Articles Tagged Strategy

Nov 08, 2020
Is your board stuck in yesterday’s successes?

Have you heard of Nokia? Had I asked that in 2010 it would have been an impertinent question. At the time Nokia was the dominant global mobile phone company. In my seminars of those days, perhaps nine in 10 of those present would be sporting a Nokia device. Today, asking if you know Nokia is […]

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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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Sep 27, 2020
If your business takes one in the face, get back up quickly

The British love their sandwiches. Ever since the 4th Earl of Sandwich popularised the idea of fillings placed between two slices of bread (supposedly to allow him to do other things like work at his desk, or play cards, while eating) the sandwich has been a phenomenon. When I was studying and working in London, […]

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Aug 02, 2020
It’s time to come out of fight-or-flight mode

Fight, or flight? When Covid-19 first appeared in our consciousness, most of us were dismissive. This can’t be real. The entire world can’t shut down like this. It must be a hoax. Or a conspiracy. Surely. As the cases began to mount – and more importantly, the many thousands of deaths around the world became […]

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Jul 26, 2020
Software is indeed eating the world. Will it eat yours?

Marc Andreessen made this visionary statement nearly a decade ago: “Software is eating the world.” Most people above a certain age, or wedded to certain traditions, did not really pay attention. I deal in solid, tangible stuff, they said. Machinery. Food. Classrooms. Newspapers. Surgeries. Software can’t do that, they said. Hoax. Fake news. 2020 has […]

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Jun 28, 2020
Be part of the big move from transactions to experiences

I have written here that the word ADAPTATION has loomed large throughout this coronavirus pandemic: most humans have adapted themselves to new normals in their lives and businesses, sometimes with great ingenuity. Today I want to focus on a similar word: ADOPTION. This word too is pivotal in understanding what will become of consumer and […]

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Jun 07, 2020
When bytes and pixels start doing the travelling

I attended an elite global conference the other day. It had speakers and panels consisting of some of the world’s top business leaders and thinkers, and ran over three days. You’re thinking: wait – where on earth was this held, during a pandemic? And how did you get there? And why would you risk going? […]

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May 31, 2020
Businesses just got reminded of some old wisdoms

Some businesses have really suffered in this coronavirus pandemic; others are weathering the storm quite well. That might seem obvious, since some industries as a whole are better placed in this crisis. We can’t compare the fortunes of airlines and hotels right now with those producing home entertainment, say.  My point is a little different. […]

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May 24, 2020
Why most of us didn’t see the pandemic coming

I didn’t see the coronavirus pandemic coming. I’m a strategy advisor, someone who sifts through the signals the world throws up to discern what might be about to change and what needs a response. But I didn’t see this one coming. Did you? In January many of us were looking forward to a rather different […]

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May 03, 2020
To be ready for the new normal, start working on these 3 things

9/11. Most people know what those numbers mean. On September 11, 2001, a series of unprecedented terror attacks took place right on American soil. Four passenger airliners were commandeered by terrorists; three of them were deliberately crashed into buildings. As you would imagine, air travel volumes plummeted, throwing airlines into crisis. But after a raft […]

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Apr 26, 2020
Life after coronavirus begins now

Last week I suggested here that because of the coronavirus we may all be staring at a ‘Low-Touch, High-Friction’ world for quite a while. Such a world would have two key characteristics. The first (the touch part) would be that folks would be reluctant to gather in person and in public as freely and easily […]

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Apr 19, 2020
Here comes the Low-Touch, High-Friction world

So many of us feel imprisoned in our own homes, staring at the same walls, missing contact with others, tired of dealing with family issues. So many of us are just waiting to be told that the coronavirus pandemic is over, that lockdowns and shutdowns are over, and that we can burst out into the […]

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Apr 12, 2020
Get ready for ‘uncomfortable innovation’

The comfortable don’t innovate. I’ve been saying that to businesses and writing it on this page for years. Now I have my words ringing in my own ears. My business depended on gathering people – to teach them, advise them, provoke them to think and do things differently. Suddenly (thank you, coronavirus) no-one can gather […]

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Mar 29, 2020
Now more than ever: the steering wheel must connect to the tyres

More than a decade ago I asked on this page: is Kenya’s steering wheel connected to its tyres? The imagery is half-comical: of leaders merrily spinning the steering wheel thinking they are driving the car; the vehicle, meanwhile, goes where it wants. The issue was very serious, though; I raised it in the light of […]

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Feb 16, 2020
Try this for your business – no goals, no comparisons

Let me tell you about a company that does not set any goals or targets. None. Don’t rub your eyes; you read that right. No customer-count goals. No revenue goals. No retention goals. No profit goals. You don’t believe me, do you? Oh wait, this company also doesn’t analyse its competitors. It has no market-share […]

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Feb 09, 2020
Radio cassette? What’s that?

