Saturday, December 13, 2008

Missions: How contemporary interpretation has distorted its true meaning

The sole reason for Christ's incarnation, and subsequent crucifixion and RESSURECTION has been to establish His Father's kingdom upon the face of the earth by being a witness unto The Truth and redeeming All of mankind from Sin and Death.

In essence, He came to pursue and accomplish a pre-earthly and pre-determined mission, that had already been finalized by the Father before time began => 1Pet 1:20
From His birth to His ascention, christ pursued the Father's original intent absolutely devoid of any form of variation. He had a mission, and pursued it with ALL that He was given.

As disciples of Christ (xtians) we have been handed a specific mission - Go on and be effective witnesses in this lost, earthly and ephemeral world.
In essence, our faith isn't just designed to be a part of our lives, or what we do on particular days, or what we come together to do. Simply put, our faith ought to encompass the totality of our lives.

I came across a question recently that got me thinking: which of these has ownership of the other - The church or the mission?
Better still - Which is Christ's principal objective - To establish a church, or to save the world's lost?

We live in times where churches globally, place adverts and commercials in media in a manner that makes it difficult to differentiate her from commercial organizations and businesses. Some go a step further to advertise available "products" and "services" that should be difficult to ignore by any rational citizen. However, subtly, the true message of redemption and complete brokeness required for a transformed life is gently obscurred.
Before veering off-course, let's return to "The church and Missions" and see which ought to drive the activities of the other.


Alan Hirsch gives us critical spiritual insight into defining "MISSIONAL"

- DEFINING MISSONAL

It has become increasingly difficult to open a ministry book or attend a church conference and not be accosted by the word missional. A quick search on Google uncovers the presence of "missional communities," "missional leaders," "missional worship," even "missional seating," and "missional coffee." Today, everyone wants to be missional. Can you think of a single pastor who is proudly anti-missional?
But as church leaders continue to pile onto the missional bandwagon, the true meaning of the word may be getting buried under a pile of assumptions. Is it simply updated nomenclature for being purpose-driven or seeker-sensitive? Is missional a new, more mature strain of the emerging church movement?

It's time to pause and consider the origin and meaning of the word that is reframing our understanding of ministry and the church. This tree diagrams the roots of the word missional and how its reach has expanded into different areas of ministry. Alan Hirsch, a self-described "missional activist," also provides a concise definition of the ubiquitous term.
There are consequences when the meanings of words become confused. This is particularly true within a biblical worldview. The Hebrews were suspicious of images as conveyors of truth, so they guarded words and their meanings carefully. Part of theology, therefore, includes guarding the meaning of words to maintain truth within the community of faith.

This is why I am concerned about the confusion surrounding the meaning of the word missional. Maintaining the integrity of this word is critical, because recovering a missional understanding of God and the Church is essential not only for the advancement of our mission but, I believe, also for the survival of Christianity in the West.

First, let me say what missional does not mean. Missional is not synonymous with emerging. The emerging church is primarily a renewal movement attempting to contextualize Christianity for a postmodern generation. Missional is also not the same as evangelistic or seeker-sensitive. These terms generally apply to the attractional model of church that has dominated our understanding for many years. Missional is not a new way to talk about church growth. Although God clearly desires the church to grow numerically, it is only one part of the larger missional agenda. Finally, missional is more than social justice. Engaging the poor and correcting inequalities is part of being God's agent in the world, but we should not confuse this with the whole.

A proper understanding of missional begins with recovering a missionary understanding of God. By his very nature God is a "sent one" who takes the initiative to redeem his creation. This doctrine, known as missio Dei—the sending of God—is causing many to redefine their understanding of the church. Because we are the "sent" people of God, the church is the instrument of God's mission in the world. As things stand, many people see it the other way around. They believe mission is an instrument of the church; a means by which the church is grown. Although we frequently say "the church has a mission," according to missional theology a more correct statement would be "the mission has a church."

Many churches have mission statements or talk about the importance of mission, but where truly missional churches differ is in their posture toward the world. A missional community sees the mission as both its originating impulse and its organizing principle. A missional community is patterned after what God has done in Jesus Christ. In the incarnation God sent his Son. Similarly, to be missional means to be sent into the world; we do not expect people to come to us. This posture differentiates a missional church from an attractional church.

The attractional model, which has dominated the church in the West, seeks to reach out to the culture and draw people into the church—what I call outreach and in-grab. But this model only works where no significant cultural shift is required when moving from outside to inside the church. And as Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, the attractional model has lost its effectiveness. The West looks more like a cross-cultural missionary context in which attractional church models are self-defeating. The process of extracting people from the culture and assimilating them into the church diminishes their ability to speak to those outside. People cease to be missional and instead leave that work to the clergy.

A missional theology is not content with mission being a church-based work. Rather, it applies to the whole life of every believer. Every disciple is to be an agent of the kingdom of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere of life. We are all missionaries sent into a non-Christian culture.
Missional represents a significant shift in the way we think about the church. As the people of a missionary God, we ought to engage the world the same way he does—by going out rather than just reaching out. To obstruct this movement is to block God's purposes in and through his people. When the church is in mission, it is the true church.


(Alan Hirsch is a missional activist and the author of The Forgotten Ways.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CREATING VALUE; STRATEGIC FORESIGHT – LESSONS FROM BLACK-GOLD

BLACK GOLD

This expression is such an oxymoron, and putting in perspective the all time record-breaking price of Brent crude in preceding months and the windfall of petro-dollars for black-gold producing nations, there seems to be nothing black about it after all. (except that you may likely find black minds in places where you find this resource that spins cash, like there's no tomorrow – in the words of my former MD. And let's not start to think and muse over the statistic that says that 80% of the national oil wealth directly benefits just 1%, as in one percent!!! of the population)

Back to the main point! It was christened "black" because when it was first identified (before subsequently being mined all over the globe i.e. on land, in sea, maybe in the air very soon, and perhaps on the moon, and maybe later on mars), it didn’t pass across as a valuable find, and did not constitute some beauty to behold.


                                              Lessons from BLACKGOLD


 - To actualize inherent value, significant and calculated work has to be done.


Inquisitive minds believed there was more latent potential at that time, hidden in this newly discovered resource (and they have since been proved right!). Black Gold was later appropriately harnessed, using advanced methods to extract larger quantities and the subsequent application of chemical separation methods such as fractional distillation opened doors into a new world of hydrocarbons with multiple applications.

There is often a demand placed on us to develop more advanced and creative processes and methods before we can appropriately harness latent energy for increased productivity and economic value.

In essence, a refining process is critical to creating value. Refining is all about removing shields and inhibitors that frustrate and attempt to conceal inherent glory.


 - Value-sensing is an exclusive preserve of those with strategic foresight


John D. Rockefeller built a colossus called STANDARD OIL, the origin of today's biggest oil companies (Exxon, shell, CONOCO-PHILIPS.....e.t.c.). He saw the opportunity ahead and achieved a near absolute monopoly soon enough. It took national intervention in form of legislation and anti-trust laws to break up his megalithic organization. They reasoned thus:”One man should not control the energy industry of a whole nation.” There's a level of success that forcefully drives a whole nation into envy. Bill gates had a similar experience.

Believe me; it takes vision to see a paradise in a desert. Strategic foresight is a function of the mind, and has little to do with physical vision. Some people look at our nation today, and see difficulties everywhere while others see opportunities. What do you see?

It’s important for some of us to relocate, because we require varying experiences and perspectives to develop as a nation, but let it not be mentioned that hardship forced us into asylum. Studies have revealed that a higher proportion of immigrants that relocated as adults do not really enjoy the prosperity of their target destination. It’s generations after them that begin to have access to similar opportunities as legitimate citizens. Be warned!

I've learnt to come to terms with the fact there's more breadth for value creation in an unplowed field. There are more opportunities for creating land-mark and wide-spread value in budding economies. But these can't be seen with ordinary hearts. It takes a brave-heart to see beyond the horizon.


 - Gold comes after Black


the major beneficiaries knew it was gold way before others. Soon enough, the world knew and called it the right name.

Everything of value today, has once been trampled and debased by men. The voice of the people is often not the voice of God. If you've noticed, God seems not to be in the habit of using too many people to accomplish His objectives. A visionary is often considered irrational, extravagant and unrealistic. The level of technological development in the world today is largely owed to 'irrational' people like Steve Jobs. The mark of distinction is visible, even in a man that is poor monetarily but not in his mind.

Even in prison, Joseph became the head. He blazed the trail all the way till he reached the physical palace. Apparently, he had been in the palace all along, but men did not see it till he was appointed by Pharaoh in the finite realm.


