Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We are living in a world of flux, complex and dynamic. The markets – for labour as
well as for commodities and services - are becoming increasingly global. What is
happening on the other side of the planet is affecting our daily lives. We are truly
experiencing another reality then what we did just a few decades ago.
Is the present “Western” leadership, apt to guide us into a sustainable future?
Or do we need more resilient approaches, better adapted to new circumstances, when
facing present and future challenges?
It would not be surprising if the most innovative leadership approaches will emerge
from parts of the world where leaders must confront and adapt to immense complexity on
a daily basis.

The Omoluwabi workshop, run by Adewale Ajadi and Simon McIntyre, is our first
workshop in a planned series, opening up for new perspectives on leadership.
In Africa there is an increased awareness of the need for management and institutional
systems that are more in balance with cultural roots and traditions. A number of new
management systems, such as African Renaissance, Ubuntu and Omoluwabi are
All have in common, that in their pursuit of new and innovative approaches to
facilitate the development of Africa, they experience a need of returning to the roots of
local traditions.
During centuries the Yoruba people have recognized character as the core of
evolution. While developing the Omoluwabi framework Adewale Ajadi together with his
team at the Equality Foundation, explored how this ancient concept may be used in
leadership practices of the 21st century.
Do the prevailing western leadership models and approaches provide the ultimate
solution for the future? Or is it time to open up for new dimensions?
When: 19th May, 13.00 – 16.30
Where: Företagarna, Erik Dahlbergsgatan 3, Gothenburg
Registration: latest 12th May to
Cost: 350 SEK ex. VAT. Will be invoiced.
The workshop will be held in English. Welcome!!
Sverige 2000-institutet

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dys-function 3 'Nigerian Exceptionalism'

Unlike most everyday Americans who accept the simple narrative and strap line that they are Gods own country the Nigerian accepts their country is exceptional because they through their remarkable power of deduction can confirm it is the home of chaos and failure. I await my time on the balcony to find the depth of the lessons of my latest visit. There are little nuggets that emerge that in spite of the criticism of the space and place the average Nigeria does not feel it is necessary to risk innovation until he or she is in a fight for survival or expressly desperate situation. I have however been blessed on this visit to meet one person who I have known a while positioned to fully shift the paradigm and unlike me he has the money and influence to deliver. More on this sometime soon.

My favourite book in the world is the Prophet by Khahil Gibran. It speaks to me more deeply than text in the bible and I often wondered why. I realised during this visit why it does. It is like the Ifa Corpus , the many poems that are the platform of divinity for the Yoruba Geomancy. So in my cultural DNA there is already a programming to decipher wisdom encoded in poetry and to reveal the power of the layered insights that shape the universe. The 400+1 divinities that are of the right of which the Orisas are an express part and the 200+1 of the left which the Ajogun are expressly visible are coded for in the express pursuit of universal laws that shape the pull of gravity, the cycles of rain and the magnetism of the moon. In the mixing of the three layers of Yoruba holistic epistomology or meaning making which are :

Asha : Popular culture

Imo Ijinle: Deep intellectual knowledge and understanding

Awo: Mysticism

the modern Nigerian has reduced them to caricatures unfit of anything other than the adulteration that is Juju. An offensive stereotype of philosophy, chemistry, physics, biology and religion to a corruption of magic. So as this visit draws to a close, I give a shout out to those who do not allow the laziness of Nigerian exceptionalism to reduce the true magic of this space. To Wura Samba and friends at Bogobiri house music is the rythmn of life; the administration of Governor Fashola for their honest attempt at transformation; Brother Muhtar Bakare whose mission to capture the stories will not be compromised; Doctor who blew my mind completely with the mixture of intellect, savvy, power and vision, Ko ni re yin O!(You will not tire)

As I leave this land of possibilities for another stint in the matrix I ask you to take a shot at seeing anew with truly African eyes. I nearly forgot Asha whose beautiful music made morning tears an addition to any powerful day (Eye adaba funfun iwofa ire) (White pigeon servant of blessings), Alhaji Haruna Ishola (Late) 'Baba Ngani Agba' whose blues put me into communion with the depth of my soul. Now for time with my running mate and worthy adversary Omosimbo, Ibadi Laiye wa, Omoge adu ma dan, arin legbe bi eni egbe dun egbe o dun mi ola oluwa lo wa lara mi. Let the leave this as only those who know the resonance of the sun and the moon to decipher but not explain. I will be back for more.

