LEAD! How Business Can Reinvent Itself for Today

LEAD! How Business Can Reinvent Itself for Today

From time to time Albert will walk in with a complex as hell question. It may be the way his mind works or just the extraordinary situations he finds himself in.

He asked, “So how can we work for a technology client and still struggle with Outlook? Why don’t they use the millions of apps for business available?”

By apps for business he meant Trello, Franz, Google apps, Slack, Dropbox and the plethora of other businesses built by the world’s most brilliant minds to help evolve the nature of business in our time and age.

Valid question with no valid answer. At the time, anyway. How could a technology business not be the most technologically adept business? It made no sense. Over the months,however, we’ve had the conversations for me to finally understand why, the uptake of new technology is not as swift as it is developed.

The People Who Run Businesses:

Big businesses are built by successive promotion of talent and so in most cases people in management are the most experienced people in the business. Why is this dangerous? Because these people rely on the tools that got them to where they are. They trust Outlook and distrust Thunderbird.

They don’t understand Skype, Slack, Trello or Jira, because the only way to get work done is by having meetings. They also don’t understand the millennial-preferred offsite working.

And so, these decisions and technologies don’t get bought into, they don’t get signed off as business solutions and they don’t get used. So business remains archaic and stagnant.


The Industry In Which Businesses Operate:

The industry is made up of thousands of people who only think that office wear must include a tie for gentlemen. That dreadlocks are for hooligans. That everyone must be bribed. Thus, these ideas become cast in stone. They become millstones around the whole industry’s neck.

This attitude permeating the industry makes it inflexible, sluggish and bloated. It takes more time to come to decisions, more consultation to arrive at options, and ever more options to satisfy a boardroom of decision makers. The world’s leading businesses are agile, lean and extremely fast. Decisions are taken, businesses either succeed or fail and they learn from it. And move on.


The Talent Pool In The Market:

Businesses must also be aware of the people in their employ; millennials! More collaborative, less rigid and more creative about how they approach their work than any generation ever born! Businesses and the industry must first and foremost serve these people’s needs; which although they seem erratic, aren’t. They are just processing more information than anyone ever has.

“Write a tweet, finish and send the report, respond to the girlfriend about the weekend, walk into a 5 minute huddle, bite into the sandwich, sip on a coffee, double tap Grace Nakimera’s Instagram album, make plans for this evening. And that’s all before 8:45am!”


Old Dogs and New Tricks:

How does a business that only used to plan for Easter, Independence Day, Christmas, NRM day, and Eid holidays now retrofit itself to handle #MCM, #WCW, #TBT, #FBF, #SundayTwitter, Black History Month, Breast Cancer moth, The Kabaka run, the MTN Marathon, Movember,  #Tweminists, Grammar Nazis and the plethora of landmines waiting for it online? How can it do those things unless it changes how it works?


The Thirst is Real For Results:

Results! Results! Results! Everyone wants them. Clients want to know how much engagement there was on that post. Who clicked on it, where were they from? Can we message them with something else? Where did they go after they left the website? Cookies, algorithms, ad blockers, native advertising. Everything we do is measurable and someone wants to use those measurements to make money. Old technology will not have these answers.

New thinking and new knowledge is necessary. Buzz words today include; big data, A.I., blockchain, integrated marketing, Bretail, remarketing, influencer marketing etc. All fancy words to mean no one knows how today’s audiences behave so we are throwing everything at them to see what sticks. However, the guys at Cambridge Analytica are doing fun things with data.

No matter what you use, we need new tools because the old ones aren’t going to get the job done


How do we resolve these incongruences?


Has the advertising agency model died? Must we rethink it? Can big retainers continue to exist in an age where all employees have 2 or three skills? Can the model built on trust of credit survive in the harsh pre-paid economies of Africa? Can we


We must be bold. Courage and boldness in action will trump speed or strength every day. The courage to question the old ways. To depart from the knowledge that got us here but will not take us into the next 5 years. Must forge new paths.


We must commit. Commit to our businesses. Commit to unlearning and relearning. Commit to understanding our target audiences and what is hurting them. Know that client businesses are hurting and they need solutions that help their bottomlines.


