Thursday, 28 March 2013 12:52

Extractives Industry: Filling the Gaps in Disparate Corporate Decision Making and Decision Making Implementation

Written by  Warren Te Brugge
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Extractive Industry: Filling the Gaps

We talk of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility and what the things are that we should and need to be doing with respect to Community Engagement. I was recently asked to evaluation an agenda for an upcoming event focused on Sustainability in the Extractives Sector and I took the Race Car Driver approach to my mini-evaluation. What I mean by this is I looked to see what wasn’t there rather than what the content was that was already there and in a very comprehensive manner I might add, as I read through the agenda, speakers list and the descriptive content. 

Disparateness: The disconnect between decision-making and operational implementation

As I looked for the 'white-space' to determine where to go it become quickly evident that the biggest gap I am still seeing is one that persists in the extractives industry probably more so and significantly than in any other industry because of operational and management structure disparateness. This has a large part to do with the fact that strategic and organizational  decision-making is typically remote from on the ground implementation of those decisions and strategies in the industry.  

Algining Deciion-Making Process with Decision-Making Implementation

Nonetheless this is an area that should be actively addressed and in addressing this issue of the alignment of the Decision-Making process with the Decision-Making implementation process can only bring benefits to all parties/stakeholders involved at each level and location. We note, that many people will say that the process and implementation processes are in fact aligned. However, I argue that unless the bottom-line performance of each extractives project and initiative is actually driven a the front line level then it is impossible for it to be so because the front line is handling and working at a budget, no matter what might be required or be deemed necessary at a front-line engagement and community level.

Meet the Challenge: Create the new Paradigm of an enduring culture

This is a challenge that might seem insurmountable at first, as after all it is the profitability that drives the success or activity in the first place. How do we create an environment and circumstance where that is that case and the drive and outcome can truly be congruous and aligned with beneficial outcomes over the long tern for all parties and stakeholders? How do we out aside current structures and operate a company under a new paradigm? A model that derives and drives mutually beneficial profit in each of People, Planet and Profit over the long term building a community culture that is rooted in what started as an activity and became a legacy and enduring culture. You are probably feeling, "this is really big reach and a utopian point of view", right now. Bringing the Board Room Table to the Mining Site. Could we ever achieve a state where we are not giving or taking but in fact are creating a balance through and ebb and flow of common interests that are addressed and supported over the long term existence and establishment of a community, a new community?

MNZV Integrative Strategy Approach Development

We at Manzimvula address this and build around it to fill the gap through what we call our Mindful Action Programs. For many they do seem tough and cumbersome for organizational groups to get their arms around at first but once they are implemented across the disparate processes they will and do generate real and mutual results at the bottom-line for corporate, operations, community and the broader shareholder/stakeholder 'entities'. 

There is not enough space here to address this in a way that does it justice. However, watch for our upcoming title and book 'International Development: Doing it Right" to learn more about the model and where we are going with this discussion on a new paradigm and model. In a nutshell: It is about removing the goal of community engagement and replacing it with mutual and beneficial value creation because of mindset that is comprehensively implemented across the organizational thought silo's and operations. Watch for postings as we post segments and ideas relating to this discussion on our site in the next short while.

No one said community engagement and international and community development were easy. They aren't and they are highly complex, yet in our experience we have found that when we are invited into a community we start very simply; we start by seeing the people in front of and around us. We start by simply listening without labeling or judging to understand the needs and beliefs of the people whose community and land we are visiting. Now many people will say they do the same and I simply ask the question, 'What brought you here?" In almost every instance the answer has something to do with a resource, something they or their company wants. They are not there to listen, to understand or to embrace a community; they are there to exploit a resource and negotiate the most profitable manner in which to do that. This is the reality. What if the approach was different? What if it was open, transparent and collaborative? What if there truly was collaboration to meet and deliver on the needs and priorities of all parties involved while respecting and ensuring human rights, indigenous people's rights? What if we saw people and their environment and circumstance first?

Your Comments:Let us know what you think. For more information and to find out more about our work and how we can support your organization, please contact us using the information provided below.


Manzimvula® is a values-based as a consulting practice and a Certified B Corporation, and specializes in sustainability and corporate responsibility. To stimulate ingenuity and create growth, we work alongside our clients, guiding them through our Purposeful Path to Sustainability Program™ utilizing our Integrative Strategy Approach™ to help them engage their organization at a deeper level to understand mindset and create alignment with core strategies and principles.

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