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Monday, March 31, 2014

Kigali - City on a hill

I set out a week ago on a visit to Kigali to look for business opportunities, make new contacts and meet friends. I made all three and more. On my way back, I passed through Kampala and visited Makerere, the famous University my father attended nearly 60 years ago. Africa has roots, deep roots. It has a rich past, but also a glowing future. I have carried memories from Kigali that I look forward to sharing with my grandchildren. Memories that no pictures can tell.

The city is actually set on many hills and is spread out with the same pristine sense of deliberate order. The un-intrusive presence of armed police and militia keeps a watchful eye on all that is going on. Nairobi and Kampala drive on the left, Kigali drives on the right. I had to stop and think every time I crossed the road. You will find all the top of the range cars in Kigali as anywhere else in east Africa. The people are friendly, but far more familiar with Kinyarwanda than Kiswahili, English or French. One can sense there is a great deal of learning or relearning going on among the populace. Nevertheless, one of the first things that caught my eye was the proud, bold machined print on the back of a three-wheeled motorized truck – MADE IN RWANDA! The people know who they are.
I can say that Kigali is a city that has benefited from a new start. A new start because it is deliberately organized and actually well groomed.  There are well-arranged royal palms throughout the main town on a hill. The town center does not have the hustle and bustle you will find in other capitals in East Africa, but you will find all the international business institutions you need.

Kigali has a national vision (2020).  I did not analyze how far along they have come along on their strategic plan, but as a visitor, I am very pleased with what they have done to keep the environment clean. For one there are no flying plastic bags. Moreover, I carried my shopping around in the romantic brown paper bags that I had not used in three decades. Clearly, the Kagame government was determined to give the country a new start.
I visited the Tutsi Genocide Memorial. I could not complete that whole tour. Not because I did not have the time. It is an emotionally draining experience. The horror of it is incompatible with what you see in the city or even outside the fence of the memorial grounds. The memorial needed to be set up. It is impossible to explain to anyone how humanity can turn on itself and commit such atrocities. It is a story that needs to be told and retold – lest we forget and let it happen again. Other cities set up museums in which to hide their past. The memorial is living history. It is in full view of the city. The picture of the city in this article is taken from the grounds of the memorial.

I visited Nyabugogo the central arrival point of all road transport into the city form eastern Africa. That in itself is an experience. The transport park is a like a people exchange where every language is spoken. Baggage, luggage and forex are also exchanged. The small trader has business meetings in the tea kiosks and sells his wares to whoever will buy – in any currency.
I also visited Nyarutarama. The location of the plush and well heeled in society. Like every city, there are prime places and other places, but in Kigali, everywhere is orderly and clean.  I feel good about this city not because there are rich and poor or that it has good roads and someone has a vision. No, I feel good about this city because the people have chosen to face the reality of their past and do something about the promise of their future. It is a city of hope. A hope they want to pass on to their grandchildren. Kigali is set on a hill as a beacon to remind those who doubt that if we look out from where we are, if we look far enough and if we are willing to work hard enough we can all live the hope we long for.

Allan Bukusi, Kigali

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Journey of Corporate Transformation

Scientists tell us that the human body totally renews itself every seven to ten years. This amazing act equips the body to not only survive, but also adapt itself to the changing environment and overcome future challenges. While the human body transforms naturally, an organization must develop in the capacity to survive and thrive. However, no organization has the luxury of waiting seven years to start the process of renewal. Indeed an organization that does not make an effort to transform itself every 2-3 years will soon decay and become unresponsive to environmental change.

The journey of corporate transformation starts with a leadership team committed to the success of the business. It begin with a briefing of what transformation is, how to go about it, and its key benefits. This briefing helps the leadership team assess the value of the program, ascent to and own the process. The briefing enables a business to make a reflective assessment of 1) the state of the business is, 2) where it wants to go, and 3) what strategy it needs to employ to reach its goals. The journey itself has four activity stages.

These four activity stages moves a business through the corporate transformation cycle and equips the organization to embark on the journey of successful corporate transformation. The journey of corporate transformation is not a short-term intervention or latest management fad. It is a fundamental process of renewal that facilitates the long-term survival, sustainability and success of a business by focusing on fulfilling the evolving needs of the customer within a dynamic environment.

Allan Bukusi is the CEO of Management Decision Information, director of Allan Bukusi Associates and author of how to lead corporate transformation. He has over two decades experience training & consulting for major local and international organizations in the public, private and NGO sectors and  has started several organizations on the Journey of Corporate Transformation.

The 5 Pillars of Corporate Transformation


Corporate transformation is a fundamental organization process of renewal that facilitates the long-term survival, sustainability and success of a business by focusing on fulfilling the needs of the changing customer. Successful corporate transformation requires the cooperation and participation of all members of the organization. The five pillars of corporate strategy enables an organization to stimulate transformation in its key institutions systematically, synergistically and where practical simultaneously.
The purpose of every corporate organization is to serve its customer. The moment an organization fails to meet its customer needs, it ceases to exist. Every business has only one focus for survival, sustainability and success. That focus is the customer.  Small businesses and bureaucratic institutions alike must have the same focus if they want to thrive. Unfortunately, when organizations lose focus on the customer they erode the confidence of the customer in the business. Unknown to business centered on its own success, is the fact that customers evolve. Successful businesses create strategies to sustain customer confidence. A business seeking to succeed in corporate transformation may install all the latest technology, but will only succeed if it pays specific attention to the customer.

An organization is like an engine of a car or a production line in a plant. At best, you can get an engine to run very efficiently within the limitations of its design. And you can improve performance by making modest adjustments to the engine or production line, but to get a completely new level of performance you must change the engine and install a new production process. Organization structures and systems behave like engine blocks or fixed production lines. You can improve production by making slight changes, but to transform that organization you may need to re-format the business altogether.

