Thursday, May 19, 2011

Passion, Pride, Pace and Professionalism

It’s quite strange to think that less than 30 days ago I was working in a small town in Wales called Bedwas managing a large scale Welsh Government project subsidising Leadership and Management training for Small and Medium Sized businesses.Since first stepping into the old, cramped Cairo Road office I have been struck by the pace, enthusiasm and stretch of the work of Mobile Transactions. 16 working days into my short experience I have already developed and agreed a project plan aiming to pay 22,000 East Zambian Farmers with e-vouchers, braved the bus to Chipata and negotiated with almost 20 Zambian businesses.

There’s been a great deal that I have had to learn. As Brad puts it, there are no safety nets working for a start up business. Most tasks need to be undertaken independently – the processes and expert services of my corporate background simply do not exist. When I walk into a room with Zambia’s primary retailers of school books, or one of the biggest fertiliser importers, I have to rely on my own preparation and ability to present a competent and coherent proposition.

The opportunity is hugely rewarding for me and I don’t think I’m alone. I have seen all of MTZ’s people pushing themselves out of their comfort zone to develop new systems, strike new payments deals and forge a strong and stable agent network. When I return to work for Government, I hope that I will adopt this brave spirit and demand even greater hunger and accountability to do the work we do from those around me.

So what’s useful from the Welsh Government that MTZ can adopt? 16 days in, it’s a completely impossible assessment to try to make. However one issue might be that MTZ’s strengths could also be it’s weaknesses as it moves forward. Always stretching ourselves should not lead to over promising. A fast pace must not mean sacrificing support, when that is needed. Enthusiasm must not lead to burning out.

That’s why Mike’s plan for the company and the ambition to develop a coherent structure for MTZ’s work is absolutely crucial. Good governance and support structures shouldn’t stifle and can provide a framework that means that a business isn’t always out of its comfort zone. This means discipline, and will usually mean some changes. The best ideas come from all parts of businesses so there must be a space for people to share and debate them confidently and openly.

The Civil Service’s motto in the UK is Passion, Pride, Pace and Professionalism. MTZ absolutely embody these qualities. The challenge now is to enshrine these in a framework for a very bright future.

By The Welsh Civil Servant,

Tom Taylor.

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