 - No one can see it exactly the way you see it


If you've done your homework well, and you preview a unique opportunity (i.e. a privileged view), then you would be relatively alone. Even if you've managed to recruit co-visionaries, they won't see it as clearly as you do.  As Christians, we often do not have such crystal clear view as that which Christ had, in the establishment and propagation of God's kingdom upon the face of the earth. That’s why we are charged to constantly study and observe His ways so that we may continually be changed into the same Image. God only, has a perfect view of what is ahead. The same goes for a visionary.


 - If you ain't ready to die for something, then u would probably fall for anything. (Well, for me - the only thing I’m willing to defend with my life is my faith). 


Point is you've got to be willing to risk ALL in pursuit of that novel idea, and it's your prerogative to keep it alive. Yours may not involve literal death, but you've got to be decisive and display such tenacity that people would recognize as a fanatical commitment to a specific course. Indeed, the world always ends up standing aside for a man who knows where he's going.

 

 - Finally, the principal reward for creating value and actualizing your dream is not in the respect earned or magnitude of assets under management, but in the indescribable sense of fulfillment that stems from the accomplishment of a dream and execution of an original intent. It's a state of knowing that you have lived out a purposeful life.


CAVEAT: All accomplishments independent of God do not eventually count.  Selah.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nexus between Culture and Development

I’m one of those who believe strongly that things would get better in Nigeria and Africa by extension, and certainly doing as much as I can to help in that renewal process. I also maintain my belief in the fact that our standard of living would improve, and that many more would have fair access to resources, but the journey would no doubt be a tough one).
My experience from participating in several (and I really mean several) development initiatives, forums, conferences, newsgroups, societies, seminars…e.t.c over the years has taught me that we need more than NGOs, motivational speakers, civil organizations, vibrant Pentecostal churches, Foreign Direct Investment, “Revolutionary” Ideas….(the list goes on) in order to birth and experience true sustainable development.

I haven’t decided to run for public office just yet, but I’ve started to pay a great deal of attention to the dynamics of attaining critical strategic leadership roles in this country called Nigeria. No matter how hard we try in our individual capacities to champion development initiatives and encourage each other to ‘do the impossible’, if the right people do not SEIZE POWER (pardon my dictatorial tone) and do the needful, we would discover the struggle might never end.

Culture has indeed been proven to be one of the key determinants of development in the 21st century. I should clarify here that I’m not referring to rites, traditions…e.t.c
I’m referring particularly to prevailing work ethics, reward systems, life-style and how each individual interfaces with the society.
I’ll draw on a revolutionary statement made by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in order to articulate my ideas and facilitate quick understanding of my recent deductions.

The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society.
(However), The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.

Without mincing words, the predominant culture in quite a number of African countries (including ours) over the years has been that of exploitation. There has been that scarcity mentality that compels people to “maximally utilize” opportunities that are meant for serving others. This has compromised our ability to plan for the future, and all we have focused on is instant gratification. This pretty explains the decay over the years.
However, we must note that this barbaric ‘culture’ of absolute greed and lack of foresight did not come from no-where. Many do refer to decades back as the ‘good old days’. I do not have any proof that those days were as good as claimed, but the question is what happened over the years?

Simple! Politics (implying leadership) created a new ‘evil’ culture. A key aspect of our culture that deteriorated is our rewards system. Over the years, I’ve seen countless examples of dedicated, committed and hardworking people that lead poor and miserable lives, and this literally breaks my heart. People with integrity in our ministries, agencies and parastatals were either forced out, short-changed or rewarded with early retirement.
We literally grew used to narcissistic leadership to the extent that when someone with integrity takes up a strategic position, we begin to celebrate as if that has now become an exception to the rule (rather than it being the normal thing)

In essence, POLITICS has CHANGED our culture over the years into a barbaric self seeking way of life. The CHANGE we seek would also be HEAVILY dependent on a new kind of politics.
I choose to challenge us all that our real power lies not in our vote (as popularly believed. That should be easy to understand since our vote actually has not really mattered – ask Maurice Iwu!). Our power lies in our ability to get ourselves together by FORCEFULLY taking over politics and leadership from barbarians. When we do this, we would use the power entrusted into our hands to create and enforce an environment that frustrates mediocrity, and celebrates excellence, achievement, hard-work, dedication to duty and positive innovation.

Having a few good leaders here and there from time to time would not give us the sustainable change we desire. Building great businesses and running successful private enterprises here and there may not be enough.

There is no substitute for the people that uphold the law, interface with the international community, control our natural resources, determine the destinies of significant proportions of our human assets (that’s the plain truth), have direct responsibility for and determine the socio-economic temperature of a society. The role of presidents, ministers, governors and senators is so strategic that we can no longer afford to give lame excuses for not participating HYPER-ACTIVELY and seeking to attain those positions. (We must be armed with prerequisites including a right heart, knowledge, skill, tenacity and high impact networks and teams)

It’s great to have wonderful initiatives and try to influence government and society. However, there’s a higher calling and that is to be directly empowered by the LAW and CONSTITUTION of a sovereign entity to effect direct change that does not necessarily require the emotional support of all.
That only comes by attaining the earlier mentioned strategic leadership roles.

Once again,

The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society.
(However), The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Managing Financial / Investment Risks

You don't get successful just because you take risks. You get successful because of your passion for the work, the quality of your work, your focus to be successful and your attention to detail!

Greater risk = Greater reward……..right?
Well in my brief experience and study, I believe that’s true to a certain extent but there needs to be a clarification. Risk as understood by an entrepreneur or investor should imply opportunity and must relate to something he sees that no one else (or only a few) can see. His ability to discern more than others has to be a bye-product of insight, study, research, information and experience. Very importantly, he has to have learnt from the mistakes of others and must access and harness the wisdom of past greats (such as Warren Buffet, George Soros, Rupert Murdoch, Tayo Bamiduro…..e.t.c.)

I have made flawed investment decisions and demonstrated poor financial judgment in the recent past, despite all the information at my fingertips. This is where the concept of execution comes in. Knowledge is of little value except it’s applied and acted upon. We have reached a point in human evolution where there is such proliferation of knowledge and information that you could access almost any data or information you need in a split second. What is however lacking is the conviction and will to act on what we have learnt.

The next keywords are Greed and Impatience. Why should a person desire to exploit an opportunity (should we call it opportunity or THIEFotunity) that promises 10000000% ROI (return on investment) on initial capital in just 7 days? The simple answer is greed!
True enduring wealth is built brick by brick, and is based on genuine ideas (though many times stolen, but better to steal ideas than to steal real money/assets!).
More importantly, enduring wealth is a function of how much wealth (in terms of a unique value proposition and problem solving) has been exchanged for the resultant liquid assets and monetary rewards.

John Bogle (Founder of the Vanguard Group and named one of the investment industry’s four "Giants of the 20th Century" by Fortune magazine in 1999) remarked that hyper-creativity in inventing financial instruments (such as Consolidated Debt Obligations) constituted building blocks for the recent near-recession and global liquidity crisis. In-short, people get so greedy they invent ‘new-ways’ of draining everything out of little, and adding little value back. The consequences are always inevitable!

The motive of true investors should be to finance/support the offering of a unique experience and value-proposition to clients/customers in order to deservedly profit from such activity. Real and quality investors always pursue win-win scenarios where the sum of the whole is always greater than the individual units. They pursue what economists call Pareto-Efficiency (i.e. a condition where a party cannot further extract value out of a system without negatively impacting the other parties). Prof Colin Gilligan remarked at a recent British Council Seminar titled The New Rules of Strategic Marketting that you've just got to delight and excite customers. People want to spend, but they seek value-for-money.

Here’s an excerpt I recently came across. It’s a Book review (Why We Want You to Be Rich – Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump) by Matthew Paulson.
It is informing and there are points to take out. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki's New Book is Not Looking Out for You!
Why would anyone read a book about how to handle money by two people who have both filed bankruptcy? Only people who do so poorly with money have to throw their hands up in the air and admit defeat that they cannot pay all of their bills file bankruptcy. Now, there are some perfectly legitimate reasons to file bankruptcy, such as a huge medical debt which could never possibly be repaid, but when people file bankruptcy because their business fails or they spent too much money, chances are you should not be soliciting financial advice from them.

Financial author, Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump, CEO of the Trump Organization, have recently written a new book about how you should handle your money. The book, entitled "Why We Want You To Be Rich" is Kiyosaki and Trump's attempt to get together to write a book about their "financial secrets." In the book, they offer specific advice on how to invest money and become very wealthy. It sounds great to begin with, but there's a problem.
Both Kiyosaki and Trump's corporations have filed bankruptcy. Why anyone would accept financial advice from them defies all logic and reason.

Taking financial advice from them would be like taking dieting advice from the 400 pound guy who lives down the street. It's just not smart! If you're looking for financial advice on how to become very wealthy, do what millionaires do! There's a very well written book by Thomas Stanley called The Millionaire Next Door, which will tell you what millionaires do and how their behavior makes them wealthy. The book tells us that millionaires save large percentages of their money, invest it wisely, and spend very little.

