"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Jul 24, 2022
How many in your organization would leave tomorrow?

The year 2003, for those who can remember it, was a time of great optimism in Kenya. A new government was in place, installed by the voters after a prolonged period of autocracy and economic stagnation.  That optimism caused me to leave employment in order to seek greater fulfilment in my work; and it also […]

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Mar 13, 2022
If fascists are left unchecked, they will undo us

I never really paid much attention to fascism when I was younger. The notorious fascists of the early 20th century led the human race into a catastrophic world war before being finally vanquished. Given the consequences, I thought we were done with that part of our history. I thought we had all learned our lesson […]

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Jan 09, 2022
Three reflections from Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu is no more. You will by now have read plenty about this storied African’s manifold achievements. The always smiling Archbishop was a man of courage, wisdom—and much irreverent humour. Allow me to share three of his insights that have stayed with me over the years. The first is this very cheeky observation, coming […]

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Jul 11, 2021
Who gets to join your 21C board of directors? A provocation

Are you wondering about your board of directors being fit for purpose? If you’re a chairperson, or company secretary, or head of the board governance/nominations committee, the indefatigable Tom Peters has some recommendations for you in his latest book, Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism. Assume a board of ten persons for a large organization. In 2021, […]

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Dec 13, 2020
The man with the hammer is about to disturb you

The man with the hammer is ready to start work. He is employed on a construction site. His job is to attach metal sheets to steel girders. It is a very noisy job. A high-decibel racket is about to ensue. The site is on a quiet residential road in Nairobi. The time is 12 midnight […]

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Nov 29, 2020
Stand up to be counted during this global crisis

There’s a global pandemic on, for crying out loud. I say this because some of us seem not to understand the gravity of the situation. Some of us seem to regard this thing as a minor irritation, a temporary encumbrance, to be ignored or wished away, so that something called “business as usual” can continue. […]

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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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Dec 22, 2019
Those who lead for the few cause perpetual turmoil

Every so often you have to look at the world around you and wonder what on earth is wrong with human beings. There seems to be turmoil everywhere. Massive public demonstrations, often turning violent, are occurring in every corner. Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Lebanon, Spain, Iran, Iraq, India, Thailand – is that a long […]

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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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Sep 15, 2019
Why do people keep selecting bad leaders?

Let me tell you about a certain country. A century ago, this country was regarded as one of the most promising of the future. It was richly endowed with a very diverse trove of natural resources, and had a GDP per capita higher than that of France or Germany. It attracted immigrants from far and […]

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Apr 21, 2019
So you sacked a manager. So what?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Last December, José Mourinho was sacked as manager of Manchester United, one of the world’s richest and most trophy-laden football clubs. His firing was almost universally welcomed by United’s faithful fans. A caretaker replacement, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was appointed in his place quickly. He has since gone on to […]

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Jul 29, 2018
The taxi driver with advice for presidents and prime ministers

Kamran is a taxi driver in Dubai. I met him on a recent trip and found him a little different from the norm. Despite doing a difficult and demanding job, and one that does not offer the best reward, he stays upbeat and positive. So much so that I engaged him exclusively on a daily […]

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May 20, 2018
All that rain, and yet no water

An observant visitor to Nairobi over the past few weeks would have noted an interesting paradox: it has rained and rained and rained and then rained some more in the capital city; and yet the metropolis remains locked in water rationing, quite severely in some areas. If this was your visitor, how would you explain […]

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Jan 14, 2018
Road safety? Start with purpose

Kenyans are perplexed again by the upsurge in road carnage that takes place every December. The holiday period inevitably brings about even more horrific deaths and injuries on our roads (again). The public inevitably is outraged (again). The government inevitably promises a raft of new measures (again). See you here in January 2019 when we […]

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Dec 03, 2017
Why do leaders cling on to power?

Watching Robert Mugabe cling on to power at the ripe old age of 93 was perplexing. He had clearly outstayed his welcome by decades, not years; the army had been forced to move in to prevent him handing over power to his own wife; and hundreds of thousands of his people had poured into the […]

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Nov 26, 2017
How easily should a public figure be sacked?

