Mailbox: RWC 2015 – not the only thing Japan’s beaten SA at

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It was the unthinkable, a first encounter between the Springboks and Japan, played at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. A forgone conclusion, especially it you looked at the bookmakers. But that is the beauty of sport, the underdog always has a chance, no matter how slim.

And the Japanese were part of what to date is the greatest World Cup upset, and will forever live in the hearts of those who watched the game. On the back of this defeat, Biznews community member Mo Haarhoff, who has written for the website before, says it’s not the first time Japan has beat South Africa. An insightful piece. – Stuart Lowman

By Mo Haarhoff

The first time I heard him on radio, several years ago, I was fascinated and sorry to have missed his introduction. A middle-aged, clearly Afrikaans woman rang the station minutes later and said: ‘That man can have my vote for President any day!’ I wanted to cheer… he has the same effect on me!

He’s Moeletsi Mbeki, brother to Thabo, our former president. He’s a political commentator, entrepreneur and journalist. In a Reuters interview, way back then, he’d said that BEE entrenches economic inequalities, cronyism, entitlement and corruption and has lawmakers reportedly rigging tenders to benefit buddies. Most business people now agree wholeheartedly with him.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe agreed, by the way, complaining that government corruption was already far worse than anyone imagined and was thriving at every level across the country.

Black empowerment, Mbeki stated baldly that day on the radio, had failed and he questioned what would collapse first: Broad-based Economic Empowerment (BEE), the economy or the country? Affirmative action, he believed, entrenches the rich-poor divide rather than offsetting past racism and creating an ambitious black middle class, as government still argues. He thought it should be scrapped and replaced with a broader skills development drive.

He also suggested that quotas for black ownership, employment and procurement, stifle growth and spur corruption; tell blacks they don’t have to build their own businesses or take personal risk as long as whites are around to hand out jobs and their company shares.

Rampant levels of crime and the then first round of attacks on foreigners in the townships were warning signs, he said.

So much for employment quotas…

Read also: Don’t let a little race obsessed politician spoil support the Springboks richly deserve

Another chap who was against quotas was Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

He helped the United States improve the quality of its WWII war materials and later helped Japan shift world perception that Japanese goods were shoddy imitations.


The challenge is to apply his philosophy meaningfully toward ongoing improvement and transformation:

1. Be consistent: plan to become competitive, stay in business and provide jobs. Allocate resources for long-range needs, not short-term profitability.

2. Adopt a new philosophy: where delays, mistakes, defective materials and poor workmanship are unacceptable. Transform management styles accordingly.

3. Don’t depend on mass inspection: build quality into the product and monitor the buying and manufacturing functions for statistical evidence of quality.

4. Don’t be driven by price: eliminate suppliers who cannot produce statistical and tangible quality assurances. Minimise total cost (not initial cost) by reducing variation. Build long-term relationships with fewer suppliers.

5. Continually improve: planning, production, product and service processes. Every company activity should aim to decrease costs, innovate and improve design, materials, machinery, maintenance, supervision, training and retraining. Management’s job is to improve the systems.

6. Train on the job: on-the-job training, for everyone (including management) makes better use of every employee and promotes better understanding of varied functions. Direct new skills and changes to materials, methods, product and service design, techniques, machinery and service.

7. Institute enabling leadership: it’s there to help staff do a better job. Quality is more important than quanities; quality improvement automatically improves productivity. Act immediately on reports of inherited defects, maintenance needs, bad tools, fuzzy instructions and definitions

8. Drive out fear: fearful staff is neither effective nor productive. Encourage two-way communication; build confidence and trust.

9. Break down barriers: departmental barriers are self-defeating. Team up people from different areas to improve products and services.

10. Eliminate demands without explanation: slogans, posters and zero-defect demands lacking the information to achieve results, create adversarial relationships. Bad systems cannot be rectified by the workforce.

11. Eliminate arbitrary quotas: prescribed quotas or numerical goals detract from ongoing quality and productivity improvement. (Quality before quantity).

12. Encourage pride in workmanship: remove barriers to pride in workmanship, such as annual performance appraisals and management by objective. They set minimum levels and limit individual best performance.

13. Encourage education: organisations need more than good people, they need aspiring, improving people. Look for this when you employ. Then encourage self-improvement and a vigorous education programme for all.

14. Commit top management to action: Top management must commit to transformation – not only in the area we know it today: race) and know what they commit to and how to achieve it.

They must act daily to implement it as well as by supporting staff.

If sustained peak performance is achieved, an organisation becomes:

• A supplier of choice;

• An employer of choice;

• The stock of choice, for shareholders;

• The customer of choice and

The company of choice within the community; which assures long-term profitability to all its stakeholders.

Initiating programmes to reach peak performance levels can be daunting, but many consultants and business advisors help organisations to do exactly that. Their objectivity and experience also helps companies to analyse their existing ability more easily.

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