Trump and Kiyosaki have another message. They tell us that they have a new way of thinking, which involves defying traditional investment logic. They tell us not to invest in mutual funds and work hard "because that does not make you rich." They say that investing in mutual funds is playing it safe, and it won't make you rich.
They tell us that "safe is the enemy of rich." There is some truth to this, the greater the risk, often the greater potential gain, but they get it wrong because they ignore risk all together-that's why they filed bankruptcy!

When you let too much risk into your life you are asking for trouble. You could put all of your money on black in Vegas, but not many financial counselors will tell you to do that, because there's too much risk!
You don't get successful just because you take risk. You get successful because of your passion for the work, the quality of your work, your focus to be successful and your attention to detail. Kiyosaki seems to believe that the only thing you need to be rich is the desire to be rich, and this simply is not true!

This book really does not offer anything new. It's simply a rehash of Kiyosaki's previous books and Trump's view on personal finance, which no one should take seriously. There are plenty of much better books from people who actually have money and have held onto it for a long period of time that will enable to you become very wealthy, but it requires hard work, dedication, and much more. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey would be a good place to start for those who really want to do what it takes to be rich.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Strategy of Subversive Rationalization for Development – More Science and Less Faith?

Here’s an extract from a rather lengthy but highly intellectual and engaging article on how to apply the afore-mentioned strategy for uniquely and uncontaminatedly modernizing Nigeria and Africa.

PS: You may need a dictionary to fully grasp the message of this short extract as the author utilized his full arsenal of words and expressions.

The strategy (of subversive rationalization) emphasizes the internalization of the scientific method and rational modes of thinking as well as the assimilation of key scientific knowledge, as the epistemological foundation of any kind of modernity. It also stresses the necessity of renovating conformist, traditionalist or totalizing belief and knowledge systems, worldviews and cultures, that stand in the way to essential changes on the road to modernity - a mega-project of autonomization, individuation, rationalization, demystification and feminization processes (less patriarchal forms). Modernity is also a project of democratization, liberalization, secularization, trans-nationalization, systematization, technocratization and humanization processes.

The strategy relies on scientific knowledge, which offers only incomplete and patchy theories of the real but nonetheless possibly the best models of reality, for reordering and reconstructing the African reality and for engaging it with up to date, robust and economically efficient technical know-how. More generally, it relies on calculative thinking and on the scientific tradition as the most viable civilizational horizon of a budding region, whose tortuous and uncertain transition to modernity may necessitate an imaginative strand of thinking.........................


In summary the strategy of Subversive Rationalization uses the power of scientific thought to launch a counter hegemonic offensive in order to subvert disabling traditional and repressive knowledge-power orders that stand in the way to a new realism, or to the rejuvenation and reconstruction of the African reality. The strategy may be valuable for bringing about a post-totemic, post-enchanted, post-Abrahamic, post-phallocratic, post-colonial and post-fragmented regional space and in moving Africa forward into a distinctive, creative, secular, democratic and authentic form of modernity.

You would concur that there are resounding, though unconventional truths in this discourse and the author certainly displayed advanced knowledge of theoretical development strategies for our continent. However, as much as I agree with the author that we need to apply proven methods and standard processes in accordance with logical procedures and empirical rationalizations, we would be critically mistaken to assume that total dependence on experiential and scientific knowledge would be effective as a panacea for our present challenges.

There is more than meets the eye to every occurrence and this is not superstition. How do we explain several instances of people (and societies) who seemingly ought to have completely lost hope based on prevailing circumstances, but still eventually came out victorious and later experienced such prosperity and peace that none could have predicted. If we were to solely depend on scientific methods to predict eventual outcomes, we would have been wrong on many occasions throughout human existence.

My view is that we ought to keep hope alive, have strong faith and display such defying confidence (not arrogance) that no matter how bad a situation might have been, there is still that possibility of experiencing victory and emancipation.

This realm is certainly above science and methods. Science, technology, formal methods and proven strategies are critical, but abstract ‘resources’ such as faith, confidence, tenacity, ethical traditions and constructive beliefs could prove even more decisive in making Nigeria and Africa uniquely and uncontaminatedly modern.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Finding our way back to what's REALLY important

What do we really place value on? Without going into any deep analysis, this question simply attempts to help us articulate and express the things we truly hold dear.
There is a tendency for us to start cracking our heads on what ‘the answer should be’ rather than being sincere and revealing what the answer really has been.

We know that knowledge, not acted upon is basically of little value, but it becomes wisdom when applied. When we fail to place the things we claim to hold dear as top priority, we are practically engaging in self-deception which eventually bears thorns and ultimately leads to the valley of dissatisfaction and regret, but I’m certain no one desires such end result.

Even I that speaketh have also had to (and still) constantly re-evaluate and re-examine my life in order to ascertain what exactly it is that I’m living for, so that I myself may not be a castaway after I had become a channel of inspiration to others.

Many of us have somehow found ourselves living a utopian (sort of American or is it Nigerian?) dream of prosperity and total self satisfaction and actualization, and have lost sight of what’s really important. We have become consumed with an intense desire to reach El-dorado and would stop at nothing to attain ‘success’ by accumulating resources, building financial empires and businesses, touching the lives of the poor and being accepted and recognised in society as an achiever and trail-blazer.

Nothing wrong with all these, except of course there is something wrong with the things that are CORE!

Tommy Tenney outlined FOUR aspects of our lives that I strongly believe are central.

A) Family
We all love our families but there’s that tendency for us to become familiar with them to the point where we begin to take them for granted. We have enormous obligations and responsibility to our families, especially our conjugal families (that in which you are a parent). Those times when we were nothing, had nothing and were just plain ordinary, they believed in us, loved us and kept us going. I stop to think about it; that if I loose all, who are those that would stick around and attend to me? My family certainly would be amongst the few and that sure holds for most of us.

B) Friends
Friendship is an intense word that has slowly lost its true meaning over the years.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and are to be trusted above the kisses of an enemy” – Proverbs.
Friendship indicates people with whom we have close personal relationship of mutual affection and trust.
It could also mean one who defends or supports a cause, i.e. your cause. When you meet people whose supposed friends are mainly those that they’ve only known for a few months, then there might be problems with such people. This indicates they do not have the capacity to sustain and nurture their friendships. There should be those select few that we have a high level of commitment to over the duration of our lives. These are the people we share our dreams with, and reveal our inner-most feelings to. These kinds of relationships should be held in high esteem, and must never be affected by change in economic status, location and other potential dividers.

C) Character
Character incorporates all the values and fundamental beliefs that determine how we live, react and respond regardless of the environment and context. It marks the distinctive qualities that indicate who we really are.
Character answers the question - ‘who am I?’
Scripture helps us understand that it isn’t what goes into a man, but what comes out that defiles him. There’s always that tendency for our behaviours and reactions to be contextually influenced (also known as eye-service or politicking), but our true nature lies in how we conduct ourselves when no one (or nobody that’s either familiar with us or can exercise a degree of control over our lives) is watching.
We have an incredible amount of commitment and hard-work to invest in our lives if we really intend to build and maintain strong character. Though a good name is worth much more than silver, character is the underpinning factor that actually enables us to achieve this.

D) Eternal
Now this is one sensitive, highly critical, by far the most important but often neglected aspect of our lives. There has been much debate about whether we continue to persist after our bodies ‘shutdown’, but even scientific studies today have revealed that there is indeed intelligent design, and that there is a purpose for life. Life in this dimension is not an accident, but is simply a strategic short passing phase. Though short, our lifetime here would ultimately determine what we make of the after life which would ultimately persist infinitely. We ought to constantly live as commuters on earth. When we have such a mindset, we would not cling to the things that are of little eternal value. Heaven is indeed real and the things that would influence our place and reward in heaven are more often than not the soft things. Actively expressed love for humanity, strong character, less emphasis on material wealth and self actualization, and confession of, unwavering faith in and love for Christ and THE WORD constitute the basics and fundamentals for eternal relevance.

Final Words -

I believe many of us do have a genuine desire to lead relevant and high quality lives that would leave an enduring eternal impression, but often find ourselves falling short of expectations. We must however realise that though we fall (and still continue to err) we must never give up but must continually strive to lead noble lives that are worthy of God’s calling. True strength is in our ability to admit our failures, return to the true source of life and improve upon our past mistakes as we totally depend upon the Spirit of God to help and divinely enable us to be true SAINTS.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Will-Power - How much can we achieve?

Here is an excerpt from Daniel Goleman, The EQ (Emotional Intelligence) master on the subject of will-power. He provides us with some insight into why we seem to perform better at the things we do first, and then experience a dip as we attempt other things.

