Monday, October 16, 2006

Just another Monday meeting

Go for a policy meeting with the head of the group at his office. The meeting is supposed to start at 9 a.m. but it’s always good to expect a slight delay and I carry a book to read. Good idea because the meeting is not going to start on time as the group director (GD) is running late.

So we introduce ourselves to each other sit and while the time away. At least I have a book to read, others flip though newspapers they have wisely carried. The agenda for the meeting dubbed project green is also circulated.

A half hour later, the GD's assistant commences the meeting as we wait for his boss to arrive.

When it’s time for one divisional director to speak, his comments are almost a full five minutes speech - as is typical of one who is never told when he has said too much. Fortunately I have sat facing the window and I look outside and allow my mind to wander. Hmm, Yaya Center is a straight line from town, yet looking at valley road, it shoots off 60 degrees to the far to hurlingam, and then one must cut back anotehr 60 degrees to the right on Argwins Kodhek road - making a perfect triangle to get to Yaya which is a straight line from town. I wonder why they the road is not a straight line from town. Oh, yeah, they probably had to go round DOD where they used to have great nyama choma long before buffet opened.

Back to the present. The meeting is going on, but has also taken a sharp, new turn. We have been brought here to endorse the green strategy, but the mood in the room is for a slightly yellow one. Then one director, take his turn and says “the strategy should be red, in fact, an angry red as green is a misplaced perception only useful for PR purposes. He goes on to argue that angry red is what we should be our collective position. He has valid points and other participants in the room, slowly warm to his idea. Red red, red. . . "

The assistant to the group director is in obvious discomfort at the unexpected revolt. He reaches out to what are expected to be friendly allies in the room, but except for one, they are also endorsing red. Red is the future, red is the right thing to do.

Red, aka the divisional director, knows to quit when he’s ahead. The meeting has started late and he has another function to attend. He goes over to whisper his apologies to the assistant, for his early departure, and perhaps for leaving the asssistant with a time bomb for his boss. He then proceeds to exit.

But as he opens the door, he is bumped by a tea cart. It’s tea time. Tea was supposed to be served at the meeting. And tea can only be served when the group director is present! Sure enough, behind the tea ladies is another beaming assistant announcing that the group director's (GD) arrival is imminent. The assistant in charge asks Red to sit in for a few more minutes, which Red does.

Sure enough a minute later, the GD enters an hour and a half after the meeting was supposed to start. He sits down and apologises for his previous meeting which over-extended.

He grabs his copy of the agenda and proceeds to review the green strategy. He assigns divisional directors responsibilities and asks them to do "A B C" by dates "D E F," which they willingly line up to do. He is charming and confident, sorting out problems in scheduling and financing of Green with directives to different people as his assistant beams at his side at the salvation which has now arrived.

Red has his head down. He cannot believe that we have all abandoned him, and no one will speak up to update the GD that the room had unanimously voted RED while he was caught in traffic. But the room now sings and echoes to the green green green tune. Red remains mum except when he is assigned a key part of the green project which he meekly accepts. If he had left a minute sooner he would have secured his victory.

Surprisingly he does not choke on his tea and biscuit, but he’ll be probably too full to eat lunch. Just another Monday meeting...

BoA expands
Bank of Africa (BoA) Kenya and its partners have acquired a controlling stake in Allied bank of Uganda. BoA has also applied to expand its banking operations into Tanzania.

Charterhouse update
The Standard unearths tales of insider lending at Charterhouse, which are however still in the mid-range of many banks in the 40 – 60% (of share capita) range and well below NBK at 600%.


Kudrinketh said...

That's some really good writting banks,i like the part about your day-dreaming,its hilarious.

Now about the article;it just typifies what goes on in most office meetings.people afraid to stand up to their bosses for what might turn out to be brilliant ideas.that's why most companies are trying to adopt a take-no-prisoner mode during these brainstorming sessions so that everything is placed on the table.good stuff,keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Well written, a corporate coup nipped in the bud!

alexcia said...

Bank being literary.

It goes to show...GDs need to prioritize strategy instead of being bogged down with daily firefighting.

How else will they know what is going on in their companies?

coldtusker said...

LOL... I liked the daydream... hope you fudged enough facts so at not to give away your identity!

gathinga said...

whats this stuff about introducing yourselves. arent all working for the same co and ought to know each other

mwasjd said...

Nice one Banks.

The day dream is classic. But I think there's some river valley sides of DOD that prevented the straight line road. Or is it lenana and dennis pritt roads that cause it? Atleast I'm not the only one who daydreams at work...

I also wonder whether you had caught onto the red campaign then chickened out when the GD showed up. The way you are vocal in the blog, shouldn't you have spoken out? Or atleast jumpstart the red guy by telling the GD that he had a different view of things?

All the same, interesting take on corporate mix.

dudej said...

Perhaps it takes more of persistent articulation of ideology than a burst of rebellion to take on the big boys/girls.

bankelele said...

Kudrinketh: (Even from pimary school, I always felt more comfortable/attentive if I could look outside a window), sad about the meeting but green orders "came from above"

Acolyte: hopefuly Red does not sabotage green

Alexcia: Lakini GDs top down directives stifle creativity
need to prioritize strategy

coldtusker: The truth is grey enough I hope

gathinga: we're different arms of the giant. also there are always new faces at this meetings to represent members who are busy elsewhere

mwasjd: I think Lenana is straighter, but slower because of the turns, bumps and narrow road.

I spoke in support of yellow before Red started his ill-fated revolution

dudej: There was no room for dissent with GD in the room. He has the power to ensure that a letter (of reprimand) is on your desk by the time you get back to it.

gathinga said...

this sounds like an insurance industry strategy meet... the guys always start like that am told...

but i also guess the asiistant of green is a lady. ladies have this ability to move easily from topic to topic without getting lost.... including allowing red to takeover the meeting and then take it back to green on arrival

Marazzmatazz said...

The Green Revolution turned Red! i bet his face was also red when you guys dissed him! You know your yaya detour made me think, you can have a straight line from all locations to any other. Somehow, we jut didn't use that to plan Nairobi! Nice write-up.

HASH said...

Fun read Bankele. It typifies so many meetings. Yani, when will guys grow some balls and speak their mind? Sometimes it's not popular, but if you're right that will be proven over time.

I started drawing the road lines in my head as I was reading. It really doesn't make much sense why there isn't a straight road up there. Well, all of Nai is pretty random as far as roads are concerned, so I guess it makes sense.


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