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About S&T

S&T appoints a new CEO

S&T appoints a new CEO imageS&T is proud to announce that we have appointed our colleague and partner, Nobayethi (Nobi) Dube, as our new CEO.

Nobi is that rare researcher who can undertake all phases of a study, from design through fieldwork to analysis and project management, with no ‘research gap’ created by translation or distance. Her involvement in the research arena began when she joined a research NGO as a temporary receptionist. Her capacity, skills and drive were soon recognised and Nobi moved out of administration and into research; complemented by years of part-time studying after hours, which saw Nobi gain several university degrees, she became a pivotal member of senior management responsible for setting up and running the data collection unit. Nobi joined S&T in 1999 as a partner, and has continued to grow in stature and skills. Nobi is on the brink of completing her Masters Degree in Research Methodology with the University of Stellenbosch.

Anyone who has worked with Nobi can testify to her commitment, drive and determination. Her research and managerial skills are complemented by her warmth and humour, necessary attributes for an S&T CEO!

With S&T now working regularly throughout southern and East Africa on multiple simultaneous projects, we decided to appoint a CEO to ensure we remained focussed on achieving our vision, namely to transform the lives of people living in poverty in Africa. Moreover, in line with our long-term commitment to black empowerment and gender equality, Nobi is ideally suited to lead S&T.

Linked to the appointment of our new CEO, we thought it fitting to critically reflect on our mission statement to make sure it reflects our new CEO’s vision for S&T. The statement has been adapted accordingly and it now reads:

To develop innovative solutions to development challenges in Africa through high quality research, designing monitoring systems, undertaking evaluations, programme design, facilitation, and support services. We are committed to producing quality, ethical work and to adding value by working in partnership with clients.

Nobi can be contacted at nobi@s-and-t.co.za

 

Hamba Kahle Phindi

Hamba Kahle Phindi imageOur ever cheerful colleague and friend Phindi tragically passed away on 20 October after a long illness. Phindile Magwaza was with S&T almost from its inception and played a significant role in seeing us grow into one of Africa’s leading research and facilitation consultancies.

Phindi was born on 17 October, 1972 in Limehill Location, Wasbank, where she grew up and attended school. She matriculated from the Junior High School in 1990. Despite spending the early part of her life in Wasbank, Phindi retained a strong link with her rural roots in Northern KZN and it is in Osizweni where Phindi was laid to rest on 25 October.

Phindi joined S&T initially as an office assistant with no qualifications, but through hard work and dedication became a fully fledged member of the S&T team. Even though Phindi was working full-time and raising two daughters she managed to complete a range of secretarial and ICT courses, which contributed to her becoming a highly qualified receptionist and data base manager.

S&T will sorely miss Phindi’s warmth and caring approach and we will also miss her firm but gentle manner in which she managed our reception area. To her husband Clement and her two daughters Nokwanda and Noluthando, S&T and all the readers of Phatlalatsa send their deepest love and sympathy. Hambe Kahle Phindi.

 

I'm sorry, could you please repeat that?

IS&T partner David Everatt bemoans the fate of naming. “What's in a name?” - well, there have probably been some good jokes made about Bill Shakespeare's own name over time, but we suspect that Strategy & Tactics has been more sinned against than most.

When we set up S&T, we deliberately chose a name that - we thought - resonated with the struggle against apartheid, which alluded to quality research allowing both strategic and tactical considerations, and which was just plain smart. And with brand recognition created by Marx, Lenin, Mao, Che, the ANC and others.

Or so we thought.

Our first government tender led to us being telephoned by a worried official, asking why we were claiming such high 'S and Ts' - in government-speak, S&T stands for subsistence and travel! Where we thought that the notion of strategy and tactics would have wide currency, given its historical roots in the Marxist lexicon among others, we were proved wrong, time and time again. But in struggling with our name, people have shown real creativity - with spelling and words - and who knows, we might yet change, to one of the names that we’ve been called.

Strategy and Testes               

Strategy and Phindi

 

TACTICS

                       

Strategy and Stastics

 

Strategy & Tact                                     Statistics and Tactics                       

 

Strateeeegy and Tactics                                    Strateey & Tactics

 

Strtgy and Tactiks            

Subsistence and travel             

 

STRATEGY

 

A glowing report card for S&T!