Daniel Goleman – …….A slew of studies suggest that we each have a fixed neural reservoir of will power, and that if we use it on one thing, we have less for others. Tasks that demand some self-control make it harder for us to do the next thing that takes will power. In a typical experiment on this effect, people who first had to circle every ‘e’ in a long passage gave up sooner when they then had to watch a video of a fixed, boring, scene. The same loss of persistence has been found when people resist tempting foods, suppress emotional reactions, even make the effort to try to impress someone.

This all suggests we have a fixed will power budget, one we should be careful in spending. Some neuroscientists suspect that self-control consumes blood sugar, which takes a while to build up again, and so the depletion effect.
But the good news is that we can grow our will power; like a muscle, over time the more we use it, the more it gradually increases. But doing this takes, of all things, will power.

As the muscle of will grows, the larger our reservoir of self-discipline becomes. So people who are able to stick to a diet or exercise program for a few months, or who complete money-management classes, also reduce their impulse buying, how much junk food they eat and alcohol they drink. They watch less TV and do more housework. And this ability to delay grasping at gratification, much data shows, predicts greater career success.

(complete article at http://www.danielgoleman.info/blog/2008/04/20/build-your-will-power/)

This article basically strengthens the proposition that though we have the ability to accomplish anything we set our hearts and minds to achieve, we obviously cannot do everything!The balancing act is in determining which specific (well defined and relatively few per time) activities we would apportion our time, will power and resources to.
Many do have the belief that they can overcome every single weakness and in-competencies that they have, but that in my opinion is some unrealistic goal.What’s critical is finding out or discovering (and not choosing) our areas of natural strength. We must then learn to polish and exploit these inherent abilities for maximum profit.

For illustration purposes, a 4 x 4 could never outperform a McLaren or Ferrari on a smooth race track, no matter how hard it tries. Reverse the equation by changing the circuit to rough sandy terrain. The speed-masters would hardly move. By their very nature and inherent design, each machine already has competitive advantage as a function of the environment and frame of reference.
Indeed, we do have will power and as much as we could develop it through constant use, we still do have limitations. Paradoxically, those limitations are to our advantage.

A research carried out on different sets of kids exposed to confined and unfenced playgrounds showed startling results. The kids in the well demarcated playground were adventurous and moved about freely through all nooks and crannies of the playground.The other kids (in the vast open playground) were less adventurous, stayed put in a small place, and exhibited less creative tendencies.

I believe the learning point is that we’ve all got limited but sufficient measures of will power to achieve what we are specifically (and strategically) designed (and perhaps destined) to achieve.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Branding or Unique Value Proposition?

It’s now all too easy to make quite a lot of noise about some new product or service offering using any of the powerful PR media available in the 21st century (Internet, satellite TV...e.t.c.). It’s also quite hard to distinguish at first glance amongst the numerous options available on the shelf today. Name it! Whatever service/product you need, you’ve got several options and sometimes, you simply get confused.

However, experienced customers seem to always know their way around. Offer them 20 000 different brands of the same generic product, but believe me, they’ll pick just the perfect one (that offers relatively the most value for money). How they do it might be confounding to a newbie, but like they say, experience certainly could have proven to be the best teacher.

I’ve posted an article here that clearly substantiates the fact that no matter how hard you try to market an inferior product/service, you eventually would loose out ‘cause your customers would always find out, and possibly never forgive you when they do!

Please check out what Dr. Harari (leading strategist) has to say in one of his thought provoking write-ups.

What makes brands great is not their visibility, nor their celebrity endorsements, nor the marketing pizzazz behind them. Remember, during the 1990’s Nike and McDonald’s lost a lot of their sheen (and stock value), despite their heavy promotional strategies and the ubiquity (and near 100% recognizability) of the swoosh and the Golden Arches. Only when both companies revamped their product lines did the swoosh and arches generate a positive halo. Don’t mistake presence and recognizability for corporate vitality.

Nowadays, Levi Strauss and Coke are struggling, and as I’ve explained elsewhere (see http://www.ftpress.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1180989), Starbucks' buzz and market cap have fallen—but everybody recognizes the brands. Regardless of whether you’re in the business-to-consumer or business-to-business space, a vendor’s brand flourishes when customers can trust the vendor to provide them with a special experience and constantly evolving great products. With that excellent foundation, judicious imaginative marketing can certainly fan the flames of exposure (think Toyota and Pixar, for example) , but on its own, marketing does not make a great profitable growing brand. (And think about the fact that there are many companies, like Google and retailer Zara and tube fitting manufacturer Swagelok, which build a healthy brand solely around their unique value proposition and do practically no conventional advertising).

Tom Peters says that a brand “is a promise of the value you’ll receive.” In that spirit, I sometimes urge my clients to think about a new “P/E multiple”, one that supplements the traditional “price/earnings” metric. Think about a “Promise/Experience” metric. If, in effect, you can implicitly (not via sexy ads, but in the way you run your business) promise the marketplace that you will churn out a cool, special value in products and services-- and then actually deliver it in a way that generates a really desirable experience for the customer--the payoff in customer and investor loyalty is a genuine multiple. That’s what they do at Toyota, Pixar, Google, Zara and Swagelok, among many others. Put simply, the way to build a break-from-the-pack brand is not by public relations campaigns, ad rollouts, logos, color schemes, viral marketing, etc. etc. Those can definitely help if you’ve got the basics down.

And what are the basics? The capacity to demonstrate to the marketplace that your organization will consistently, reliably, efficiently, authentically, and quickly deliver on great things that are implicitly promised in your business model. Retired Atlanticare CEO George Lynn used to tell me that from his perspective as a hospital CEO or an individual customer—the value of any organization he buys from must be “pervasive, relevant, and credible.” Once again, it all boils down to this: Can I count on this vendor to provide me with special value that truly matters to me?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

AFRICA Vs The Rest of the World

Friday March 7, 2008 19:30hrs, I watched a CNN Inside-Africa report that insensitively painted Nigeria as a difficult and corrupt environment, where people are forced to engage in criminal and immoral activities in order to survive. This report also implied that churches were simply in the business of exploiting people, not being concerned about their members’ general well being. The subject of the report was one 'Joy', who left the shores of Nigeria in search of greener pastures in Europe (after withstanding abuse by her guardian), was forced to trade her body for cash and eventually got deported from Denmark back to Nigeria. She was reported to have been given 100 euros ‘pocket money’ with which she had to bribe security and airport agents in Nigeria in order to escape incarceration.

However, this report did convey a grossly inaccurate message about Nigeria. I must mention that there are obvious challenges in Nigeria (and everywhere else on planet earth), but highlighting our's as being so intense that you have to resort to vices in order to keep body and soul together is indeed misleading and unjustifiable. The western media have enormous power and coverage, and have proven to be creative in prompt news delivery, but they also seem to have a reputation for subtly programming the minds of the global audience to adopt western ideologies and points of view.

Time and again, Africa has been labelled and perceived as a continent of suffering. Backwardness and underdevelopment are often associated with us. Those familiar with western media (i.e. CNN, BBC, TIME, The Economist…e.t.c) frequently come across reports on conflicts and mismanagement and each time we come across such, we begin to wonder whether it’s the same continent we live in that’s being reported.
It would be na├»ve to deny that Africa indeed has numerous challenges especially with regards to leadership, management, infrastructural development, education and health care. But the question is: “Is that all there is to our great continent?”

Human Capital: Africa has played a very crucial role in human development spanning generations. I need not bore you with history, but we know about the origins of Civilization. Egypt and Mesopotamia were major catalysts of human development over the ages.
Today, Africans at home and in diaspora have recorded numerous groundbreaking achievements in virtually ALL fields imaginable. Even head-hunters for global corporations are beaming their searchlight on Africans to fill strategic roles in these corporations. The two Nigerian women at the World Bank is testament to this fact.

Physical Resources: If I started enumerating our physical resources, It would take quite a while to exhaust the list. Fact is Africa is BY FAR the most talented continent in the world in terms of physical resources. From crude-oil to natural gas reserves, tin, columbite, uranium, gold, diamond, nickel, bitumen and the rare elements…e.t.c, Africa is gifted enough to be ENTIRELY self sufficient. We have the potential to build a regional self sustaining economy, though the journey to realisation of this requires focussed and tenacious leadership, strategic planning and execution of the highest order.

Markets and Population: On the average, we are densely populated and still growing at a fast rate. The markets are there and still rapidly expanding whilst new market segments have started to develop. That’s why we are called emerging markets (maybe not yet at the pace of the BRICs, but using your mind’s eye, this development is unmistakable).
A virtually previously non-existent middle class has emerged in many African Nations and is just budding. In a few years, there would be unprecedented regional and continent-wide demand for (high quality) products and services.

Perception: Perception has proved a major stumbling block to our development. We all frequently hear about the pre and post visit experiences of non-Africans that have visited our continent.
Frequently, these people have confessed to holding warped and inaccurate views of what obtains in our land pre-visit. Their decision to embark on such trips has been analogous to engaging in some form of risk, and many times adjudged as being uncalculated and unnecessary by their peers in their home countries. However, the more adventurous and truth seeking ones that managed to board those intercontinental flights have often not regretted.
Many of them have confessed that Africa is indeed a blessed and incredibly beautiful continent with such diversity you can hardly find anywhere else. The heritage and culture is original and simply incomparable.

