Articles Tagged Management

Mar 28, 2008
Danger always lurks in the procurement function

“A potato buyer at the supermarket group Sainsbury’s has been arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes of up to 3 million pounds from a supplier. John Maylam, a senior buyer at the supermarket chain who has been with the company for more than 10 years, was arrested last week after police raided residential and business […]

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Mar 23, 2008
Why do we keep messing things up?

If you didn’t know where “Muthurwa” was in Nairobi, I guess you do now. Recent goings-on around that part of Eastlands have all of Nairobi in a spin – and a completely unnecessary one. First we had the fiasco of the new hawkers’ market. The people who perch on pavements and alleys in the city’s […]

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Jan 18, 2008
Our leaders must get to grips with basic crisis management

“Companies increasingly accept that crises, in whatever form, are inevitable. While there is a variety of theories and opinions on how best to manage a crisis, some fundamentals are common. First, accurate information is essential. Any attempt to conceal relevant facts and to manipulate the situation ultimately backfires. Second, the company must react as quickly […]

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Jan 04, 2008
Corporate space is about more than just economics

“Each and every day, we unwittingly cage (and enrage) ourselves with old-fashioned thinking rooted in a bygone Industrial Era. Behind the modern corporate veil lurks old fashioned “hierarchical planning”: those Dilbertian cubicles where we partition ourselves from one another and where space is reduced to its leanest and meanest economic essentials. With time, any sentient […]

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Dec 02, 2007
A family business that’s 4 centuries old

How long do family businesses last? Most make it to the second generation, and then the problems start. Once the visionary founder has handed over the reins to his son/daughter/nephew/brother, an inflection point occurs. What happens in that second generation decides whether the business has a future. Either the company makes necessary changes and undertakes […]

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Nov 03, 2007
Running 21st-century organisations with 20th-century structures

“…Almost all of today’s companies, from the mediocre to the superlative, were built primarily to mobilise labour and capital, not the intangible assets that generate profit per employee. Trying to run a 21st-century company with organisational models designed for the 20th limits how well it can perform and creates massive, unnecessary, and unproductive complexity, which […]

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Oct 19, 2007
How educated do executives need to be?

“…Educated people do not rely exclusively, or indeed even primarily, on the instruction they receive, but seek to satisfy their insatiable intellectual curiosity by their own means of self-improvement. Yet, in the business-class section of long flights to geographically and culturally remote places, typically the business passenger will be seen watching silly videos that require […]

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Sep 02, 2007
Is this job a joke?

Would you care for this job? This is one of the top positions in the country, commensurate with excellent pay, status and perks. Ah, you ask: that probably means there’s a lot of stress and responsibility attached. Not at all! Any idiot can do this job (and many do). Responsibility and accountability are minimal. Qualifications: […]

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Aug 19, 2007
Do we want to build a nation of entrepreneurs – or extortionists?

I last wrote about harassment of businesses and citizens by the authorities in December 2005. I am forced to revisit the topic, because those in charge appear to have their heads deep in hot sand. I wrote then: “This country of ours still demonstrates an alarming propensity to shoot itself in the foot, regularly and […]

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Aug 03, 2007
Want to fire up your employees? Stick a generator in them

“If I kick my dog (from the front or the back), he will move. If I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a man’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when he has his own generator […]

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Aug 02, 2007
‘Thought Leadership’: A new weekly column for the Business Daily

I’m pleased to confirm that I will be starting a new weekly column for Kenya’s new Business Daily, every Friday starting 3 August. ‘Thought Leadership’ is designed to feed Kenya’s growing hunger for high-quality management knowledge. Every week, I will take an excerpt from a classic management book, article or paper – new and old. […]

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May 20, 2007
Do we really want to fix traffic jams?

The Nation recently carried a two-page spread on the traffic congestion that is bedevilling us all. The news is that 5,000 new cars are, on average, now being registered every month, while the road network is barely expanding. Too many cars, too few roads. And so we read the tales of the poor folks who […]

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Apr 29, 2007
Our primitive approach to managing our employees

There is a public notice that seems peculiarly Kenyan, and it appears in our newspapers nearly every day. It’s so common-place as to be almost banal, and most of us can recite it from memory. “The person whose photograph appears below, ID number XYZ, is no longer employed by the ABC company. He/she is no […]

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Feb 25, 2007
We must rethink security from scratch

“The last thing we need right now is a vision.” That was said by a CEO in 1993 – surprisingly, since most business leaders are known to have a penchant for lofty vision and mission statements. The CEO’s name was Lou Gerstner, and he had just taken the reins at the ailing computer giant, IBM. […]

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Dec 03, 2006
Take corporate social responsibility to a higher plane

CSR – three letters that have become very important, very common, even very fashionable in the common discourse of business people. Companies now seem to need a special corporate social responsibility strategy, special positions in the organisation dedicated to CSR, and a whole menu of special events laid on during the year to show the […]

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Oct 08, 2006
What’s the point of huge conferences?

