Edgar Kasenene on The need for Agility

Ever heard of the statement that things happen at the right time? Edgar Kasenene has been combing through corridors and knocking at different doors asking company heads to reconsider the models they are using in running their establishments and not many took heed. The corona virus has struck and the safest way to keep away from it is to work from home which means disruption. It is no longer business as usual at the work place. Things have changed. It was only a matter of time for a disruption this intense to occur for people’s eyes to be opened.

Edgar, for 14 years, worked at Ericsson where he was the head of innovations by the time he left. Two years ago, he felt the need to reach out and help companies to rethink their models to stay competitive in an agile work.

He is bothered that as a society we are not as concerned (as we should be) by how fast the word is changing. Models are changing and businesses are getting disrupted. The irony of the situation is that we have one of the most competitive countries in the world because we are country. A lot of these models are based on how to create value differently. And they are driven by young people. Our current structures are not in position to accommodate these new models because they are still locked up in the factory model other than learning. They are static and not dynamic. They are built on the assumption that the world is going to stay linear for the next five years. We are getting impacted in real time because we are more connected than we thought.

The world is not going to stay local and linear, it is going global and exponential. We are more connected than we have been. If something happened somewhere in the world it directly concerns you. The rate, pace and speed of change is much faster than our brains can comprehend. There are businesses that are going to close with the smallest changes possible. The most important thing is agility. Most people a think I am okay since I am in Uganda. Corona virus is going to wipe out some of these businesses.

In a world that is global and exponential, in a world where things are fast, we need more than one model, we are pivoting for real time. Companies like Amazon and Apple are not going to die because to them agility is the norm. Our models are built on efficiency and compliance. Agility is the norm and very few companies are pivoting towards that. There is no space for innovation.

Data engagement is better because you are solving the problems in real time. There is no institution exempt from the new models. There is no more respect for borders. Borders only exist in the old setting. Facebook targets everyone who is using the internet. It does not have borders in its plan.

All the models we grew up in are dead. When we talk about agility, we are talking about enforceable occurrences. Many of us do not plan long term and are quickly swept away when a natural occurrence happens. Our minds should be open to new trends every day. You do not die in ten years anymore, you die in minutes. In a hyper connected world, everything is immediate. The marketing and PR departments are under threat given the openness of the world. If someone loves your product they will tweet about it just as they will if they do not like it.

In a world that is hyper connected. Listen and engage. Give people a voice, allow opinions to be heard. Personalise. When knowledge and expertise is a commodity. Titles are no longer relevant at work. What stays constant what you are good at? The gift. That is your ability to give value. The world cannot deny talent. If it is authentic, the world will look for you.

How do you create value in a different way? It is more important to ask people questions than to give answers. Human beings have similar attributes. We all want to make meaning. We all want to matter. We all want to be recognised. And we all, deep down in our hearts, care. If you are very clear on the legacy you want to leave on the world, you will give it your best. That is your purpose, the why of your existence. If it is clear why you want something, move on. If you wake up on a Monday morning and you are excited of what you are going to do, then you are passionate about you. You need to find what you are passionate about and do it.

We were not structured to pursue passion, you had to go through a linear training. Do not be stuck. The world is agile and it listens to the customer, you ought to create value for the client not the product. We were prepared to be factory workers where there are only the linear titles. The world is still stuck in getting a paper. Most top companies have removed the paper. It is about the value one is creating to the brand. The classroom teacher is competing with Siri. A modern teacher’s job is to help the learner find out the learner’s passion and their role is to help them grow the passion.  Beyond that, the teacher is irrelevant to the child. The children are thinking faster because they are using many tools. The tools are the norm. The teacher had to learn to use the tools, the child is growing up with them. They are faster and hyper connected.

The most important thing right now is the internet which gives you access in real time. You have a phone which makes one ten times more competent than you were before.

We were not prepared for this. We have to take time explaining the new models because much as we are now, we do not see it. Be intense but also empathise. It has come so fast but we are not prepared. We are plugged in a new world but we cannot see it. We have no option. We cannot hide. It is not happening only in Uganda, it’s happening everywhere in the world. Standard Bank closed 200 branches in South Africa a few years ago.

Re-purpose yourself today. Repackage yourself to be competitive. Things are changing. Five years from now, bank branches will be closed. Banks should be retraining their staff. There will not be need of going to the bank very soon. Everything will be online. The more convenient the process, the easier it will be to gravitate towards it. 

A bank made money through bank charges and interest, it may have to rethink its models. Many of us think we have time but we do not. We have to have an open mind. We have to care. We have to have open mind. It is not a tech conversation. It is a leadership and culture conversation that affects us all. . The models have changed. No one has the time. Be willing to learn. Learn from the data. Ask the right questions. Be willing to care. If you do not, you will die.

When a company dies, it dies along with all its supply chain. The conversation is about people. The most important thing is not to have answers but to ask questions. Learn all the time. You should use technology the right way. Digital is not about building apps, it is the culture. The tech is there, the culture must change. Everybody is important. Nobody is inferior any more. The only thing that separates us all is who is hungrier and more passionate not your titles. Stay hungry, stay ambitious and remain humble. You have as much opportunity as everyone else. Rise up to the occasion. 

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