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

Jun 20, 2004
If we fail to become authentic, we fail at everything

Here’s a story often told in management circles when discussing culture and change. It concerns an experiment involving some chimpanzees in a cage, a bunch of bananas and a hosepipe: Five chimpanzees were put in a cage. In the middle of the cage was a step-ladder with a bunch of bananas placed on top of […]

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Jun 13, 2004
How a national campaign is attacking those who waste the time of others

How much time do you waste every day because of the tardiness of others? Waiting for a meeting to start, when the other participants have not shown up? Sitting around at a doctor’s clinic where you had booked an appointment for an hour earlier? Awaiting a report that was due last week, and without which […]

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Jun 06, 2004
Why economic development alone cannot deliver happiness

We are on the road to economic development. At the end of this road we will find some wonderful prizes: affluence, freedom from hunger, higher life expectancy and enhanced quality of life. Right? Before you accept the truth of that statement, allow me to take you on a brief tour of the developed world. Let’s […]

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Jun 01, 2004
These days, the business of business is social responsibility

This is the era of good corporate citizenship. As governments are rolled back all over the world, big corporations are rushing in to fill the void. Business is now the principal engine of growth and development the world over, and society demands that corporations contribute to the social, environmental and economic goals of the communities […]

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Here today, here tomorrow: is your company in for the long run?

You lead a large, long-established, obviously successful East African company. It is a veritable behemoth, looming large over the corporate landscape. Its products are household names, loved by consumers. It is a profit machine, churning out handsome dividends to smiling shareholders. There is every reason to feel confident about the future. Allow me to send […]

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May 30, 2004
Our media industry can build this country – or pull it down

Few countries in history have enjoyed meaningful economic development without having a vibrant media sector. Why? Because the instruments of mass communication are one of the key enablers of political freedom, which in turn is one of the keys that unlock economic growth. The best development happens in an environment of freedom and transparency. We […]

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May 23, 2004
India’s election has a big message for the Narc government

Our MPs are very fond of going to the coast for workshops – usually sponsored by donors. If a well-meaning donor can be found again, I have a suggestion: that all MPs be sent back to Mombasa. The task this time, however, would be to sit on the beach and stare across that beautiful expanse […]

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May 16, 2004
Road deaths are predictable and preventable

Of all the systems you and I have to deal with every day of our lives, one stands out as the most dangerous. Systems are, of course, all around us. Most things we deal with can be defined as a set of connected parts: your home, your office, the government. All of these systems present, […]

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May 09, 2004
Institutions, not politicians, will deliver us from poverty

Here’s something to think about: it is not in Kenya alone that politicians are an utterly untrustworthy breed! As we continue to look upon our political leaders with suspicion, irritation and frustration, we can console ourselves with the news that we are not alone. Politicians are held in very low public esteem all over the […]

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May 02, 2004
Why we all have to learn to set high standards

Reading Kenyan newspapers these days tends to be distressing pastime. Consider the following news items that appeared over the past few weeks: Forty-one people were injured, two seriously, when a train rammed into a speeding bus in Athi River town. How did this happen? Because the bus driver approaching the railway crossing, in a mindless […]

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Apr 25, 2004
There will be no winners in the Iraq war

A few weeks ago, I wrote of the lies told to justify the Iraq War. Since then there has been a relentless barrage of revelations by former insiders, whistleblowers and journalists, showing the true (and shocking) extent to which the US president and his advisors peddled falsehoods. Last month, the US House of Representatives published […]

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Apr 18, 2004
The proper role of government in our development

Successive governments since independence have, in varying degrees, been devoid of vision, devoid of ethics and devoid of competence. In other words, as they took charge of the bus called Kenya, they drove us round in circles, failed to maintain the vehicle until it collapsed, and ran away with all the passengers’ money. Given this, […]

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Apr 11, 2004
This high-decibel culture is retarding our progress

“Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?” These words are attributed to Sai Baba, the celebrated saint who lived in Shirdi in India at the turn of the twentieth century. Today in Kenya, I find myself wondering: would we have any political […]

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Apr 04, 2004
How to succeed as a politician in Kenya

This week I would like to continue my occasional series offering free career advice to the young and ambitious. Last time I outlined the sure-fire ways to make money in this country. This time I’d like to focus on the big one: becoming a politician in Kenya. So pay attention, youngsters – you could make […]

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Mar 28, 2004
We cannot develop if we leave the poor behind

