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Friday, April 26, 2013



When I train leaders I often ask, "how come winning teams lose and losing teams can win? I get many responses to this question, but I conclude by letting participants know that past success does not account for future glory. It doesn't matter how many games you have won or lost, the only things that count are courage, character, competence and the nature of the challenge.

A teenager called David killed the giant Goliath, a seasoned soldier, in his first war. The size of the challenge may have been new to David, but certainly not its nature. David killed Goliath with the same skills he used to kill lions and bears while looking after his father's sheep.  The size of the challenge was new but the nature of the challenge was exactly the same.

When you face a challenge, don't look at its size. Study its nature, if it is something you have handled before. It really doesn't matter how large the challenge is, you have the skill to smite it. Past success does not account for future glory, but accumulated skills do.

Allan Bukusi

Knowledge is to civilization; attitude is to change as skill is to transformation.

Knowledge is to civilization; attitude is to change as skill is to transformation.

Allan Bukusi


Transformation is the only leadership situation where skill outweighs experience; courage is more important than qualifications and character offsets the challenge.
Allan Bukusi

Thursday, April 25, 2013


With the shortlisting of candidates for Principal Secretaries, the search for national leadership has begun in earnest.
Transformation is a national agenda in Kenya. However, though most people have a general idea of what transformation is, not enough people know how to go about it. More people need to understand the concept to avoid being fooled and frustrated by institutional window-dressing and the recycling of conventional CEOs. Transformation is much more than change, a new coat of paint or even new leadership. Transformation is a process of renewal that facilitates the long-term survival, sustainability and success of an organization. Transformation is hardly an academic exercise, but the process does have eight laws.
1.      Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Scientists tell us that the human body totally renews itself every seven to ten years. This amazing fact equips the body to not only survive but also adapt itself to the changing environment. Some people will recognize this law from the book of Romans, but James Allen who wrote the classic “As a Man Thinketh” espouses the same truth. You cannot expect new results with old thinking. Einstein is quoted as saying, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results". Fundamentally new thinking must be brought into an organization to ensure transformation. Leaders that rely on tradition and past success will drag the nation back into history. The future is not determined by the past.
2.      Keep the customer in focus
This quote is not business jargon; it is common sense. The citizen is the sole reason for national transformation. Without the people, the government is irrelevant. Transformation should focus on ensuring that the people survive and thrive in the new environment. When national focus shifts to tax, stakeholders, salaries or even specific leaders, citizens will not support the government. Citizens, a nations customers, must be the primary, if not the only, beneficiaries of every transformation initiative.
3.      Upgrade the organization continually
Some people would like to use the word “update” rather than “upgrade” in this law. However, in essence, this law means that what worked for an organization in the past is not going to work in future. Every organization lags behind its environment. Every athlete knows that, “what got you there is not enough to keep you there, leave alone to take you ahead”. Any government or organization that slides into the comfort zone of success is hanging on the cliff of major failure. 
4.      Align organization values-systems
Any attempt to transform an organization without aligning its culture to the new service delivery requirements is a recipe for disaster. People’s values and attitudes drive performance. The proverbial story of the donkey that refused to drink water when taken to the river, finds potent application here. Skills and technology build organizational capacity, but an organization will not advance without a shift in the people’s will to serve the public.
5.      Uphold integrity
Integrity is both a personal and organization quality. However, integrity is not, “not doing wrong” or, “doing right”. Integrity is the ability of a person or organization to deliver on their promises. National transformation will take place when our people and institutions do what they promise to do. The electricity company, for example, fails the integrity test every time there is a power blackout. Leaders fail the test every time they do not pursue what they propose to do. Employees fail the integrity test when they ask for more pay and produce no value.
6.      Develop new leaders
This law underlies the biggest tragedy of many national transformation initiatives. Constantly recycling old leaders and never developing new leaders does not move the nation forward. Jack Welch not only diligently developed leaders to take up senior positions at General Electric (GE); but he also religiously got rid of 20% of the bottom performers within the organization. GE survived and thrived, not because of its top leadership, but because of the depth of its new leadership. If we are to see national transformation in Kenya, it should be liberally populated with emerging leaders.
7.      Evolve with your customers
Many organizations are guilty of treating their customers with contempt. They consider their customers to be, “the same old, same old”. They offer one standard product like Henrys Model T Ford. When pressed for choice by his customers, Henry made the car in four colors. Frustrated customers migrated to other carmakers. What Henry did not know was that his customers had evolved. The very good product he offered whetted the customer’s appetite for more. There can be no national transformation if the government does not keep up with transformed citizens.
8.      Lead the transformation process
Finally, someone must be willing to lead the transformational effort. The leader must be willing to be a pioneer and step into places people have never been before. This is the main reason why transformation cannot be led by conventional or “experienced” CEOs. Such leaders are not willing to take risks that would jeopardize their career. Conventional leaders are only comfortable with minor changes and at ease with the status quo. It took unconventional leaders to turnaround CIC, KWS, UCHUMI and Kenyatta University. Transformation goals must initially look impossible, if not stupid.
Successful transformational leaders, like Mandela, often have little or no experience, and may have no superior academic qualifications in the area in which they lead change. Most have the ability to set clear goals and work things out as they go along. The basic ingredient is a professional competence and a keen sense of enterprise. However, all such leaders understand the power of leadership; have new ideas and the courage to implement them. And possess an above average passion to drive the arduous transformation process to completion.
Allan Bukusi is the author of How To lead Corporate Transformation    