Leadership is, “to transform a group of people, in an environment, from where they are to where they need to be using vision, strategy and prudent use of resources”. Organizations employ leaders and entrust them with the responsibility to realize corporate goals. It is not hard to imagine that poor leadership cannot deliver corporate goals. An organization hoping to succeed in corporate transformation needs to develop its leadership to deliver the desired results.

A few people in top leadership can share grand ideas and plan great plans, but if there is no team to operationalize the plan, the plans  are as good as if they had never been discussed. Corporate organizations employ people to implement plans. These plans must be known to them and owned by them.  However, teams are built around goals. Each time an organization has a fresh idea it must rebuild the team to realign the operating team to the new goal. An organization cannot say, “ we did team building two years ago, we think we are still good to go”. Each year’s plans need a NEW team. The team that existed two years ago dealt with the challenges of two years ago. This year and every year needs a custom built new team. Organizations that succeed in corporate transformation constantly examine the corporate culture and align it too support goal achievement by developing and building new teams to address new challenges.  
 It is not enough to have a good business strategy. The strategy itself must be transformative in order to trigger the desired transformation of the business. For example, a business that develops a business plan to improve profitability by 20% may be stretching the business (a little) over the previous years’ goals but certainly not transforming it. Transformational strategy sets out goals that change the organization and install the capacity for further change.  With reference to the “new engine” discussed earlier. A goal to double or triple a business operations will not only stretch the business, but will also require the installation of new capacity to achieve that goal. Such a strategy is no longer an improvement plan but a transformative strategy.

Allan Bukusi, Author of How to lead corporate transformation

Also see
What is Corporate Transformation
The Seven Qualities of a Transformation Team

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Poaching and coaching staff

You can poach for the short-term, but you must train for the long term.

Allan Bukusi

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Road to Destiny: The psychology of growing up

The road to destiny is twelve short years, from 12 to 24. The key to success on the journey is to always prepare for the next stage well in advance. The road to destiny is a journey every young man and woman must take. Unfortunately, it is a journey you can only take once. There is no stopping, no slowing and no going back or standing still on this road. Some people seem to get stuck in time, but everyone moves along. However, every person carries the joys and scars of this season throughout life. The memories will never fade. Older people still feel the intensity of this journey even though they may be at the very end of their days.

However, let no one ever cheat you that this is a miserable time. It is a time for exploration, enjoyment and experiment. It is a time for self-release and abandon. It is a time of great strength and deep emotions as God exposes you to the depths of your soul and to the vastness of the potential He has invested in you. Nonetheless, herein too lays the danger. The boundaries have been widened but there is still need for control, self-control. Those who indulge without advice, guidance or wise counsel will emerge from this period with deep regret. During this time, "later in life" seems like a million years away. During this time becoming a daddy or a mummy sounds impossible, but all it takes is a moment of careless contact between a man and a woman and nine months later it becomes a fact.

On this road it is hard to believe and so easy to trust. It is important to reach out to a person who has been that way before for guidance. Some people reach out to people they trust, but I would rather you reach out to a person who knows the way. You can tell the difference by the achievements of the people who want to give you counsel. Do not expect a drunkard to advise you better than the next bottle of beer. Neither can the poor man teach you how to get rich.  There is wisdom in the words; the blind cannot lead the blind. Find people who can see. 

Always set goals for yourself at each stage and age of your life. The reason you must do this is that the road to destiny is one un-re-livable experience. It is the journey to self-discovery which must be undertaken deliberately and without negligence. On this road, your potential is revealed by testing and opportunity. Never pass up or throw away opportunity. Never say anything is too hard or that you are tired of a thing. There will be time for that later in life. Investigate your gifts abilities interests and talents. You never know which of those things that God has provided will make you the man or woman of destiny. On the road you will experience your destiny and then relive it for the rest of your life. Unfortunately there are millions of people around the world who never realize that dreams, ambitions and aspirations are important enough to work for. It happens in every generation that the selection of leaders and laggards is made on the road to destiny. Amazingly, on the road to destiny success is a choice. After the road ends success becomes a matter of circumstance. The road to destiny is the best place to determine your future. Walk with me says wisdom.

Alexander the great was a general of the Roman army, a world power, at 21. I doubt Samson, David or Joseph were any older. Indeed the stories of Daniel and Esther are not of old seasoned professionals. Rather they are stories of young people who were trained and took counsel. Those who accepted training and wise counsel excelled. Those who became wise in their own eyes had a great fall. On the road to destiny, be wise. I urge you to accept training and wise counsel and you will excel and enjoy the road to success.  Beware the road to destiny is littered with many lost souls. The fear of God will keep you awake when others are asleep and keep you from all the things you need to avoid.  Self-respect will define you and keep you safe until you meet destiny. Time passes fast on the road to destiny. In the blinking of an eye, it is here!

Allan Bukusi

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Training For Transformation

Training for transformation invests in trainees the capacity and competence to train, equip and empower others and change their state. This is achieved by renewing mindsets and providing trainees with knowledge and technique that reframes the trainees’ worldview, empowers them to train others and inspires them to change their personal circumstances and transform the world around them. Training for transformation triggers a snowball of organization change that brings the organization to a whole new state of existence.  Knowledge does not transform a person; practice does- Training has the power to transform a person, organization, society and the environment.
Quote from the handbook Training for Transformation by Allan Bukusi

Monday, March 3, 2014

Decision making

It is very hard to work with people who don't make decisions. But it is terrifying to work with people who won't make decisions.

Allan Bukusi