Our Thoughts in 2015

Making it better in organizations

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Nov 16 2015

Truett Cathy, the founder of the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain in the United States, during a time when the company was facing a lot of competition and uncertainty said, "If we get better, our customers will demand that we get bigger". This simple but profound statement centers on the mindset of many great leaders. Great leaders focus their thinking on how to make it better because they have the foresight to know that if they make it better, then their customers will demand that they grow bigger as a company.

To make anything better, one must first engage in clarification and evaluation. In an organizational setting, clarification and evaluation is all about identifying and defining the win or the intended customer experience that an organization desires to bring forth. If the win is not clearly defined, it becomes very difficult to practice "making it better", because there is no clarity on what "it" is. In fact this win is what Peter Drucker describes as the value the customer places on a product or service. The customer does not simply buy a product or service; they buy value. Continue reading...

Creating a culture of trust in an organization

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Oct 15 2015

Trust is an intangible value that may or may not exist in an organization. It is really hard to measure it on a chart but when an organization has it, things are great and when it doesn't exist things often seem difficult to move. When trust is lost in an organization, it is almost impossible to get it back. Essentially trust is important because in any organization there will always be a gap between what's expected of a person and what actually gets done, or a gap between what's promised and what gets fulfilled. The key thing is that, what leaders put in that gap sets the premise for the kind of culture their organizations exhibit. There really isn't any way to avoid the gaps but leaders have to know that a great deal of the organizational culture, hinges on what they place in that gap. Therefore, if they are willing to be proactive and intentional about placing trust in that gap, then over time an organizational culture of trust will emerge.

An example of a gap is when for instance a person promises that he will show up at a scheduled meeting at 9am but then he shows up 15 minutes late. The leader can place trust by believing that the person had a legitimate reason for being late or he can place suspicion that the person isn't as attentive or doesn't value the leader. What the leader places in the gap will affect how the leader interacts and relates to that individual. Continue reading...

Leading in uncertain times

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Mar 18 2015

The one thing certain about times ahead is uncertainty. Uncertainty in business is always inevitable and it is in uncertain times that leadership is required the most. In other words, uncertainty really surfaces the need for Leadership. Generally, when things are predictable, all you need for an organization is good management but you don't really need people who look beyond what is in order to think about what could or even should be. In a sense uncertainty is really what gives leaders their job security as they make organizations continue to perform amidst strenuous rigors of uncertainty. The fact is that, when troubles loom, leaders who have the capability to make organizations withstand sudden blows, avail themselves to steer the organization in a new direction. Problems are really the result of uncertainty within the organization and more so within the circumstances that impact the organization. This means that the fundamentals must be carefully and well managed.

In particular, leaders in uncertain times must be able to exalt:

What kind of education does Tanzania really need?

Posted by David Manyanza on Jan 28 2015

Image source in2eastafrica.net

In recent years we have seen numerous commentaries in newspapers and on television about the declining quality of education in Tanzania. We have heard or read about concerns, particularly from foreign investors and various other private sector players with regards to some graduates of tertiary and higher institutions of learning not being adequately equipped with skills required by industry. Universities have argued that the said decline in the standard of university education is due, in part, to deterioration in the educational system starting with basic education at primary and secondary school levels. Consequently, universities have had to lower their entry requirements but at the risk of sabotaging their own integrity as prestigious academic institutions. While this discussion and contemplation is going on, the problem is having telling impact on people and the economy. Sadly, there is considerable time lag before the impact of a poor education system becomes evident while reversing the trend also requires a number of years before positive changes can be seen.

When people complain about poor education quality, it means that they feel and see that education or training they get does not meet their expectations. Like beauty, quality is in the eyes of the beholder. These complaints are inextricably linked to the core basis of education itself. Education is never provided in a vacuum. Continue reading...

Listening in leadership

Posted by Patrick Manyanza, David Manyanza on Jan 14 2015

To lead organizations effectively, leaders need to develop a number of skills. Among them, listening is a skill that every leader needs to pay attention to so as to avoid falling in the trap of always telling their followers. This know-it-all attitude is not only repugnant but also repels good ideas at the peril of organizational success. Although listening is a skill that is important for everybody it is particularly crucial for leaders. It is vital for influencing people, learning and making decisions. Leaders are responsible for making all sorts of decisions related to organizational success and this requires good understanding of the situation at hand.

As much as every employee is executing their roles, they are simultaneously learning and continuously amassing a wealth of knowledge that is undoubtedly vital for organizational success. Much of this vital knowledge often remains undocumented as such it is held in people's memories as their experience. Although this wealth of knowledge occurs at all levels of the organization, its complexity and importance tends to increase upwards in the organizational ladder. Accessing it is critical but the most important pathway is the often-elusive listening skill. Continue reading...