of Greenpeace’s campaign to save Indonesia’s forests

Lexmark raises over R100 000 for Cotlands

Johannesburg, October, 2012 – International printing and imaging company Lexmark has raised over R100 000 at a golf day and gaming event for Cotlands, a non-profit community development organisation, that actively seeks to find solutions to real community problems by intervening directly within communities to build capacity in caring for children through the provision of health, education and psychosocial services.

The event was part of Lexmark’s Cartridge Recycling Initiative for Babies (CRIB) and took place at the County Club Johannesburg in Woodmead on 2 October 2012. It was the eleventh Annual CRIB  Golf Day to benefit Cotlands.

 

“The initiative has grown in stature over the years and involves a wide range of Lexmark’s corporate customers and suppliers who continue to support our endeavors including our annual charity golf day. It is heartwarming to see the impact this self-sustaining programme has on so many childrens’ lives and the communities in which they live”, comments Mark Hiller, country general manager of Lexmark South Africa.

 

Lexmark’s long-term commitment to Cotlands started in April 2002 through the company’s CRIB donations, which are generated by customers returning empty Lexmark cartridges free of charge for recycling. The donations are given in the form of “Baby Days”. One Baby Day equals the cost of housing, feeding, clothing and care for one child within the Cotlands programme for one day. Over the past year, the Lexmark CRIB initiative managed to raise a total of 21 834 Baby Days, equating to a donation of
R574 222, inclusive of this year’s golf day.

This year, the baby sanctuary celebrated 76 years of intervening directly within communities to build capacity in caring for children. “Lexmark has been the most wonderful donor to our organisation over the past 11 years and we are so thankful for their generosity,” commented executive director of Cotlands, Jackie Schoeman, on receiving a cheque from Lexmark at the prize-giving event. “We understand and appreciate the amount of work that goes into these golf days on an annual basis.”

 

Schoeman further explained that the organisation has recently undergone some exciting and forward thinking change in scope, which is to equip families with the skills to care for children in their own community. Driven by both experience and global research findings, Cotlands is undergoing a transition from a residential–care service supported by community–based care, to a community–focused service backed up by residential care.

 

Since 2002, Lexmark has donated a total of 87 031 Baby Days to Cotlands, equating to a donation of R4 522 991 and managed to keep over 200 tons of empty cartridges out of South Africa’s landfills.

 

Companies and individuals interested in participating in Lexmark’s recycle initiative can visit www.lexmark.co.za/recycle, or www.cotlands.org for more on Cotlands’ activities and ways to help.

Raising Awareness of Security Threats, Working with Customers to Drive Efficiencies, and Strengthening Channel Eco System are Key Goals

 

18 September 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

 

Gregory Anderson

Trend Micro Incorporated (TYO: 4704; TSE: 4704), a global cloud security leader, announced today the appointment of Gregory Anderson as the first Country Manager for South Africa, with immediate effect.

Gregory Anderson joins Trend Micro at a time when the growth in web threats across the country since 2009 has well exceeded 400 per cent.

Anderson’s priority will be to continue delivering Trend Micro’s value-added security solutions to help protect South African organisations. He will also focus on further growing the company, as well as strengthening and building its already robust distribution and channel model.

Previously, Trend Micro was serving the South African Market through its partner Secure Data and Anderson’s appointment underlines the global cloud security leader’s commitment to the region.

“Web threats are exhibiting exponential growth, and I expect this trend will continue throughout 2012.  This is an exciting opportunity for me to be in a company whose goal is protecting its customers in a time of increased organised criminal activity over the web,” commented Gregory.

“Today’s attacks are financially motivated and we are here to help our customers better protect themselves. I also believe that Trend Micro’s offerings will help customers, embrace private, public and hybrid Cloud Computing more holistically,” he added.

Anderson brings a wealth of in-depth experience to his new post, with more than 18 years of African IT industry experience. He joins Trend Micro from Microsoft South Africa and has previously worked at EMC and VMware. He has strong channel-based experience and has held senior positions with global technology companies.  Anderson also served on the board of directors of local companies, uniquely preparing him to address the strong and unique value propositions Trend Micro can deliver to local African customers.

“Gregory joins a very strong Trend Micro team, already boasting a robust market presence,” commented Chris Moore, General Manager, Middle East, Africa and Med.

“I am pleased to have someone with Gregory’ experience, who I know will further ensure continued success for Trend Micro in this important market,” added Moore.

How to Train Cats and Salespeople

Which do you think would be harder to train, a cat or a salesperson? Seriously, which one would you pick? While it’s true that cats have a well-deserved reputation for being independent, demanding and virtually impossible to train, the same can be said for many salespeople. Surprisingly, the same training and reward techniques required to get Fluffy to jump through a hoop can also be utilized to motivate your sales team to achieve peak performance!