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Don't give me a reasonable dream. Don't give me a possible dream. Give me an unreasonable and impossible dream, then I will know it is not me who did it.

Allan Bukusi


I have read the witty comments on social media and the sober reviews in newspapers about President Kenyatta’s promise of laptops to standard one pupils with rising distress. Though the negative views are in the minority and easy to laugh at, they reveal the poverty mindset the nation needs to abandon to move from “analogue to digital”. The point is not that we believe what the president is saying is impossible; rather the point is that many people have no knowledge of what must be done to bring about national transformation.

 If the president holds to his word, he will be doing no more than Moi or Kibaki who moved education forward with the 844 system and free primary education. At the time people said these initiatives were impossible, unwise or too expensive. I don’t think those who benefited from these changes would mindlessly call them a waste of time.

When President John F Kennedy told Americans on 21st May 1961, “we shall put a man on the moon before the end of the decade”, the people scoffed. The people could not see beyond themselves and the cold war. But America did put a man on the moon in July 20 1969, less than a year before the end of the decade. Sadly, Kennedy did not see that glorious day. However, Kennedy’s victory was not that commander Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, but that America was transformed forever. Americans took a great leap forward and believed in themselves once more.

By making the moon a national priority, Kennedy inspired the people to look up. He caused the advancement of technology in every sector of the economy and inspired industries to feed the national goal. When the people realized the government was serious about the moon mission they mobilized the resources needed to make it happen. The people created enterprise, innovations and creativity to drive a stagnating economy. The goal shifted the focus from agriculture and military arms race to technology and modern industry. In short, the nation was transformed.
All the leadership gurus give place to the need for big hairy audacious goals (BHAGS) to transform a nation from Jim Collins, John Kotter to Myles Munroe. It would be a great shame if our national vision is limited to lollipops.  If Kenyans realize President Kenyatta’s goal before the end of his term, it is not the president who will be walking on the moon. We will have created new fundamental belief systems to drive society, new industries to drive enterprise (and employment) and expanded the participation of Kenyans in the global economy. We will have laid a foundation for the next generation to succeed in our rapidly changing and challenging world. In short, we will transform our nation.

Admittedly, lollipops are cheap, available in every village and provide ten minutes of sweetness. They are not like laptops that are expensive, facilitate career development and provide a technology window to a lifetime of opportunity. Our challenge as a nation is not that we do not have lollipops or laptops, but that we must change our thinking from lollipops to laptops. Just because sweets are affordable does not mean they should limit our vision. To move from sweets to significance, we must be prepared to sweat for success.

Allan Bukusi, April 2013

Author of How To Lead Corporate Transformation

Friday, April 5, 2013

People are not paid to work.

People are not paid to work. People are paid to do a job, but volunteer to work.

Allan Bukusi

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Keep your head

Keep your head. You will need it when the troubles are over. The troubles will surely be over.

Allan Bukusi

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What is your market share?

Your share of customers in the market is good to know. It is the whereabouts of the other customers in the market that you should be worried about. It is customers who share the market.

Allan Bukusi

Monday, April 1, 2013

It is possible to know too much and understand too little.

It is possible to know too much and understand too little.

Allan Bukusi

Don’t just leave a legacy, live a legacy.

Don't just leave a legacy, live a legacy.

Allan Bukusi

The difference between Knowledge Wisdom & Understanding

Knowledge is information about something. Wisdom is to explain what that thing can do. Understanding is to make that thing work for you.

Allan Bukusi

What is your lifes greatest impact?

The greatest impact you will have in this life is on another life. If that life is a young life, you will be reborn. If that life impacts another life, you just might live forever.

Allan Bukusi

Discipline is the ability to achieve anything.

Discipline is the ability to achieve anything.

Allan Bukusi