The Peculiar Kenyan

I was sitting in a restaurant looking at a sushi menu recently. There were many delectable-sounding options on offer, and I wondered what to choose. I decided to ask a waitress for advice. Here’s what she said. “Please try the chef’s signature sushi roll. He thought long and hard about it and experimented with various [...]

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Watch out for the stories your brain spins

23 August 2015

You’re deep in sleep, immersed in a dream. A whole story is playing out in your mind. Suddenly, the phone rings. In your dream, it is someone who’s part of the story calling you. You reach out to answer the call. You now realize you were asleep and dreaming, and are awake now. The phone [...]

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There may be much more corporate distress to come

16 August 2015

For years now, I have been warning of many a corporate collapse to come, on this page and elsewhere. We have been seeing unprecedented speed of change in technology; the far-reaching impact of demographics; and gradual handover of power from producers to consumers. Globally, many a dominant company has been laid low. Japan’s giant Sony [...]

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So Obama came to Kenya. So what?

9 August 2015

The visit was epic. As I wrote here last week, US president’s long-awaited visit to Kenya had it all: spectacle, glamour, drama, sensation. New words entered our vocabulary, and even our child-naming lexicon: POTUS, Air Force One, Marine One, The Beast. And then he was gone. And a thoughtful Kenyan must ask: so what? After [...]

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Three observations from #ObamaInKenya

2 August 2015

The visit to Kenya last weekend by US president Barack Obama brought us to a standstill, watching every bit of the ride: planes, helicopters, automobiles, protocols, speeches and all. Allow me to make three simple observations. First, Kenya received publicity that we simply could not have bought. This was pure gold. We were in the [...]

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Life’s too short to waste time on…

26 July 2015

Something I saw online made me laugh out loud the other day: “Life is too short to remove USB safely.” Computers ask us to ensure we don’t just pull the USB cord out; we must follow the proper procedure. Most people don’t do this, of course – they just yank. That’s because the consequences are [...]

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More on leadership, according to Pope Francis

19 July 2015

Last week I introduced Pope Francis’s refreshing take on leadership. We focused on the “diseases” that afflict the egos of leaders around the world. This week I want to dwell on the maladies of leadership that manifest themselves in the work of leaders, and those that are particularly prevalent in this part of the world. [...]

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The Pope’s message on the diseases of leadership

12 July 2015

Pope Francis is proving to be refreshingly different. He is giving his own office a good shakeout, shedding it of static doctrine. He also has wise things to say on a wide range of issues. Recently, he gave an address to the Roman Curia, and focused on the challenge of leadership. That caught my eye. [...]

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Where do you find good people?

5 July 2015

I am often asked: “Where do I find good people for my organization?” Good employees are scarce, and employers seem to struggle to find them. They imagine there is a secret to this process, and they want to uncover it. You can’t blame them, for an organization is a collective endeavour: without excellent team members, [...]

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You want to charge a high price? Justify it

28 June 2015

Walmart, with a strategy predicated on low prices, is the company with the highest revenue in the world. But Apple, with a strategy predicated on high prices, is the world’s most valuable company. Volkswagen fights for volume leadership in vehicles with Toyota globally. But recently, an interesting thing happened: Porsche, a part of the VW [...]

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“Where are you calling from?”

21 June 2015

I called a hotel to book a table for lunch last week. The conversation went something like this: Me: “I’d like to book a table for lunch, please.” Hotel: “Where are you calling from?” Me: “My house.” Now then. Why should “where I’m calling from” be a matter of concern to the hotel? I think [...]

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Jail the real criminals, not minor traffic offenders

14 June 2015

Regular readers may recall I was arrested a while back. Irregular ones may need reassuring that it was for a minor, inadvertent infringement of road rules that technically constituted an offence. I looked the arresting officer in the eye and asked him why he wished to arrest me, a generally law-abiding person who takes great [...]

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We need to act now on Nairobi pollution

7 June 2015

What’s the biggest killer in the developing world? Given our propensity to engage in senseless and unending armed conflicts, you might be forgiven for thinking war was the biggest culprit. Not so. If you have been following much-publicised recent global campaigns, you might also think diseases such as malaria and HIV-AIDs are the most lethal [...]

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Are you handling customers, or mishandling them?

31 May 2015

Why do so many of our companies not know how to handle customers? Why do most of us fail in this elementary test of business? Imagine a customer lodges a complaint about your business somewhere: comes in person, calls, emails, tweets, messages, posts an update on Facebook – whatever. Here are the typical responses. First: [...]

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Innovation is all about connections

24 May 2015

The year was 1970. A man was with his family at a busy airport, lugging two very heavy suitcases. An airport employee walked past, pushing a heavy piece of machinery fairly easily on a large wheeled trolley. An “aha” moment occured. The man, Bernard D. Sadow, looked at the trolley, looked at his suitcases, and [...]

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Why are we helpless? Because we learned to be

17 May 2015

Why do so many of us feel so helpless so much of the time? We think there’s no point in protesting – nothing will change. We think there’s no point in applying – the jobs are already allocated to insiders. We think there’s no point in aspiring to run our own businesses – we’ll just [...]

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Service fails because people don’t care enough

10 May 2015

Solomon Maundu asked me a question on his blog (and on Twitter) recently: “Is the reason the public service is bad at service delivery that most public servants do not take pride in their jobs?” In other words, do I think that bad service delivery and a lack of pride in work are connected? Do [...]

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