Territory mapping: What firms can learn from tribal elders

The career expectancy of an FTSE 100 company is under five years. Just one-third of the original FTSE 100 companies remain in the index since it started in 1984. The corporate journey is one in which there is no destination: survival is success.
Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison

The career expectancy of an FTSE 100 company is under five years. Just one-third of the original FTSE 100 companies remain in the index since it started in 1984. The corporate journey is one in which there is no destination: survival is success.

The pressures on every business are growing. Customers and staff want more for less. Somehow, businesses have to square this unlikely circle.

If they fail to manage these conflicting pressures, the corporate journey ends abruptly in a takeover or, for some, bankruptcy. Either way, careers and livelihoods are at risk

It is clear the corporate journey is not getting any easier. The pressures on businesses are increasing. Recently, I met Anthony Willoughby, the charismatic founder CEO of Mammoth Hunters, a business which helps corporate brands to make the most of their greatest asset – their people.

Mammoth Hunters was founded in the Far East 20 years ago, and is now in East Africa. For the past 20 years, they have been looking at how businesses can survive. They found that many of the aspirations such as excellence or fads, such as re-engineering, are at best luxuries and, at worst, help to kill the patient they are meant to be curing.

Anthony is forthright about the survival challenge: “Survival is about focusing on the basics. It means cutting through the fog of politics and the detailed swamp of administration, emails and meetings that pass for management today.”

Helping businesses survive and thrive involves three simple things:

Clarifying where they are. This is where Mammoth Hunters use a process called territory mapping. The process is based on research and is designed to focus on what is important, and to do so at speed: it reduces months of traditional analysis and buys much-needed time.

Deciding where to go. This ‘drill down’ process from the territory maps creates a common vision of where everyone is trying to get to.

Helping them get there. Once there is clarity about the problem and the solution, it may be time to provide the right technical resources to accelerate delivery and enhance the results.

Working with partners who have global capacity and world-class delivery methods, tools and knowledge management processes helps to provide the bench strength to deliver the best results.

The journey begins with a diagnostic event, but it needs to produce consensus on a solution.

Territory mapping emerged from asking a simple question: “What is the essence of corporate survival?” The answer was elusive. For every example of excellence, there was another that showed that the opposite lessons worked as well, or that the same lessons led to disaster.

Going back to basics involved studying true survivors with a long track record of surviving hostile environments; people who do not manage profit and loss. They manage life and death.

Failure does not mean losing your job. Failure means losing your life.

So here in East Africa, Mammoth Hunters have turned to tribal elders to help facilitate their workshop sessions.

Learning to survive from tribal elders may seem odd. Certainly, most of us would not swap our lives of relative luxury for their hardship. We do not want to copy them slavishly. But just as rural people may not have advanced far in Western terms, nor have they forgotten much. In contrast, businesses have learned much and forgotten much.

“Turning to the world’s tribes allows us to rediscover some of the simple principles of survival which many businesses forget as they become ever more sophisticated and complicated,” claims Anthony.

To survive and thrive, companies and employees must know where they are, where they are going and how to get there. Here in Africa, they are surrounded by people who have to do that on a daily basis.

The writer is a marketing and advertising experts based in Nairobi, where he leads The Brand

Inside, a marketing and advertising agency.

Follow him on Twitter: harrisoncj

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News