Articles Tagged Management

May 11, 2014
If you want nothing done – form a committee

I had a problem with my jaw recently. I was following Nigeria’s problems with the Boko Haram terror group, and the recent truly horrific abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls. The girls have been missing for weeks, and fears abound that they have been sold into slavery in neighbouring countries. Few of us can truly appreciate […]

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Apr 27, 2014
What the Manchester United débâcle reveals about succession planning

I knew I would have to write this article; the only question was how soon. In August last year I tweeted: “Pep Guardiola will be just fine; David Moyes will not.” I was responding to the appointment of Guardiola and Moyes as managers of two of the top teams in world football: Bayern Munich and […]

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Apr 20, 2014
Nothing really changes until the culture changes

A year ago, India seemed to be looking upon itself in horror. A horrific gang-rape had occurred on a Delhi that seemed to shock the nation. Moral outrage filled the airwaves; punitive sentences were promised. This could never be allowed to happen again… And then…what? Nothing much. In fact, the reverse seems to have occurred: […]

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Mar 30, 2014
Which customer would you give a refund to?

If you run a business, or are employed in one, allow me to put three scenarios to you this Sunday. Think about your answers carefully. Scenario One: an unhappy customer comes to you. She is dissatisfied with the product she bought, because it doesn’t work. You study the situation, and conclude she is right. Should […]

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Feb 09, 2014
Watch all these jobs disappear

This column often highlights the various technological disruptions that will change all our lives – for better and for worse. As I have written before, this is a time of phenomenal economic and technological change, and the ramifications will be felt far and wide. One of the issues we will have to deal with in […]

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Feb 02, 2014
Your apathetic employees can bring your business to its knees

During the recent holiday season, I took a taxi from the hotel where I was staying, to go and visit a nearby shopping mall. The driver was courteous and polite. He maintained a very clean and pleasing vehicle. He was solicitous and considerate, and did everything possible for his customer’s convenience, such as driving carefully, […]

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Sep 22, 2013
We need a better approach to employment

Last week we agreed: most employment is mostly awful. It requires you to park your humanity at the door and walk in as a human ‘resource,’ and exchange unwilling labour in return for monetary compensation. Why is it like this? Because our attitudes towards management and work are rooted in a long-dead past: a past […]

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Sep 15, 2013
Here’s your REAL employment contract

Here’s the deal. We offer you employment in our organization. You will provide your labour, and we’ll pay you in return. But please note some basic points very carefully. The organization belongs to us, not you. It exists to fulfil our purpose and push our agenda, not yours. You are a hired hand, a cog […]

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Sep 02, 2013
My final ‘Thought Leadership’ column: the business of doing business

This will be my final column in the Thought Leadership series in this newspaper. The column began life in August 2007 and tried to bring you the best business insights from leading books and publications – and elaborate on those insights in a Kenyan and African context. In this valedictory piece, I would like to […]

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Aug 05, 2013
How to have better meetings: no slides, no chairs

“How Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and other business chiefs hold ruthlessly effective meetings” QUARTZ (19 June, 2013) Meetings: we all hate them. They blight our working lives. They take up all the available time in our calendars, leaving next to no time to do what we should really be doing: thinking up new ideas; reflecting […]

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Jul 22, 2013
If cost-cutting is your main strategy, you’re done

“There are no surer signs of the inadequacy and delinquency of corporate leadership than that cost efficiency should feature as the dominant issue facing the company, and that the tactics of outsourcing, shared services, reorganization and other short-term palliatives are being paraded as the main drivers of future profitability.” JULES GODDARD & TONY ECCLES ‘Uncommon […]

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Jul 21, 2013
Are you laughing your way to the bank or the graveyard?

Which of the following things have happened to you of late? You want to buy a product for your home. You have spoken to a vendor and agreed a house visit so that installation can be done. You take time off from work to do this. The vendor, however, does not show up. At all. […]

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Jul 15, 2013
My 300th BD column: is your business becoming a ‘bad biryani?’

“When asked what the learnings from Kingfisher Airlines experience were, Tony Fernandes said: “Focus. I have said it to Vijay many times. This is damn bloody tough business. People saw me running around in a T-shirt and a cap and said well if that Indian guy can do it then I can. Vijay was one […]

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Jul 01, 2013
How prepared is your board for this world of rapid change?

“Technology is making boundaries between industries more porous and providing opportunities for attacker models. For example, in the banking industry, online consumer-payment products such as Square—a mobile app and device that enables merchants to accept payments—are challenging traditional payment solutions. Free Mobile, a French telecommunications attacker, has captured significant market share by offering inexpensive mobile […]

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Jun 17, 2013
Is traditional marketing dead?

“Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.” BILL LEE HBR Blog Network (9 August, 2012) Is marketing, as we’ve known it, dead? Bill Lee, […]

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Jun 16, 2013
Know what you are: entrepreneur or employee?

I see it all the time: employees complaining about their jobs. The spiel goes something like this…”what’s the point of working so hard, when we don’t see any of the gains? Poor old me just gets her miserable salary, minus deductions, while the owners of the enterprise pocket the real money.” It’s a common whine, […]

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Jun 03, 2013
Open-plan offices are great – aren’t they?

“A well-designed office is a happy office. As facilities managers strive to save space and cash, they’re reshuffling desks and fiddling with temperature gauges. All of which has an impact on workers’ performance. Open-plan offices may make some kinds of collaboration easier, but are they more conducive to productivity? What’s the most irritating distraction? And are those state-of-the-art workstations actually more comfortable? […]

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Apr 28, 2013
We must put the shine back on Kenya’s police

I had an interesting encounter with a policeman last week. I was flagged down for allegedly committing the heinous offence of obstructing traffic. I pointed out that what I had done was arguably not wrong at all – at best, misguided, at worst, an honest mistake. To no avail. The policeman entered my vehicle to […]

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Apr 08, 2013
You can’t run a business on numbers alone

“We know it’s impossible to run a successful business just with numbers because people aren’t predictable. We have to work with complex people, bring out the best in them, make them feel secure, encourage their creativity, inspire them to take responsibility when all the rules and metrics point the other way…” David Boyle Authenticity (2004) […]

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Mar 25, 2013
Why lawyers make terrible managers

“After spending 25 years saying that all professions are similar and can learn from each other, I’m now ready to make a concession: Law firms are different. The ways of thinking and behaving that help lawyers excel in their profession may be the very things that limit what they can achieve as firms. Management challenges […]

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Feb 18, 2013
Should your staff be allowed to use Facebook and Twitter at work?

“Late last year I was at a dinner with a Board I won’t mention by name. There were roughly 50 people at the event. Tables were pre-assigned and I found myself sitting across from a chap in his mid-50′s whose professional job was an accountant. He worked at a rather large firm as a partner. […]

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Nov 26, 2012
This board has only one thing left to do: resign

“Hewlett-Packard’s $9.7 billion acquisition of Autonomy seemed like a bad idea long before Tuesday’s allegations of an accounting scandal made clear it was a deal that should never have happened. It’s the latest in a cavalcade of costly blunders at HP. The Silicon Valley pioneer has squandered billions of dollars on ill-advised acquisitions, compounding the […]

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Nov 19, 2012
Why train employees, when they’ll just leave you?

“It is the rare person who has a single employer for a whole career, and employers understand this. So it follows that it is unreasonable to expect employees to accept becoming useless to other potential employers, however invaluable they may have become to their current employer. If your skills and knowledge are valuable only to […]

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Oct 08, 2012
Apple’s maps debacle – a bridge too far?

“Whether it was a looming deadline, an understaffed development team, or missing information, Apple–despite being a company that has historically exceled at delighting its end users–wasn’t able to deliver on its customer requirements with Apple Maps. And this particular case illustrates the outcomes that can result when companies choose to embark on strategies that are […]

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Oct 01, 2012
Your pay should be driven by your contribution, not spurious comparisons

“There is no conclusive empirical evidence that outside succession leads to more favorable corporate performance, or even that good performance at one company can accurately predict success at another,” …In short, executive skills cannot pass the most basic test of generality: transferability.” CHARLES M ELSON and CRAIG K. FERRERE, “Executive Superstars, Peer Groups and Over-Compensation […]

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Sep 03, 2012
Corporate values: a belief system, or a cynical calculation?

“We need to be able to trust pharmaceutical companies. We expect banks to be run and populated by honest people, to keep our money safe, and to give us our money back when we need it. We want oil companies to have a strong culture of engineering professionalism and commitment to health and safety. If […]

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Aug 27, 2012
Would scrapping commissions make your salesforce sell more?

“Some things in life we know are true. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. A body in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by an outside force. And the best way to motivate salespeople is by offering them commissions. But what if we’re wrong, at least about that […]

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Aug 12, 2012
Businesses, please stop these sly, self-serving practices

I don’t get it. I just don’t. It should be blindingly obvious to every owner of every business that it runs primarily on just one thing: the goodwill of its customers. If customers obtain value from you, they keep buying. If they keep buying, you keep making a profit. If you keep making a profit, […]

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