Only Africans can redeem Africa’s image. Africa’s re-branding is certainly every African’s responsibility. When we get to the point where we all appreciate and perpetrate our heritage (of course we have to foreclose or put an end to negative traditions) irrespective of where we find ourselves, our misrepresentation would certainly become a thing of the past.
It’s about time we respond with a strategic media weapon that would propagate African objectives internationally in similar vein as the middle-east's response to western media manipulations with their famous Aljazeera Network.

Neo-colonization
The concept of neo-colonization is indeed true and should spark concern. FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments) have increased significantly and more foreign monies continue to pour into African economies. What is suspect is the fact that a larger part of the investments have been targeted at securing and sustaining medium to long term hold over our natural resources.
Energy and metals are key drivers of industrialization. The unprecedented growth rates of economies such as China’s and India’s and the increasing needs of the U.S and Europe have forced these nations to find new sources of energy and critical elements, if they intend sustaining their growth rates.

Focussing on Energy, nation states outside of Africa are increasingly nationalising their resources making it increasingly difficult for larger economies to guarantee future supplies. Increasing global economic development indices has also meant increased demand for limited resources, forcing the big consumers to go about scouting for newer and more stable sources.
China for example has recently flooded Africa with cash (obviously from those massive trillion dollar foreign reserves) in exchange for unrestricted access to significant chunks of her resources.

Companies such as Lonrho which were in the process of divesting from the continent have resurfaced with greater passion, perhaps after recognising the strategic role Africa’s resources would play in the emerging global economy. Indeed, there is a new rush for Africa, but this time around, it’s not for kunta-kinte (human slaves), at least not in that sense. It definitely is for her mineral resources.

But we indeed have a joker in our hands, and it’s up to us to decide how we’ll play. We could choose to collect cash in exchange for our resources, consume it, and continue to maintain our commodity-economy status whilst re-building debt. We could also decide to forge strategic partnerships that would harness these resources for global consumption whilst empowering our people, developing our markets and diversifying our economies.

A quick peep into what’s going on in the middle-east would provide valuable lessons for African nations. UAE, Qatar and Saudi-Arabia are appropriating their massive oil and gas wealth for development and diversification of their economies. They are setting up world class institutions and importing brains from all over to build local talent. They are building service oriented economies that would ensure a smooth transition from commodity based to service-oriented economies when the oil finally runs out (and that’s still up to a hundred years away, assuming no additional reserves are discovered).

And this next point is simply unbelievable - They are also investing in clean and renewable energy technologies that would complement and reduce dependence on global warming culprit, oil.
Masdar city is a multi billion dollar project in the UAE that aims to build a city that is entirely dependent upon solar energy using CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) technology in the desert.

There has been high clamour and clatter about reducing dependence on oil, but fact is there wouldn’t be a replacement any time soon. Africa indeed has been presented with a unique opportunity to leverage on her resources in order to achieve her long sought objectives of eliminating poverty, achieving prosperity and attaining development. We can either choose life (by doing the simple right things) or trudge along the old path. I believe we’ve learnt from history and would do the simple right things. Let's all do our part guys!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rolling with the big boyz – expanding your networks

A while ago, I attended a personal development/effectiveness seminar. I quite vividly recollect how the speaker emphasized the importance of networks and relationships in actualising your dreams. I also remember how surprised I was when I heard my pastor say “you are four people away from anybody in the world”. i.e. I know someone that knows someone, that knows someone-else, that knows another person that knows Bill Clinton (just an example, ‘cause I know Clinton directly, and please don’t ask me for his number!)
Some other people think its six people, but the point I think, has been made. Whatever plans or dreams we have can only come to fruition when the right people subscribe to the idea and get involved.

You and I would quite agree that dreams, visions, desires…(whatever you choose to call it!) are meaningful when they are not just meant to feed and fulfil selfish and narcissistic desires. It’s quite simple. A relevant dream seeks to impact people positively, and also requires people for its fulfilment.
For those of us that desire to make it to the world’s billionaire rankings, it’s about time we asked ourselves WHY???
I think I have a pretty good reason, but I’m not sure you do, and if you think you do, send me an e-mail – bamtayo@gmail.com – and we would reason together.

Back to the main point – networks and relationships are crucial and central. Even in business, the most revolutionary ideas do not see the light of day if the critical mass of people do not subscribe to it.
I was scanning one of my favourite blogs when I encountered some phenomenal information – “the inventions and ideas we regard as revolutionary today, were not the best ideas conceived. They were the lucky ideas that received the critical support, persistence and faith needed for their actualization”. That just hit me!

You see, we’ve all got great ideas and prospects, but fact remains that not all would become a reality.
All of these made me wonder and I asked myself, what do I need to do in order to enlist the strategic support and arsenal needed to force my way through obscurity?
The obvious answer wasn’t far fetched. Simply get the right people to believe in it!

A few years ago, I remember observing a picture of the former CEO of UBA and some of his middle-eastern friends, all Harvard fellows.
A few years later, a business consortium from the middle-east signified interest in Nigeria’s gold-mine telecommunications industry. They thereafter obtained a license, and guess the key Nigerian figure at the centre of the deal? The same guy!!!

Lesson learnt! Ever since, I’ve made it top priority to properly acquaint myself with important, relevant and serious-minded people that matter, whenever there’s such opportunity. I also deliberately go to places where I can meet such people. I use a simple formula – exchange pleasantries, arouse their interest by discussing relevant issues, store their contact information in a SAFE and DRY place and DON’T forget to maintain the relationships!
It’s about two months now that I and about twenty other newbies got transferred to the production facility of our organization down-south Nigeria, very close to the Atlantic. In the spirit of work-life balance (an elusive dream for many!) we all participate in one form of sporting activity or the other. We have facilities for practically every kind of sport you could think of (except for ice-skating….but we’re working on it!).

We’re all doing a great job and have met quite a host of folks around here, but I wanted more. I thought to myself, how do I link up with the top-dogs around? The answer beheld me right in the face. There was one particular sport none of us (and I dare say many Nigerian folk too) had not even thought about engaging in.
Think about it, what is that sporting event that’s the exclusive preserve of the big boys…..you guessed right – GOLF!!
We all innocently walk past the lush green golf course and no one seemed to have any interests……except me of course!

I decided to take the bull by the horn and went on a voyage of the course with the intent of just watching the pros play. At the end of my sojourn, I had made FIVE new friends, three white and two black. One of the white folks, without me asking (but obviously detecting that I had limited knowledge of the rules) offered free tutoring and advice.
They were surprised, especially the white folks who were not used to young Nigerian guys coming to experience the highly mature and technique-driven game.
I got more than I bargained for, as I’ve also been scheduled for training without having to purchase a personal kit. (See the power of networks!)

A serious golfer can’t escape having to eventually purchase the quite expensive kit, but considering the potential rewards (such as all round recreation, and especially the future multi-million dollar investment deals that would be sealed on courses like this one), it’s certainly a worthy investment.
And who says I can’t go professional, join the PGA and compete internationally? Just wait and see!
PGA 2012 Rankings – No 3Adetayo Bamiduro………….yes o!

Yours in network expansion, I remain Trinitech the golfer!

Friday, March 07, 2008

TOP 3 LANGUAGES A NIGERIAN MUST LEARN!!! become lee-kov mohammed

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

RUSSIAN (we have massive natural gas reserves in common)

The spread of global wealth to emerging markets (of which Nigeria is one) is being substantiated in Moscow’s status as the world’s new billionaire centre.
With 87 super-rich people living there, it is home to more billionaires than New York. They also have a rapidly expanding middle class. Believe it or not, there’s more than enough cash to be drained from there, as long as you don't puck-nose into their political affairs, or you might end up like Kodorkovsky, the Yukos man that went from GRACE TO PRISON (not just grass).
The main driver of this super-wealth is of course their oil with new emphasis on their natural gas reserves. Guy's, I believe we know that Nigeria is certainly establishing some form of collaboration with Russia. Wouldn't be a bad idea to add the prefix 'kov' to your name after learning the language in order to enhance acceptability, (e.g. tayokov!)



ARABIC (we have fairly massive petroleum reserves in common)

Saudi Arabia has over 250 bbrls (billion barrels) of proven reserves, Iraq and Iran have more than 100 bbrls each. UAE, Quatar, Kuwait..e.t.c have about as much too . (Nigeria has less than 40 bbrls of proven reserves). Believe me, these guys have more than enough money to throw around. Their case is too much money and too little space and people to consume it, so they need you!
That explains why these countries have engaged in super-extraordinary development projects. I believe we know that many top business men in Nigeria have strategic investment partners in these countries. (you can ask hakeem bello-osagie).
to enhance acceptability, just add 'Mohammed' to your name. (Fact has it that it's the most common name in the world!)