We must be agile. Agility gives your business edge. It separates you form the bloated pack. Cut the fat from your organization and make it flat! Flat and lean like a start-up because if you want start-up money you must have start up structure and work ethic.

Allow to be bad. In his 50th Law, Robert Greene speaks of the necessity of aggression and how at the right time aggression can bring distinction thereby delivering the blue ocean your business desperetaly needs.


Or don’t do any of these things and go down in glory as the internet is full of companies that did nothing wrong and still went down.


The Airtel – Warid Buyout: The Grim Agency Future Ahead

Two weeks ago when the news broke that Warid Telecom, Uganda’s 3rd largest telecom company had been acquired by India’s Bharti Airtel in a move that has effectively polarized the market there was a lot of acrimony over “another change” just as people had grown to love and enjoy where they were getting comfortable. The truth is that Airtel has changed its name 5 times since it first launched and still bears residual angst towards it from the public because of their very early transgressions when they launched as Celtel. Let me point out here that despite all appearances the seemingly apparent reason for the merger is to take on South African telecom behemoth MTN.
After reading Ruthaine’s thoughts on the matter I started asking what would happen to the employees of Warid. Poor suckers. The usual toll of a merger is that about 75% of the acquired firm is shed and replaced with more technologically efficient systems. And with over 500 employees, there would be no less than 350 jobless people soon. Then it hit me even harder what about the advertising agency? Those who know what I am saying a company’s advertising and marketing agency is critical to its success and in most cases has its fortunes interred with those of its clients(it must be said though, those retainers always create comfortable cushions for agencies to sit on).
A new Airtel promo where they are promoting the Nokia Lumia 620 

Airtel’s advertising is done by the experienced Moringa Ogilvy team seated in Bugolobi. They have done quite nicely for themselves. The Moringa Ogilvy team gets its Ogilvy name from its Ogilvy Africa affiliation by paying a nice handsome fee every year to ensure they keep using the name. In return, they get first pick of any Ogilvy businesses coming into the market territory. Ogilvy East Africa was bought out by Scangroup back in 2010 where they acquired the larger share of Ogilvy Africa’s holdings outside South Africa. What did this mean? That Ogilvy East Africa would go under Scangroup. When Ogilvy &Mather pitched for and won the Airtel Africa business, they rested it there because Scangroup, the parent company was already handling too many telecom accounts what with Safaricom, Vodacom, Warid and Tigo across the region. Anyway this explains how the affiliate agency in Uganda ended up with the Telecom account. Anyone who has had to pitch for a telecom account will tell you how serendipitous it must be to just have one handed to you.
Attaining Superbrands status in 5 years, the Warid brand is a force unto itself.

On the other side of the pond Scanad Uganda, largest and by far the most efficient ad machine has been handling the Warid advertising and marketing account. It must be said that they did not give Warid the Pakalast name and fame, that award goes to a smaller but equally ingenious agency – Maad. What they did do was bring Warid to a point where it has had all of its competitors shitting bricks with ad campaigns that have literally remained top of the public’s mind year in year out and have created such a high bar for the industry and anyone trying to get people to remember anything. If you think I am lying ask anyone next to you to tell you the Samona or Omo or Standard Chartered tagline or ask them who Onesmus, or Milton or the Kungfu Master is? Simply marveling. Scanad is part of Scangroup. Their revenues are reported as part of the Scangroup success story. Now that they have lost their beloved Warid Telecom what will they do?

