Articles Tagged Success

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 17, 2020
Remote working is here to stay, so learn how to do it properly

Are you all Zoomed out yet? If you’re a busy executive, I bet you are. I bet you have had WAY too many virtual meetings in the past few weeks. Social distancing has forced so many of us to work remotely from each other, and to rely on the video conferencing products of Zoom, Microsoft […]

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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 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 08, 2020
Respect those who listen, not those who bluster

Like many of you reading this, I grew up in the tumult of a large extended family. The social milieu was complicated; many uncles and aunts and cousins and family friends were always milling around. Many diverse opinions on pretty much anything under the sun were on offer, all the time. I was a quiet, […]

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Mar 01, 2020
Your calendar reveals who you are

Time, we can all agree, is really precious. We have very little of it; and we don’t know how much. So where do we expend it? Let me continue the discussion about the time of our lives, begun here last week. As time marches on, and when we have had our fill of trying stuff […]

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Feb 23, 2020
Are you still answering the phone all day long?

If a telephone is ringing, it must answered. If you are of a certain generation or earlier, that was just a fact of life. The phone rang, we answered it. Did we want to receive the call right then? Were we expecting it? Did we feel like talking to a random person? Were we busy […]

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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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Jan 19, 2020
How will you use your new superpower?

Your landline telephone. Your fax machine. Your dictation machine. Calculator. Watch. Timer. Notebook. Filing cabinet. Calendar. Music player. Camera. Photo album. Map. Alarm clock. Key. Newspaper. Scanner. Camera. Library. Dictionary. Encyclopedia. Translator. Weather forecaster. Wallet. Flashlight. In 2010, I wrote here that the future of your business would be in the palm of your hand. […]

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Jan 12, 2020
Wait – did I read TOO many books last year?

I read 80 books in 2019. That was surprising. My standard target is 50, which I always hit quite easily. But 80? That’s a lot of books, by any measure. Was it worth it? Could that number now be in the realm of TOO many books? But first: reading any number of books is no […]

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Jan 05, 2020
Do you shoulder blame, or dodge it?

Perhaps you know the old joke: there are two types of people in the world – those who believe in dividing people into two types, and those who don’t… For the purposes of today, this columnist becomes one of the first type.  What happens when things go wrong around you, mishaps occur, problems arise? When […]

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Dec 15, 2019
Education needs a reboot

Last week’s column about the ‘Education Express’ raised some questions – and some eyebrows. I made the case, obliquely, that our education system is in severe need of an overhaul. It functions like an old-fashioned train service: it runs the same way it has for decades on end; it runs on fixed tracks; and not […]

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Dec 08, 2019
Welcome aboard the Education Express, kid…

Hurry up, kid, don’t look so nonchalant. You nearly missed the train – and that would have been catastrophic for you. You must take this very, very seriously. Your entire life is at stake. I am your ticket inspector. Show me your ticket, please… Very good. It seems you have been getting good grades so […]

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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 24, 2019
Are you stuck in a ‘BS’ job?

Last week I started a discussion here about the meaning of work – and how rare it is to find work that lends meaning to our lives. Most of us get our first jobs out of sheer economic necessity, and don’t have the luxury of wondering about the worth of what we do. Later on, […]

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Nov 17, 2019
How meaningful is the work you do?

Our newly released census results show that Nairobi keeps growing. With nearly 4.4 million people, this is one huge collection of humans. Not on the global scale, of course; there are several megacities with more than 20 million people; one of those may breach 40 million soon. Revered scientist James Lovelock thinks we follow the […]

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Nov 03, 2019
No, it’s not ‘just business.’

‘It’s just business.’ I’ve lost track of how often I’ve heard those words, uttered by businessfolk to justify bad behaviour. Also: ‘business is business.’ It’s as though there is something magically wonderful about being in business that gives you a free pass. Businesspeople are so heroic that we must give them some leeway, allow them […]

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Oct 27, 2019
Two words to carry around with you

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is just one of the finest novels anyone will ever read. I picked it up again after many years and found myself mesmerised all over again. It has two words that are repeated over and over, acting as a motif in the life of one of the main […]

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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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Sep 08, 2019
Give your brain a little workout today

How are you doing with my annual book-reading challenge? I found, somewhat to my surprise, that I have already clocked 50 books this year with a full four months left in the calendar. I’m not quite sure how this happened. Perhaps pushing all of you to read more books has spurred me on as well. […]

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Sep 01, 2019
Wake up, retailers. The writing’s on the wall.

A busy schedule means I don’t get out and about as much as I used to, so I jumped at the opportunity to go around Nairobi for a whole morning recently, looking for furniture and household items with the family. It would be a good chance to look at how our retailers are doing, I […]

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Aug 18, 2019
Institutions don’t educate you; you educate yourself

A troubled young man came to see me recently. He had just completed his first year at a world-famous college, and was sorely disappointed. He recounted his many disappointments. Crowded lectures attended by many hundreds of students for the flagship courses. Classes also too big to provide any meaningful interactions. Aloof teachers paying little attention […]

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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 21, 2019
Hammering your employees is self-defeating

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Many years ago, I ran a seminar on customer excellence for a leading corporation. When my presentation was over, I began taking questions from the floor. The first question was this: ‘What should we do about bad customers?’ I offered what I thought was a comprehensive answer. To my […]

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