Articles Tagged Strategy

Mar 14, 2008
How your strategy can blind your company

“Strategies are to organisations what blinders are to horses: they keep them going in a straight line, but impede the use of peripheral vision. By focusing effort and directing the attention of each part within the integrated whole, the organisation runs the risk being unable to change its strategy when it has to. Setting oneself […]

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Feb 24, 2008
Did we really not see it coming?

We didn’t see it coming. That is the horrified standard response to our post-election crisis from our chattering classes (also known as the drinking classes, the pontificating classes, and the not-our-fault classes). This response is uttered in aghast fashion, and reflects the speaker’s disgust at these dreadful goings-on. This response allows many scapegoats to appear: […]

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Feb 22, 2008
Be afraid of your customers – not your competitors

“Yes, you should wake up every morning terrified with your sheets drenched in sweat, but not because you’re afraid of our competitors. Be afraid of our customers, because those are the folks who have the money. Our competitors are never going to send us money.” Jeff Bezos, CEO, (Interviewed in Harvard Business Review, October […]

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Dec 07, 2007
Lesson in capitalism from ‘The Godfather’

Scene from The Godfather: To set the scene, Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino), the don’s war-hero son who was not ordained to enter the family business, nonetheless finds himself tapped to avenge the attempted assassination of his father (played by Marlon Brando). His mission is to shoot Sollozzo, who engineered the gunning down of […]

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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 30, 2007
Thinking deeply about strategy

“Where is (success) coming from? It’s coming from having, within a company, difficult-to-replicate and usually intangible resources. Things that can generate and sustain competitive success – things like reputation, a good customer group, network externalities, experienced and competent people performing your processes. …we know that companies get good at something by doing it. Now that […]

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Nov 23, 2007
From bricklayers to architects – lessons in development

“The rule of the market economy,” this Communist official explained to me, “is that if somewhere has the richest human resources and the cheapest labor, of course the enterprises and the businesses will naturally go there.” In manufacturing, he pointed out, “Chinese people were first the employees and working for the foreign manufacturers, and after […]

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Oct 14, 2007
Learning from China and India

China and India are undoubtedly the economic phenomena of this generation. Both are in the midst of an economic transformation that is startling in its scale and scope. Both are criticised – China, for still being an autocratic, undemocratic regime, India for not doing enough for its poor people – but there is no doubt […]

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Oct 07, 2007
Is Africa in the right businesses?

What is the coffee business? What is the football business? What is the athletics business? What is the flowers business? For us in Africa, the answers to those questions are very simple indeed. The coffee business is BEANS. The football business is PLAYERS. The athletics business is RUNNERS. The flowers business is GREENHOUSES. In all […]

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Oct 05, 2007
The amazing magic of the market

“In a single day, on July 16, 2005, the American and British economies delivered nine million copies of the sixth volume of the Harry Potter children’s book series to eager fans. Book retailers continually restocked the shelves as customers snatched up the book. Amazon and Barnes & Noble shipped preordered copies directly to customers’ homes. […]

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Sep 28, 2007
Big firms should not pick fights with the small fry

“In a meeting convened to explore opportunities, I asked my client’s managers how they intended to grow faster. The sales & marketing manager confidently replied they would destroy smaller competitors. My client, the leader in their industry, held a dominant share of the market. Small regional companies had been nibbling away at their heels for […]

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Sep 21, 2007
Building a great company takes patience

“Consider…the evolution of Wal-Mart. Most people think that Sam Walton just exploded onto the scene with his visionary idea for rural discount retailing, hitting breakthrough almost as a start-up company. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sam Walton began in 1945 with a single dime store. He didn’t open his second store until […]

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Sep 07, 2007
Stop competing and start re-imagining

“…imagine a market universe composed of two sorts of oceans: red oceans and blue oceans. Red oceans represent all the industries in existence today. This is the known market space. Blue oceans denote all the industries not in existence today. This is the unknown market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and […]

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Aug 17, 2007
Strategic planning has become a tiresome ritual

“…the annual strategy review frequently amounts to little more than a stage on which business unit leaders present warmed-over updates of last year’s presentations, take few risks in broaching new ideas, and strive above all to avoid embarrassment. Rather than preparing executives to face the strategic uncertainties ahead or serving as the focal point for […]

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Jul 08, 2007
Bold actions to transform Kenya

I have no idea who the next president of Kenya will be, and neither do you. Given that our politicians are driven by the overwhelming need to take office rather than stick to principle, anything is possible. Anyone can yet team up with anyone else. Any number of permutations can emerge. I find all of […]

