Articles Tagged Strategy

Aug 10, 2018
Lessons in customer experience from a trillion-dollar company

I often look at how badly so many companies do this thing called “customer experience” and I wonder. Do you guys understand the power, the unique value of having customers who take joy in the experiences you give them – instead of feeling frustration and anger? If you did understand, why would you regard your […]

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Aug 05, 2018
Who grows the beans, who eats the chocolate?

Chocolate is one of the world’s most beloved sweet treats. It is consumed pretty much everywhere. You are probably a chocolate lover. So where does your favourite brand of chocolate come from? A recent white paper from data provider Gro Intelligence gathered the facts: Europe dominates the production, consumption and exportation of chocolate – and […]

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Jul 22, 2018
Another World Cup, a familiar set of lessons

It’s time again to dissect what just happened at the FIFA World Cup, and see what we can learn for our own lives. Regular readers of this column will know that this is something I do every four years. In 2010 I wrote that to win in football (or any collective, team-based endeavour), four ingredients […]

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Jul 01, 2018
Bricks or clicks, those who play for distinction win

Retail seems to be a tough business to be in right now, anywhere in the world. Consumers seem to prefer the convenience of online browsing and buying. They get things delivered to them rather than venture out into inclement weather and frustrating traffic; they curl up on couches rather than brave public transport. As online […]

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Jun 17, 2018
AI is right here, right now

I recently received an email from the folks over at Medium, an online publishing platform I subscribe to. Here’s what it said: “Hello! It looks like you’re into artificial intelligence, so we rounded up a few of our favorites for you this week. Because you’re a member and an avid reader, we want to make […]

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Mar 18, 2018
Are you succeeding, or just looking like you’re succeeding?

When Jeffrey Immelt, long-time boss of giant conglomerate GE, held his annual address to investors last May his corporation’s stock was trading at close to $30. He painted a rosy picture of his long tenure, and retired as CEO soon afterwards. Today the stock price is around $15. His successor decided to bare all and […]

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Dec 31, 2017
The lifelong lesson of sunk cost

It’s the last day of the year – always a good time to reflect on the months that went before. We all do this: we look back, we reminisce, we try to learn from the past. Except, most of us just don’t. We let the past enslave us, not teach us lessons for the future. […]

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Dec 24, 2017
How do you behave at the buffet table?

It’s the holiday season, a time for wining and dining with family and friends. If you are fortunate, there may be some lavish buffets coming your way this Christmas: an enticing range of sumptuous dishes: starters, salads, mains, desserts, afters. I don’t wish to be a party pooper, but I do want to share a […]

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Nov 19, 2017
Think hard before taking on established competitors

Google makes the world’s most popular mobile operating system, Android. Nearly two billion mobile devices are powered by this ubiquitous system. Not content with this, Google looked askew at rival Apple some years back and felt envious about the ability to make both software and hardware and to fuse the user experience. Google has the […]

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Oct 15, 2017
Does your brand understand customer experience?

I was looking for footwear in foreign climes recently. I walked into a promising-looking store, and noticed something interesting: the shop assistant attending to me was wearing a bluetooth earpiece. What that was for soon became evident. You have all had this experience when buying shoes, I am sure: you choose some possible pairs; and […]

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Oct 01, 2017
Turning your bank of today into the bank of tomorrow

What does the disruption journey look like to those who can think ahead of the curve and transform their successful traditional businesses ahead of time? I covered this topic here last week, and received many requests to show the roadmap for banks in particular. It seems many of you are worried about the future of […]

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Sep 24, 2017
How old businesses must reinvent themselves

Every business in the world faces overwhelming uncertainty. The explosion of new technology shows no sign of abating. Indeed, we may only have seen the opening chapters of the book of technological disruption. The later chapters – containing plot twists, deaths, rebirths and the like – have not even been written yet. We only have […]

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Sep 03, 2017
Is counting on patriotism a winning business strategy?

Many years ago our local brewer, East African Breweries Limited (EABL), was facing a major new threat. Castle, a huge brand owned by South African Breweries, had announced its entry into our local market. It was coming in with big money, a big plant and big plans. One of the key strategic decisions made in […]

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Aug 27, 2017
What a flight not missed teaches us

We were flying in the rainy season. We set off on the first leg, needing to arrive at the hub airport on time and then catch a connecting flight to our final destination. We had allowed two hours transit time to catch the next plane – more than enough, said the airline staff at the […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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