CHINESE (you guessed right! we have massive peoplesssss in common!!!)

Speak this language, and you can be sure that you can communicate with at least 1/6 of the world's population! wow!!!
These guys have a lot of people (like us); are really using their heads well (maybe not yet like us, but we'll get there!); have a super-fast growing economy and intense demand for all kinds of services and resources especially energy and metals.
However, you need to be very careful with these ones! Their goal is to develop a car that uses 2 litres of fuel for 1 million kilomitres, therefore they can hurt us badly. But not to worry, that time won't come soon. That's why their president is falling in love with Africa, TRYING to secure their energy and metal needs for both present and future. Believe me, all you need is one good service/product. You will discover that money will roll in like kalo-kalo (classic money doubling machine)!!!

SO HERE WE GO: YOUR NEW NAMES ARE LEE + KOV + MOHAMMED = LEE-KOV MOHAMMED. THAT'S SPLENDID!!!


(FRENCH: For those of you that think that French should have been included, think again! Their president is busy divorcing his wife of so many years, running around with his girlfriend and walking out on interviewers; when others are busy looking for ways to take their economies to the next level! On second thought, it won't be a bad idea considering that you can use it to communicate with biz partners in Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Mali, Senegal....e.t.c. abi?)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Determined quest to conquer hydrophobia

I guess some folks might laugh at my extraordinary achievement (yeah! That’s how I see it!), but believe me, after twenty something years, I’m proud to have finally learnt how to survive in the aquatic dimension.
Though there were many opportunities when I was growing up, such as in the river near our previous house, the swimming (and fishing) pool in a neighbour’s house, the dam at the university I attended (greatest Uites!!!) and the U.I. Olympic size swimming pool, but I guess I never had sufficient drive and courage to pursue this dream all these previous years.

All along, I felt swimming was child’s play and that by merely watching athletes on T.V, I could reproduce what they did the moment I stepped into water.
My initial practice attempts at submerging my head in a drum (and sometimes a big bowl of water) earned poor results. I couldn’t fathom the possibility of opening one’s eyes underwater.

……Fast forward.

Then I got a new employer and was transferred into the Atlantic Ocean. (Really! This island called Bonny is not part of the Nigerian map we are familiar with.)
On a particular day, I went to dinner with my colleagues at the club-house and as we were leaving, I took notice of a piece of art. It was a very long canoe fitted with wooden men and women numbering several hundreds and paddling with all their strength in order to move the manual water vehicle. It seemed like they were trying to escape some imminent attack and disaster.

In attempting to unravel the inspiration behind this Davinci-like artistry, bingo! I realised it possibly was a piece of art reminiscent of those in the T.V series, Heroes.
It dawned on me that it might be some kind of prediction. I married this discovery with the violence and rampant militant attacks in the Niger-Delta and I couldn’t help, but deduce that all the passengers in the canoe were staff of my company trying to escape a severe militant attack (or something like that) in some titanic-like canoe (that’s probably hidden somewhere by management at the moment till judgement day when the mighty escape-canoe would be deployed)

In essence, this new intelligence informed my decision to QUICKLY learn aquatic skills that I ought to have acquired way back in time, but its never too late folks!
Before I could blink, I found out most of my colleagues could swim, or were already good swimmers. Wow! The die was cast and I knew this had to be my time!

Day 1: I raced to the pool and informed the life-guard that I was a newbie (just to ensure proper risk management practice; my life hasn’t got backup copies!), but in my mind, I believed I could do it on my own. First mistake: I climbed into the pool facing it (as if I was entering into a molue)

Second (painful) error: I just moved into the water and ‘started swimming’. You need not wonder what happened (I successfully drank several litres of chlorinated water and gasped efficiently). I had learned the hard way. I became as gentle as sheep and humbly asked the trainer to take me through the learning process step by step.

I had read the blog of one of colleagues who was determined and learned rather fast. With this at the back of my mind and against all odds, I determined to press forward (and still continued to drink and smoke additional litres of water) but like magic, I started to learn the techniques and my instructor was at the least, impressed.
Today, I can proudly float, hold my breath for extended periods, swim a few metres and look around underwater.
I’m certain some cynics out there are murmuring “what’s so special in that?” but me knows that’s really special.
I believe it takes a lot of determination to conquer your worst fears and press on. Like they say, courage is not the absence, but the mastery of fear. Hydrophobia of so many years has now become a thing of the past, and has been replaced by ‘hydro-friendly’.

Dear friends, old things have passed away and I’ve become a new creature that can live both on land and in water (at least for a few seconds!)

We all have things that we’ve always wanted to achieve, and though we may have ignored many opportunities in the past, there’s still hope. All we have to do is be determined, seize the next opportunity, and give it all we’ve got!
The dreams and desires of yesterday are not gone. Opportunities do not come only once in life. They keep coming everyday, just that people no longer recognise them.
Take hold of that opportunity today and move on to the next level.

All the best folks!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prince Harry in Afghanistan! Classic Leadership / MBWA example

Tom Peters, alumnus of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Company and one of today's best known and highest paid management gurus, first came to prominence in 1982 with his ‘knock-out’ book; In Search of Excellence. This thought-provoking classic provided us with many valuable lessons from America's Best-Run Companies.

In his first book, Peters introduced us to the key concept of MBWA (Management By Wandering Around). MBWA does not mean leaving your responsibilities behind as you stroll through the nearest shopping mall. According to him, to "wander" with customers and vendors and our own people, is to be in touch with the first vibrations of the new. Pretty self explanatory!

To illustrate: in our highly digitised natural gas processing plant where I work, we have sensors that are connected to and closely monitor all plant conditions (pressure, temperature…e.t.c) and give instant feedback to enable instant response in emergencies. (Our plants are multi-billion dollar metals that deserve world-class monitoring and protection)
A key characteristic of effective leadership is its ability to detect changes in the eco-system and execute a seamless transition program that responds appropriately.

The nexus between MBWA and Prince Harry should be quite clear now. What on earth would a Royal and possible heir to the throne (King of England) be doing in war front you might ask (and I asked too!), particularly in a country notorious for insurgency, a drug-based economy and base for international terrorism??? Harry has spent about 10 weeks there now, and seems to be enjoying the experience of rendering service to his nation.

No pun intended, but you and I would quite agree that this isn’t a frequent occurrence in Nigeria, and by extension Africa (Where so-called leaders live in fortresses, and claim to defend the plight of the poor by ruling from those same palaces).
Harry has often been portrayed as the black sheep of the family, but his recent accomplishments speak volumes. The decision of the Royal family to allow their son to pursue his dreams also deserves applaud.

I believe Leadership largely involves experiencing and possessing the ability to relate to what every other person feels. If I can’t empathize with you, and relate with you on your level, why should I qualify to lead you?

Rick Warren in his classic “purpose driven life” talks about the strategy adopted by Saddleback, His Church. He says people who have had terrible experiences in the past, but overcame them (by God’s help of course!) are commissioned to lead and coordinate ministry arms that reach out to youths and others experiencing the same pain. In essence, the fact that you experienced and overcame a particular challenge puts you in a much better position to rescue those having similar experiences.

It’s not cast in stone that you must be an ex-evil (or have had a terrible experience) to help others, but the truth is adversity fortifies and places one in better stead to help others overcome. (I guess if Christ himself had to shed eternal glory momentarily and endure unimaginable pain to save us, then any serious minded leader must be willing to identify with his constituency)

And one more example: Barack Obama – I’m not exactly a fan, but I believe his life experiences, humble beginnings and past voluntary work have significantly aided his campaign. People are naturally drawn to those they view as having the ability to understand their needs and view points. God help Hillary as the Obama Machine seems to have stockpiles of ammo and WMDs that could keep up with the annihilation.

From a business perspective, David Packard had this to say about MBWA:

Straightforward as it sounds, there are some subtleties and requirements that go with MBWA...if it's done reluctantly or infrequently, it just won't work. It needs to be frequent, friendly, unfocused, and unscheduled—but far from pointless.

Here are some tips on how to practice MBWA:

  • Include affected employees / team members in goal setting.
  • Give frequent and meaningful recognition for a job well done.
  • Interact with employees on an informal basis.
  • Go to staff's work area. Meet them on their own turf.
  • Ask for staff's opinions and listen with an open mind.
  • Share non-confidential information with staff.
  • Offset demoralizing actions and events by emphasizing what went well
  • Listen 80% of the time and talk 20%.

MBWA works best when you are genuinely interested in people / employees and in their work and when they see you as being there to listen.

