Monthly Archives: October 2016


Edward Christian Kieswetter
NHDip (Elec Eng), HDE (Engineering Education), B.Ed (Mathematics & Science), M.Ed (Cognitive
Development), Executive MBA (Strategy & Transformation), M.Com (SA & International Tax) cum laude

Edward Kieswetter is a life-long leadership scholar and practitioner. He has spent most of his working life at the cross-road of theory and practice, believing that each indivisible informs the other on an interactive and dynamic continuum.

With over 30 years in various leadership positions in academic, public sector and private sector roles, as a reflective practitioner, Edward has consciously and mindfully referenced robust scholarly works on human behavior and leadership, along with actual real-time leadership practice to develop his own personal leadership model and leadership brand. He has a deep conviction that leadership is an inordinate privilege and has service as its ultimate purpose.

Edward’s leadership practice is based on a strong SERVICE and HIGHER PURPOSE orientation. He tells a number of real stories and anecdotes to demonstrate what he means by this. Recently, reflecting on his own leadership experience, but also observing the current state of global institutional leadership, Edward’s sense is that despite paying lip-service, many leaders become self-serving. Such leaders are motivated by short-term expediency without regard for the impact of their leadership work on all stakeholders, nor the long term integrity and sustainability of the institutions they lead. In line with a strong service orientation, Edward is an ardent commitment to the notion of the LEADER as a STEWARD.

Edward recently retired from Alexander Forbes, as Group Chief Executive from 2010 – 2016. Under Edward’s leadership the company restored its institutional integrity and financial performance, rebuilding a reputation and ethos of trustworthiness. He resolved longstanding civil and criminal and tax disputes by proposing a path of “doing the right thing”. He made a commitment to zero retrenchment and honored it throughout his tenure. His contribution led to relisting on the JSE in 2014, attracting significant local and international investors, whilst serving the interest of all

In previous roles as the Deputy Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service and Senior Executive at Eskom, Edward has led groundbreaking change management Programmes with pioneering and world-class results. Throughout this, his focus and investment in people was a hallmark of his work. His contribution at Eskom resulted in him being recognized as South Africa’s Boss of the Year 199/200, and a Leadership Thinker in 2006.

Edward is a qualified educator and through his passion for education, he has remained involved throughout his professional life. In addition to qualifications in Electrical Engineering & Science
Education, he holds Master’s degrees in Cognitive Science, Business, and Commerce (cum laude). His career is marked by an impressive list of achievements and recognition as a leader at executive and governance level at international level.

In his leadership roles, Edward has worked extensively within the private sector as well as the public sector – including Government, SOE’s and Universities within South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Europe, bringing unique insights and experiences from several cultural and national contexts within Commercial and Non-Profit organizations.

His professional accomplishments include:
• South Africa’s Boss of the Year, 2000
• Member, International Centre for the American Tax Administrations 2004 – 2009
• Involvement in BNSL Customs Forum and Africa Tax Administrators Forum 2004 – 2009
• Leadership Thinking Award, Boss of the Year, 2006
• President – South African Institute of Bankers, South Africa, 2002-2004
• President since 2012, and significant investor in Da Vinci Institute of Technology
• Deputy Chair – IFAC International Accounting Education Standards Board 2011 – 2014
• Member & Deputy Chair Free State University Council 2004 – 2014
• Current Board Director: Shoprite Holdings, and Da Vinci Institute
• Current Visiting Professor: Free State University, Da Vinci Institute of Technology

Edward is commitment to continue his work to advance the notion of: THE LEADER AS STEWARD.

You can follow Edward on Twitter @EdKieswetter.

Showcasing Da Vinci’s research: Elliot Kasu


Dr Elliot Kasu

Dr Elliot Kasu is a Zimbabwean, a holder of a PhD in Management of Technology and Innovation from the Da Vinci Institute of Technology and Innovation of South Africa, a Master of business Administration degree from Zimbabwe Open University, a graduate and associate member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Zimbabwe (CIS). He also holds a Diploma in Logistics Management from Pakistan School of Logistics. He is a competent academic, intellectual, researcher, consultant and expert in integral research, quantitative and qualitative research, facilitation, training, monitoring, evaluation, implementation, strategic development, innovative entrepreneurship development and financial management.

He possesses several years of public service and corporate experience at strategic level and has a deep knowledge in indigenous knowledge systems grounded in Africa. He has held several appointments up to director level in Zimbabwe’s ministry of defence, company secretary and finance manager for the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, Managing Director of Kasimboti Trading P/L, Finance and Administration Director of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and currently is one of the founders of Integral Social & Enterprise Research Centre (ISERC) where he is employed as a senior researcher, finance & corporate services director. As such, he is a creative and innovative strategist, consultant, researcher, public accountant, chartered secretary and team player with vast experience in strategic planning, leadership, human resources management, financial management, administration, logistics and corporate secretarial practice.  

