Stellenbosch University
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Let’s do OPRA this year
Author: Petro Mostert
Published: 22/03/2022

​No, I didn't misspell her name as this is no reference to the famous talk show host. This acronym is what I would like to call our Responsibility Centre's house rules for the year ahead. For us, OPRA stands for:​




But let's first talk about operational excellence.

It is a huge trill when the Rector, Prof Wim, tells me after a Council meeting that Operations and Finance "is one hell of a RC". He is correct, we are one hell of an RC, and you are all significant parts of it.

Operational excellence is an attitude – a continuous striving to improve, own our shortcomings, and turn them into new skills.

P is for Performance. It is the concrete achievement of a stated objective. To perform, we need to know what our objectives and goals are. In striving to attain them, we must perform.

SU's values (or what I like to call our action guides) of Excellence, Compassion, Accountability, Respect and Equity is easy to remember as the acronym ECARE. These values help us decide daily how to do our work, which affects our attitude towards our work and those we work with.

I've borrowed Respect and Accountability for our RC's values.

To achieve our ambitious goals at SU, we need to show each other respect. The respect we owe each other as colleagues (and our students) is what I call "owed" respect: since we are all inherently valuable and acknowledge the importance. However, the different contributions we all make to creating this world-class University.

That is why SU describes this value as "Civility in our mutual and public discourse, due regard for the freedom, equity and dignity of all, and respect for the environment".

And finally, striving to attain your goals shows you accept accountability for that. Being accountable for something means you take responsibility for it. Hence it is a core value and one we can never compromise.

I don't blame colleagues for making mistakes. If you took a decision based on the best information and it didn't work out is not a crisis; as long as you learn from that mistake and take corrective action.

I blame colleagues for not making a decision; I blame colleagues for kicking the can down the road, or even worse, delegating upwards, hoping that someone higher up will decide for you. No, ownership means each of us takes responsibility for our decisions and those tasks that have been assigned to us. You own your job, and we hold you accountable for your performance.

Let's do OPRA this year in our RC: together as the biggest (and the greatest) team in this University. We got through two challenging years, and we are still here. I believe we will achieve even more outstanding results in the years to come.​

Prof Stan