A glowing report card for S&T! imagePrince Sifiso Zulu, one of S&T's Non-Executive Directors, evaluated S&T's performance by interviewing a number of former clients. This fed into our annual strategic breakaway, and the summary findings are set out below.

The evaluation

As part of the preparation for S&T's end of year review and planning process, I was given the responsibility of talking to former clients in order to evaluate the quality of service S&T provides. My colleague Dr Geetesh Solanki took responsibility for a rigorous examination of S&T internal procedures.

It was a privilege for me to speak to these very influential people, all of whom kindly made time available for the interview despite their hectic schedules - a number of interviews took place very late in the evening. The identity of the respondents is of course confidential, but they included a Judge, Chief Executive Officers of large institutions, a Director-General, a very senior businessman as well as senior NGO and government managers.

My discussion with them covered 5 areas:

  1. Overall quality rating and level of satisfaction with S&T's work
  2. Main strengths
  3. Main weaknesses
  4. Would they be willing to work with S&T in the future and why?
  5. How do they rate S&T with other companies in the same field?

The findings

I was overwhelmed by the unanimously positive responses to all my questions. All respondents were highly satisfied with the work produced by S&T: the feeling was that it was 'all quality work'.

High quality analysis, reporting and recommendations

The respondents highlighted a number of key strengths that give S&T competitive and comparative advantage. One of these is S&T's understanding, analysis and interpretation of socio-economic issues, and the way in which these are woven into reports and recommendations. This was important to them because for their report to make sense it had to be located within the broader context - the 'big picture' - and done so unobtrusively.

S&T's style of writing, presentation and recommendations also earned a host of accolades. The feeling was that our work was 'easy to read', 'clear' and 'very direct'. In particular, respondents stressed the value of the recommendations S&T produce, which are clear, realistic and grounded.

Inadequate profiling

Very few weaknesses were identified by respondents. One weakness that S&T must work on is to raise its profile in two ways: to highlight the fact that it is now a black owned, managed and operated company, and to penetrate other sectors of the market.

Clients for life?

All respondents told me that they would definitely work with S&T in the future. Some went so far as to indicate that they always recommend S&T to other people as well as for their own needs. In addition to the points made above, respondents told me that S&T partners brought 'depth' and 'passion' to all projects, as well as 'professionalism' and 'commitment'.

Straight to the top

S&T is just four years old. The respondents I spoke to acknowledged that S&T was a young company, but they told me in S&T's case this was irrelevant since S&T out-performs many far older and larger companies and institutions. They all told me that S&T ranks amongst the very top research companies in the country.

Thank you to our clients

I was more than pleased to get answers like this, from people of very high standing and calibre, who do not make idle judgements.

All of us at S&T feel very proud about the feedback from clients. We are committed to making a difference to our world, reflected in our mission statement: "To undertake high quality research, design and implement monitoring systems and conduct evaluations, in order to improve the lives of the poor and contribute to the development of South Africa and Africa". The feedback suggests we are achieving our goals.

S&T wishes to express a big thank you to the respondents and all our other clients - you have helped us grow into the company we are now; there are many challenges ahead of us, and we hope to meet them as successfully as those behind us.

 

S&T's Cape Town office in 2002:another great year

2002 has been a bumper year for S&T's Cape Town office - and not only because Sihaam is expecting her second child early in the New Year and has a very distinct bump!

The Cape Town office successfully completed a wide range of projects both locally and internationally. During the year, Matthew could be found working with Norwegians at the Norwegian Institute for Studies in Research and Higher Education in Oslo and at the Christian Mickelson Institute in Bergen; with higher education experts at the (Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies based at the University of Twente in the Netherlands; with researchers from UK outfits Information, Training and Development and Agrisystems; with Business Development Services market assessment specialists in Chiang Mai, Thailand; and closer to home with the WK Kellogg

Foundation in Botswana and Lesotho

Locally, the Cape Town office assessed spaza shop market potential for the Triple Trust Organisation; worked on a recovery strategy for the EU-funded Microproject Trust Programme in the Eastern Cape; assessed citizen satisfaction in the Departments of Education, Health, Housing and Social Development for the Public Services Commission; and also completed several studies for the Department of Labour.

