To kick us off
As I kick off this website, I had various ideas about what my first blog should be, the first idea being, not to have a blog, but I discarded that fairly quickly. I then fell into reflection. A moment of silence as thoughts and ideas dashed around in my head like heated atoms. One thought that left an indelible mark in my mind is the weight of my decision to try and fill this void of corporate governance amongst SME’s. In discussion with many entrepreneurs, I get the impression that corporate governance is a buzz word referring to something you implement once your business reaches a certain critical mass. My view, is that corporate governance is something you start implementing as early as possible, if you want to reach that critical mass. With that thought in mind, I slowly began to think about my own business and what I can achieve.
The idea started in my mind many years ago as a Senior working in Birmingham. It was the early 2000’s before the wind of change in Kenya that came with the 2002 elections. At that time, I believed that my role and obligation was to give back to the community in which I lived. I was never completely clear on how I would do that. The belief travelled with me when I moved to Zambia in 2008. For many years before and after my move, I saw how my recommendations and ideas around corporate governance, process improvement, IT structures, etc made multinationals better, more profitable organisations. It was then that I had an idea about how I wanted to contribute to the community. I saw the gap in corporate governance and related functions that existed in SME’s and the impact that had on their ability to have sustainable growth, to attract investors, and to become ‘employers of choice’.
I had an idea.
The next question was how do you move from an idea à to a product à to a company à to success. I am on that journey, but I realised, that is exactly what I am offering to help SME’s with.
As I proceed on this journey, I am reassured that I can draw on my experience with a Big Four firm, where I worked closely with my fellow partners to grow the business. Those who worked with me might have not seen the tenets of an internal control framework, but if they reflect closely, these will stand out. For those who have not endured one of my speeches about the internal control framework as set out by Committee of Sponsoring Organisations of the Treadway commission, let me give you the tenets in a snapshot. These are Control Environment, Risk Assessment process, Control Activities of the organisation, Information and Communication, and Monitoring of Controls. The committee then further breaks these down into 17 Principles. I won’t bore you with the details, but if you are interested, these can be found on http://www.coso.org/ic.htm.
In working to build a sustainable business, the first step was for us to strengthen the tone at the top. This was not just about commitment to quality, but even how we interacted amongst ourselves, how we interacted with our staff, and just as important, how we interacted with our clients. We then sought improve the human resource policies, especially on performance measurement and remuneration. Such policies should be able to reward those perform and hold others accountable if they don’t. These should be fair and be seen to be fair. We also bought in the premise that achieving the above would not be easy without accurate, reliable information that is available for those who need it.
One can see from the above, that I was lucky to have a foundation and also have other tenets that were already working well, but no entity is at point zero. All journeys begin from somewhere.
The experience I gained working on the firm from within the firm, to me was invaluable. It showed me what can be achieved if those at the top put their minds to it and have a strong foundation on which to build the business. It showed me the significance of having the right guidelines that can lead the organisation to a better place. I am not delusional that building or transforming an organisation is a short journey, and I confidently tell my clients and potential clients the same. Anyone looking for short-term gains will probably get frustrated fairly quickly with the framework. It is for that reason, that I consistently refer to ‘sustainable growth’.
If you read the above and can identify with the hunger for sustainable growth, or the urge to move out of your comfort zone, get in touch with me and we can work together to build your organisation.
3K&L – Working with SME’s to get world-class internal control structures, processes and financials.