Tragedy has a way of getting people united. During the middle of quarter 1, 2015, the Cape Peninsula was gripped by extensive wild fires. Like dominos, it started initially on a part of Table Mountain range, then Lion’s Head and one part of the mountain range followed after another until the whole area was just thick in smoke.
During this time, my family lived in an area that epitomised Cape Town: just below the Silvermine mountain range but almost on the beach. In our street, we had organized ourselves exactly as we did back in the township in the early 90’s. We patrolled the street and monitored all movement with constant by the minute communication using instant messaging mobile apps. Nothing passed through our street without our knowledge and our leader (more like street commander), James would go as far as tell us Chapman’s open for traffic – which made sense given the level of closures during that period. It was this level of organization that made me personally experience a different side of Cape people and in the process left me grateful to live among this lot on that little street on the southern tip of the African continent.
When the fire finally reached our neck of the woods, it had been going for about three weeks. As such, nothing was shocking anymore. By this time, we also received news of two houses that were burnt to the ground (no lives lost). One of these houses was a few streets away from our house and therefore as the young people like to say, “it got real”. The whole neighborhood was on high alert. I’m talking day and night with constant news feed on where the fire is, incidents (big or small) and do’s and don’t ‘s from the street patrol team.
Two days before @bpesa’s Annual BPM Summit (#BPO2SA), our neighbour Gerry frantically rang the bell at our gate at 1h15 in the morning. I casually walked to the intercom and answered (almost half asleep) wondering who it could be that time of the night. “I saw your lights are off and you are not responding on WhatsApp group, so I was wondering if you are almost done to vacate? Everyone is gone and I was just getting my dogs”. I know what you are thinking, right? My thoughts exactly that early morning! It turns out, James (our street commander) had been mornitoring the fire the whole night and had been issuing instructions to all families in the street. The last one instruction, issued an hour earlier was “evacuate immediately. Take essentials and drive to the beach or the sports ground. Drive slowly as visibility is very poor.” In 15 minutes, we had worked out what we would let burn with house and what would fit into two cars on which we can survive until a plan is hashed out. A wake up call! Apparently my trusted top end imported stereo sound system is not as valuable as an external hard drive with my family pictures. Who knew!
Despite the drama of the Cape fires, we managed to pull off one of the most succeful industry Summits with a cross section of Business Process Management (BPM) encompassing public sector, private sector, domestic, international, operators, vendors, analysts and the media. It was here that I took the first public role as facilitating a panel talking capacity in terms skills pipeline to enable BPM to scale nationally.
Please see more here from the Summit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2iuSeP7Z20. From conversations had afterwards, the panelists had as much a great time as I had.
The following tweets capture the sense of how the market received the Summit globally.