We love mega-conferences in Kenya, do we not? We take great pride in the arrival of thousands of delegates from all around the globe, assembling in our land to debate the great issues of the day. Whenever one of these shows is rolling into town, we get all excited: we spruce up the city, flatten […]

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Aug 27, 2006
Emerging markets are providing world-leading firms

These are interesting times in world business. In the early part of this year, the international corporate community was gripped by the audacious bid by Mittal Steel, the world’s biggest steelmaker by volume, for Arcelor, the second-biggest producer. Arcelor’s strongholds are in Europe; Mittal’s are in emerging markets and in America. So the two companies […]

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Jun 04, 2006
KenGen: lessons for the budding investor

The dramatic KenGen flotation story is far from over. A quarter of a million Kenyans stepped up to partake in the buying frenzy that was the country’s biggest-ever Initial Public Offering (IPO), and became shareholders. For some it was their first venture into stock-market investment; other, more grizzled investors tapped their noses wisely as they […]

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Mar 19, 2006
Family businesses must let go

Family enterprises are the lifeblood of this country. From the humblest kiosk to the most expansive conglomerate: family-owned firms dominate the business landscape. We may imagine that this is a very Kenyan phenomenon, but it is actually true the world over. One-third of the 1,000 largest companies are controlled by families; more than half of […]

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Jan 29, 2006
Tragedy revealed our ineptitude

Let me warn you: there will be nothing “sunny” about this column today. It is very difficult to be upbeat and chirpy when confronted with the events surrounding Monday’s collapse of a building under construction at Nairobi’s Nyamakima. I am still lost in a fog of anger and frustration, thinking about the scores of people […]

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Jan 22, 2006
Let’s move to an action footing in 2006

Over the past two weeks, this column has outlined the elements of a new economic agenda for Kenya. In the first week we looked at the fundamental pillars that we must put up to support the new economy: better, stronger institutions; investments in knowledge that will arm us with skills and ideas; and a sense […]

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Jan 15, 2006
Better investment climate is 2006 priority

This column looked at the basic building blocks of a new economic agenda for Kenya last week, and concluded that three fundamental pillars of economic growth must be rebuilt: institutions, knowledge and values. Effective, corruption-free institutions allow us to conduct the affairs of the land in a supportive environment. Knowledge gives us the fundamental weaponry […]

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Jan 08, 2006
A new economic agenda for Kenya

It’s time to get back to what really matters. We’ve had an unruly and all-consuming referendum campaign. We’ve been up to our necks in political intrigues. We’ve brought the cows home while yakking incessantly about leadership, personalities and new political bedfellows. And we’ve had the Christmas break to recover our wits. Now, let’s get back […]

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Dec 04, 2005
Harassment of business must end now

This country of ours still demonstrates an alarming propensity to shoot itself in the foot, regularly and with great accuracy. Over the past few months, we seem to have decided to mess around with the only group in the economy that keeps us afloat, through good times and bad: our businesspeople. Great shot! Small, medium-sized […]

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Nov 27, 2005
Listen up to the people’s message

The Kenyan people recorded a massive protest against the quality of their leaders in 2002. This week they sent another warning shot. Leaders who are not paying attention to this strong and consistent message are heading for political oblivion. We are in a different country now. The average voter is a quite distinct animal from […]

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Oct 09, 2005
Kenyan businesses must grow up

We have a vibrant and energetic business sector in Kenya. Our entrepreneurial fervour is envied in the region and often regarded as a model in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are fortunate to have a multiplicity of communities engaging in a wide variety of businesses. But it’s not enough. We have an enviable base of vigorous entrepreneurs […]

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Aug 07, 2005
Old versus new in the economy

Once upon a time, in a country far, far away, the leading businesses of the land made money in a certain way. First and foremost, they made friends with influential politicians. They cultivated them, wined and dined them, offered them shares, and gave them positions on their boards. Having obtained the necessary political backing, these […]

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Jul 03, 2005
Let business lead the ethics war

Suppose, for a moment, that you are a leader of a certain organisation. This organisation has been in the grips of economic stagnation for decades. It is unable to pay its bills, and relies on foreign largesse to bail it out time and again. Six out of ten members of this organisation are hopelessly poor. […]

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