Michael Fallon, the United Kingdom’s Defence Secretary, was forced to resign. He did this shortly after he was forced to admit he had inappropriately touched the knee of a female journalist fifteen years earlier. Priti Patel, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development was forced to step down in the same week as […]

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Nov 05, 2017
The invisible issue haunting our elections

And so Kenyans trooped to vote again in a presidential election for the second time in three months. Or not. This election, held against the backdrop of a deeply divided country and the withdrawal of a key protagonist, ultimately yielded a turnout that was a record low. Because so many voting stations stayed empty for […]

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Sep 10, 2017
Amidst electoral uncertainty, what to do?

(Photo credit: Ciku Nyawira) When they said 2017 is an election “year” in Kenya, they meant it! As I write this, Kenya is in electoral limbo. The Supreme Court has ordered a fresh presidential election, declaring the August 8 poll null and void, after months and months of noisy and expensive electioneering. The electoral body […]

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Aug 20, 2017
We must move on from messiah leadership

Watching the aftermath of our recent general election, I was left pondering a phenomenon that appears after pretty every such event in these parts. Those who support the presidential candidate announced as the winner inevitably embark on celebrations. That’s perfectly understandable – everyone likes to be part of a winning team, after all. But for […]

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Aug 13, 2017
What comes first – your belief, or the facts?

Another disputed election. That’s a hat-trick now since 2007. At the time of writing this, I do not know who won the various poll races held in Kenya this week, because the official results are not out yet. But the airwaves and the cybersphere are full of competing narratives, conspiracy theories, accusations and allegations. The […]

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Aug 06, 2017
Waiting for an election-proof Kenya

Another general election looms. Because this is Kenya, that could mean some or all of the following: Heightened tension. Hate speech. Fake news. Reversion to tribal identity. Insults and counter-insults. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Rigging and counter-rigging. Anxiety and nervousness. Economic standstill. Ethnic displacement. And, if the worst happens, botched results followed by mayhem. Why are […]

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May 14, 2017
There are no wasted votes

Kenyans are notorious for voting in herds. We get stampeded like cattle towards the candidate of the moment, the one that is likely to win. For national posts we get swayed by tribal overlords who tell us it is our duty to support ‘our candidate’ against ‘theirs.’ For local elections we wait to see which […]

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Mar 19, 2017
We can’t let trust disappear from our lives

The other day I was caught in the usual Nairobi traffic jam, in a taxi with a driver I did not know. We heard an ambulance siren blaring behind us, and most cars in the gridlocked queue began making way by climbing onto the pavement. But not everyone did this. To my surprise, even my […]

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Feb 26, 2017
Who’s the most important person in the game?

Two football teams run out onto the field and take their positions. Who is the most important person on the pitch? Is it one team’s star striker going for a record number of goals? Is it the other team’s veteran midfield general? Or is it that agile new goalkeeper, widely expected to be one of […]

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Jan 08, 2017
Things improve if the consequences are real and personal

A lifetime of observing people and societies has taught me one thing: people only behave if the consequences of their actions are visited upon them, personally. Why do Nairobi nightclub owners continue to bombard their neighbours in residential areas with music played at insane decibel levels? Because their own children are not studying for their […]

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Dec 18, 2016
Societal failure looks like this

It’s an interesting photograph. In the middle there is a sparkling new Rolls Royce parked in a city street; clearly, the owner is doing very well. But wait, to the left there seems to be an open drain running alongside the glittering car. And to the right of the limousine a very young child is […]

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Jul 17, 2016
A city that’s lost its neighbourliness

It starts as a pulsating thud in the evening and gets progressively louder as the night goes on, often going into the early hours of the morning. Many, many Nairobians lie on their beds wide awake because of this noise, wondering what happened to good neighbourliness. The noise I refer to is the music being […]

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Jul 10, 2016
Is your bank ready for the ‘new normal’?

A bank is a very special institution. When you become a custodian of other people’s money, you become bound by very particular regulatory rules to ensure you do not misuse the privilege. When you lend that money out to others, society must ensure you do not use that power to bring those others to ruin. […]

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