Ire O

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Arrogance and Racism that is British Airways

Human beings have infinite capacity for self justification. Evil we exhibit is usually so banal cemented into conventional wisdom by obsession with reason and disdain for passion. In fact fear for it. British are a people who pride themselves with a detached calmness and a stiff upper lip. Nigerians are quite an explosive and passionate in their expressions. The fear and irrational stereotype of angry black people whether Reverend Wright or Ayo Omotade or even Mr Bell who got shot in NY on his stag night must have been a justification for the crew of the BA flight to Lagos. Well here is more about British Airways a truly poor and disgraceful organisation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Catalysts and Coagulants of Leadership. Jozi 2008

Adewale Ajadi British Council :African Science Cafe Catalyst and Coagulants of Change 04/02/2008

Miles Davis was one of the greatest trumpeters and Jazz musicians the world has ever known. In fact he recorded the most successful and top selling jazz album ever called ‘ Kind of Blue’. This album was recorded in mostly one take with a cast of characters who were diverse and contradictory including pitting his regular pianist against another one in order that there would be competition. It was also one of the earliest shift of jazz to African based tonal music using George Russell’s theory. Amidst all of these was Miles pulling together the many dimensions of the complex matrix and dynamics to create something so fluent and exquisite.
Dr Martin Luther King arrived in Selma Alabama to support and encourage the bus boycott that had emerged out of Rosa Parks refusal to go to the back of a segregated bus. He used his approach of non-violent confrontation to raise the moral difference between the victims of Jim Crow Laws and the perpetrators of racism. It not only captured the imagination of the broader American population but it also accelerated the enactment of desegregation laws across the USA.
Both stories are not the same in magnitude they are also different in the process that created the desired change. In our conversation here we are raiding the ‘library’ of sciences for metaphors that capture complex human dynamics. In the process we are moving away from a tradition of using the metaphor of machines that breaks things down into component parts. We are replacing it within the metaphor of natural phenomenon that is holistic and capable of capturing the interconnection as well as the evolution of things. Essentially we explore how we engage in a process of transforming any arrangement that we are part of as either a catalyst or coagulant. Without going to much into depth people are generally self organising i.e they naturally seek order and patterns. The real challenge is how do we productively or constructively intervene in this process to either fast track their efforts or re-orientate their interaction to a greater purpose.
A catalyst agent or facilitator is especially powerful where the ingredients are in place. The people are already signed up for a change because the reality they have, makes the status quo untenable to them. They also have an idea of what alternative they prefer for themselves. They might not have the process of change thought out or the passion to make things happen plugged so that their energy is regularly replenished. A catalyst makes the process more efficient towards the ultimate change goal. To be an effective catalyst an agent or facilitator should have the capacity , competence and attitude to:

1) Understand the dynamics or chemistry of the group that you are intervening with or trying to facilitate. This means that you understand the different roles and relations that underpin the approach of the group.
2) Have questions that helps the group to deepen their insight into what, why and how of the change they are engaged in so that their choices connects with their personal motivation rekindling their passion and aligned enthusiasm for transformation.
3)Have data and information that increases their foresight . Especially opening up dialogue about pattern recognition on trends as well as past habits.
4) Empower effective and timely decision making so that their choices addresses challenges in prompt and definetive ways.
5) Maintain momentum through the use of an holding space in which focus is maintained on the root causes rather than the symptoms.
6)Maintain constructive discomfort so that the pressure to reform is not replaced by complacency.

