Articles Tagged Management

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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May 29, 2005
The many agendas of Kenyan business

The news that East African Breweries Limited became East Africa’s first billion-dollar company is indeed noteworthy. It is a milestone that reflects the company’s relentless march to levels of market capitalisation, turnover and profit not seen before in this part of the world. EABL is a path-breaker: it is a great engine in the economy, […]

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Apr 24, 2005
Give shade to Jua Kali businesses

Is our Jua Kali (informal) sector a good thing? Opinion differs. The government clearly takes some pride in telling us that most of the 500,000 jobs “created” every year are in the informal sector. Like it or not, Jua Kali is a fact of life in modern Kenya. It is everywhere: on the streets of […]

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Mar 27, 2005
Modern practices needed throughout economy

“If you want to go east”, a famous Indian sage used to say, “you mustn’t go west.” Underlying this deceptively simple aphorism is the realisation that we often profess to have certain goals, yet all our actions work in entirely the opposite direction. In a week when an international UN study has ranked us 11th […]

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Feb 20, 2005
Management, not politics, will save us

Oh, we’re in big trouble again. Accusations are flying, the mob is baying, the suspects are denying. Investors are nervous, donors are suspicious, civil society is riotous. The Executive sleeps, the economy creeps, and the poor Kenyan weeps. Another fine mess we’ve got ourselves into. What is it with us? Here we are again at […]

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Nov 21, 2004
Why we must stop joking about jobs

Yes, we need new jobs – half a million of them every year. Yes, we need to boost average incomes and purchasing power in this economy. But we do NOT need to create nonsensical “non-jobs” in order to achieve these goals. This should be obvious but apparently is not, even amongst the powers that be. […]

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Sep 26, 2004
How to reverse Nairobi’s crime epidemic

New York City, 1990: The unofficial crime capital of America, averaging over 2,000 murders and 600,000 serious felonies per year. A place where violence had become a way of life, where you took your life in your hands if you dared venture into the ‘no-go’ zones. A city reeling under the violent repercussions of a […]

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Jul 01, 2004
Dance your way to growth – one step at a time

The Tanzanian and Ugandan economies have been growing at a brisk pace for five years or more. Kenya, long in the economic doldrums, is showing signs of an ever-so-gentle upturn (shhhh…don’t frighten it). CEOs around the region are bracing themselves for a period of growth. It’s an exhilarating feeling – to be focusing on growing […]

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To transform your company – think small!

Once upon a time, an East African corporation of substance had precisely that: plenty of physical substance. A major company would own, amongst other things: a resplendent corporate headquarters, complete with flags, statues and fountains; huge manufacturing or assembly plants; conference and training centres; vast fleets of vehicles; clinics and medical centres; kitchens and restaurants; […]

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Jun 01, 2004
These days, the business of business is social responsibility

This is the era of good corporate citizenship. As governments are rolled back all over the world, big corporations are rushing in to fill the void. Business is now the principal engine of growth and development the world over, and society demands that corporations contribute to the social, environmental and economic goals of the communities […]

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Feb 15, 2004
Poor management is the root cause of under-performance

During the early stages of the African Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia recently, we learned something important: that the defence of our national team, Harambee Stars, is ‘porous’. This was the adjective favoured by most local commentators, implying that the defence leaks goals. Actually, during the 3-1 and 3-0 thrashings that our boys suffered […]

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Jan 25, 2004
Let us give legitimacy to the small entrepreneur

This week, I’d like to introduce a couple of Kenyans to you. January is traditionally the time of year that many of us try to accumulate calendars to give out to junior employees, underlings etc. This year, a dog trainer did a neat reversal on me. Instead of pleading for a cheap calendar from me, […]

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Nov 23, 2003
Better pay can only come from better performance

We are in the grip of a peculiar madness. The whole of this year has been marked by agitation for more pay. In sector after sector, strikes and even riots have been witnessed, with the strident call ringing out across the land: ‘pay us more!’ No sector is immune. Whether you are a teacher, a […]

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