What is a Kgotla?
A Kgotla is literally a ‘place where people meet for dialogue’. It is a form of management which originated in Botswana. The Kgotla is a specific place where village chiefs meet their communities. The people sit in a half-circle around the fire. The chief sits opposite them and tells the villagers about his dream, what he hopes to achieve and about specific problems. He then asks the assembly open questions, inviting them to give their opinions. He listens, without judgement, and absorbs the information.
This system is still in use in Botswana today. If the president wants to take a difficult decision, the entire population of 1.8 million people are consulted via their chiefs. The president uses that information, and criticism, to take his decisions. This form of democracy has led Botswana to become Africa’s biggest success story. Leaders from around the world have visited to find out more about how the system works.
The Kgotla Company has adapted this ancient tribal system to meet the needs of modern management. Based on mutual trust and empathy, Kgotla techniques drive a transparent decision-making process, resulting in strategies that are accepted and supported by the entire workforce.
Won’t a Kgotla result in endless discussions?
Not at all. The Kgotla process does not try to reach consensus-based agreement. During a Kgotla, the dialogue leader or chief asks an open question and invites the rest of the assembly to give an honest answer. The chief only listens to what is said. He does not react. There is no discussion or debate, just a transfer of opinion and ideas.
In fact, learning to be a good listener without prejudice can be the hardest part of the Kgotla process. But it is only through non-judgemental dialogue that people feel free to speak their minds, allowing the chief to take decisions that everyone will support.
How long does a Kgotla take?
From a single day to a few weeks. It depends very much on the size of your company and the problems you wish to tackle. It is crucial that everyone involved has their say.
As a rough rule, some 450 people a day can take part in a Kgotla and it is only once everyone has been heard that the chief can take strategic decisions.
Taking a decision and putting it into practice are two different things. Once the Kgotla has been held and decisions have been taken, we can help you implement the new strategy throughout the company, from the top down.
At The Kgotla Company, we can listen to 4,000 people over a 10-day period and ensure the decisions taken have been enacted within three months.
What sort of problems can the Kgotla process solve?
- Managing a merger
- Cutting costs
- Boosting revenue
- Improving technical processes
- Improving intra-company communication
- Sharpening management team interaction
- Improving leadership skills
- Developing and launching new products and services
- Driving out workplace negativity
- Expanding into new countries
- Launching a clearly-defined start-up
- Generating stakeholder support
- Involving clients in innovative processes
- Beginning a dialogue within your neighbourhood or family, or within an institution
- The opportunities are endless.
What can we learn from Africa?