Articles Tagged Management

Apr 17, 2022
Where does great customer care come from?

I’m writing this sitting in an organization where I’ve had a surprisingly good customer experience. That is rare enough to make me pause and reflect. Why is it that some can pull this off, but most fail quite miserably? First, here’s what was good. It started from the front entrance, when the security guard jumped […]

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Nov 07, 2021
Not holding on to staff? Mind the hidden costs

You can leave this job anytime. There are many more where you came from. Hundreds out there would die for your job.  Have you uttered those words as an employer? Or had them uttered to you as an employee? They are commonplace, even right now in the 21st century. Many of those who employ others […]

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Sep 19, 2021
Should we let go of outdated dress codes?

Some years ago, I stood up in a boardroom to address the assembled directors. I had been asked to speak to board members on trends in governance and strategy. Before I could speak, however, a hand was raised. A visibly peeved director asked me why I was addressing that room, a gathering of the high […]

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Sep 12, 2021
Are you a good customer?

My first book was Crown Your Customer. It was an early attempt to chronicle the supremacy of the customer. Your business only succeeds if your customers are happy, I wrote, and if they are happy enough to keep buying from you. Place the customer at the centre of your world, and you won’t regret it. […]

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Aug 29, 2021
How much unnecessary pain do you inflict on your customers?

Some years back I was the facilitator for a strategy retreat for a leading corporate, and checked into a hotel for the event. It was a high-level affair; all board members and senior executives were present. A top-notch hotel had therefore been chosen, to cater for the senior attendees and deliver an excellent service experience. […]

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Aug 08, 2021
Rush-rush, busy-busy – but why?

Nairobians have made a fetish of being rushed off their feet and of being perpetually busy. We always have to be somewhere else, and we are always late; we always have to be busy, and be seen to be busy, and talk about being busy. Our self-esteem and self-regard seem to ride on it. What […]

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Jul 11, 2021
Who gets to join your 21C board of directors? A provocation

Are you wondering about your board of directors being fit for purpose? If you’re a chairperson, or company secretary, or head of the board governance/nominations committee, the indefatigable Tom Peters has some recommendations for you in his latest book, Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism. Assume a board of ten persons for a large organization. In 2021, […]

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Jun 27, 2021
Can you eat your own dog food?

Many years ago, I was frustrated by an airline’s constant lateness. A batch of clients heading for our leadership programme had again been delayed by many hours, causing big disruption to our carefully laid out schedule. This had become a regular, predictable occurrence. The hotel manager waiting with me told me: “It’s a shame that […]

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Jun 20, 2021
Are you looking up and ahead?

About a decade ago I began telling bankers in this part of the world: you are probably looking at “peak bank branch” in the years to come. In which year will your branch network peak – and then begin to reduce in numbers? Ten years ago no one really paid attention. It took another five […]

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Jun 13, 2021
So you can’t find great women for your organization? Really?

A decade ago, there was a question I was regularly asked by chairmen and CEOs. It went something like this: “I need to have more women on my board and senior management team. But where do I find them?” The question was usually asked by males of a certain vintage. It was perhaps forgivable then […]

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May 09, 2021
The future will belong to those who can humanize as they digitize

You will stay meaningful in the near future of business if you can do this: Humanize + Digitize. The “digitize” part should be obvious to all, especially after a pandemic that sent everyone hurtling into a low-touch world. Online transactions and digital experiences have boomed as never before. In most sectors we have no choice […]

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Apr 25, 2021
This skill will still be very valuable in the future world of work

We are rushing headlong into a world of virtual meetings and digital interactions. As I outlined here last week, we all need to raise our digital game: running meetings on Zoom; building teams on Teams; delivering projects on Basecamp. It is tempting to think that new-world skills – working with software, deploying new-fangled hardware – […]

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Apr 18, 2021
A new world of hybrid work is loading

One thing that this pandemic has done for us: it has dispersed work. What used to be done together in one place is now being done all over the place: in homes, in cafes, in far-off locales. Except for those most acutely affected, the work, by and large, has not stopped. It’s just relocated. Once […]

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Mar 14, 2021
How honest are you about your products?

Have you ever come across a restaurant that says these things about some of its menu items? “This one is not THAT good.” “This one is NOT authentic…” “I am surprised some customers still order this plate.” Those are actual dish descriptions on the menu of the Aunt Dai Chinese restaurant in Montreal. The owner, […]

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Jan 07, 2021
The 4BY4 Leader: Our first open, virtual programme. Join us!