One evening while channel surfing I came across a fascinating animal act that grabbed my attention. The act featured a cat trainer with a half dozen cats of varying size, shape and color. Unlike a circus lion tamer who attempts to intimidate with a chair and whip, this man simply used a combination of treats and verbal praise to motivate his cats to perform difficult tricks. Using only soothing voice tones and a pocket full of cat treats, he would calmly command each cat to do its own specific trick. Amazingly, he got one cat to walk on his front paws, one balanced on a ball, while yet another pushed a toy baby stroller across the stage.

After the performance, the cat trainer was interviewed and asked how he was able to get his cats to willingly obey his commands. His response surprised me with its simple wisdom. He said that he didn’t train the cats at all, he simply figured out what each cat liked to do best and then encouraged that behavior! “People need to realize that a cat’s indifference doesn’t mean they can’t learn cool tricks,” says celebrity animal trainer Joel Silverman. “It simply means you haven’t convinced them yet that doing so is in their best interest. A dog naturally wants to please you and will work for you, but a cat needs a paycheck to be motivated.”

Five Tips to Help You Train Cats and Salespeople

  1. Temperament testing is a must! Before you invest your time and energy into training make sure you check for temperament suitability. Temperament testing allows you to identify those who by nature lack the discipline, desire or self-motivation to consistently achieve peak performance. Sales managers who lack the benefit of temperament understanding are inclined to place too much emphasize on their gut-level feeling during the hiring process. If you hire someone that is not suited for the position, you will experience low morale, high turnover and find yourself constantly in the training mode. On the other hand, when you recruit the right person you will find that they are self-motivated and eager to train. 
  2. Look for “hot buttons”. Traditionally, sales managers have relied primarily on commission to motivate their sales force. Unfortunately, a compensation structure based solely on commission does not address individual motivational factors and therefore, money alone will not motivate your sales force. A successful incentive program is a mixture of awards, recognition and peer pressure. There is tremendous power behind a timely word of praise or a handwritten note acknowledging achievement. While money is certainly an important ingredient in any incentive program, it should by no means be the only tool in a manager’s motivational toolbox. If money by itself were a sufficient motivation, commission-based salespeople would simply sell more without additional enticement.
  3. Make the training fun and positive. All cats and most salespeople have pretty short attention spans and low boredom thresholds. Keep lessons short, interesting and always try to end on a positive note.
  4. You must be patient when training cats or salespeople. It’s important to respect individual abilities and preferences. Make allowances for personality, and don’t get frustrated if the training schedule doesn’t go exactly as expected. Remember that people have off days and on days just like cats. “When I’m really pushing and the going gets tough,” says Silverman, “sometimes the cat just sits down and says, ‘I give up’. Even the brightest cats, if they feel you’re pushing them too hard, will, in effect, say, ‘Screw you, buddy, I’m going to go over there, sit down, and stare into space.”
  5. Make sure to take time for rest and relaxation. All work and no play will make the cat, the salesperson and the trainer grumpy. Whether it is playing with a ball of yarn or enjoying a round of golf, taking time out to play is critically important. By successfully balancing play and work, you will return recharged, refreshed and ready to accomplish more.

By incorporating these five powerful tips into your training program, you will develop an award-winning sales team and achieve unbelievable results!

Jacques Visser, YahClick Project Manager at Vox Telecom, has today said that the rollout of South Africa’s first Ka-band broadband satellite service is “progressing well”.

 

The country’s first Ka-band satellite service, YahClick, was launched by telecommunications group Vox Telecom in conjunction with Abu Dhabi-based Yahsat. Ka-band satellites transmit many highly focused, overlapping ‘spot beams’, each covering a relatively small area, which allows for access to greater bandwidth at a lower cost.

 

Although the service is expected to provide reliable backup for urban broadband users who may occasionally lose transmission due to cable theft or loss of signal, Vox Telecom’s first objective is to provide much-needed primary high-speed connections to un-serviced and rural businesses and communities.

 

“66% of our @lantic customers live in isolated areas, which led us to believe that there is a significant, untapped market for more affordable and diverse Internet services in rural communities,” Visser has said.

Visser went on to say that several users are already enjoying the benefits of the service. “Installations began earlier this month, and we’ve received extremely positive feedback,” he stated. “We expect to install at full capacity within the next few months.”

 

Vox Telecom has previously announced that the YahClick service will comprise of a range of packages, starting with a basic plan priced at under R200 per month, to more comprehensive business packages that allow for faster downloads and greater data usage. Hundreds of installation service providers are being trained and placed across outlying areas of the country to ensure that users have access to localised after-sales care and technical support.

 

“This is a major milestone for South Africa and we’re looking forward to changing the South African broadband landscape,” Visser concluded.

 

YahClick is available through @lantic, Vox Telecom and official reseller channels.

When call centres moved into the cloud and starting making use of hosted contact centre solutions, agents began moving out of offices – a phenomenon known by some as “homeshoring”. According to Gartner Research, 1 out of every 10 international call centres is likely to shift at least partly to home-based agents.

There can be no doubt that using “homeshoring” is the cheapest option. Just avoiding the cost of renting floor space represents a significant saving, and some home-based agents pay for or provide their own equipment, including computers and telephones. It also affords companies the opportunity to custom design their service offering – customers can make calls to agents who speak exactly the same language, have the same culture and who literally live in the same area.