Time to add some credentials to our names folks! Check this out:
Adetayo Bamiduro, MBWA (Pretty cool! or what do you think???)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Business Minds; the criticality of relevant, optimistic and intelligent thinking

Business Minds; that’s the label of one of the most instigating books I’ve read about conducting business in the 21st century. This unique material is a profound compilation of thoughts and view-points of renowned entrepreneurs, professors and leading consultants globally. (I strongly recommend you get this text)
I extracted a few landmark pronouncements by some of these thought leaders and put them here (though some are paraphrased)

Warren Bennis: intellectual capital (know-how, skills and innovation) has supplanted capital (traditional resource-based assets) as the critical success factor….
Peter Cohan: the few firms that persist and ultimately achieve integrated transactions (ERP/ERM and enterprise-wide intelligence) are likely to enjoy a sustainable advantage over those that give up.
Arie de Gaus: long lived organizations were sensitive to their environment, cohesive with a strong sense of identity, tolerant and financially conservative. What you find out today is that the wisdom of the past has largely been reengineered away rather than appreciated and intelligently referenced.
Peter Drucker: today, you have to be a partner, not a boss! It’s a democratic relationship.
Daniel Goleman (The EQ Master): all effective leaders learn to manage their emotions, especially anger, anxiety and sadness. Pontificating and hypothesis, rather than hard data have been the currency of many leadership theorists.

Referencing data from The Hay Group on over 300 executives showed 6 separate leadership styles in use by business executives. They are:

Coercive: usually demand immediate compliance with procedures
Authoritative: mobilise people towards a compelling vision
Affiliating: create emotional bonds in the workplace
Democratic: aim to build consensus
Pacesetting: expect excellence all the way
Coaching: develop people for the future


Leaders who have mastered 4 or more of these styles especially the authoritative, democratic, affiliating and coaching strategies have been shown to have the best climate and business performance. (Seems like a bit of everything is important for success)
Leadership however certainly requires a balanced mix of pragmatism and mental agility.

Another sharp business mind, Dr. Oren Harari in the field of strategy quite accurately remarked that a truly competitive business strategy is:

Coherent: i.e. clear and makes sense to all parties
Deliverable: i.e. execution. It’s practical and can be carried out
Ever evolving: i.e. not rigid. It’s flexible and responds appropriately to internal and external changes in its business eco-system.

After studying the field of competition for a long time, he discovered that:

• Winners do strategy on the run. (i.e. adaptability, responsiveness and flexibility)
• Intangibles are more important than tangibles (brains are more than bricks)
• It’s got to be fun. Strategy should involve informality, humour, celebration and shenanigans at work. After all, we’re humans.

These next two statements I have kept at heart, as they have proven invaluable in every type of business I’ve engaged in.

Companies that catapult over conventional wisdom in order to carve out new value propositions or create new markets are the ones that create sustained competitive advantage.

In business, don’t try to make people share your values, find those who already do!

The following have been identified as major pitfalls to growth in businesses, particularly for the big and global ones. The companies in braces have been negatively impacted at one time or the other by these identified pitfalls:

Lack of a clear mission (ITT)
Underestimating your core business (Medtronic)
Depending on a single product line (Cisco)
Failure to recognise technology and market changes (Compaq)
Changing strategy without changing culture (GM)
Going outside your core-competence (Xerox and IBM)
Counting on acquisitions for growth (WorldCom and Sprint $160b merger)


Our very own business mind, Fela Durotoye (CEO, VIP Consulting) addressed some fundamental business and related issues at a meeting we had in his house.
In Fela’s words:
Your talent and the business of your talent are different things.
You need to get into the business of meeting needs, not pushing products on people.
Consulting (selling information, expertise and know-how) has proven to be the easiest way to start a business in an industry where you could eventually end up becoming a major player.

A great way to connect to people and potential clients and customers is to say and do things that make them appreciate you, and in essence say ‘thank you’.
Learn to do things to perfection, blast your tasks to pieces!
He had this to say about weaknesses. Well, we all have them, or don’t you?

Your weaknesses will not limit you until you refuse to acknowledge, respect, restrict and submit them into the hands of someone who can manage them for you.

Finally, he had these to say about attaining leadership:

Right Intention: constitutes the justification and bias for undertaking any tasks.
Excellence: You ought to build the reputation of being the best at something (especially in a highly specialised area i.e. finding a niche). Many times, it’s easier to make impact as a small growing company. Though you may not boast of size, you could certainly emphasize growth rates.
Celebrate Milestones: Your little achievements count and you should learn to tell success stories regularly to your staff and team members.
• Expertise: Realise that passion is not a substitute for knowledge, wisdom (strategy), understanding (underlying principles), expertise, genius and skill

Remember that you are the custodian of your own future. Birthing and actualising a desired future requires breaking free of controlling forces, and believe me, these forces are every where, even in the most subtle and unexpected of forms and places. This concept of controlling forces constitutes a subject on its own. Robert Liardon wrote a whole book on this. He was very candid, performed some root-cause diagnostic and approached it from a more fundamental (and Spiritual) perspective.

Many highly talented folks have been held back from venturing into the wild and attaining their full potential largely because of the demands (i.e. shackles and restraints) placed on them by loved ones to live up to certain expectations. It requires appreciable strength, determination, awareness of the bigger picture, and many times divine enablement to break free from the myriad of psychological, physiological, cultural, emotional and sometimes unexplainable impediments that attempt to inhibit the process of harnessing our potential and maximising everyday opportunities.

Nevertheless, we have a choice to escape from gravity and ascend into an unthreaded stratosphere of possibilities.

Have a good week folks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

……Still on Business Strategy and Achieving Competitive Advantage.

Gary Hamel (one of the world’s thought leaders on the Strategy theme) clearly stated that ‘Strategic Planning is different from Business Strategising’. ‘To plan is not to create something new’ (how true!). Try to read the next sentence carefully and think about it. The objective of the revolutionary is to free the process from the tyranny of the past.
This basically is in sync with the Excellence Man, Tom Peter’s top-notch consulting advice in one of his recent presentations (in Johannesburg, SA) where he declared that Managers ought to hire crazies and unconventional people. You know what guys? I’ll just replicate the content of one of his slides below:

1. Ready. Fire! Aim.
2. If it ain’t broke ... Break it!
3. Hire crazies.
4. Ask dumb questions.
5. Pursue failure.
6. Lead, follow ... or get out of the way!
7. Spread confusion.
8. Ditch your office.
9. Read odd stuff. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…..

10. Avoid moderation!

Now, don't you take this out of context but if you are the nice, orderly gentleman (or lady) who loves to maintain order and do stuff the normal good way (with respect to business and pressing constructive change through), you might just as well ignore this piece cause this ain’t for the faint at heart!
See what these legends and thought leaders have to say:
Do one thing every day that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy. – Nicholas Negroponte

Creative strategising in the global capital marketplace requires revolutionary thinking.
You’ve got to realise that the corporations and businesses in our world today are definitely one of these:

  • Rule makers (General Electric, IBM, General Motors, Intel….): They tend to get comfortable and gradually experience creativity drought. Their perceived success eventually becomes their greatest undoing.
  • Rule breakers (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Toyota, Apple…..): They come from no-where and rewrite the rules. They could be referred to as disruptive innovators and are usually architects of industry transformation. You’d better be here if you intend to lead a meaningful and impacting life.
  • Rule takers (me don’t want no trouble! you can figure examples out yourselves!) They accept whatever is being offered. They are content like sheep.

    The primary agenda for a business that means business is to be the architect of industry transformation, not just corporate-level transformation.
    Incrementalism, what most of us find comfortable is not innovation.
    Gary Hamel clarifies that Re engineering the Corporation (Classic business improvement manual by James Champy and Michael Hammer) is more about incremental changes than paradigm breaking. (BPR, 6 Sigma, Value Chain Analysis……e.t.c certainly do result in improvements and costs savings, sometimes quite significant but seems like the bar has been raised in the current highly deregulated and technology driven international markets)

Companies, organizations and entities that view change as being an internal matter are liable to be left behind as the pace of external change in our world has, and is still catching many unprepared, forcing them into oblivion and irrelevance. The forward thinking individual or business wouldn’t aim to meet up with the pace, but rather dictate the pace. Now, you would agree with me that it takes foresight, cutting-edge business strategy and most importantly, spirited execution and impact assessment to do that today.
In short, you’ve got one option, and that is to re-invent your industry!