I have been running learning programmes for leaders for decades now, trying to deliver essential knowledge and create a cadre of chief executives and senior managers who can drive better, wiser organizations. Those programmes all had common features, though: they were in-person, and aimed at the senior-most echelons. The global pandemic allowed us to experiment […]

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Oct 18, 2020
Why do big, successful businesses freeze?

Two entrepreneurs sat nervously. They were at the headquarters of a business one thousand times their size, with an audacious proposal. It had taken them months to convince the big man to even meet them. The meeting did not take long. The answer was a flat no. Goodbye. The year was 2000. One one side […]

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Oct 11, 2020
Is your product too useful to ignore?

Google Maps has more than one billion active users. Nine zeroes. I use it every day. You probably do too. It’s just too damn convenient to ignore, isn’t it? It maps the city out perfectly, tells you where the traffic is and which roads to avoid, estimates pretty accurate arrival times, and allows you to […]

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Aug 30, 2020
The future of work is all about offering choices

When my son was in his first year of formal schooling, I asked him which of the subjects he was being taught he liked the best. He answered without hesitation: “Golden Time.” It turned out Golden Time was that hour of the week when the young kids were allowed to choose what to do. They […]

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Aug 23, 2020
How good is your team? Here’s a different way of looking at it

FCB vs FCB was supposed to be one of the interesting matchups in football this year. FC Bayern duly faced off against FC Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League recently. It ended in a debacle. The Germans took the Catalans apart, beating them 8-2 – an unheard-of scoreline in the upper echelons […]

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Jul 12, 2020
Where do you go to learn how to be successful in business?

So your life’s aim is to run your own business. You want to be an entrepreneur and a founder and create a hit corporation. Where do you go to learn how to do this? There are two main paths many people seem to follow. The first is to study business or entrepreneurship as a subject. […]

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May 31, 2020
Businesses just got reminded of some old wisdoms

Some businesses have really suffered in this coronavirus pandemic; others are weathering the storm quite well. That might seem obvious, since some industries as a whole are better placed in this crisis. We can’t compare the fortunes of airlines and hotels right now with those producing home entertainment, say.  My point is a little different. […]

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May 17, 2020
Remote working is here to stay, so learn how to do it properly

Are you all Zoomed out yet? If you’re a busy executive, I bet you are. I bet you have had WAY too many virtual meetings in the past few weeks. Social distancing has forced so many of us to work remotely from each other, and to rely on the video conferencing products of Zoom, Microsoft […]

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May 10, 2020
Is your team working well from home?

When so many of us were sent packing by the coronavirus to work from home, one CEO told me: “This is terrible. My people can’t work from home.” We know what he meant, don’t we? That he could not trust his people to do what’s necessary when they are not being watched from 8.00 am […]

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Apr 12, 2020
Get ready for ‘uncomfortable innovation’

The comfortable don’t innovate. I’ve been saying that to businesses and writing it on this page for years. Now I have my words ringing in my own ears. My business depended on gathering people – to teach them, advise them, provoke them to think and do things differently. Suddenly (thank you, coronavirus) no-one can gather […]

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Mar 29, 2020
Now more than ever: the steering wheel must connect to the tyres

More than a decade ago I asked on this page: is Kenya’s steering wheel connected to its tyres? The imagery is half-comical: of leaders merrily spinning the steering wheel thinking they are driving the car; the vehicle, meanwhile, goes where it wants. The issue was very serious, though; I raised it in the light of […]

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Jan 26, 2020
Wisdom about human nature provides the digital edge

I pressed SUBMIT. And then my heart sank. I was trying to pay an overseas credit-card bill. My local bank has a useful online banking system that means I can do this sort of thing in my own bedroom. Back in the bad old days, I used to leg it to my bank branch once […]

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Nov 24, 2019
Are you stuck in a ‘BS’ job?

Last week I started a discussion here about the meaning of work – and how rare it is to find work that lends meaning to our lives. Most of us get our first jobs out of sheer economic necessity, and don’t have the luxury of wondering about the worth of what we do. Later on, […]

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Nov 10, 2019
Will Uber run out of road?

Uber is a very big deal, and I was enthusiastic about it long before any of us experienced it in Kenya. Can anyone doubt the achievement? Uber revolutionized the taxi business by conceiving a marvellous mobile app that connected people seeking rides with drivers willing to offer them. By tapping into an unused stock of […]

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