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Jun 29, 2007
Michael Porter in Nairobi – Part 3: Time for business to lead

Sunny Bindra, Executive Fellow at Strathmore Business School, concludes his special three-part series on the ideas of Michael Porter. This final article looks at the professor’s prescription: a new collaborative approach for Kenya. Michael Porter came, spoke and left. So what did he leave behind? I believe he left us with the intellectual framework that […]

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Jun 28, 2007
Michael Porter in Nairobi – Part 2: Let businesspeople be our heroes

Sunny Bindra, strategy consultant and business writer, continues his three-part series on the ideas of Michael Porter. Harvard’s Professor Porter was in Nairobi on Monday and delivered a memorable address on “Global Competitiveness” at the Strathmore Business School. This second article examines the question: What are the sources of national competitiveness? “You can become very […]

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Jun 27, 2007
Michael Porter in Nairobi – Part 1: The power of productivity

Professor Michael Porter, world-renowned authority on competitiveness, was in Nairobi this week. He met government leaders and delivered a keynote address to executives and students at the Strathmore Business School. Business Daily asked Sunny Bindra, the Sunday Nation’s business columnist and a member of Strathmore’s Advisory Board, to convey the legendary don’s ideas and recommendations […]

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May 06, 2007
When elephants dance with hounds

Sir Richard Branson was in town recently, and everywhere he went he was received like royalty. How come? Not too long ago, we would have viewed him as a neo-colonialist come to exploit us, to take our business away, to expropriate profits, to hurt our national carrier, to prevent us from developing our own skills […]

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Mar 18, 2007
Why don’t we take more pride in our businesses?

Why would anyone open a restaurant when: the renovations are not complete; the staff are not adequately trained; and the chef hasn’t quite got his act together? Happens all the time in Kenya. How often do you go to new establishments to encounter exposed wiring, waiters who have no clue what the dishes are, and […]

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Feb 11, 2007
Originality is the new business way

There are very few good books about business written in the world. Most seem to be exercises in futility: lots of seemingly well-educated people telling you the blindingly obvious and making it sound like a dramatic breakthrough in management thinking. The style of writing covers the full spectrum: from painfully dull to messianic. But most […]

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Jan 21, 2007
Take the giraffe’s view

This column often tries to glean management wisdom from the world of sport. The cricket world has been shouting something in recent weeks, and the message is coming from the ‘Ashes’ series held between England and Australia. Cricket aficionados will know that in the just-concluded series, Australia thrashed England 5-0. That’s five test matches – […]

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Jan 14, 2007
End this telecoms charade

One of the more depressing news items to appear at the close of 2006 concerned the problems that have emerged in the consortium (headed by VTEL of Dubai) that won the Second National Operator (SNO) telecommunications licence earlier in the year. This was the operator we all hoped would go head-to-head with Telkom Kenya. It […]

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Nov 29, 2006
“A Good Business for All”

Address given at Ufadhili Trust CSR East Africa Conference, Safari Park Hotel, 29 November 2006 Ladies and Gentlemen Thank you very much indeed for inviting me here. It is a privilege to address this very important gathering – the more so because you are drawn from all over East Africa. CSR – three letters that […]

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Feb 12, 2006
Knowledge is the key future resource

Peter Drucker, widely acknowledged as the greatest management thinker of the past century, died 3 months ago. His death went largely unremarked here in Kenya; not surprisingly, as we tend to pay little attention to management – either as a concept, or as a way of doing things. Drucker was just a few days short […]

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Aug 28, 2005
10 per cent annual growth is achievable

There is a certain buzz in the air about economic growth in Kenya. After the government announced that the economy was growing at 4.3 per cent per annum recently, a new excitement began to swell. Yes, we all know that the 4.3 per cent has only been achieved after fiddling with the calculation formula and […]

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Aug 21, 2005
A focus on quality is essential

If you are a Kenyan consumer, you have almost certainly gone through some (or all) of the following: Your telephone landline periodically goes dead, and stays dead for weeks (even months) even though you call the service operator every day to complain. When the line comes back, it has a nasty crackle in it. You […]

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Jul 17, 2005
Growth can only come from within

Many of us are busy picking through the litter of the recent G8 conference held in Scotland. What did the rich countries offer Africa? What does it mean? How much do we get? Can we “make poverty history” now? I’d prefer to put some distance between us and Scotland and take you to the other […]

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