An effective coagulant agent or facilitator is quite a different space completely to the catalyst. The
challenge here is both self evolution as well as intervening in a system to transform it. It often means
that unlike the catalyst where there is a common purpose here there is most likely a disparate set of
interest and constituencies who are far more in conflict and competition rather than co-operation. It is the coagulants own commitment and vision that inspires the bonding and transformative result
which will be delivered with fingerprints and elbow grease. To be effective the Coagulant has to
have the following competency, capacity and attitude:
1) A conscious incompetence or vulnerability about the limitation of what they know compared to what they do not know. This opens the mind to the world of possibilities. It is no accident that this is the first element in the Omoluwabi , character evolution model which can be seen at http://
2) A proper understanding of the hungers and drivers that fuel their passion for transformation, their area of focus and the process that they choose to make things happen. This an area where most coagulants get tripped up. If you are not familiar with your own hungers others will expose them to the detriment of the change you seek. It is critical to have the discipline to engage the most productive aspects of these at any given time.
3) Understanding of the context is critical especially what the environmental drivers e.g the politics, sociology , economics of the issue.
4) Building the coalition especially understanding the difference s between allies and confidants. It is quite dangerous to have a confidant within the coalition you build for change. the turbulence of the process is too much to make anyone so loyal they are asked to betray their own interest.
5) Facilitate original thinking by disrupting conventional wisdom. It often means being unpopular or taking a contrary stance.
6) Use scale to see the difference in dynamics of individual or constituent parts and the whole process. In short be able to see the woods from the forest, they are not the same things nor are they sending the same message. It allows you to harvest a vision that emerges from all the interactions and dialogue with the credibility that it is not exclusively yours.
7)Inspire others about the power of the vision to respond to intractable problems whilst being open to the wisdom of the multitudes to edit and even fundamentally change it in parts. The dialogue here is shaped by your own capacity to recognise when the essence of your commitment is under threat which means you exercise your authority as opposed to when your ego is being bruised.
8) Protect the sceptics from true believers because just like the in the oyster it takes an irritant and heat to turn grit into a gleaming pearl.
9) Orchestrate the dynamic equilibrium between competition and co-operation to ensure transformative work gets done.
10) It is not about you personally so ensure there is enough distance between your role and yourself to take feedback about how it is playing.
11)Know when your role becomes redundant and adapt accordingly
Many of these thoughts are shaped out of my education and reading of Dr R Heifetz on Leadership especially his book Leadership on the line ; also by my education and reading of the work of Professor Yaneer Bar-yam ; in my own 12 year practice as a leadership educator and form a cornerstone of my yet to be published work on Omoluwabi organising system.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Energy Probe

The facts are emerging slowly after the Nigerian Newspapers have gone to town alleging corruption in the Obasanjo regime. Here is a very credible response by one of the companies who have been tarred with Corruption tag in this hysterical probe Obasanjo climate. I think facts should be fully revealed before  people jump to conclusion. $16 billion deserves a proper and competent review , the behaviour of former members of the Obasanjo administration before the Senate Committee reviewing the spending only added fuel to fire.  To my friend and debate partner Toye  let all the facts come out.

Check the link below for full response or go to my link to the Mo-Lo blog for a fresh perspective.

Open posting

Let me quickly wax lyrical on a few things:

Mzansi crime wave against Nigerians continue with little or no check. Any Nigerian on the way to South Africa should be advised not to carry cash and  hire your own car from the airport. Take security measures to secure you valuables and  ensure no one is following you. The 'bad name ' Nigerians have has made them the perfect target for ill treatment and crime. Never mind that  the nearly 100 hundred cases of armed robbery on Nigerians in the last year  has not set off alarm bells. With a lacklustre government it not a surprise that there is no travel warning issued to Nigerian citizens on the way to the Rainbow nation.