Needless to say, this opens up opportunities for people who wish to work from home and can potentially boost employment in areas where there are no major industries to support local residents – not to mention that it’s a much greener option than having hundreds of employees commuting to work every day.

After all – work is an activity, not a location. There is literally no competitive advantage to leasing property or owning IT assets. Having employees coming into an office entitles them to lunch breaks and tea breaks…not to mention that even the most disciplined of us occasionally arrive late, which means that staff actually have the potential to spend more time on the phone at home than they do at the office. Add to that the cost of fixed assets such as chairs and desks, and you’re instantly stuck with (unnecessary) overheads.

Many South African companies are sceptical though. Although the temptation to run personal errands and the distractions of children and domestic duties aren’t as easily controlled, there are ways of minimising the risk.

I don’t suggest that call centre owners take their cue from their American counterparts  where recruiters rule out any potential agent who has a dog, a baby or a noisy houseguest that could cause interruptions, and periodically listen in on calls to keep agents in check. (I was horrified to learn that some companies even go so far as to spy on their home-based agents via webcams!).

The truth of the matter is that not everybody – or every home – is suited to call centre work and that the most important preventative measure maybe not to skimp on staff costs – hiring highly trained, highly experienced and self-motivated agents (in other words, a mature workforce) will go a long way when it comes to making a success of the homeshoring model.

My personal view is that call centers are becoming more results-driven, both with quality and performance. This (systematic performance and quality of interaction) can easily be managed and measured through reporting. The rest is up to the agents themselves. This doesn’t mean that staff won’t have support. Even with agents working from home, managers can coach and train struggling staff members remotely as effectively (and unobtrusively) as they would if they were in the same room.

There is literally no valid reason to dismiss the possibility of homeshoring. The technology platform already exists – systems could be up and running within a matter of days. Ultimately the only barriers to adopting are related to people management. By engaging with the right hosted technology partner that can manage the technology and necessary monitoring tools, call centre managers willing to try the new model can focus on the core of their business: taking care of customers. 

As businesses drive towards greater centralisation of property assets and distribution efficiencies, the need for more stringent fire protection engineering increases significantly.  However, a review of recent fire catastrophes and business shutdowns by authorities due to non-compliance with fire regulations suggests that many businesses – small and large – are ill-prepared when it comes to preventing an unexpected and potentially devastating fire, let alone managing the consequences thereof.  

David Vines, Managing Consultant at Aon South Africa’s Risk Control and Engineering unit says that hazards such as fire can be addressed and mitigated by having thorough fire protection plans in place.    

“Fire is often an underestimated risk, particularly in South Africa and yet we have a number of fire-prone areas such as large industrial sites and warehousing complexes which potentially pose conflagration risks due to the exposure of closely situated site buildings. We’re seeing a growing trend whereby businesses are centralising their distribution points or hubs as part of a cost-saving or streamlining process in supply chain management.  This in turn means the fire risk is so much greater as much larger volumes of stock and equipment are housed in one area.  The risk also increases incrementally by having all their ‘eggs in one basket’ syndrome, so to speak.   

“A fire can wreak havoc on business operations and the costs arising out of the loss of assets and business interruption can amount to millions of Rand in damages.  This does not even begin to take into consideration the risks to human life and liabilities that can arise,” says David.  Failure to comply with the statutory requirements and codes of practice for fire protection can leave business stakeholders in severe financial crisis and with potential legal implications.  

“By asking the right questions, exploring options, and carefully considering the ‘what ifs’ of existing and future requirements, no matter how seemingly unlikely, a professional risk consultant is able to produce safe and technologically-efficient system solutions based on proven expertise.  When it comes to fire engineering, services may include, but are not limited to, fire protection, suppression and fire alarm system evaluation and design.  Aon Global fire protection engineers are also highly experienced in smoke hazard analysis by utilising computer-based programmes that analyse fire and smoke behaviour.  

“Having a practical knowledge of building codes, fire codes as promoted by the National Fire Protection Association, Factory Mutual, Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau and SANS sprinkler rules; as well as knowledge of construction materials, manufacturing processes and storage practices and the relevant hazards involved therein, along with insurance industry best practices, benefits our clients in numerous ways throughout the completion of any fire engineering project,” explains David.  

“The cost of non-compliance with fire protection rules is massive when one considers the financial repercussions and potential reputational damage if there was a loss of life – think in terms of losing a major client or business as a result, lost profits and operational delays.  Businesses ignore fire safety standards at their own peril,” explains David.

And finally, an experienced broker’s advice is invaluable when it comes to having the right insurance covers in place to cover your business for worst case scenarios, both in terms of assets and business interruption. “Underinsurance should be avoided at all costs otherwise the business stakeholders could find that the law of average will see them paid out significantly less than what the business premises and insured equipment is actually worth.  It is recommended to have an independent professional valuation carried out on buildings, plant and machinery at least every three years, with plant and machinery being considered the most important due to the impact of fluctuating exchange rates and inflationary pressures on replacement costs,” concludes David.

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