Do you know what a ‘radio cassette player’ is?  I ask because it really depends on what age you are. There is a large chunk of young Kenyans (and, I hope, of the readers of this column) who have never experienced such a thing. Even if you do know what it is, when was the […]

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Dec 01, 2019
Are you working on anything that will outlast you?

A question for you: do you remember something called the ‘Zune’? Not really, I guess. Another question: do you remember something called the ‘iPod’? Of course you do. Both were MP3 music players. Here’s the thing, though. The Zune, made by Microsoft, was the far superior product, in most respects. And yet it failed miserably […]

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Nov 10, 2019
Will Uber run out of road?

Uber is a very big deal, and I was enthusiastic about it long before any of us experienced it in Kenya. Can anyone doubt the achievement? Uber revolutionized the taxi business by conceiving a marvellous mobile app that connected people seeking rides with drivers willing to offer them. By tapping into an unused stock of […]

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Oct 06, 2019
To survive, lead the change – don’t deny it

Last week I warned that many large corporates were in ‘slow puncture’ mode – with their current business models deflating slowly, all the while pretending all is well. I had referenced Marks and Spencer, Britain’s once iconic, now troubled retail giant. In the days since, another icon bit the dust. Thomas Cook, a huge travel […]

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Sep 29, 2019
Is your organization a slow puncture?

Marks and Spencer, one of Britain’s venerated corporate icons, fell out of the FTSE 100 stock index this month. It is hard to describe how central M&S has been to British retailing. It is 135 years old, and when I was a young man studying in London, it was discussed as a case study in […]

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Jul 28, 2019
Is this Facebook’s ‘M-Pesa’ moment?

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash In every talk I have given to banking groups in recent years, I have warned them that future competition will be nothing like what they have been used to. The biggest threats to their future will not come from other bankers, because those guys are just as confused and […]

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Jul 14, 2019
Many clouds, many thunderstorms

I predicted on this page a few years ago that the home delivery business would explode. It did. We are all getting so many more things delivered to our homes now. Not just meals, but also drinks, groceries, medicines, books and much more. It was obvious that this would happen. As more women enter the […]

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May 05, 2019
Are your customers enthusiastic about giving you their time?

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash Last week I explained: I compete for your attention against Netflix. Time spent with me on this page needs to have a higher payoff for you than switching to streaming something on your device. Netflix, too is competing for your attention. Not just against a local TV channel, but […]

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Apr 28, 2019
I am here to compete for your attention

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash I want you to read this column. I want you to stay here, not go somewhere else. Who’s my competition? I started writing this column in 2003. Back then, it was simpler to compete. Had I failed to engage your interest in those days by the time you reached […]

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Apr 07, 2019
Are you a vanilla, chocolate and strawberry business?

Image by Andrey Cojocaru from Pixabay Q: Which flavours of ice-cream do you offer? A: Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry How often does that happen to you when seated at a restaurant, thinking about your dessert options? In my lifetime, too many times to count. Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, it is true, are consistently amongst the […]

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Feb 17, 2019
Need to reinvent your traditional business? Be ready to do these three things

I asked here last week: what makes big, established businesses so reluctant to change in the face of overwhelming new realities in their markets? Their customers may be moving on rapidly, but so many large corporations hang on doggedly to the past. Their widely experienced board members and highly paid executives just refuse to get […]

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Feb 10, 2019
Are you engaged in a war with the 21st century?

I saw a tweet the other day by Robert Colvile that made me laugh out loud: ‘Dear London taxi drivers, if you want to win your war with the 21st century, maybe stop using the phrase “Oh, you’re paying by card, are you?” as though you’re being presented with mysterious spices from the East.’ After […]

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