Gidi Crime is  also on the rise with armed robbery targeting the entertainment spots  frequented by the Lagos elite. Shame that the federal government refuses the request for states to have their own police. Their crime prevention effort is more likely to work. Look out for a post on community policing  on these pages in May. However the current Lagos State government is got a very clear cut vision for the future of the city and state. The outlines are already showing in its beautification of public spaces as well as its emerging infrastructure development. I was in Law School with the Governor even though we never were friends. I feel so proud that someone from my generation is laying down foundation for a great future in the public sector. He would certainly make a better President than the current incumbent. Fashola 2011 ! you hear it here first.

The much touted 'bitter' comment from Senator Obama in describing rural Pennsylvania  is my first disagreement with him and it is quite a relief. It is an healthy sign that I am not totally in the tank for him. There is an unfortunate tendency amongst the progressive yes, Elites to view the problems of the disdavantaged and downtrodden as victimisation of something outside their own character and choices. It seems to imply that their response to adverse condition is inevitable and without alternative. It is a disempowering position and ignores the fact that we are co creator of any reality we live. Barack should know better . I sincerely hope that his analysis was just to give a reason not an excuse . It is difficult to tell however, he still stands heads and shoulders above his opponents. He will lose the battle for Penn but I feel  sure he will win the nomination barring a collapse of sorts.

Nigerian economy to grow by 9% this year according to the IMF .  This is an Obasanjo gift that continues to keep giving since it is not exclusively Oil prices but also non-oil sector. If you have not got into the NSE i.e. Nigerian Stock Exchange you are missing a great round of profit taking especially in the Insurance market. Placed a little punt on a private placement in  December and my return after IPO is 100% increase in share value now wished I had bought more. There is no more vilified human being in the Nigerian media and if we are to believe amongst the people than OBJ. history will judge.

What happened to President Kikwette of Tanzania ? A man who seemed ready to become an example of a 21st century African leader a few years ago now totally in the tank for the West like his predecessor. What was all that brown nosing of the George W Bush on his cringe inducing African  trip? Sometimes I wish that President Mugabe was a little wiser but nevertheless no less confrontational. What is this incompetence of African Politicians at succession planning? Should run a training course or retreat through the AU. Watch NEPAD gradually fold up as part of the decline of influence of President Mbeki. 

Now who is your Daddy? My prediction on the dollar at the beginning of the year is on track to becoming a reality. See how many nations and people are dumping the dollar.  I wonder whether the UK citizenry are now sure of their hysterical refusal to join the Euro. The same for my people in Sweden who failed to see  what was on the horizon. Worse is still to come. It is sheer pain for me as the value has dropped from all my dollar investment.

The Okada saga continues as a group of South African friends come into town for the African Movie Awards in Bayelsa State. Worried a little about kidnapping and all that jazz but know that the organisers are truly grounded in the politics of the Delta. All the best to them. We need more stand up people showcasing African stories. 

Should not the Nigerian singing sensation Asha be the greatest new artiste on a greater African if not Global stage.  She rocks.

It is now official Nigeria is the new black . Watch CNN programming on the country and see how much Al Jazeera has become a clone of the Mainstream Western Media (MWM). 

Ire O!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dys-function 2 " the fear of Okada is the beginning of wisdom"

'Ni Owe, Ni Owe ni a lu ilu Agidigbo. Ologbon ni O ma jo, Omoro ni mo'.  Translation from Yoruba, 'the drum of Agidigbo is beaten in proverbs. It is the wise that dance to it and the intellectual that understand'.

I find that very few people that I know in Lagos would pass the test of the ancients who evolved this dance of the wise. On the contrary many do not even understand the proverb. There is a parable or a proverb that has been playing itself out with one of my friends in this lonely and sometimes mean place called Lagos. There is a adulterated form of transportation called the 'Okada' which is a motorcycle taxi. It is largely unregulated and safety is quite an after thought. In fact it treats life like a Kebab wrapper at 3 am on any High Street in England or better still as the leave wrapping Eko in Oja Oba in Ibadan. Totally disposable and entirely transactional. Everyday since my current visit to Lagos I witness Okada accidents , the victims usually women in skirts and wrappers sitting on the kerbs, thighs splayed and legs in awkward positions either broken, twisted or badly cut.  The riders usually men are congregated in a initial heated exchange then a negotiated settlement that leaves their passenger at the mercy of the elements and in the parade for a kind stranger in a car. All these by the way of background.

