Unlocking VUCA


This is the second of a series of articles in which we will explore the dimensions of Delta 21’s approach to Velocity, Unorthodoxy, Collaboration and Awareness.

Unorthodoxy: (definition) Breaking with convention or tradition.

In an article headlined ‘6 ways to spot a true visionary’, Smart CEO magazine says that business visionaries are always willing to adjust or even discard a conclusion they’ve previously reached. To cultivate this trait, they don’t shy away from trying something unorthodox or experimental. They are also prepared to take risks and meet resistance:

“Visionaries are, by definition, people who see possibilities that others don’t. Exploring those possibilities often requires taking unorthodox steps or making unusual changes. Each one of these carries risk, not the least of which is the risk of creating resistance among employees and colleagues who do not share the visionary’s conviction.”

Stop and think about the people who have shaped and changed our world and the way we see it. Henry Ford, Malala Yousafzai, Beethoven, Steve Jobs, Gandhi, Emmeline Pankhurst, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Madonna, Aristoteles, Warren Buffet, Julia Child, Copernicus, Oprah Winfrey, David Bowie, Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg… Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that our reality today would have been very different if they had not had the vision, conviction and courage to take a step away from normal, look at things from a different angle and explore new ways of doing things.

Unorthodoxy was made part of Delta 21 to recognise that many traditional business models are being replaced by new ones. The online economy (Amazon, Alibaba), the so-called gig economy (Uber, AirBnB) and the information economy (Facebook, Google) are examples of new or recent business models.


  • Daunting
  • Innovation in Africa
  • Mindset
  • Listening
  • Focus


Navigating a world defined by volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity is daunting. But the smart application of fresh ideas can help make it easier.

“What we were accustomed to doing in the past has changed, and we now have to think, plan and act differently,” says GAC Philippines MD Joel Domingo. “One of the ways that we in the Philippines have responded is to customise a solution for a pharmaceutical company that goes further than just securing a delivery receipt - it also includes the submission of accounting documents. By bridging our customers’ accounting requirements, we have improved their payment lead time.”




Innovation in Africa

“Unorthodoxy is doing things differently (better) to continue to add GAC value to our customers,” says Eric Barnard, MD of GAC Shipping in South Africa and Namibia. “During challenging times we have had to work a lot smarter.”

At the Durban office, they’re using WhatsApp to give clients live updates on their vessels’ progress. Leo Branders says that agents use their smart phones to take photos of the proceedings and send them instantly to the customer. Meanwhile, group chats with key service providers help the quick resolution of problems.

GAC Namibia is focusing on local procurement in West Africa, as a way of introducing themselves to clients. Martiens Potgieter says it is both a way to meet customers’ needs and a valuable intelligence gathering tool: “It allows us to establish constant contact with our clients and to learn more about when and where their vessels and other assets are being mobilised. By working our good relationships with local suppliers to help with any logistics requirements they may have, we help boost the GAC brand and reputation.”


For GAC UK MD Herman Jorgensen, unorthodoxy is about responding in new ways to a changing environment: “In the UK this means changing our very business model and also adding new services to our portfolio and trying to grow an organisational culture that embraces constant change.

“Unorthodoxy is also about creating a more entrepreneurial and innovative mindset in all staff. Whilst some might see this as a departure from who we are, for me it is more like going back to GAC’s founding principles.”





Listening is the key for Bob Bandos, MD of GAC North America – Shipping. “Only by thinking outside of the box to tailor services to customers’ needs can we get closer to them to better support their goals,” he says. “We are continuously looking for ways to improve our services, so we meet with customers regularly and really listen to them to learn how to serve them better. And, of course, compliance is our utmost priority when concluding any agreement.”






That customer focus is also at work in Singapore, where MD Henrik Althen believes the best approach is to focus energy on a few important objectives.

“Customers don’t leave a supplier due to high prices, they leave if they are taken for granted,” he says. “We are focusing on greater customer relations management with our top large and medium-sized companies, more staff meeting customers and consolidating our shipping and logistics in our sales pitch. In parallel, we are developing the leadership skills of ALL staff to become better at proactively coming up with the best solutions for our customers, whilst creating greater internal accountability across the teams. Everyone needs to think like a leader and be more engaged in meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations.”


On the subject of Unorthodoxy, here is…

An Orthodox Note from Legal and Compliance

By Andrew Leach, Group Vice President, Legal and Compliance

Unorthodoxy is part of Delta 21 to encourage GAC companies to look for new ways to serve customers and find solutions to solve their problems.

But this idea of unorthodoxy in no way gives companies freedom to break the law or ignore our compliance commitments. The laws which govern our business relationship and the compliance rules that govern our behaviour are fixed. GAC’s compliance team ensures these limits are respected by us and our customers and suppliers.

Think of what happens in a football match. There are rules which govern the size of the pitch, the dimensions of the goals, the circumference of the ball and in many other ways define the limits of what can and cannot be done by the player on the pitch. Within those limits players can exercise their creative abilities by inventing new ways to work together to achieve victory. Individual players can practice unorthodox (but not illegal) ways of running, passing, shooting etc.

In GAC companies, the laws which apply to them and our compliance policies set the limits. They give clarity and certainty about what can be done and what cannot be done. Within those limits our people are free to use their imagination, energy and inspired thinking to invent the next generation of services and take customer satisfaction to a higher level.

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