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

Oct 24, 2021
We strive and thrive in groups—and also fight in groups

Human beings congregate in groups. From early childhood we are enrolled into collectives: extended families, religions, ethnic groupings, nations, skin colours, sports teams, work organizations. Our parents, teachers, community elders, religious leaders, tribal overlords, and national rulers all have great interest in press-ganging us into groups. Even those of us who might resist this herding […]

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Oct 17, 2021
A Nobel Prize of great meaning

Abdulrazak Gurnah won the Nobel Prize for Literature last week, and it meant a great deal. He is only the fifth person of African birth to win the prize, and the closest to our own shores—his birthplace is Zanzibar, that captivating, mysterious island across the waters from Kenya. Why is this such a big deal? […]

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Oct 10, 2021
A time of great innovation is loading. Where will it find you?

A year ago, I discussed Pret a Manger on this page. The super-successful London sandwich chain serving office workers, with more than Sh 100 billion in annual sales, had just been whacked hard by the coronavirus. It suffered its lowest footfall on record and had to make a third of its employees redundant. As offices […]

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Oct 03, 2021
Age gracefully, and leave your toys behind

A fond memory from childhood popped up in my head the other day. The neighbourhood kids were all out playing, as was the norm back then. There were no “devices” available to us other than makeshift toys, perhaps a ball or two. Entertainment was confined to a single cartoon show from the Voice of Kenya […]

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Sep 26, 2021
How much is too much? We seem to have no idea

This gentleman once had a big corporate job. He was an executive director at a large business, at global level. Finding his work bereft of meaning, however, he didn’t last. He catapulted himself out of his office chair and into a life of doing the work he actually loves—studying, teaching, guiding, advising, writing. James Suzman […]

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Sep 19, 2021
Should we let go of outdated dress codes?

Some years ago, I stood up in a boardroom to address the assembled directors. I had been asked to speak to board members on trends in governance and strategy. Before I could speak, however, a hand was raised. A visibly peeved director asked me why I was addressing that room, a gathering of the high […]

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Sep 12, 2021
Are you a good customer?

My first book was Crown Your Customer. It was an early attempt to chronicle the supremacy of the customer. Your business only succeeds if your customers are happy, I wrote, and if they are happy enough to keep buying from you. Place the customer at the centre of your world, and you won’t regret it. […]

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Sep 05, 2021
When to persist, and when to desist? A booklover’s tale

Nilanjana Roy is a wonderful columnist for the Financial Times. She is, like me, a devoted bibliophile. She revels in her love of literature and enrols many in the cause of reading. She recently penned a piece that really got me thinking about how I read books. My why, as regular readers of this page will know, is crystal […]

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Aug 29, 2021
How much unnecessary pain do you inflict on your customers?

Some years back I was the facilitator for a strategy retreat for a leading corporate, and checked into a hotel for the event. It was a high-level affair; all board members and senior executives were present. A top-notch hotel had therefore been chosen, to cater for the senior attendees and deliver an excellent service experience. […]

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Aug 22, 2021
Why I was unmoved by Messi’s tears

Lionel Messi cried. A lot. Football’s leading icon showed up at a press conference to announce his sudden departure from his beloved club, FC Barcelona, after two glorious decades there. As he stood to make his speech he faltered, his voice breaking. Then came the flood of tears. After recovering, he went on to say […]

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Aug 15, 2021
How do you fight Amazon?

If the behemoth that is Amazon enters your industry, how on earth do you fight it? Amazon has bottomless financial resources. It has remarkable strategic vision. It is the trailblazer in online shopping with decades of experience behind it. It cannot be beaten on price or convenience. What the hell do you do? Take a […]

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Aug 08, 2021
Rush-rush, busy-busy – but why?

