Articles Tagged Strategy

cars blur
Jul 23, 2017
The auto industry faces a twisting ride

This column often considers the possible futures of different industries. In 2015 I wrote about the advent of driverless cars, and what that might do to carmakers and to our lives. There were many sceptics at the time; but in 2017 with a whole range of autonomous vehicles already being piloted on roads in many […]

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Uber app
Jun 25, 2017
What’s going wrong at Uber?

It was launched barely seven years ago. In that time it has expanded explosively to be present in more than 570 cities in the world. It had revenue in 2016 of $6.5 billion, and its market valuation of $70 billion makes it the world’s most valuable tech startup. It has brought easy and cheap transportation […]

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No
Jun 11, 2017
3 words to stop saying in your organization

I spend a lot of time interacting with boards and senior teams in leading corporations. In boardrooms and workshops, in strategy retreats and seminars, there are three words that of late you are guaranteed to hear. I usually play a mental ‘bingo’ game to count how many minutes it takes for the first of the […]

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smartphone-1790833_1920
May 28, 2017
How to blend old and new to succeed in the future

Last week I pointed out that the journey to ‘digital’ is not straightforward; the thinking leader will have to blend what is new and what is timeless in order to succeed. ‘Analogue’ in this sense does not just refer to things that you can touch and feel, like printed books and bank branches and fountain […]

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Record player
May 21, 2017
Staying analogue is as important as going digital

Digital transformation is on everyone’s lips these days. If you’re ‘analogue’ you’re finished: a dinosaur awaiting imminent extinction. Or are you? The e-book was supposed to kill off the printed book. Did it? No. E-books took off rapidly, and then levelled out in 2014. Sales of physical books have been rising for several years now. […]

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Robot
Apr 02, 2017
It’s time to start preparing for the robots

This column periodically takes a look at the future of different industries. Over the past year or so we have peered at what lies ahead for the car and taxi industry, television, banking and insurance, amongst others. For the next two weeks, let’s consider an industry that’s going to play a considerable role in all […]

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Ball number 1
Mar 26, 2017
Your one thing is not your only thing

I wrote here two weeks ago that every business has its one thing – the thing it must deliver above all others. For restaurants, the one thing is the taste of the food; for banks, it is trust; for hotels, hospitality. You can think about what yours is in your industry: the one thing that […]

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standout, special, winner
Mar 12, 2017
What’s the ‘one thing’ in your business?

The Michelin star is a time-honoured guide to excellence in the the restaurant business. Way back in the 1920s, the Michelin brothers recruited a team of mystery diners – or restaurant inspectors – to visit and review restaurants anonymously. In 1926, the Michelin Guide began to award stars for fine dining establishments, initially marking them […]

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Axe
Mar 05, 2017
Is your organization cutting costs? Do it properly

As more and more companies declare profit warnings and significantly worse results, cost containment is all the rage again. You will hear a lot more in 2017 about ‘reorganizations’ and ‘rightsizing’; ‘efficiency’ and ‘leanness’ will become the prevailing buzzwords in boardrooms. I always wonder: if you want to become the ‘right’ size now, which size […]

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Insurance umbrellas
Nov 13, 2016
Here comes insurance disruption

I was asked to speak at a conference for insurers recently, and I decide to rattle their cage. Their old business model, I told them, is already over. It’s just that they may not know it yet, because the many changes that will upend their business are invisible right now. To understand why insurance must […]

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Rocket
Oct 16, 2016
Hey leader, where’s your rocket?

In the early 1990s, IBM was a company in deep trouble. From being a globally dominant vendor of information technology, it was floundering. It was trapped in the thinking of its past, and failing to move with fast-changing trends in technology. An outsider, Lou Gerstner, was brought in to revive the giant corporation. In his […]

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Banks, cityscape
Sep 25, 2016
Banks, don’t waste a good crisis

A few weeks ago I warned on this page that Kenya’s banks faced a ‘new normal’ – an era in which they would have to respond to tighter regulation, as well as innovate furiously just to survive. Well, that was before rate-capping knee-capped the industry. The recent Banking Amendment Act has ensured that banks in […]

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robot and human
Jul 31, 2016
Get ready to reinvent yourself for a new economy

Technology threatens to upend our assumptions about work, employment and income. Is this a real threat to society, or just hyperbole? First, the optimistic scenario. When I was a young man in an economics class many moons ago, I was introduced to the “lump of labour fallacy.” This is the idea that there is only […]

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banking hall
Jul 10, 2016
Is your bank ready for the ‘new normal’?

