Everyone in an organisation needs to start thinking about the organisation of the future and this is an important aspect the public sector in Africa shy away from. From my vantage point, the most senior people in organisations are the most change-resistant. One of my favourite books after Mavericks at Work by Bill Taylor & Polly LaBarre is definitely The Constraints of Corporate Tradition written by Alan Kantrow which was published in 1987. One of the mistakes leaders keep making is that they don’t understand the history of the organisations they work in and the portfolios they hold. Kantrow’s book posited that power doesn’t reside with the Chief Executive or the Line Managers; it might be a mid-level executive or a retired executive who still wields a lot of influence. How are five of the most important decisions that were made in last ten years made? What were the two decisions that should have been made that weren’t made?
Most organisations and countries are smart. They have thought about lots of ideas and it just never worked. You have got to do forensics to decipher what was wrong and the key to this is that you have to listen to people. Listening is such a hard skill to acquire and looking at this in hindsight, the best nuggets come in the last 15 seconds of a one-hour conversation. If you don’t have anyone in the top leadership group who doesn’t want to change, I think you are wasting your time. The biggest driver of change in economic power is urbanisation. On every strategic map of cities, Lagos takes a prominent place. I write this with some trepidation because a sitting Governor for eight years built under 5000 housing units in eight years. Contrasting this to the 1980’s of Lateef Jakande, 20,000 units were built in four years. Too much for revisionist theory.Read More »