Nairobians have made a fetish of being rushed off their feet and of being perpetually busy. We always have to be somewhere else, and we are always late; we always have to be busy, and be seen to be busy, and talk about being busy. Our self-esteem and self-regard seem to ride on it. What […]

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Aug 01, 2021
Clouds, kitchens and landlords – a lesson in strategy

I first mentioned “cloud” kitchens on this page exactly two years ago. Also called “dark” or “ghost” kitchens, these are are stripped-down operations that produce for delivery only – no service, no waiters. They use data to understand what is most in demand, where, and when – and they locate to serve that demand. The […]

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Jul 25, 2021
Less is more. A life lesson

Less is more, good people. Less is more. If you’re about to give a long speech, cut it in half. If you are presenting a slide deck, reduce it to a third of what you planned. And cut away all the superfluous text on every slide as well. Why? Because when you overdo it, it’s […]

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Jul 18, 2021
How the halo effect dumbs us all down

It didn’t come home. In one of their most hyped football tournaments ever, England performed extremely well – but fell at the last hurdle, losing on penalties to Italy in the 2020 European Championship final last week. More on that to come, but first, let’s talk about one of the curious phenomena of human behaviour. […]

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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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Jul 04, 2021
Here are three personal skills your children will need

I have a lot of time for Margaret Heffernan. She writes really thought-provoking books; acts as a mentor and guide to many leaders; and is a lecturer in real-world leadership. Oh, and she has also been a BBC producer and a tech entrepreneur! CV aside, Ms Heffernan is an extremely clear and lucid thinker. In […]

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Jun 27, 2021
Can you eat your own dog food?

Many years ago, I was frustrated by an airline’s constant lateness. A batch of clients heading for our leadership programme had again been delayed by many hours, causing big disruption to our carefully laid out schedule. This had become a regular, predictable occurrence. The hotel manager waiting with me told me: “It’s a shame that […]

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Jun 20, 2021
Are you looking up and ahead?

About a decade ago I began telling bankers in this part of the world: you are probably looking at “peak bank branch” in the years to come. In which year will your branch network peak – and then begin to reduce in numbers? Ten years ago no one really paid attention. It took another five […]

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Jun 13, 2021
So you can’t find great women for your organization? Really?

A decade ago, there was a question I was regularly asked by chairmen and CEOs. It went something like this: “I need to have more women on my board and senior management team. But where do I find them?” The question was usually asked by males of a certain vintage. It was perhaps forgivable then […]

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Jun 06, 2021
Do you have a N’golo Kanté on your team?

The shortest man on the pitch won more aerial headers than any of his team-mates. N’golo Kanté, the one-man midfield dynamo, won the UEFA Champions League 2021 for his club, Chelsea FC. He was player-of-the-match in both semi-final legs and the final itself.  N’golo runs and runs and runs. He breaks up opponents’ play, and […]

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May 30, 2021
I have been wrong many times. That’s OK

An admission: I have been wrong many times – right here on this page. That should not be news to anyone, but somehow it is. We are, all of us, prone to error. We can not only be wrong, but egregiously, terribly wrong. To err is human, as Alexander Pope pointed out aeons ago (and […]

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May 23, 2021
What does it take to become a 200-year organization?

The Guardian newspaper is 200 years old. I first started reading it in the first year of my degree course in London. It was not normal reading for a student of economics and business – which is precisely why I was attracted to it. I’ve never stopped reading it, decades later, even from a different […]

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May 16, 2021
Education must escape the tyranny of the clock

It has taken me decades to learn how to eat slowly. I tend to gobble down my meal and finish in just a few minutes. This is not a good thing. Modern nutritionists advise that we eat and drink slowly and carefully. So why am I like this? The genesis of the problem is high […]

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May 09, 2021
The future will belong to those who can humanize as they digitize

You will stay meaningful in the near future of business if you can do this: Humanize + Digitize. The “digitize” part should be obvious to all, especially after a pandemic that sent everyone hurtling into a low-touch world. Online transactions and digital experiences have boomed as never before. In most sectors we have no choice […]

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May 02, 2021
What football’s moneymen have forgotten: community

The owners of the elite European football clubs seemed to plunge themselves into a collective sudden-onset madness a couple of weeks ago. 12 top clubs announced they were to be part of a breakaway European Super League, to replace the UEFA Champions League on their calendars. The difference? The elite clubs would run the new […]

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Apr 25, 2021
This skill will still be very valuable in the future world of work

We are rushing headlong into a world of virtual meetings and digital interactions. As I outlined here last week, we all need to raise our digital game: running meetings on Zoom; building teams on Teams; delivering projects on Basecamp. It is tempting to think that new-world skills – working with software, deploying new-fangled hardware – […]

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Apr 18, 2021
A new world of hybrid work is loading

One thing that this pandemic has done for us: it has dispersed work. What used to be done together in one place is now being done all over the place: in homes, in cafes, in far-off locales. Except for those most acutely affected, the work, by and large, has not stopped. It’s just relocated. Once […]

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