Articles Tagged Management

Jul 20, 2008
Simple common-sense rules for wannabe investors

When at a certain stage in my life I finally managed to generate some surplus cash (it took a long time), I immediately decided to invest in some stockmarket shares (as many do). I started reading the financial press trying to seek out a real winner of a company to back. I noted that many […]

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Jul 18, 2008
If you want to achieve nothing – hold a mega-conference!

“So the summit ended as such summits always do. The delegates agreed on the importance of the problem, the urgent requirement to spend more money: they emphasised the need for co-ordinated action, and resolved to meet again in future to reach the same conclusions. If you have no substantive analysis or common principles beyond acquiescence […]

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Jul 13, 2008
The AGM circus shows our financial immaturity

The amazing success of the Safaricom IPO confirms that we are on our way to becoming a shareholder democracy, does it not? Hundreds of thousands of new shareholders have been brought into the bosom of capitalism, and are basking in the promise of the new wealth that will follow – yes? Anyone who thinks we […]

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Jul 11, 2008
Multi-tasking can kill you, kill your career

“…In a 2005 Australian study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers interviewed, during a 27-month period, 456 hospitalized cell phone users who had each been involved in a crash. The scientists combed the drivers’ call records to see how cell phone use affected their driving. Whether they talked hands-free or with a phone clasped […]

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Jun 13, 2008
Want to think better? Use your legs!

1. You learn 20% faster immediately after exercise than after sitting still. 2. If our ancestors sat still in the savanna for eight hours straight…they became somebody’s lunch. Our brains developed while we walked about 12 miles a day, seven days a week, for several million years. 3. The brain’s executive functions – higher-order capacities […]

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May 30, 2008
Lessons from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 meltdown

“The gleaming 3.4bn pound new terminal at Heathrow Airport was opened to the public…and immediately went into meltdown when its baggage system failed. Over the course of five days, more than 250 flights were cancelled, and 20,000 pieces of luggage were separated from their owners. The chaos was a serious embarrassment for BAA, the Spanish-owned […]

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Apr 18, 2008
Lessons in talent management – from Singapore’s Lee

“It had taken me some time to see the obvious, that talent is a country’s most precious asset. For a small, resource-poor country like Singapore, with 2 million people at independence in 1965, it is the defining factor. …To get enough talent to fill the jobs our growing economy needed, I set out to attract […]

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Apr 13, 2008
Why we need EVEN more ministries!

Having given the matter sufficient thought, I now conclude that we need even more ministries than we think we do. That is my position and it will never change, not ever. It is clear from the justifications being bandied about for 40-odd ministries that whatever is important in Kenya must have a ministry in charge […]

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Apr 11, 2008
Are you thinking enough about how you communicate?

“A sticky idea is one that people understand when they hear it, that they remember later on, and that changes something about the way they think or act. That is a high standard. Think back to the last presentation you saw. How much do you remember? How did it the change the way you make […]

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Apr 04, 2008
What does it take to get on the ‘most admired’ list?

THE WORLD’S TOP 10 MOST ADMIRED COMPANIES: 1. Apple 2. General Electric 3. Toyota Motor 4. Berkshire Hathaway 5. Proctor & Gamble 6. FedEx 7. Johnson & Johnson 8. Target 9. BMW 10.Microsoft Fortune (March 24 2008) Fortune magazine and Hay Group give us the World’s Most Admired Companies list every year. Only companies with […]

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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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