If I were Bharat Thakrar what would I do?
Airtel Nigeria proved that you don’t need to work with an Ogilvy affiliate after they appointed STB McCann to run things for them (with all the ensuing drama). This simplifies the task of Bharat explaining to Sunil Bharti Mittal that the Airtel Uganda should sit with Scanad Uganda. I presume the conversation would go as follows:
  1. Scanad Uganda has a larger; more experienced team directly connected to the Scangroup resource superstructure and therefore would present as a better agency to work with.
  2.  Because Scanad is directly linked to the group and is not an affiliate its revenues would be going directly to Scangroup hence revenues and profits would be kept within the group.
  3.  If market prevalence/awareness is anything to go by Scanad have produced more memorable work in the last 2 years which gives them the best advantage in their david-goliath match up against MTN – the market leader if they were to lead the Airtel onslaught.
  4. After this article and recent news in Tanzania and if the move of buying Warid was for Airtel to solidify their numbers, grow their revenues, increase the brand’s market share in order to eventually offload the telecom to Vodacom/Vodafone while they focus on West Africa where its bloody, then they would need an agency that had the capacity to deliver on that promise – Scanad.
  5.  In the worst case scenario, this account goes to a pitch in order to give the existing account holder (Moringa) a chance to compete. I personally think this would be the cruelest thing anyone could do; put your worst enemy in a pitch against Scanad because even hell won’t forgive you. Resources, tools, manpower and experience all seem like mundane things which are merely business jargon but nowhere else, and I mean NOWHERE, do they coalesce with such fervent ferocity to petrify and debilitate as when pitch fever is at fever pitch.

So that is how I see it and while I’m very very happy to be wrong you have to consider the possibility that I might not be. Any chess player will tell you “you don’t look at the now, you look at five moves ahead” So the market just got a bit tighter for the smaller agencies out there and since markets, like businesses are grown and shaped by the players in them it safe to assume that also much like in the jungle, we shall all eat when the lion is satisfied.


In advertising, most campaigns deal with the hard selling elements of products. Its either some “Buy this”  or “Buy that” or “Call this” or “Call me” gimmick.
In some other campaigns you find more emotional positions about unemotional products. You know the drill: “xxxx…rific” or “feel the rush” or “Enjoy the blah blah blah”
However every once in a while there comes a campaign with balls. Bold, blunt, and literally sometimes is  dressed to kill. When these come along, we are in so much shock we don’t know what to do with them. We are unsure whether to hate them out of political correctness or to smile because someone said something we think but could never say…
Some campaigns go right to the thrust of the matter

Give me your feedback.

Move Over Apple: Sony now moves into commodities

“Money has no sex…we are all in bed with it. A few with more *somes than others.” Davis Musinguzi [Twitter: @Davisthedoc]
The man posted it in his “za twita” and I almost #died. Anyways, more on that later. But one can see the essence. We are all in bed with money, and some people have twosomes, others threesomes, others foursomes. Golola Moses just lets them hang on it, swing, and sing “siporingi“. It didn’t make sense when he said it at the time, but with all this load shedding and the global economy almost becoming as reliable as an old man’s erection (which reminds me of a sweet joke Okonkwo’s youngest wife makes about his guns that don’t shoot in Things Fall Apart, prompting him to take out his rifle old and shoot), it follows that companies will look to expand production and diversify revenue streams.
When Sleek said here, that the one thing in Uganda that was all the rage was NRM sugar I thought he was joking. But when I learnt that M-7 traveled to Israel and was meeting with Israel top leadership not to discuss arms but economic support I had a change of heart. I knew my man Sleek was onto something. I assumed Rutanyarahansi had taken his long-waged threat to its ultimate conclusion: He had decided to export a finished product from Uganda. No its not a joke, the electricity we send to Kenya and Rwanda is not complete – it lacks load-shedding [for finished product ask Ugandans]
Anyway, I was quite proud of the man. But I was soon to discover that we had been played. You see when Sevo met with the Israelis, there was a Mossad ex-chief there who attended the meetings. I suspect this man took Sevo’s finished product which was most delicately prepared at the high altar of Ugandan agriculture; our country’s collective farm (dear old Rwakitura (which has a wiki page BTW)) and sold us out to the damn Japanese. Whilst I suspected this, I had never expected for them to hit us with such force so soon. Which leads me to conclude they outsourced to the China.So imagine my shock when I came face to face with this horror:
I mean, I know Apple decided to go into Lions, Leopards and the rest of the Feline Family, the New Vision moved from a crappy website to an even crappier website, MTN Mobile Money became like a campus chic whose phone number is never on after you buy her chips and chicken twice, Umeme… &*$#@%%^&*(&I^$^#$^**!#@#@.(That’s wing dings, so no one gets arrested). I get it we are all trying to make a buck, but really?!!
OK, wait for our retaliation.
Have a nice day!