Last Sunday I found I suddenly had a distinguished neighbour: a ‘whole’ ambassador, as we say in Kenya. No, I haven’t moved to one of those affluent suburbs where the diplomatic classes spend their weekends in stately repose. I refer to the fact that Bo Goransson, Sweden’s ambassador to Kenya, wrote a thought-provoking article on […]

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Mar 21, 2004
Use the City Hall fire to start again

What was the defining moment of the recent City Hall fire? Was it when shadowy arsonists (allegedly) sneaked in to do their dirty work? Was it when we found that the much-derided Nairobi City Council was utterly unable to put out a fire in its own headquarters? No. For me the defining moment was altogether […]

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Mar 14, 2004
Our culture of violence degrades us all

You may have seen a very disturbing scene on our TV screens earlier this week. A local TV station carried the story on its prime news slot, and a very distressing one it was. It caused a cabinet minister to condemn Kenyans as “vulgar hooligans” the next day, and it was hard to disagree. This […]

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Mar 08, 2004
Redesign your board to suit your company’s strategic circumstances

The new management series by Sunny Bindra continues. This week: Part 2 of an article on corporate governance arguing that in redesigning the board of directors, we need to throw tradition out of the window. The traditional board of directors has had its day. The original concept was elegantly simple and eminently successful. It belonged […]

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Mar 07, 2004
Gangsters now control the lives of every citizen

Who runs this country? The government, you say? Really? Ask yourself this: who has control over your physical movements, your social and economic opportunities, your investments and your peace of mind? The answer, I’m afraid, is that this control is in the hands of the violent gangsters who are still rampaging unchecked across the land. […]

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Mar 01, 2004
The real challenge of corporate governance: reinvent the board of directors!

The EastAfrican announces a new management series by Sunny Bindra focusing on the key strategic issues facing senior executives in the region today. We start with the first part of a challenging look at a hallowed institution: the board of directors. The corporate board is on fire. Across the world, boards are under unprecedented pressure. […]

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Feb 29, 2004
The truth will return to haunt Iraq’s invaders

If you’ve ever heard members of the Sikh religion greeting each other, you will know that they always say “Sat Sri Akaal”. What you may not know is what it means: “Truth is Eternal”. The enlightened founders of Sikhism asked Sikhs to place truth so high that it is embedded in their daily greeting. The […]

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Feb 22, 2004
Love is the loser on Valentine’s Day

So, did you have a good Valentine’s Day? Did your loved one deliver the goods? Were the roses red enough, and was the candlelight soft enough? Did the presents bestowed on you show taste and discernment (and an acceptably hefty price tag)? And oh, before we forget – did you feel the love? But we’ll […]

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Feb 15, 2004
Poor management is the root cause of under-performance

During the early stages of the African Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia recently, we learned something important: that the defence of our national team, Harambee Stars, is ‘porous’. This was the adjective favoured by most local commentators, implying that the defence leaks goals. Actually, during the 3-1 and 3-0 thrashings that our boys suffered […]

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Feb 08, 2004
We must emphasise skills and knowledge above all else

Last week I wrote about the remarkable progress India is making in transforming its economy. India is attracting the attention of economic commentators around the world; most agree that the country has come out of an economic ‘Ice Age’ and is going into a dramatic ‘takeoff’ stage. What can we in Kenya learn from this […]

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Feb 01, 2004
India became an economic powerhouse before our eyes

This is my 50th article since I started writing this column nearly a year ago. To mark the milestone, let me take you on a trip beyond our borders. When I was a schoolboy in Nairobi in the early 1980s, we would often compare our economy with that of India. Kenya was growing at a […]

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Jan 25, 2004
Let us give legitimacy to the small entrepreneur

This week, I’d like to introduce a couple of Kenyans to you. January is traditionally the time of year that many of us try to accumulate calendars to give out to junior employees, underlings etc. This year, a dog trainer did a neat reversal on me. Instead of pleading for a cheap calendar from me, […]

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Jan 18, 2004
Spare the poor taxpayer all this wasteful spending

I am not a fan of TV soap operas. They are poorly written, with wildly unbelievable plots. They focus almost exclusively on adultery and sexual intrigue. The characters are overheated and very far removed from common reality. Or are they? Kenyans have found themselves fascinated in recent weeks by the real-life soap opera that is […]

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Jan 11, 2004
To win in 2007, start to deliver in 2004!

It is the dawn of 2004, and you might be forgiven for thinking that we’re already in the run-up to the 2007 election. Every politician in the land seems to have his or her beady eye fixed firmly on December 2007. All the political buzz in the land is about coalitions, alliances and deals. The […]

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