On The Road

Occasional ramblings from a rambling journalist

Setting goals in Africa

It’s been great to be back in Africa, this time running a strategic planning workshop for colleagues from TWR, helping think through their strategic plans for their work from South Africa to the DRC.

SA Workshop

As ever with these workshops, developing strategies is relatively straight forward – we know what to do.  The challenge is describing the longer-term change that we expect to see as a result of our project having been run.  Tim Elmore  in his book  ‘Habitudes’ uses the picture of a drill-bit and a hole to illustrate a similar point in the following story…


A drill company hired a new president to lead them. They were excited about the future and wanted the president to see how much influence they already had in the marketplace. On his first day, department managers gave speeches on their company’s control over the bit market. Selling 60% of all drill bits purchased in the country, they couldn’t help but be proud of their status.  That afternoon, the president stood up and responded. After thanking them for their speeches, he confronted them with a harsh reality. “While I’m excited about our drill bit sales, we must remember one fact: there is no market for drill bits.” He paused and smiled as he looked out over the sea of stunned faces. “The market,” he said, “Is for holes.”

Those employees realized an important principle that day. This company had focused so intently on their product—their method for making a hole—they forgot it was only the means to an end.  People buy drill bits to make a hole. And the moment someone comes up with a better way to make a hole, the drill bit becomes obsolete.

The bottom line is:  our world changes too fast to ever “marry a method”… we need to keep our focus on the goal… in this case, the hole.

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  • It is said that when the boogyman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.  Well what a surprise to enter a steakhouse in Kempton Park, South Africa this evening to discover that I was dining with the self same celebrity…. at least that’s what our overjoyed waiters thought. “Chuck Norris?  Hey man please can I have a photo with you?”  Well I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make as I’m sure you’ll agree…


    … it was in fact my colleague Bob who, out of sheer altruism of course, not wishing to disappoint the forlorn group of, by this time rapturous attendants, didn’t dispel their belief that they had stumbled into history by meeting the karate legend himself… Well several photographs later, some new-found friends and a send-off fit for royalty, Carlos Ray, me his driver and bodyguard and friends departed into the cool Johannesburg air to find some villains to stare down.    Needless to say, crossing the street was a doddle because when Chuck Norris crosses the street, the cars have to look both ways.


    It's here!  Chuck Norris toilet paper.  It's rough, it's tough and it don't take no crap from nobody!

    It's here! Chuck Norris toilet paper. It's rough, it's tough and it don't take no crap from nobody!

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