 

S&T: getting bigger and better

S&T: getting bigger and better imageWhen we founded S&T in late 1998, we started from scratch. The company operated from one partner's study and used another's PO Box as its address. In just four years, the situation is very different. We work across southern and eastern Africa. The majority of our clients come back to us year after year. As Prince Sifiso Zulu explains in a related article, S&T has an exceptionally good reputation.

By the time S&T turned four in late 2002, our throughput had been enormous. 2002 was an important year for S&T. With the appointment of Jowie Mulaudzi as our sixth partner and appropriate allocation of share ownership, S&T became a black owned, managed and operated company. At the same time our work took us to Uganda, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and other SADC states, as well as Russia, Norway and Holland. Partners were invited to participate in United Nations expert meetings, and were elected as office bearers in the

International Sociological Association.

We founded S&T in order to locate research closer to the point of implementation in the development and anti-poverty fields. Analysing our workload suggests that the approach has worked. The largest single type of work we do is programme design, closely followed by social research projects. Designing monitoring systems and conducting evaluations make up a further third of our work. This is what we wanted to do: to use high-quality research to improve development and anti-poverty programmes.

In just four years we have:

  • Conducted and analysed 1000 in-depth interviews
  • Conducted or commissioned 220 focus groups
  • Interviewed 33 000 survey respondents, and
  • Assessed 2300 projects
 

Mission accomplished! - S & T now a black-owned, managed and operated company

Mission accomplished! - S & T now a black-owned, managed and operated company imageWe are proud to announce that Jowie Mulaudzi has been appointed as a partner in S&T.Jowie has been our Research Manager for 18 months and was unanimously (and enthusiastically) appointed to partner level with effect from March 1st 2002.

S&T is fully owned by its partners, of whom there are now six: Nobayethi Dube, David Everatt, Ross Jennings, Jowie Mulaudzi, Moagi Ntsime and Matthew Smith. As a result, S&T has transformed itself from a 'black empowerment' company to a fully black-owned, operated and managed company. In our view, this represents 'mission accomplished' indeed!

The 'Ramaphosa' Commission on Black Economic Empowerment defined a black-owned company as one that is "50.1% owned and managed by black people". S&T has allocated share ownership accordingly. We have moved from being a successful black empowerment company that won an Impumelelo Empowerment Award in 2000, to a black company. We are also an 'engendered company', with more than 30% representation of black women in our management structure and share ownership. Given our significant role in youth research, it is worth noting that we are 50% youth owned, operated and managed

S&T was founded in late 1998 in order to locate development research as close as possible to the point of implementation. We have achieved this by refusing to be pigeon-holed - we do research, but we also design and implement monitoring systems; we facilitate and manage implementation; and we provide a range of services needed by development programmes such as evaluations, targeting, budget allocation methodologies, policy and Business Plan development, and so on. Each of our different roles and functions informs others that we perform

The approach seems to be appreciated. Our client list reads like a Who's Who of the development sector, including all spheres of government in South and sub-Saharan Africa, independent institutions and public entities, donors, private sector implementing agencies, NGOs, CBOs and others. Our developmental approach to fieldwork (discussed in the last edition of Phatlalatsa) has seen us create some one and a half thousand fieldwork jobs in two years. Our services are in growing demand, and we welcome Jowie to the company at this exciting moment in our own development.

Research and facilitation to put Africa first!

 

From zero to hero?

Strategy & Tactics in two years.

Starting S&T

Two years ago, S&T was launched as a company dedicated to improving the lives of the poor in Africa through designing monitoring systems for anti-poverty programmes, project and programme evaluation, development facilitation and management, and the deployment of high quality applied social research. We began in modest circumstances, operating from the house of Senior Partner David Everatt. Since then, the company has grown with Ross Jennings, Moagi Ntsime, Matthew Smith and Nobi Dube all joining as partners, and Jowie Mulaudzi as Research Manager. Our administrative capacity has grown as well, with Phindi and Portia in Johannesburg and Sihaam in Cape Town. Finally, our ranks were swelled with two highly respected non-Executive Directors, Prince Sifiso Zulu and Dr Geetesh Solanki.

