Monday, April 27, 2009

Try to see it my way

In South Africa, the rules are looser than in the UK, where I started my career. This applies in almost every facet of life, but means that I notice the restrictive norms that I had imposed on myself. I was brought up on getting a job in a proper company, then working your way up through promotions and well-timed moves. There is a much more entrepreneurial mindset in business life here, without the structures that are more prevalent in the UK. Part of the reason for this is the shallower talent pool that is SA's much smaller skilled workforce. Smart and ambitious (or lucky) people can therefore get much further, much faster than they might elsewhere. The 'make a plan' mindset is pervasive, and means that South Africans are often good at getting things done by whatever means will work.

A feature of this mindset is that it exports quite well. South Africans in London often tend to do well, at least in part because they have never been told "that's not how we do things round here". They just get on with things Even worse is "that's how we've always done it" - tradition and convention: the enemies of innovation.