CCBSA Devland’s remarkable culture change: from devil’s land to heaven’s land

“In 2014, our employee engagement score was 44%. Within three years we were able to turn this around and almost double this score to 81% in 2017.” So began Moses Lubisi, Regional Supply Chain Manager at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) as he set the scene as the keynote speaker at Free To Grow’s 25th Anniversary Celebration.

“This is no small achievement,” remarked Moses, referring to the sustained impact of the culture change journey that CCBSA’s Devland plant embarked on in 2015 in partnership with Free To Grow. “Quite frankly, 81%, even according to the standards of the survey professionals, is phenomenal.”


Moses Lubisi, CCBSA, Free To Grow client, FTG, Culture and Engagement, change management, cuture change, leaderhsip development

Moses Lubisi, Regional Supply Chain Manager at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) headlined Free To Grow’s 25th Celebration with a conversation on Culture Change

A qualified engineer and inspirational leader, Moses enthralled the audience throughout his presentation on ‘Culture Change: transforming the culture at Devland from devil’s land to heaven’s land’. His vivid-story telling also held significant teachings on Leadership and Culture.

Reflecting on Devland back in 2015, Moses shared that, following a difficult restructuring and two illegal stoppages, employee trust and organisational performance were at an all-time low. Challenges such as high levels of stock theft, poor housekeeping, low levels of engagement, lack of ownership as well as absenteeism further inhibited collaboration and growth.

Following the appointment of a new MD committed to shaping a culture of Ubuntu within CCBSA, Devland’s Senior Leadership team took the opportunity to partner with culture and engagement specialists, Free To Grow, to foster a shared vision and spirit of co-creation within the plant.

Bolstered by three journeys – personal, work and organisation – Free To Grow’s WorkQ® programme was used as the vehicle to achieve this and bring together the needs of the organisation and its employees:

“Free To Grow was like magic. It did not give people a platform to complain but a mirror to see themselves: as they are now and for what they can become. It became a platform for people to act. The power of WorkQ® is that it starts with the personal journey and then goes to building the kind of organisation employees want – creating buy-in and commitment.”

Moses emphasised that effective leadership was the key to changing the culture at Devland: leaders must ‘walk the engagement talk’ and create a climate where employees experience a strong emotional connection to their work and organisation. To create this emotional and strategic alignment, leaders across all levels attended WorkQ® alongside their teams. This was followed by LeadQ®, which equipped leaders with the mindset, skillset and toolset to become the active drivers of engagement in their organisation.

The impact on the quality of leadership was dramatic. As a result of the continued commitment of Devland’s leadership to embed the change, the organisation has sustained a culture that drives engagement and performance, as attested to by Moses:

“There was a total turnaround in the attitude and behaviour of Team Leaders and 2nd In Command’s (2IC’s). They stepped up in their leadership roles, accepted responsibility and showed initiative. Over time the teams developed a kind of language, using hand signals, which has become a part of the way things are done at Devland. If someone in the group is perceived as being negative or holding the group back, the guys will shake their hand next to their head to show that we’re changing now, we’re moving on.”

As the culture at Devland began to change, positive ripples became visible in the metrics that impact the business – results which have not only been sustained but improved on:

Successful change intervention: examples of improvements to key business metrics

Measuring impact at CCBSA Devland: examples of significant improvements to key business metrics


“So that’s the Devland story,” concluded Moses. “While at first, it was quite a traumatic plant to run, it became a really great plant to run. I was very sad to leave because I was extremely proud of what we were able to achieve with Free To Grow.”


The journey up to now

Alinda Nortje, CEO Free To Grow

Alinda Nortje, Free To Grow Founder and CEO, shared a few highlights in the organisation’s extraordinary journey over the last 25 years

Thanking Moses for his testimonial, Alinda Nortje, Free To Grow Founder and CEO, reflected on the extraordinary journey and rise of Free To Grow as a leader in the field of Culture and Engagement – with a track record spanning 1 320 organisations in 33 countries and reaching over 98 500 people.

“When Free To Grow was founded 25 years ago, as a small learning and development company with high hopes, we could hardly foresee that our work would ripple through to countries as far and varied as Southern Sudan, Vietnam, Iran and Jordan. It has been a most rewarding, yet humbling, journey to have been trusted by so many organisations as a partner in their journey to grow their people and their organisation. Our success lies in the hearts of every staff member and licensee of Free To Grow, their passion for their work and their commitment to excellence. I am immensely grateful for how far we have come, and am looking forward to the journey ahead with high expectations and hope.”

Looking forward

After 25 years, Free To Grow’s vision and founding spirit of igniting purpose, passion and potential for growth continues to guide the business forward.

Looking to the future, Tjaart Minnaar, Free To Grow Director and founder of 2Collaborate, highlighted how Free To Grow’s suite of offerings has evolved in response to the business needs of clients and changing market demands:

“Free To Grow’s offering has grown and transitioned over the last two decades and we have worked hard to expand our offering into something that can support years of value-adding partnerships with our clients.”

Today, Free To Grow presents five innovative service lines that include: Culture and Engagement, Leadership Development, Individual and Team Development, Coaching and Internal Communication. While Culture and Engagement remains the primary offering, it is strengthened and amplified by the range of programmes and products available under each of the further service lines.