These are other critical elements that have a direct impact on your organization’s overall effectiveness:

  • Values & Ethics: These are the communal foundation and basis for all socio-economic activity. i.e… the cohesive bonds that hold social order. When they aren’t sacred, assertive and shared, you tend to experience inconsistencies that check quality and organic growth.
  • An Articulated Cause: You must be able to conceptualize and crystallize ideas. Your Cause is what underpins your existence. It reflects what you believe in and determines your relevance to society. It explains how you fit into the bigger dream of regional economic prosperity and development. Normally, it should leverage on your position, uniqueness and inherent design and capabilities.
  • Research, Collaboration and Strategic Partnerships: which of you embarks on a project without counting the costs first? The mind ought to be engaged vigorously (ATP: Analytical Productive Thinking. We are what we think, not what we eat – Walter Anderson. We must have foresight, and the ability to chart a course indented by specific actions and executions that lead us to the projected future-state. High selectivity in collaboration and partnerships is also paramount. How many emerging companies and great ideas have gone under just because they got in the wrong train!
  • Mentoring, Coaching and Succession Planning: We are way past the era of the superstars and untouchables. If you get so good that no one else could attempt taking on your responsibilities, and you become aware of this and do nothing about it, you are practically what I call a shooting star and in the process, set up your organization for extinction. Organizations are set-up with persistence in mind (let’s ignore SPVs – Special Purpose Vehicles) meaning that they are designed to live and continue to grow. This is compromised when superstars litter and thrive in your organization. Their exit becomes the organization’s exit.
  • Control and leverage: Would you volunteer to drive a car without controls, or perhaps fly in an airplane with the slightest control faults? When an organization lacks effective controls that are in sync with its strategy, such organization is inadvertently bracing up itself to join the greats viz: Enron, WorldCom, Cadbury…the list goes on.

Excerpts from Leadership the Goran Eriksson way, a book about the contemporary leadership style of the ex-England manager provides us with some insight into the cornerstones of effective business leadership in our world today. Here are the main points and distinctions from what previously obtained.

Features of the Old: charismatic, action oriented, idealistic, top-down structure, motivate thru fear and intimidation, task focussed, IQ, self confident (examples are Jack Welch – General Electric & Rupert Murdoch – Newscorp )

New leaders: understated, reflective, pragmatic, bottom-up, motivate thru reason and inspiration, relationship focussed, EQ, self awareness (examples are Richard Branson, Goran-Eriksson)

That does it for now folks! I hope we all continue to learn and APPLY these truths in our daily business and personal engagements. We’ve all still got ground to cover on our mission to becoming highly effective people, but the journey of a sextillion miles starts with a step. That leads me to the concept of doing, acting, executing….whatever name you choose o call it! Without this, we could all just have remained within the walls of those classrooms and training centres.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

EXPLOITATION and CHILD TRAFFICKING

Microsoft Encarta Reference Dictionary explains trafficking as ‘having dealings with something or someone’ and could also mean ‘engaging in illegal trade’.
Child Trafficking was the main point of discussion on Channels TV’s Rubbing-Minds show. The guests talked about the numerous factors contributing to this universal ill, and aired divergent views on how and when to determine at what point, trafficking takes place.

Child trafficking is an illegal global business worth several billions of dollars. It has being a serious concern particularly in Nigeria, where it has become pervasive and everyone seems to be unknowingly involved somehow.
My focus is basically on the key distinguishing factor in Child Trafficking, which is Exploitation.
Exploitation occurs when we take advantage of situations, circumstances, positions and conditions in order to derive unmerited, unethical and sometimes illegal benefits.
Child Trafficking must therefore involve elements of selfish gain and narcissistic tendencies.
We live in a society segregated according to economic strata, and this inadvertently creates a tensed environment where occupants at the base struggle to progress, obviously by systematically collaborating with the more fortunate ones (living in urban cities).

We must however understand that the larger part of Children being trafficked are extracted from rural (poor) areas and traded to city inhabitants (middle to upper class) where they serve as helps, nannies and so on.
Now, going by the fact that those who harbour these little ones in cities are being labelled accomplices and could be indicted, many of us with kid house-helps may be committing serious crimes.

However, wait a second! Someone brings a young kid to my house, I feed him, cloth him, send him to school, treat him well, grant him opportunities he may never have had in life and still send money to his guardian(s) (or contact persons), and then you call me a criminal???
I bet many would ask that question.
I applied my judgement to this situation and here’s what I have to say.

Value is the underlying determinant and basis for defining exploitation.
Think about it: I offer to buy a pair of shoes from my friend at N5000, even though he bought the same at N30 000 before realising it wasn’t his size. Now, some shylocks out there could argue that I got an excellent bargain, but the ethical and sustain-ably thinking business minds amongst us would quite accurately admit that the best bargains are win-win partnerships where everyone goes home happy. It’s called fair value for money!
I once worked in an organization that paid staff poorly, and reportedly had an unwritten policy of firing or letting any disgruntled employee go. Management would reportedly say there are thousands of people willing to take your job at half your current pay!

Back to the main point: Every child has basic universal rights which include education, health-care and the likes. To deny them any of these rights under any circumstances is criminal.
However, I would intelligently argue that to keep a child (brought from God knows where) in my house would not necessarily translate into committing a crime.
Note that there are significant culture issues and traditions that may have fuelled this illegal activity, but I believe there should be unambiguous constitutional guidelines that clearly indicate what pre-conditions must have been met in order to convict or classify anyone as an accomplice in child trafficking.

We must that realise that (economic) value is personal and individually assigned. We all have a price irrespective of what the market says. The market provides us with only an average price, or how would you explain two guys working at the same company, doing almost the same job, but one earns thrice the other. (It’s real and better believe it! Don’t ever assume you are on the same level with the guy sitting next to you in that cubicle! He may know his worth and have negotiated something entirely different!)

Therefore, in the case of more mature kids who have given their consent to serve in the mansions and outfits of taskmasters, the fact that they (or their guardians) are paid meagre amounts and treated less humanly may not constitute sufficient background to press a charge.

I believe the standard approach to solving problems of any nature is to first identify the root-cause(s) and then attack it. You would agree with me that increasing income inequality, slow or virtually inexistent industrialization and concrete economic development, ineffective rural empowerment programs and of course, malfeasance and poor leadership are major culprits here. We are all familiar with these discouraging terms and realities, but we certainly against hope believe that there is Hope, and that nevertheless a new prosperous society would emerge soon.

Learning point: We can analyse as much as we like and appeal subtly to the hearts and emotions of people to help mitigate child trafficking and its attendant consequences, but believe me, until we are able to offer practicable solutions, re-orientate and provide better alternatives to our people, we may not achieve significant results.

Have a lovely week folks!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pitfalls and Threats to Business Leadership

In 2000, Fortune Magazine did a survey of American CEOs and business leaders who were forced out. Top reasons were:

Bad earnings (Poor return on investments, faulty investment decisions)
People problems (failure to get on with owners and other executives)
Lifer syndrome (creativity drought resulting from being too long on the job)
Decision gridlock (lacking influence and political clout to implement ideas)

The critical challenges facing business leaders today are:

1. Globalization (Balancing Pankaj Ghemawat’s 3As i.e.)

  • Arbitrage: has to do with exploiting the variations in the availability and cost of accessing critical resources. For instance, situating your production facility in China may provide you with opportunities for significant cost-reduction with respect to labour as against erecting your facility in Western Europe or the United States. (you can ask BMW why they decided to move some of their operations overseas!)
  • Adaptation: entails tailoring your products to suite target markets. HSBC’s slogan, ‘the world’s local bank” is a pointer to the fact that they package their products to suite their target markets. Standardization may not always prove effective depending on the nature of products and services being offered.
  • Aggregation: aims at strategically centralising some aspects of your operations or implementing some form of shared services. The leverage point here is scale. With careful case analysis, multinationals can aggregate aspects of their operations for better coordination, increased throughput and overall effectiveness.

2.Technological change

Any business that isn’t internet enabled would simply be unqualified to be called a business in the nano-second world of today. Deployment of business automation systems and e-solutions including business to business and customer to business applications are basic pre-requisites for conducting any sort of business today. Service providers, finance and consulting firms and companies where knowledge and information management constitute core aspects of their business have significantly higher technological investment obligations including Document Management Systems, Information Security and Availability, Business Continuity Planning and host of others.

In our fast changing world, successful companies (by implication companies with sound leadership and management) focus on a few simple rules:

  • How to rules -- There are standard methodologies and approach to problem solving.
  • Boundary rules -- A niche has been carved out. This forces you to focus on your target market and ignore almost everything else outside your strategic framework.
  • Priority rules -- First things first. Resources ought to be allocated on the basis of the projected estimated value derivable from such resource commitment.
  • Timing rules -- There’s a time and season for everything. If you would agree with me, we are past the period of mega-bucks profits from computer hardware sales. It’s critical to discern the right moment for a product offering, but this does not in any way negate the fact that a company must be able to pro-actively articulate the needs of consumers and hit them with a solution they never knew they needed!
  • Exit rules – There’s a time to be born and a time to die. One of the most critical issues investors face today is pin-pointing to divest, exit or liquidate an investment. A twenty-hour delay in liquidating an investment could have implications in the realm of billions of dollars in losses for global corporations.


Warren Bennis remarked that the new leader is one who commits people to action, converts followers into leaders, and converts leaders into change agents.
Today’s leaders ought to think globally and act globally (not just locally)!