Working in Africa

Our work has covered a number of countries in southern Africa, ranging from South Africa to Nigeria, and with a growing list of projects successfully completed and some just starting in Kenya. Strategic partnerships with companies like South Consulting have led us into a wide range of new areas and forced us to learn new methods and approaches. Partnerships with emerging black research houses has provided high quality fieldwork as well as enhancing our developmental approach to all aspects of research. In recognition of these, S&T was awarded an Impumelelo Top 300 Company empowerment award during 2000.

Throughput

In the two years that we have been around, we have:

  • Interviewed 25 175 people in surveys;
  • Undertaken 519 in-depth interviews, including policy-makers and ordinary people living in or near development projects;
  • Reached over 1500 people through focus groups;
  • and undertaken 2237 project assessments.

Projects

This is an enormous throughput for a small organisation, and reflects both the value added by our strategic partnerships as well as the enormous commitment and hard work of S&T staff.

S&T partners at the moment are facilitating provincial skills plans for the Department of Labour; training fieldworkers in Kenya; finalising qualitative election research for the ANC; in the middle of survey research for the Road Accident Fund; finalising the monitoring system for the Labour Market Skills Development Programme; co-managing a massive national monitoring framework for the Department of Provincial and Local Government; carrying out community profile and diagnostic studies for the Department of Public Works; beginning a massive investigation of social health for the Department of Health; in the early stages of a detailed study of the transition for Interfund and the Mott Foundation; and many other projects.

Our client list reads like a who's who of progressive development players. Clients tend to be government departments, donor organisations or multilateral institutions such as the International Labour Organisation. We use qualitative and quantitative research, and produce high quality technical reports. Most partners also manage to publish at least two articles or book chapters a year, giving added value to clients whose findings can thereby reach far broader audiences.

The future

In recent months, we have bought a house in Johannesburg, which is both a major asset for us as well as a very comfortable environment from which to base operations that now stretch across sub-Saharan Africa. We are proud of our achievements - of being able to go to work knowing that what we do help the poor in Africa towards a better future for all. We extend a heartfelt Thank You! To all our clients, past and present, for the faith they have shown in us, and for the enormous reward of being able to do the kind of work we do. Our project list for 2001 and beyond is already growing, and we look forward to a busy and exciting future.

 

Building S&T in Cape Town

Matthew Smith reports on the battle to establish S&T's Cape Town presence, a battle which is now reaping rich - if tiring - rewards.

It has been an exhausting but exhilarating final quarter of 2000 for the Cape Town office. In part, this is because of a wide variety of jobs we have been involved in; it is also in part because we will be driving two major S&T projects next year.

Social Health Insurance

The first of these major S&T projects is an assessment of Social Health Insurance (SHI) for the Department of Health. S&T, backed up by the research team of Dr Geetesh Solanki (our non-executive director) and Dr Jud Cornell, successfully won the tender to assist the department in gaining an understanding of:

  • the perceptions and priorities of members of the likely target groups for SHI regarding the composition of possible benefit packages under SHI, and
  • an understanding of the willingness and ability to pay for SHI .

Work has already begun on this project, which will be completed by July of next year.

The Kenyan baseline survey

The second project is the Kenyan baseline survey, discussed at this link. Matthew has already been to Kenya to facilitate a questionnaire design workshop with representatives from a wide range of NGOs and donors. He will be returning to Nairobi shortly with Nobi to train fieldworkers.

LMSDP

Matthew continues to work closely with the Labour Market Skills Development Programme, and has recently completed a series of interventions to assist provincial Department of Labour offices prepare their respective Provincial Skills Plans. He is also part of the team currently assessing these plans and providing feedback to the provinces. From next year Matthew will be assisting the department with an evaluation of the capacity of the different provincial offices.

Client Satisfaction Tool

The Client Satisfaction Tool Project, designed by Matthew for Health Systems Trust, has finally been completed. The project led to the development of an instrument to measure client satisfaction with health provision. The project findings have already been presented to senior managers in the National Department of Health. At the end of November Matthew will present the findings to hospital management in the Northern Cape. A software programme is currently being developed which will allow hospitals to administer and manage their own measurement of client satisfaction. All of this information will soon be available on our website.

