Morphing The Organization:

Growing Your Business in the TCI

By Jeanne McClellan, Norwani Services Ltd.

The Turks & Caicos Islands are changing at an astonishing speed. Ten years ago, driving from Leeward to Blue Hills was an easy trip. Today, that trip is not so easy — the number of cars and trucks on a road that is undergoing major construction creates regular traffic slowdowns. Saturday at the airport is a lesson in patience as commercial flight after commercial flight brings increasing numbers of visitors to the Islands. Look at the building construction along Grace Bay and in the Leeward communities. The tourism industry that supports these Islands is developing at a phenomenal rate. Our businesses must provide products and services to a rapidly growing population. The Turks & Caicos Islands are morphing before our eyes.

When you look up the word “morph” in a dictionary you will find it listed as a verb that means “to transform from one thing, by degrees, into something different.” The definition does not explain either the process or the speed at which morphing occurs. It does not explain the energy surrounding the morphing action or its outcome. It does not describe the effect that morphing has on its surroundings. And it does not apply the action of morphing to business development. But make no mistake — businesses do morph. If they didn’t, they would not survive.

Business in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and Providenciales in particular, is an adventure in morphing . . . unlimited. The world was introduced formally to the Turks & Caicos Islands when Conde Nast magazine named Grace Bay among the top ten beaches in the world. Now we already knew how beautiful all of our beaches were and we could manage our tourism and businesses on that level.

But then, visitors began to arrive in increasing numbers and the real estate market boomed. Now from an economic standpoint, those are good things. However, an increase in tourism and real estate sales also means an increased need for housing, food, electricity, transportation, building supplies, entertainment and communications, which also means an increased need for architects, decorators, waiters and waitresses, housekeepers, maintenance workers, cooks, heavy equipment operators, technicians, taxi drivers, security guards . . . the list goes on. The morphing of business on TCI has begun.

Morphing a business is not a random action but a systematic process that incorporates every aspect of life. As an example, let’s consider opening a restaurant on Providenciales. Assuming that all government requirements have been met and a suitable location has been secured, we now have to create our business. We will have to arrange for financing through one of the on- island financial institutions. We will have to choose a theme for the restaurant that will require special decorating touches. We will have to design and build the restaurant itself. We will have to purchase special restaurant equipment. We will have to arrange for daily food and beverage deliveries. We will have to interview, hire, and train staff for the kitchen and service areas. We will have to work through the Immigration and Labour Departments for the proper documents for each employee. Finally, we will open our doors and serve our customers, who will be so impressed that they will tell everyone how wonderful our restaurant is and recommend to everyone they know that they must travel to the Turks & Caicos Islands just to come to our restaurant. (And if that doesn’t work, we will have to design and place an advertisement in one of the many on-island publications, such as the one you are reading right now.)

Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? The good news is that in opening this restaurant, we have connected with just about every other business on the island, including government agencies. We have imported goods via air and sea freight shippers, we have borrowed monies from local financial institutions, we have purchased services from utility providers, retail and wholesale shops, we have used office supply stores, marketing agencies and advertising venues and we have employed TCI residents in a variety of jobs. We did not open this restaurant by ourselves. We used a large amount of products and services from other businesses that, in turn, had to adjust their businesses to meet our needs. In opening our restaurant we brought more business to our fellow business owners and have had a positive effect on the TCI economy.

Multiply this venture by the number of new and expanding businesses on TCI within, say, the past five years and you can see that there has been a phenomenal increase in business in general. The question now: Is business development in Turks & Caicos too much/too fast or not enough/too slow? The answer will be found not in the quantity of our businesses, but in the quality of our businesses.

The growth of a business is obvious from the outside — larger offices, more employees, higher profit levels. But a business’ real growth takes place on the inside, in the form of business plans, quality measurements and staff development. A business morphs from the inside out or it does not survive.

So how do you know if your business is morphing at the right speed and in the right direction? Ask yourself the following questions:

* Do you know where you want your business to be next week, next month, next year, in the next five years?

* Are you measuring your product and service quality? Are you getting accurate, usable feedback from your customers, your stakeholders and your employees?

* What are you doing right now that is helping you to reach the goals you have set?

* What are your current resource levels? Consider all of your resources — your location, your marketing, your people, your finances.

* What will you have to do to make your goals reality? Are you preparing to plan for the future and to redesign your current processes? Are you preparing to flex with the changes on-island and in the world community?

And the final, most important question:

* What is happening globally over which you have no control, that will affect your business?

When we answer this final question we invariably look for the negatives . . . economic downturns, weather influences, worldwide instability that affects travel. There is a positive side to consider as well — economic upturns, “perfect” weather, an increase in worldwide travel — how will your business handle a major influx of visitors who will demand higher quantity and quality of our services?

As we work through the answers to each of these questions, we take control of the morphing process. We transform the energy of our business and we contribute to the quality development of the Turks & Caicos Islands.

The morphing of TCI is just beginning. Now we have to ask ourselves: Are we morphing too quickly or too slowly? Are we morphing too much or too little? The answers are not easy to find.

When we understand that morphing is a process, we understand that, with proper organization, the morphing process will result in strong, competitive businesses that will provide quality products and services to the customers they serve. In turn, as businesses manage their individual morphing process, the Turks & Caicos Islands will morph at a rate consistent with their rising presence in the Caribbean community and the world. I believe that the morphing of TCI can be managed at a pace that will enhance our existing business community and encourage future business development.

Welcome to the Turks & Caicos Islands, where our commitment to business development and service excellence is exceeded only by the country’s natural beauty.

Jeanne McClellan is Director of Education and Development for Norwani Services Ltd., located in Southwinds Plaza on Providenciales. Jeanne is an Organizational Effectiveness specialist with 17 years of experience in the fields of organizational design, people development, motivation and team building. She is a registered organizational effectiveness professional and a trained facilitator for experience-based learning. Jeanne is the Executive Director of The Taylor Consulting Group, an organizational development firm based in West Grove, Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

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