A bank is a very special institution. When you become a custodian of other people’s money, you become bound by very particular regulatory rules to ensure you do not misuse the privilege. When you lend that money out to others, society must ensure you do not use that power to bring those others to ruin. […]

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customer experience
Jun 05, 2016
Going the extra mile in customer care pays – big

When Amazon.com launched in 1995, it was the world’s first substantial e-retailer. It was a shot in the dark. Its early demise was predicted many times. Now, it is an absolute behemoth, selling everything from apparel to consumer electronics to cloud computing services. And last year, the world’s largest physical retailer, Walmart, was quietly overtaken […]

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Quality Street chocolates
Mar 27, 2016
Lessons in longevity from a box of chocolates

(Photo credit: Abdulla Al Muhairi / Flickr) When I was a boy, my mother always kept her sewing materials in a particular tin container. That colourful round container was from Quality Street, the producers of a famous chocolate/toffee assortment. I’m pretty sure many of you are nodding your heads at that memory – our mothers […]

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TV remotes
Feb 21, 2016
The changing experience of the television consumer

What was the early experience of television like? For those who can remember, we all sat in front of one small box, and received limited programming. In most countries television started with a single channel or broadcaster, usually run by the state. The programmes ran for fixed hours, and were chosen for us. They were […]

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Uber
Feb 14, 2016
Cartels must go, not Uber

I looked out of the window, and there they were. A bunch of noisemakers riding around in a taxi waving poorly written placards and shouting “Uber must go!” Uber protests hit Nairobi last week. It was inevitable. Uber has disrupted the traditional taxi industry in 400 cities across the globe now, and the traditionalists often […]

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Click ESC
Nov 29, 2015
Click. There goes your customer

I’m always curious about the world, and so I have always been a news junkie. When I was growing up in Kenya, the only source of news was the daily newspaper. I would wait outside my father’s door for it every morning. How else would I know what was happening in the world? Later, we […]

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comingtoterms
Oct 18, 2015
Coming to terms with a digital future

I was on holiday recently, visiting a far-flung place for the first time. After my usual conversations with assorted locals, I became acutely aware of my ignorance about the place’s history, culture, fauna and economy. I noted that the hotel I was staying in offered a library for guests. To my delight, the library was […]

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threewords
Oct 11, 2015
Three words that may ruin you one day

Lawyer Mugambi Nandi recounted an interesting episode on Twitter recently. He was sitting in the back of a taxi when an ambulance appeared, siren blaring. Mr Nandi’s driver, like many others on that road, refused to give way. The lawyer took umbrage and ordered the taxi driver to give way, to little avail. He even […]

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howtotellif
Sep 13, 2015
How to tell if a company is heading for trouble

Last week on this page we discussed the “dead-horse strategy.” There is only one sensible strategy to follow if your horse is dead: dismount. Many of us, nonetheless, don’t do sensible strategies: we try to fund, motivate, whip or imagine the dead horse back to life. The column raised many a laugh, but also a […]

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deadhorsestrategy
Sep 06, 2015
What’s your “dead-horse” strategy?

A friend who knows me well sent me a link that he was sure would regale me. His confidence was well-founded. The link took me to www.better-management.org, where I was introduced to the “dead-horse” strategy. To wit: “The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when you discover […]

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corporatedistress
Aug 16, 2015
There may be much more corporate distress to come

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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Porsche Cayenne
Jun 28, 2015
You want to charge a high price? Justify it

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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innovation
May 24, 2015
Innovation is all about connections

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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trailblazers
Jan 04, 2015
Everything you enjoy today was created by a trailblazer

Most of us tread on well-worn paths. We live in places where we are connected to electricity and running water. We acquire received wisdom from orthodox institutions. We take up familiar occupations, and follow traditional career paths. We start businesses in conventional industries with established competitors and known rules. We take the road most taken. […]

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Oct 19, 2014
Poor customer experience? Here comes disruption

You must have heard of Uber. The mobile-app-driven taxi service has taken the world by storm. In just a short time it covers 45 countries (200 cities), and has even entered Africa (Lagos and Cape Town). Why this phenomenal expansion? Here’s how it works: You go to the app in your phone. It picks up […]

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