Title: Ubuntupreneurship within rural communities: Creating community colleges for a developing economy

Abstract: The study utilised the four world rhythm, the 4Cs (Lessem and Schieffer, 2014) and the CARE (Lessem and Schieffer, 2009) pattern in collaboration with the Tangwena people. The ideas of ‘mushandirapamwe’ or collective wealth generation are indeed relevant for purposes of this thesis. The focus on ‘Zunde ra Mambo’ is a relevant security arrangement and indeed an effective way towards indigenous volunteering. The study has also indicated that the use of ‘permaculture’ could assist communities to create sustainable habitats by following nature’s patterns. The study has demonstrated a sincere focus towards ensuring meaningful life for the Tangwena community. The use of African Ubuntu values as tool of solidarity and interdependence seem to provide a solid foundation of African economic redemption, which in turn could lead to effective African economic humanism. The model ‘towards co-creation in Zimbabwe’ is well argued and structured. The story telling aspect of the research is informative which has truly reflected traditional values while African humanism has been well articulated throughout the thesis. The indigenous exogenous community-based learning and innovation research facility within the community seems to contribute towards the institutionalisation of the community college. The researcher followed the appropriate southern path and effectively demonstrated a good practice of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) aimed at community activation in alignment with the needs of the Tangwena people. The ‘ubuntuneurial spirit of agriculture’ ideology is sound, and, indeed an effective approach to solving communal poverty issues, which is the strength in the study.

Academic supervisor: Dr A Schieffer;

Field supervisor: Dr PC Muchineripi

Awards come and go but TT100 shows staying power

Business awards in South Africa may come and go, but one awards programme has showed staying power for a quarter of a century. The 2016 TT100 Business Innovation Awards of The Da Vinci Institute, being presented in Johannesburg on Thursday, 27 October, is the 25th edition of these long-running awards.

“The longevity of the TT100 programme is one of the qualities that make the awards so unique,” says Carol Varga, TT100 Awards Manager for The Da Vinci Institute.

The awards have been presented annually since 1991 and recognise emerging, small, medium and large companies that excel in managing technology, innovation, people and systems.

“Some companies entered the awards for the first time in 1991, when we started out, and are still taking part to this day,” she says, mentioning De Beers and Altech as examples. There are other regular participants that have been entering year after year for as long as 15 years as they use the TT100 process as a benchmarking tool.

“The process is very unique in South Africa,” says Varga. “To enter, companies don’t just fill in a piece of paper. They have a two-hour consultative interview with the adjudicators, who provide detailed feedback on the company.”

Detailed feedback, expert adjudicators

This takes the form of verbal feedback during each two-hour adjudication session, an electronic dashboard that each entrant can download after the awards, and a 30-minute post-awards feedback session with the chief adjudicator.

This year, 22 adjudicators volunteered their time and expertise to the judging process. All are champions of innovation, have experience in enterprise development in one form or another, and represent a cross-section of the economy, from banking and business incubation to auditing, energy and public policy-making.

The awards have also succeeded in attracting and retaining some of the country’s biggest supporters of innovation. The Department of Science and Technology has been a sponsor since 1995.  This year PWC are the official auditors of the programme, and MTN, one of the original sponsors from 1991, is back this year after a brief break, as is Eskom.

That’s staying power for you.



4 States of the System

For many years, Da Vinci adopted a ‘3‐states’ of the system approach as proposed by Zandi (2000). This approach involves an investigation into the “as is” the “as it will be” and the “as it should be” state. By exploring these issues, the organisation is able to gain a fundamental appreciation of its current positioning and gain useful insights into its future.

The “as is” state defines the current situation. It is an understanding of what is taking place within the organisation’s system. In the conventional school of strategic planning it is what would emanate from a SWOT analysis.

We go one stage further by exploring what if the current managerial leadership style is not adapted to take into account the realities that are taking place? In this case, the organisation has a great propensity to destroy itself. We define this state as the “as it will be” state ‐ this defines the system in a point of time in the future if nothing but natural influences are imposed on the system. We refer to this state as the “Early Warning” – state. In terms of the previous article, the concept of the Mess Formulation embodies both the “as is” state and the “as it will be” state. There is a well‐defined process to get to a full picture of the Mess.

The “as it should be” state ‐ this defines a desired future state of the system. It is that state that will ensure sustainable growth for the organisation.

The investigation of the “as‐is” and the “as‐it‐should‐be” states is carried out by groups of people from different levels of the organisation who interact and carry out dialogues to map where the organisation is and where it should be.

