Sanitech the Isandlwana Leadership Experience

The Company

Sanitech is the premier mobile sanitation provider in Southern Africa and prides itself on its reputation as market and technology leader in South Africa. Sanitech has two independent and highly successful divisions: Sanitech Toilet Hire and Sanitech Hygiene have been in operation for 28 years.

Sanitech is a subsidiary of the WACO Group. This relationship enables Sanitech to provide a service the across market segments and to enhance its strong and well known brand.

The Challenge

Sanitech, through the build up to and weeks of the World Cup in South Africa 2010 has experienced unprecedented growth and major achievements. After the World Cup the challenge for the company is to regroup, refocus and combat increasing competition as the market returns to normality. The brief given to Corporate Battlefields was to help Sanitech to develop an understanding of their competitors’ key capabilities and how to utilize their own capabilities in order to combat these threats, providing practical tools to achieve this.

The Response

Mission Command

The structure, process and benefits of the Mission Command leadership process was delivered in the early morning at the Battlefields Country Lodge near Dundee. This classroom session enabled the Sanitech team to analyse its own critical capacities, requirements and vulnerabilities.

Enhancing success via a Battlefield Classroom

The Sanitech team then drove to the Battlefield of Isandlwana. There Corporate Battlefields battlefield guide Paul Naish from the International Guild of Battlefield Guides related the emotional story of the battle. Graeme Cooper, MD Corporate Battlefields, then related it to the lessons of Mission Command that had been covered earlier in the morning. In this way the battlefield served as an extension to the classroom and as a direct illustration of the lessons learnt.

Mission Command tools were then applied to Sanitech’s competition, customers, suppliers and associates to ensure that Sanitech could maximise its potential whilst exploiting any weaknesses in the competition. The participants were able to define what Sanitech success looks like, what the key steps along the way to that vision are and what is the biggest obstacle standing between them and that success.

The Battle of Isandlwana – 22 January 1879

Sanitech delegates saw how the British and South African colonials failed to align their actions to their intent and failed to play to their critical capabilities by neglecting their crucial requirements and thereby exposed their vulnerabilities.

They saw how the Zulu were extremely focused on delivering their intent and how they managed to utilise their critical capabilities. Sanitech also saw how, by the very manner of their victory, the Zulu failed to make their success sustainable over the long term, allowing the colonials to learn from their mistakes and ultimately win the war.

In battle a soldier, whether a General or Private, will study two things first: the ground they have to operate on and the enemy within it. For Sanitech it is exactly the same; the market place (the ground) and the competition(the enemy).

Sanitech asked for a briefing on how to formulate a battle strategy, linking this to the corporate environment. Corporate Battlefields delivered tactical (short term operational) and strategic (long term corporate) planning tools. This enabled Sanitech to return to the Lodge and continue their conference with the aim of using the theories and structures given to them to formulate a Sanitech battle plan against their key competitors.

The Outcome

Lessons identified, Lessons Learnt

Following the final workshop the Sanitech team relaxed on the patio of the world renowned Isandlwana Lodge where the view of the battlefield enabled a period of reflection. Honesty and Integrity in business were two key discussion points in a ‘so what’ discussion which served as a concluding session to the event. The Sanitech team took away with them a 5 point agreed action plan together with a tactical and strategic leadership plan.

“Travelling to and being immersed in the battlefields of Kwa Zulu Natal set the scene for the learning experience. The introduction to Mission Command, followed by practical explanation in a true life battlefield environment resulted in an experience that will not be forgotten. Being able to relive the events of Isandlwana first hand through the expertise of the knowledgeable guides, where they related the key aspects of war strategy and how this relates to business, cemented the learning experience.”

“All the delegates left with a new skills, a sense of purpose, empowerment and mutual trust of their colleagues and with the lessons learned from Isandlwana, about not underestimating the competition, has resulted in a highly energized management team ready to take on any challenge! Thank you to Graeme and Paul, who were able to seamlessly integrate theory and practical to deliver on the brief and provide a truly unforgettable experience.”

Robert Erasmus – Managing Director Sanitech