Articles Tagged Sunday Nation

Superboss
Feb 07, 2016
We don’t need more ‘Superbosses’

I have spent a good chunk of my life working with well-known bosses. I noticed quite a while ago that, unlike me, an awful lot of them seem to get up very early in the morning. I often dread asking for a meeting and being told to meet for breakfast at 6.15 am… The Economist […]

Read More
shutterstock_106984478
Jan 31, 2016
Are you a ‘dead sea?’

(Sunday Nation, 31 January 2016) One thing that’s great about social media is that it reconnects you with old friends. Andrew Blacknell and I have a shared history. We went into our first job together, straight out of university. We were fresh-faced junior management consultants in one of the big consulting practices of the time, […]

Read More
Nairobi traffic
Jan 24, 2016
Where is everyone in Nairobi rushing to?

It’s Nairobi. There is, of course, a traffic jam. Many, many people are stuck in their vehicles. What is interesting is how agitated everyone gets. No one is calm. No one is reflective. No one meditates. No one takes the opportunity to catch up with the news headlines on the radio; to chill out to […]

Read More
standout, special, winner
Jan 17, 2016
Our obsession with the ‘secrets’ of examination success

Every year, it’s the same. Every year Kenya’s public examination results are announced. Every year, the whole nation goes into a frenzy. Every year, we are told about “winners and losers.” Every year, there will be a newspaper article where the most successful students are asked to reveal the “secrets” of their success. And every […]

Read More
IMG_6152
Jan 10, 2016
How to read 50 books every year

I have a target I set myself every year: to read fifty books. For those of you quick on the mathematical uptake, that’s approximately a book a week. It seems like a reasonable aim to me, and I find I usually get close to it every year. As 2015 closed, I hit exactly fifty books. […]

Read More
Earth from Moon
Jan 03, 2016
In 2016, please start to play BIG

As 2016 opens and you trudge back to normal life, I fear you are about to do something very predictable. You are about to play SMALL. You will greet a few people and ask them the same banal questions about their holidays. You will settle down at your desk and use your employer’s bandwidth to […]

Read More
money mad
Dec 27, 2015
What is your calling?

As the year ends and most of us spend some time away from work, we should cast an eye back. What is the actual work we did in 2015? Was it the work we should have been doing – or something else altogether? By the work you should be doing, I am referring to your […]

Read More
Snip
Dec 20, 2015
Snip. We just disconnected you.

I was disconnected by three companies I deal with recently. All in the space of one week. All three are businesses I have been a loyal customer of for years (decades, in one case). All three know me well. I have an excellent payments history. There was no real reason to disconnect me. But they […]

Read More
Fraud
Dec 13, 2015
There’s a fraud going on in your organization right now

“Somewhere in your organization a fraud is taking place, right now.” The venerable accounting teacher, James Boyd McFie, would say those words at the beginning of every lecture he delivered on a programme for directors that I used to lead. The sentence created a suitable chill in the audience. It is true. No matter which […]

Read More
Prayer
Dec 06, 2015
Let us pray, said Pope Francis

During his epochal visit to Kenya last week, Pope Francis was repeatedly heard exhorting: don’t forget to pray. Whether we are grappling with tribalism, poverty, materialism or corruption, he told us, one of the answers lies in prayer. I agree. But only if we try to understand the meaning of the word ‘prayer’ a little […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
shutterstock_164617403
Nov 22, 2015
Waiting for Pope Francis, champion of the poor

“Lombardi had served as the spokesman for (pope) Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, a man of Germanic precision. After meeting with a world leader, the former pope would emerge and rattle off an incisive summation, Lombardi tells me, with palpable wistfulness: “It was incredible. Benedict was so clear. He would say: ‘We have spoken […]

Read More
vehiclesstartdriving
Nov 15, 2015
When vehicles start driving themselves – what happens next?

Last week I wrote about the phenomenon of autonomous vehicles that is on the horizon. Some futurists think that this technology will rival the smartphone in its potential to disrupt our world. This week, let’s trace out where the effects may fall. As indicated last week, car ownership will change dramatically. Consumer purchasing of cars […]

Read More
selfdriving
Nov 08, 2015
What will self-driving cars do to your world?

Is it time to discuss self-driving cars? Five years ago, I started telling my clients to start thinking about autonomous vehicles. At the time, I admit that I thought I was engaging in a bit of science fiction. Whilst it was important to imagine the consequences of a world in which vehicles drove themselves, in […]

Read More
fiveyearsontwitter
Nov 01, 2015
5 years on Twitter: some personal reflections

Five years ago this month, reluctantly and apprehensively, I joined Twitter. I had many reservations about my first foray into the then-nascent phenomenon of social media. I feared that I would have little worth saying in a mere 140 characters, and that I would be distracted from my main work in life; that I would […]

Read More
Applause, clapping
Oct 25, 2015
Where the ignorant clap for the immoral

An article I wrote here a couple of weeks ago seemed to excite much reaction. Online as well as in person, many Kenyans seemed keen to tell me why the temptation to be like the looters all around us is so strong. So this week let me go further. Much further. Of course it’s tempting. […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
ceohowmany
Oct 04, 2015
CEO: how many “small” people does your company bully?

Kenyan CEOs are always busy giving away cheques to worthy causes, speaking noble words at gatherings of luminaries, and championing the agenda of good corporate citizenship. Here’s a question for them, though: why is your company so virtuous for the cameras, and often an outright bully when it comes to the “small” people it deals […]

Read More
keepleft
Sep 27, 2015
Keep Left Unless Overtaking

Many years ago I was a university student in the United Kingdom. I would, of course, take public transport everywhere: trains, buses, coaches. But I missed the feeling of getting behind the steering wheel of a car. Once, when I had to make an inter-city trip to meet some relatives, I decided to splash out […]

Read More
ataleoftwo
Sep 20, 2015
A tale of two businesses

Someone I’m close to recounted two very different customer experiences to me recently. The first concerns a well-known shop in a well-known mall in Nairobi. This shop is operated by its owners, and customer care does not appear to run in the bloodline. I myself have only been there once, and once was enough. Sub-standard, […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
Aug 30, 2015
Leadership lessons from what the waitress told me

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 […]

Read More
storiesyourbrainspins
Aug 23, 2015
Watch out for the stories your brain spins

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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
obamacametokenya
Aug 09, 2015
So Obama came to Kenya. So what?

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 […]

Read More
observationsfromobamainkenya
Aug 02, 2015
Three observations from #ObamaInKenya

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 […]

Read More

Archives