Craig Yeatman - Introducing Craig Yeatman2012-06-26
I have always found it awkward to introduce myself. Not the name bit - thats easy. "Hi, I am Craig" rolls easily off my tongue, and it seems appropriate for any occasion. Often its enough, and the moments pass by with small talk about the rugby (which has been a delight to enjoy), or politics (which hasnt). At some point, though, especially when I am with a group of men, trapped in an awkward moment of silence, someone will lean over and pop the question: "so, Craig, what line of business are you in?"
Now if it was my friend Simon being asked the question, he would answer "Sports Distribution" - and the conversation would pop into the merits of an Adams hybrid and its potential to transform the game of the average golfing Joe, or the impact that the introduction of the Felt range of bikes will have on the cycling community in South Africa. They will rattle on for ages about clothing, races, competitions, who is beating whom - drawing on their shared understanding of games that have been around forever, framed by rules that they all understand, played by people who all unashamedly share a love for their game of choice.
I was born in 1965 in Durban, and lived there for the first 8 years of my life - uneventfully. Around me South Africa moved into the 70's, my parents struggled through their marriage and Chiltern Park football club was built. My dad and his friends would train us at football and then have a few beers at the clubhouse, loudly and enthusiastically drowning the evils of the week. I kissed a girl in the car park, and then we moved north to experience the end of Rhodesia on the family farm - saying goodbye to youth as Zimbabweans embraced each other for the first time. Some of my first embraces at the rapidly integrated school left scars on my face and a wierd unease in my stomach- and others left ghostly friendships that resurfaced years later on facebook, as they do.
Then I headed for Cape Town, alone in the world at last and taking on a marketing degree. 18 months and 1800 beers later I found myself sitting on Cecil John Rhodes' grave in the place locals calls "Worlds View" atop a kopje in the Matobo hills of Zimbabwe. I couldnt make sense of why I was studying, so I stopped and went to work. For the next five years I pumped gasoline, drove delivery vehicles, learned to sell, tried operations management, and then I started a company. I met Mark Peters from Wits Business School a short while later when I attended his small business management programme. Mark is a cool guy with the remnants of an irish drawl and the warmth of poets heart - and he spoke up for me later when I wanted to enroll for an MBA without an undergrad degree. By my early thirties I was experimenting with human resource strategies - thinking about the relationship between the increasingly impactful labour laws and good business. As the little businesses I helped to start began to grow up, I needed more than energy and passion to keep things moving and by the time I was approaching forty I knew two things for sure - I could not keep the organisations growing without some new wisdom, and I was burning out.
I went and rested on an MBA programme. Its weird, I guess, but the full time MBA gave me a narrower focus and a great intellectual playing field. I met Liora Gross there, and she introduced me more formally to Organisation Development at the same time as my Aunt Lee Knobel was planning her return to South Africa from New York. Lee had mastered a lot of the OD profession and was coming "home" to see what was happening.
As Lee and Liora planted thoughts in my head and books in my reading list, I was delighted to find the confluence in Organisation Development of everything that I loved about organisations - the respect for the bottom line and a love for people combined in one mind-twisting profession. I was hooked, and with a small group of amazing people we set out to create interventions that honour the spirit of Organistaion Development and enable anyone, anywhere to practice some form of OD.
While we worked on these processes, I met Dr Louise van Rhyn who over the next few years drew me into the start-up phases of the South African OD Network, and convinced me to work with her and Fiona MacFarlane on the establishment of a specialist School of Organisation Development. Around me, our group companies grew to include a sports distribution business in addition to the Technology business that had been our mainstay for decades.
Arriving in 2012, I have been able to make my way back into a full time role in our new company - WorldsView Academy - formed by the merger of WorldsView Consulting and the Academy for Organisational Change. My mandate is to create a school of organisation development that educates practitioners in the class and supports their interventions in the field. Many of the stories that come from this column will be drawn from the people and organisations that I encounter as I help to create and teach OD content.
So when I am asked what I do, I say that I am an Organisation Development practitioner. I think that I always have been, but now it is clearer, and it rolls more easily off my tongue.
And I think it is worth mentioning - I googled Chiltern Park football club and discovered (according to the Kingfisher Poker League advert) that the club is now the Chain and Sprocket - a bar with a biker theme. Maybe I should go back there and kiss a few girls for old times sake.comments powered by Disqus