Articles Tagged Management

Dec 18, 2022
What do your organisation’s core values actually say?

Let me apologize in advance: I am about to upset a bunch of people this Sunday. If you are part of a large corporation, I want to discuss your core values. You know, those lofty things on your walls, your computer screens, your office mugs. They are supposed to be your guiding lights; your noble […]

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Dec 04, 2022
Pour some praise, not just cold water

You are a young child, nervously taking your report card to your parents. You have done quite well, a few ‘A’ grades; some ‘B’s; one ‘C’. Your father looks at the report. He scans down with his finger, stopping at the single ‘C.’ He frowns and puts the piece of paper down. He admonishes you […]

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Nov 27, 2022
Who innovates, and why?

Last week I discussed some examples of rapid and effective innovation, highlighting the “YO!” chain of sushi restaurants. That business could have taken a fatal hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, given the high-touch nature of its business; but lo and behold, it’s still alive, still kicking, still growing. Others didn’t experience that fortunate an outcome. […]

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Nov 20, 2022
How one business overcame a major setback

I’m a great lover of sushi, and many years ago I came across my first kaitenzushi restaurant, in Hamburg of all places. This involves a conveyer belt snaking through an eatery, winding its way past diners. Chefs prepare their offerings in advance and place them in little containers on the belt. Diners look at what’s […]

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Oct 30, 2022
Want to join a board? You’ll need to be able to think in these three ways

Lots of people want to join boards. Who wouldn’t? To be a member of the board of directors of a reputable organization bestows great esteem, does it not? It’s an impressive line in your resumé, an eye-catching feather in your cap. Of course you want that. Wait, do you really? Being a board director is […]

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Sep 04, 2022
About to give feedback? Read this first…

Feedback has become a touchstone of management practice. We are encouraged to give feedback, and to receive it. We ask for it, and we dole it out. We believe this will help us all improve our performance by understanding our strengths and weaknesses—through the views of those who work or interact with us. Wherever you […]

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Aug 28, 2022
Look for this one trait in your smartest employees

Jeff Bezos is the visionary founder of Amazon, the company that has revolutionised how people buy stuff. We are all e-commerce customers now, because of the trails blazed by Amazon more than two decades ago. Inc. magazine recently reminded us that Mr Bezos was once asked this question: what’s the most important quality you look […]

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Jul 24, 2022
How many in your organization would leave tomorrow?

The year 2003, for those who can remember it, was a time of great optimism in Kenya. A new government was in place, installed by the voters after a prolonged period of autocracy and economic stagnation.  That optimism caused me to leave employment in order to seek greater fulfilment in my work; and it also […]

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May 22, 2022
How companies get to celebrate their 100th birthdays

Large corporations don’t really have long lives. It is estimated that the average lifespan of a large American company is under 20 years these days. Many enjoy short-lived success, and then just fail and go bankrupt. Others get merged or acquired. Why should this be? As I wrote in my book The Bigger Deal, corporate […]

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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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