By Dr. Fredrick Ogola
Using the analogy of the comparison between a fox and hedgehog, the CEO of Safaricom ended his lecture to the second year MBA students of Strategic management with a parting shot that as successful business leaders, they ought to be adaptable. He argued that it is no longer trendy in strategy to think too much about long term but how to adapt oneself to the changing strategic Milieu. This is because of the changing demands of the different stakeholders for whom management ought to create value.
A hedgehog is a person who believes that life revolves around one big idea and one ultimate truth. Hogs think there is only one way of doing things; it is either my way or the highway. However, foxes are sassy, shrewd and are always adaptable to different situations. Foxes believe that life is about knowing many things and that life consists of many different twists and turns and many unexpected forks in the road. There is no easy road to development and there will be many unforeseen difficulties, challenges and opportunities on the road to development. Every action counts and there are many small pieces that will eventually complete the puzzle. It may seem as if the road is diverting of course, but that twist will serve a good one way or another.
With this analogy, the CEO had put into perspective the theme of the lecture of the day, which was how Safaricom dealt with the price wars in the telecommunications industry and the alignment of strategy and structure, i.e. the Safaricom 2.0. The CEO demonstrated adaptability when he increased Safaricom’s calling rates when there were stiff price wars in the industry. He also re-restructured the management structure of Safaricom yet it was previously doing well. This resonated very well with the alignment of Strategy, Structure, Systems, People and Environment (S3PE) framework that had been taught to the students.
The students and even some of the guests present were moved not only by the CEOs wealth of commercial experience but also how he articulated them in a cool, calm and collected manner that reverberated very well with the course the students were taking on Competitive Strategy and Game theory. One Student thanked Strathmore Business School for inviting Mr. Bob Collymore and termed it as value for money invested in the Strathmore Business School MBA. The CEO later signed the visitors book, had tea with the MBA students and some Strathmore Business School Staff before visiting the Safaricom Academy, a venture between the Strathmore University and Safaricom. The academy founded @iLabAfrica, a Centre of Excellence at Strathmore University with a focus on ICT Research & Innovation, and Entrepreneurship & Incubation. His visit to Strathmore Business School was highly valuable.