Articles Tagged Sunday Nation

mobile digital
Jan 15, 2017
What’s your ‘DQ’?

I’m pretty sure you’ve taken (or were forced to take) an IQ (intelligence quotient) test at some time in your life. You may even have have done some sort of EQ (emotional quotient) test. But have you ever taken a ‘DQ’ test? Try this quick quiz: 1. Can you accurately describe what Snapchat is? 2. […]

Read More
Consequences
Jan 08, 2017
Things improve if the consequences are real and personal

A lifetime of observing people and societies has taught me one thing: people only behave if the consequences of their actions are visited upon them, personally. Why do Nairobi nightclub owners continue to bombard their neighbours in residential areas with music played at insane decibel levels? Because their own children are not studying for their […]

Read More
reading books
Jan 01, 2017
How many books will you read in 2017?

A year ago I wrote here that it is possible to read 50 books in a year. Provided you love and value books, that is. I put it down as a challenge to bibliophiles, ardent or lapsed, to raise their game. Having thrown down the gauntlet, I found myself accelerating. At the year-end, I clocked […]

Read More
exploding cake
Dec 25, 2016
To succeed next year, look away from yourself

The human being is fixated on itself. Since we perceive life only through our own consciousness, we place ourselves at the centre of our existence. And we spend our lives fretting about our own selves: what we have and don’t have; what we need and want; what we feel entitled to; what we should and […]

Read More
Angry slum child
Dec 18, 2016
Societal failure looks like this

It’s an interesting photograph. In the middle there is a sparkling new Rolls Royce parked in a city street; clearly, the owner is doing very well. But wait, to the left there seems to be an open drain running alongside the glittering car. And to the right of the limousine a very young child is […]

Read More
work, job
Dec 11, 2016
The pleasure of just doing your job well

The other day, and much to my surprise, I came across a public servant who seemed to take enormous pride in just doing his job well. In Kenya. If you’ve picked yourself up from the floor, let me continue. I encountered a thorny issue, and contacted the relevant government department to try and sort it […]

Read More
Masks
Dec 04, 2016
You can’t force employees to be happy

An employee of Trader Joe’s recently filed an unfair labour practices charge against the company in the US. Thomas Nagle was reportedly fired by Trader Joe’s in September; his offences apparently included an “overly negative attitude” and not smiling warmly enough. In his performance reviews Nagle had been criticized for not greeting a manager with […]

Read More
Cape Town
Nov 27, 2016
What lies behind consistently good customer service?

I love visiting Cape Town. During a recent business trip, I paid more attention to exactly what I like about that city. Certainly, it has a beautiful setting, where a raucous ocean meets the majestic Table Mountain. Certainly, it is a culinary capital and has great food choices. Certainly, it is one of the best-run […]

Read More
Trump
Nov 20, 2016
What did the Trump ascendancy reveal?

Donald Trump is now the world’s most powerful man, put there willingly by the world’s most successful nation. There were people who saw this coming, but I wasn’t one of them. I did not believe that a majority of voters would install this man as their leader. Consider what has just happened. Americans have voted […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
Universal basic income
Nov 06, 2016
Universal basic income – could it actually work?

Predictably, my column last week brought on a storm of responses. I wrote then that we might soon all be considering universal basic income (UBI) a possible response to a changing world. We might think it appropriate to give every person in the country an income to cover essential needs – without linking that income […]

Read More
Giving money
Oct 30, 2016
Will we be paying people to do nothing?

What would you say if I told you we might soon be giving every adult a basic income – whether they work or not? You would think I’ve finally flipped and lost my marbles after coming close to doing so many times in the past, yes? Well, allow me to explain a little further before […]

Read More
Jacaranda
Oct 23, 2016
Nature is our mother, and we must honour her

Nairobi in October is a sight to behold. It is as though a giant hand descends from the heavens wielding an artist’s brush, and paints vast swathes of the city a beautifully subtle shade of purple. I am referring, of course, to the fact that we have so many Jacaranda trees in our city. They […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
Uber autonomous
Oct 09, 2016
You can’t resist an idea when its time comes

Two years ago I wrote on this page about Uber, the taxi-hailing app that has taken the world by storm. At the time, Uber had not entered these shores. It did so shortly after, and as predicted, overran the local taxi industry. One year ago I wrote that it was time to start thinking about […]

Read More
rollercoaster
Oct 02, 2016
To understand human endeavour, understand Hubris and Nemesis

In her book Signals, author Pippa Malmgren asks us to understand how the world economy works by going back to the ancient Greek concepts of Hubris and Nemesis. Hubris is what happens to people when they overdo it. They succeed, and therefore they become overconfident. They think they have unusual powers. They imagine they are […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
Brown shoes
Sep 18, 2016
Actually, I’ll wear brown shoes whenever I feel like it

“There are no circumstances in which you should be seen here in brown shoes.” Those were the words uttered by one of the old warhorse bosses in my first-ever job. He was talking to a group of us who had started out straight from university, in a global consulting firm located in the City of […]

Read More
Facebook eye
Sep 11, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg passed through. So what?

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was in Nairobi the other day. I thought we would note that and get on with our lives, but quite a sensation was created. I am really reluctant to add to the commotion, but I feel a couple of observations are necessary. Facebook is undoubtedly one of the most important […]

Read More
Blah blah
Sep 04, 2016
Why do we respond to customers like this?

Image: Tenz1225 / Flickr I was using the mobile app of a top-notch global newspaper I subscribe to, and noted a prominent new feedback button. It asked for any thoughts, insights or ideas about the user experience on the app. I clicked it and shot off a quick point: that their app (unlike their cutting-edge […]

Read More
Flag of Kenya Fist
Aug 28, 2016
What our Marathon Man taught us

At the start, it looked like a fearsomely crowded field. There seemed to be a dozen or so highly talented fellows who could win this thing. I knew we had an outstanding man in the race, but I was afraid. There were many others there who looked equally well prepared and in prime physical condition. […]

Read More
Wallet
Aug 21, 2016
Are we heading towards a cashless society?

Many years ago I visited a European capital after a travel hiatus, and tried to rent a car from the airport. To my surprise, none of the car-hire companies would accept my money. Cash, in their own currency. Legal tender. No deal. When I asked why, I was told it simply wasn’t worth their while […]

Read More
luxury car
Aug 14, 2016
Your show-off purchase is not your achievement

For many people, the pinnacle of their existence occurs when they rock up at the village of their birth in a gleaming new 4WD. Or when they hold the housewarming party (which, let’s admit it, is just a house showing-off party) at their new abode. Or when they place that new iPhone on the table […]

Read More
Woman pondering
Aug 07, 2016
How to give and receive criticism

Criticism stings. It really does. When someone criticises us, our ego reacts immediately. We feel as though we are being belittled. Our efforts seem to be going unappreciated. We feel judged. We think we are being put down, made to feel inferior. For all those reasons our mental walls come up. Much of the criticism […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
robot
Jul 24, 2016
Will you have a job in the (near) future?

You know that the employment landscape is undergoing fundamental upheavals, right? You appreciate that the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence is going to give automation a big push, I hope? You realise that some studies suggest nearly half of all today’s jobs could be lost to automation – yes? And that it won’t take […]

Read More
volume-949240_1920
Jul 17, 2016
A city that’s lost its neighbourliness

It starts as a pulsating thud in the evening and gets progressively louder as the night goes on, often going into the early hours of the morning. Many, many Nairobians lie on their beds wide awake because of this noise, wondering what happened to good neighbourliness. The noise I refer to is the music being […]

Read More
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. […]

Read More

Archives