Is failure an ingredient for success? Our initial response might be no way, but there is a big difference between perception and reality. When we think about what it takes to be successful, things like dedication, purpose, passion, and action come to mind. Rarely does anyone think of failure as being a key component of success. The reality however is that all successful people have failed...several times. In fact, we've all failed somewhere along the way. What you then find is the paradigm of perception or reality.
Managing the right balance of perception and /or reality for your brand means knowing when to communicate and when to take action. But most importantly, it means first understanding the performance issues that matter to the people who matter to you. Getting a handle on the opportunities for improvement in linking performance and brand strategy takes a clear understanding of the gap between what's actually happening and what the public believes is happening. On one side is perception and brand image; on the other, operational reality. In the last 12 months I have come to realize this profound truth. In times of crisis, your reputation is the easiest thing to lose and the hardest thing to replace. And how do you replace those reputations? By bringing reality to the fold through performance."You will always define events in a manner which will validate your agreement with reality." -- Steve Maraboli, (Life, the Truth, and Being Free ). Our event this year is declaring a positive bottom line- declaring our reality to those that matter to us.
Tourism contribution to worldwide GDP continues to soar. An assessment of the industry over the past six decades supports this fact clearly and shows that tourism continues to experience growth in numbers, new destinations, new experiences and new products, effectively making it one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors globally.
This sector may be disrupted by natural disasters, political disturbances, and instead of being depressed, it has remained resilient, in fact it has shown steady growth! According to the UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2011 edition, "international tourist arrivals have shown virtually uninterrupted growth from 25 million in 1950, to 277 million in 1980, to 435 million in 1990, to 675 million in 2000 and the current 940 million".
This phenomenon has not been limited to the traditional tourist destinations, but has been particularly fast in the emerging regions as evidenced by the growth of 31% in 1990 to 47% in 2010. This is a pleasing trend and we in Zimbabwe are also benefitting from this trajectory. UNWTO projects growth increase in international arrivals of 4% - 5% in 2011. As we approach our peak season in our resort properties, the numbers demonstrate this trend, and I am confident that they will continue to grow. Our only challenge, especially in our premier destination of Victoria Falls, is to ensure that accessibility and increased air excess can accommodate the ever increasing arrivals.
The world is full of leaders, but the mark of good leadership is defined by the capacity of the leader to see beyond their limitations and strengths. This knowledge defines the playing field for those aspiring to such positions and opens the space for others to participate. An ideal scenario for leadership should be one which is balanced without losing the cutting edge. It must have absolute parameters and these must be defined in a gracious way. This type of platform for leadership is needed in our current market from both a business and country perspective and it is imperative that principles be well articulated for this role and must emanate from a shared value system.
Problems occur where there is a divergent value proposition with too much focus on the leader's vision and not his/her values. While much emphasis is placed on visions by most existing or aspiring leaders, the best starting point is the values on which the vision is based. This will invariably resonate with the various constituents that one wishes to lead and thus making the task easier.
As I travel across Africa and engage in many different transactions, whether it is meeting potential partners, business people, or government leaders and their representatives, I am finding that the value proposition is critical for good leadership. Visions are easy to come up with and yet it is not so easy for most to outline their values.
I once conducted an exercise with my executive team where each one of us had to come up with their values in their personal capacity and how it guides their lives. The exercise was met with some groans, but at the end of it was worthwhile. It gave me a better insight into my team and has informed me of their values. It allows me to know my boundaries regarding their values and that guides what I can or cannot ask them to do which would affront them. We then took this a step further and plotted their values against the company's values! This has resulted in a unified team which understands one another better and works cohesively to achieve our vision! I challenge you to do the same. Would certainly be interesting to hear your results!
I have just returned from a whirlwind travel of some of the key 'indabas' on the African calendar, namely World Economic Forum Africa (WEFA) in Cape Town and Indaba Travel Show in Durban. What came out clearly from both events is that Africa's time has truly come! This was the proclamation ringing at this year's World Economic Forum Africa. In that light, it is now up to Africa to showcase its abilities, take advantage of the opportunities available and engage the world on its own terms. To quote Muhta Kent, CEO, Coca Cola, "Africa is the untold story of the next decade, like India and China were in this past decade... The presence and the significance of our business in Africa is far greater than that of India and China even today. The relevance is much bigger". The World Bank supports this by stating that "Africa could be on the brink of an economic takeoff, much like China was 30 years ago and India 20 years ago". It is therefore evident that Africa is the frontier that the world is looking at for future economic growth, and in that regard, the continent has to put its house in order politically. Political discourse has to be more and more predictable with consistent framework such that when investors come knocking, politics should not be the headline on the agenda as it hinders advancement. Failure to resolve this means that Africa will always be dogged by its political environment and will remain lagging behind in its own economic aspirations.
Globally, there is now a convergence of ideology and shift of focus with African economies now taking centre stage and the potential for economic progress is more realizable now than ever than before. Key findings according to Ernst & Young's 2011 Africa attractiveness survey show that "new FDI projects into Africa are forecast to reach US$150b by 2015, creating 350 000 jobs per annum. Growth is expected to average 5% through 2015 based on a return to growth in its main investors". From an African perspective, the entrepreneurial spirit of Africa has to emerge and the rise of social entrepreneurs is critical given the opportunities that are abound. The participation of Africans in their own space has become critical for sustainable economic growth.
Having said all these wonderful testimonies about the potential in our continent, the antidote to events such as WEFA is that they represent your typical 'talk shop' as it is not an implementation forum, but one which allows key players from the world stage to engage. . However, I hasten to add that this is by no means bad as it gauges the global temperature and provides the basis for those in business to formulate the 'next steps'!
After such a charged atmosphere abuzz with positive energy, my next stop was Africa's premier travel show, Indaba, in Durban. To my delight, the good vibe continued to prevail. Interest in Africa as a tourist destination remains high and Zimbabwe exceeded expectations with the overwhelming interest from many quarters. The resurgence of our traditional markets of Europe, Americas and Asia & Pacific regions was evident with a significant amount of series business signed on for the remainder of the year as well as for next year. Pleasing to note was the concrete interest from emerging markets – a critical factor in continued and sustainable tourism growth for Zimbabwe with the addition of new players. So, while I returned home, exhausted, after a packed two weeks, I did so on a good note. I conclude by answering my title question, 'Is it time for Africa?' I would definitely say yes indeed!