My friend a fairly, newly minted middle class marketing executive was on her early afternoon jaunt of sorts in Obalende. Obalende is  a working class , ethnically mixed area of Lagos Island . She was legally on a one way system whilst two Okada riders were illegally riding against the legitimate flow of traffic when they collided with each other. So far not a unusual day in Lagos apart from the fact that my friend could not avoid hitting one of them who was pushed into the path of her car. She drove this unfortunate man to hospital and proceeded to the nearest police Station to give her statement. As she was doing her  civic duty , news came that the Okada rider that she had taken to hospital had died. Her life entered the land of dual systems  pathology as she was detained by the Police. She now was a suspect and both the formal as well as informal systems kicked in a brutal dance of torture. She was held all day and all night at the Police Station a fate visited on many but to her somewhat sheltered life it is being held in Dante's hell. She had to pay for the morgue, preparation and burial of the fellow as well as a fee to the family for the death.  The informal system was instant and direct in spite of the effort of all kinds of senior as well as influential Police officers. This was all before she was charged with anything. There were other payments made to reduce the full visitation of other indignities and finally the formal system of a charge and arraignment was followed. My friend is presently on bail and awaiting trial. The formal system notorious fro delays will take its time and possibly its toll too.

There are simple corruption and dysfunction comments that are like butter on bread everyone has tasted and know how it goes. I hope any commentary will move beyond this very obvious and traditional explanations.  I suspect there is a lot more to this than that. On a systemic note it is arguably ' a gift that keeps on giving'.
 For example a life is lost how much value has the family in collecting all kinds of payment put on the life of its breadwinner? 
How does the informal system  evaluate what is to be paid and to whom? 
Is that possibly a more efficient way of resolving the needs of the poor family whilst the formal system takes its long and tortous  route? 
What do you really think of the continuing informal transportation role that the Okada plays in Lagos ever present traffic? 

Two lives have been directly,completely changed by this event , one beyond restoration,  that of the late Okada rider. For my friend she enters a place few ever do and if so they need psychological counselling for the trauma but like a true Lagosian she is back at work and driving as well in the sea of Okadas.  Many more will be deeply affected presumably the family of the unfortunate rider. 

I have no answers but I am deeply affected. Something will emerge but for now I welcome your views.

Monday, April 14, 2008

British Airways treatment of Ayo Omotunde

Here is a story that should elicit a response.

Friday, April 11, 2008


There is a great report by Mamadou Dia called Africa's Management in 1990s and Beyond 'Reconciling Indigenous and Transplanted Institutions' for the World Bank. It is one of those seminal pieces of work that captures a powerful dynamic but imprisoned by a sponsoring institution which is incapable of grasping its transformative qualities so it is mothballed. Its forward was very revealing  in its purpose saying " The overarching theme of the research is that the institutional crisis affecting economic management in Africa is a crisis of structural disconnect between formal institutions transplanted from outside and indigenous institutions born of traditional African culture." 

This battle between the formal and informal , western versus indigenous, structured versus adaptive is at the heart of the seeming disorganisation that pervades the Nigerian Society. It is at the heart of the daily challenges that is faced by everyone who travels these lands with desire, commitment and passion for results as well as value. I am here in Lagos so far two weeks gone in pursuit of a project that will leave a legacy of a more efficient and effective administration of justice. As we embark on our journey the pattern is already clear. The formal systems are introduced with oodles and oodles of procedural compliance regulations which are expressed with detachment, inflexibility and irrational timescale. The approach represents the local official view of 'westernised ' due process. This is then left on the table whilst the hopelessness of such request sinks into the person at the receiving end . Inevitably one seeks an alternative. So you seek the goodwill, understanding, humanity and discretion of the official an approach which often means you use any connection, incentive and at worst inducements for them to resolve the 'problem' raised by the formal approach. It is this paradox that plays out everyday not just in the public sector but in businesses across the country. 