EU Parliamentary Support Programme

In between all of the above Matthew also facilitated a Project Cycle Management workshop for the European Union's Parliamentary Support Programme (PSP). The PSP has liaison officers in each of the provincial legislatures, who provide ongoing support to their respective legislatures. To assist them with their planning and to give them a better understanding of monitoring, Matthew was asked to take them through a planning exercise.

Next year

If 2000 was busy, 2001 will be even more so, with the two big projects (SHI and the Kenyan baseline) joining a host of others. S&T is most definitely alive and kicking in the Cape!

 

Not just for the coffee...

It is not just for the decent coffee and pleasant conversation that I find myself engaging the services of Strategy and Tactics for much of the public opinion research conducted through the unit I co-ordinate in the ANC. Much as hospitality is important, Strategy and Tactics have always offered so much more to our research programme, writes Melissa Levin, head of Election Research for the ANC.

I was delighted when the company first started up, with a transitional name at that stage, for many reasons which have proved time and again to have been correct assumptions.

For generations, many research companies in South Africa have been directed at developing marketing approaches for consumer goods and services. The focus had, for a long time, been on a white audience, and extended to a broader urban constituency. In the main, rural communities and the majority of black communities were excluded from research.

Not that I think that that is necessarily a bad thing considering the problems that I have with the way in which markets are structured! But what this means is that we have a sophisticated marketing research community in South Africa that daily learns to include black people in their baselines for commercially logical reasons.

That is not enough for the requirements of the research that the ANC conducts. For starters, the ANC is not a brand. Which may seem self-evident, but often advertising and marketing agencies construct anything, including political organisations, as a product that needs to be sold to consumers. The ANC as a liberation movement needs something different from the public opinion research it conducts. It requires research that comfortably complements any of the mass work that it co-ordinates on the ground. Not research that leads it, nor tails it.

Strategy and Tactics embraces that perspective which is evident in the individuals who work there as well as in the culture that they have built in their organisation. The work that they have done on our behalf never betrays the ethic of the organisation, nor does it treat the respondents in the research as valuable only insofar as they are potential consumers of a brand that they are testing.

Small enough so that you never feel like you are just another client, with large enough national networks to get work finished to what I am sure are annoyingly tight deadlines, Strategy and Tactics is a real asset to the development of quantitative and qualitative social and political research in our country.

 

Welcome Nobi and Matthew

S&T is proud to announce two new partners.

S&T is proud to announce two new partners. Nobayethi Dube (Nobi) was born in Soweto in 1968. She matriculated in 1986 at Emadwaleni High School. In 1987 she started working at an engineering company in Randburg. In 1991 Nobi joined the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E) a non-governmental organisation, as a receptionist. While working there, Nobi successfully completed her BA Admin, and an Honours degree in Industrial Psychology, graduating in May 1999. Nobi was successively promoted to Project Administrator, and finally to helping set up and run the fieldwork department.

Nobi is that rare researcher who can do every part of the job, from design to fieldwork to analysis. She has worked on issues including gender, disability, health, and public works. She brings a great depth of experience to S&T.

Welcome too to Matthew J. Smith. He has degrees from the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University, and is currently completing a Ph.D. at Syracuse University, New York. He has done extensive evaluation work on social programmes in South Africa and in the USA, where he spent three years on a Fulbright scholarship.

In South Africa, he has worked with education institutions, government departments and corporations. In the USA he worked with foundations and institutions of higher education.

Matthew has published articles in local and international journals. He was the lead researcher in the second Kaiser Health baseline survey, which is about to be released. Having worked in education, health, media and other fields, he brings powerful research skills and sectoral specialisation to S&T, and will be running our Cape Town operation.

Matthew runs the Cape Town office, with the help of Sihaam Gasnola. He divides his time between helping S&T on its national projects and doing work in the areas of health and education. He is currently working with the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET) on their Transformation Indicator Project, which is examining whether institutions of higher education have transformed since South Africa's independence in 1994.

Matthew has recently completed a scan of the higher education environment in Mpumalanga for the Office of the Premier.

Matthew is also working with the Health Systems Trust's Initiative for Sub-District Support (ISDS). He is designing a client satisfaction index to measure clients' perceptions of the quality of service they receive at public hospitals in South Africa. As a member of the national task team to examine patients' perceptions of hospital quality, Matthew hopes to extend his research into hospitals across South Africa.

 

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