3 Ps of Maximum Business Efficiency: The African Perspective

We all know that business can only succeed by paying particular attention to people, process, and product, often called the 3 Ps of business efficiency. While this is an accepted reality worldwide, our experience at Muluma Management Consulting Group has taught us that these three principles are not always rigid. This is why, for us, the 3 Ps stand for people, process, and planet. 

But what does this mean in reality? This is the question I want to address in this piece. I will present the main elements we focus on, showing how the traditional 3 Ps fall short and how including the planet provides an opportunity to operate sustainably and in a truly efficient manner. Finally, I will focus on moving from talking to action.   

The 3Ps of Business Efficiency as We Know Them 

The importance of people, processes, and products in business cannot be disputed. We have all learned for many years why it is crucial to comprehend how to manage these three variables. 

Before I focus on how, at Muluma, we are rethinking the 3Ps of business efficiency, let’s recap  what the traditional 3Ps represent:

  • People: Apart from your employees, there are various other groups you maintain relationships with for your business to succeed, including customers, shareholders, suppliers, and vendors. Your business will fail if you don’t invest resources in nurturing relationships with these people. 
  • Process: Everyone involved needs to know what should be done for your business to meet its mandate. The process variable answers an important question: How do we do this? 
  • Product: Ultimately, the people and processes seek to accomplish a product. Therefore, the right people and processes guarantee that you produce the right product. 

An analysis of the traditional 3Ps shows that we have mainly focused on explaining how we do things, overlooking the ‘why’ we do things aspect of the equation. This is the challenge we seek to alleviate by rethinking the 3Ps. 

      Rethinking the 3 Ps of Business Efficiency 

      But what has made us rethink the 3 Ps of business efficiency? We started considering including the planet in the 3 Ps when we analysed the lessons Covid-19 taught us about the relationship between our business, economic, political, and environmental systems. 

      The pandemic taught us that if we focus only on the people, processes, and products, we will constantly scramble for solutions when calamities like Covid-19 hit us. Therefore, we cannot safeguard our future if our focus is not on the planet.   

      I could use an illustration here. If, in the process of manufacturing products, people fail to consider how they are destroying habitats, we may realise when it’s too late that we have destroyed the habitats of dragonflies that eat large numbers of mosquitoes. Without these dragonflies, we may face a malaria catastrophe in some areas of the world. This shows that our well-being depends on the well-being of the planet.  

      Our idea of the new 3 Ps is based on the understanding that without the planet, there would be no product. The product comes from the planet in the form of raw materials and goes back to the planet as waste. If we fail to rethink how we get our raw materials and how we dispose of the products made from those raw materials, we will soon have no planet from which to get the raw materials to make the product.  

      Walking the Talk

      How do we start focusing not on just the product but the planet that makes this product available? We need to start seeing policies that speak specifically to how companies will be held to account for how they deal with the planet. I am encouraged by such documents as the Mining Charter in South Africa. 

      While legislation plays a vital role in ensuring compliance with sound environmental practices, focusing on the planet will depend on voluntary actions by companies. It will only be when the people aspect of the 3 Ps understands the importance of the plant that the process will change and be done in a manner that respects and preserves the planet. 

      Providing information, lobbying politicians, and encouraging individuals to live sustainably will be practical ways to make the planet aspect central to the agenda. Organisations will need to set specific environmental goals and targets with clear key performance indicators that can be used to measure progress.