I was at a Bank to review their arrangement for my company account. I wanted an ATM card so we could reduce amount of cheques and bank visits. It became apparent that this was not allowed for accounts with more than one signatory. As we discussed the inconvenience of such a policy it finally dawned that the primary focus of all the banks we had visited that day was security rather than customer service. Whilst this appears rational, it is the same inflexibility and detachment the very opposite of the indigenous approach with which it is presented. Then we engage in the dance to find the officials grounding or how embedded they are into indigenous system or it is just about money. It meant things like family ties, ethnic identity, name recognition even power distance come into play. As a systemic paradox it is inefficient, incoherent and increases corruption since at all times the indigenous approach is treated as a sort of perversion of due process not as a under utilised alternative. In fact there is no place in the country where the informal system that works in transactions in markets, mechanic shops, bukkas are ever openly explored as part of a developmental approach to managing and organising. 

So as I watch the probe of the $16 billion dollars play out in the House of Representative and the decision of the Ex - President to bypass due process becomes a subject of national discussion it seems we have an opportunity to explore Dia's report and proposition no matter what is the final finding or evidence. Unlike most people I have not concluded corruption but await the full facts. The background is the ever present power failure in the country the basis of many commentaries and complaints. The last Government awarded contracts totalled over $16 billion without following its own due process agenda and in fact giving advance payment of nearly the full value of the contracts. Most of the contracts have not been executed and the advance payment guarantees given to Government seem to have expired. As the facts emerge, premature conclusions have been drawn that this is solely about corruption. There is very little attempt by any commentators to explore any institutional or systemic explanation it seems the only conclusion is that ex-President Obasanjo must have been at what people here call the 'Nigerian factor' . 

Let me give Dia the last word on this posting. " Thus neither a totally transplanted institutional structure nor a traditional fundamentalism suggest a viable action. What is essential is a convergent synergy of both:  not formalising (or getting rid of) informal institutions nor informalising formal institutions, but reconciling and encouraging  convergence between adaptive formal institutions and renovated indigenous institutions. This is what is meant by 'the reconciliation paradigm'.

I sincerely hope we move beyond the personal polemics to a more powerful review of why there is so much dysfunction. Until we can organise in a sustainable and fit for purpose manner  so called corruption will remain an efficient alternative used by everyone who wants to get things done quickly and effectively. It is time for a more intelligent review of things .

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Omoluwabi Podcast

Listen via or find it on iTunes

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gidi for Real

I am in Lagos, sweating, smelling and generally full of life. No bills through the front door, no treadmill existence (all measurements no outcomes) , no electricity but just sheer life. Loads to do . I still need to post the deconstruction of the Obama Speech even though I did an Omoluwabi podcast. It will be posted shortly on the Podbean website. I have just completed a meeting where I have been dropped into giving a speech tomorrow by a group of young men. They are putting together an African Under 30 entrepreneurial Award. Their website is worth your visit at The are truly worth the time.

Quick aside is why are people hating on the Chinese so much. I know it is fashionable to be down with the Dalai Lama but people get a grip eh! I frankly blame the Chinese leadership for what were they thinking going for hosting the Olympics? People's addiction to Western approval and standards also affect the Chinese? Na wa O.

Got to rush and find the other side of Lagos before the traffic madness starts however here is quote attributed to Adegoke Adelabu, if accurate shows how truly special he was.

“I am a deliberate egoist. I do not regret it. I do not apologise for it. I am an artist. The artist has nothing worthwhile to offer you besides glimpses of his inner self. My philosophy is that the world would be much better and happier if we would only dare to be ourselves completely, instead of trying to be faded copies of other unknown and misunderstood mythical heroes."

Authenticity Rocks !

Ire O