[grat-i-tood, -tyood]


the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful: He expressed his gratitude to everyone on the staff.
1400–50; late Middle English  < Medieval Latin grātitūdin-  (stem of grātitūdō ) thankfulness, equivalent to grāt ( us ) pleasing + -i- -i-  + -tūdin- -tude
And just like sand through the hourglass, so are the days or our lives. I remember when i first heard those words. There were very foreign to me, I found them quite touching. Till I found out there were taken from “Days of our Lives”. Apparently a great show as well.

Its coming to the close of the year and I have so much to be thankful for. Its been a year of discovery, testing boundaries, exploring, recovering, and motion. And when it was all done, just do it all over again. I’ve had my moments this year, good moments of almost sheer brilliance and the not so clever – no wait, moments of just being dumb. 

But I want to talk a little bit about gratitude. Just a little. I quit my job a while ago to do start consulting. As a result, I spend a lot more time at home. Part of that time is designated as cooking time. I love to cook. It brings a darkness inside me to the fore. I guess that’s why i love food: because its sweet and keeps my mouth shut from saying things that I will regret.

Never before in my life have I had the experience the last few months have given me. Spending time to look up a nice recipe, takign the time to go through it and then preparing mentally to execute. The feeling was like an Ad Campaign on juice! And tehn cooking it. But I have found that no matter how good a chef you ae, its a long time u til you strat to understand what it takes to eat and ppreciate your own food. 

its not like just about your locus of identity being external, its also linked to being able to say, no one has to see how good my cooking is. I just know its good. So it is. And that right there comes from a long way off. It came from a place of accepting taht I can’t draw and well the other things my hands are good at would not fit in the spirit of this post. (adult material just)

Anyway, this is a thank you note, because as I was going through Twitter i realised that the 5th trending topic was #WomenWhoDontCook.  iIts quite easy to ignore  but as i thought about it and all the things that were being said, i realized, that I never cared about women who couldn’t cook until I met a woman who could (No, you bastard, it wasn’t my mom.)

Its not big till you realize not a single girl who you have gone out with this year has stood in your kitchen and cooked or made something to eat. Was i wrong? Was i capturing it out of context? Had I created a slanted view by discounting the fact they all almost came at night and left 24 hours after that?
I have nothing against women who cant cook as i am sure they have nothing against men who give them orgasms because still they stay, and so will I. I just think they have missed an opportunity to strike at the heart of something special. But I also know that they then hold no allure for me. Nothing. 

So thank you for teaching me how to appreciate the value of the time that goes into making a meal for a loved one, or anyone really. I always could cook, i just never had seen as a form of self expression. Thank you for the patience. And thank you for, without any of us both knowing it, raising the bar.

If presentation is everything then Soho Cafe and Grill got it right with this all day breakfast

These Tears

These Tears
Its oft said men cry no tears
That like silent cars shift gears
And with the softest thump bears
The greatness of the world on his shoulder bears
Lest the world should at him leer
But these tears I cry?
These tears are for no man
They are not tears of men
They are not tears of pain
These tears are mine
Feel the nacsnt abortion ripped from you
Reel as the words tear each morsel
Keel they spirit as its its crushed afoot
Real people, telling things unreal
Roil in fury at the betrayal of trust
I ask not and I give not
My trust be for me to be
For worse it is to have loved and lost
Than it is to have a love lost
But a job is merely is merely but a job
These tears I cry?
I will never cry them again
Not for her or any woman
Not for it or any job
Not for them any colleagues
And not for Him or any dream.
I am a select first born son
I am a survivor of a gun wound
I have looked poverty in the face and stared her down
Knowing what need is, being needy, hating the neediness and all the while doing the needful
I’m not a weaver of dreams
I’m a catcher of them
Casting out a thin fine mesh
Trapping them, netting them, and
Slowly sorting  them with errorless trance
I will take these tears and dry them into crystals
Like the crystals from the tears of a thousand angels
Out of these crystals I will build a diamond jacket that I will vest around my most tender spot.
I will take these tears and replace my aborted heart
Wash it in  the healing salt of these tears
Make it untearable, for when the war is done,
 The heroes lie on the field while the one-legged coward tell the tale.