I have looked at the new sightholder applications. Let me say the sightholders have my sympathies.
You ever go on a job interview and are asked questions like “What are your strengths?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” And you just give some blather to fill time. That’s what the new sightholder questionnaire is like – it’s page after page of those kind of questions.
Among them: Why are you better than the competition? What is your “value capture”? What will your business be like in 2011?
Well, I don’t think anyone – least of all De Beers – knows what their business will be like in 2011. I can only imagine the answers will be as painful to read as they are to write.
What’s unfortunate about the new applications is they still all but ask sightholders to “game” them. For example, one question asks sightholders the “minimum acceptable” amount of diamonds they want for each band. But this puts sightholders in a bind. What if the number they give is too low? Or too high?
For a process that is supposed to be “transparent,” this is all still pretty mysterious. Not to mention stressful and frustrating for those whose livelihoods in part depend on it.
The biggest question, of course, is whether the number of sightholders is already set, and all this is for nothing. If De Beers has already made up its mind to cut out certain groups of sightholders – as some say they have – it really isn’t fair to ask people to bring their business to a halt while they ponder the meaning of “value capture.” (I should also note that American sightholders received yet more mixed vibes at this week’s sight.)
I don’t mean this to be just another exercise in De Beers-bashing. Clearly, De Beers had to professionalize the system from what is was pre-Supplier of Choice (which was basically De Beers chose you, and that’s it.) So in 2003, they introduced a number-based system that many found too mechanical. And now that has been changed to this new, more “subjective” format.
Still not there yet. I think they need a Version 3.0.