It can be seen that in order to move from the “Mess” a process of “design” is introduced taking the organisation to the “as it should be” state. The design process will be described in the final article and its objective is to ensure that the new state of the system would be harmonious with its environment and would take cognisance of changes in the containing system.

Over the years, The Da Vinci Institute has worked with a wide spectrum of business and public sector organisations. In all these cases these organisations were in search of a process, which would move away from a linear approach to strategic planning. In reflecting the outcome from these interventions The Da Vinci Institute has questioned whether the notion of a 3‐state description of an organisation’s system adequately/holistically describes the realities, which organisations face from a systemic viewpoint?

In reviewing the impact the approach had on these organisations, it was found that in many cases, the outcome resulted in a totally new dispensation that had a profound impact on the organisation being able to meet the expectations of its stakeholders. However, in some instances the process had less of an impact and in time the organisation lapsed back into a state of disarray.

The realities of this 3 states model is that it is based on the assumption that there is a managerial leadership style in place that is capable of ensuring that the organisation has the ability to move to a desirable, more beneficial end‐state. The model makes a tacit assumption that the conditions precedent to move the organisation from the “as‐is” state to the “as it should be state” is conducive to a transformational leadership style (Transformational Leadership Report, 2007) in which those responsible for the “redesign” of the system are fundamentally systemic in their thinking and managerial leadership styles.

In truth such an assumption does not reflect the reality of what is found in organisations throughout the world. In many cases, contrary to the notion of transformational leadership characteristics (Transformational Leadership Report, 2007; Bass 1990) there is evidence of transactional leadership characteristics which mitigate the ability to design a new system, which has the desirable end results.

Da Vinci has identified the concept of a counterpointing situation in which the organisation, depending upon the prevailing managerial leadership styles, can move either in a positive direction which implies a transformational leadership style (the “as it should be” state) or a negative direction resulting from a leadership style which is transactional. In recognition of this pivotal issue the concept of a 4th state namely the “as it could be” state has been identified.


by Prof Roy Marcus and Dee Marcus


Bass B. M (1990) From Transactional to Transformational Leadership: Learning to share the vision in Organisational Dynamics vol 18 issue no 3 (pages 19‐31)

Gladwell M, (2000) The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference, Little Brown and Company, New York

Cloudy outlook clears as Lean’s studies take him higher

New horizons have opened up for commercial airline pilot Lean Janse van Rensburg. Where once the outlook was cloudy and visibility limited, his studies at The Da Vinci Institute have given him fresh perspective on life, work and his place in the world.

Grounded and jobless

“After 1Time airlines went bankrupt in 2012, I couldn’t find another job in flying. South Africa has a small aviation market and there were about 90 other pilots looking for work at the time,” he says. “I’d always wanted another qualification in case I lost my medical licence and couldn’t fly, so in 2013 I enrolled at Unisa.”

That didn’t work out, so he kept himself busy doing odd jobs until he happened to see a “random” Facebook advert for The Da Vinci Institute. “I contacted them and we sat down and they reassured me I would get all the necessary support as a student.”

In March 2014, Janse van Rensburg signed up for a BCom degree in Aviation Management. All went well – so well that his average at the end of his first year was 85%.

Looking up

Things started looking even better in 2015 when he joined Safair as a pilot and was earning a salary again.

Then he ran into a hurdle – the Management of Systems module he had to complete for the second year of his Da Vinci studies. “I didn’t know what was going on. I contacted my lecturer Greg. We sat down and he made sure I understood.”

Meanwhile, back at Safair, he was starting to be noticed. “Every assignment I did for my studies had to be work and industry-related. As a pilot, I hadn’t been exposed to finance, marketing, sales and how the operations run, but through Da Vinci, I plugged into these areas. In the process of learning about my company and industry, the company learnt about me.”

Intriguing discoveries

During his research, for example, Janse van Rensburg discovered that flying from Johannesburg to Cape Town with Safair was only R1 more expensive than going by train, and R35 cheaper than going by bus.

He brought this to the attention of management, who liked his suggestion that the company start targeting its marketing at travellers who normally travel by train or long-distance bus.

Other assignments brought him into contact with other areas of the business, opening up all kinds of new possibilities. “I’ve been asked if I would be interested in becoming involved in sales, scheduling, the technical department and even the pilots’ union.”

Now in his third and final year, Janse van Rensburg says he feels “more relaxed” than before about the future. “I know there are opportunities to expand my possibilities of where I could work if I couldn’t fly.”

What’s more, Management of Systems, once his worst subject, is now his best. “The penny has dropped. When Da Vinci talks about how everything is connected, it’s not just philosophy. I really am seeing the bigger picture and how everything fits together.”