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Sunday, 16 June 2013

COUNT YOUR COST BEFORE YOU BUILD

“What really does it mean to be alive at such fortunate times as these”, is the question that stems me every time I think about the fact that we are living in a period when equality is touted globally and in some quarters it is considered an advantage to come from a “minority” race.


Martin Luther King
Gone really are the days, when Abraham Lincoln, Booker T Washington, and Martin Luther King fought for the equality of the black man, with time the physical and mental freedoms that were implicit during this war of emancipation have been embraced by subsequent generations of Africans.
But from time to time, I am brought before certain interactions with people and I start asking myself, are we really free? Or are we corporately languishing in certain mental and economic cesspools.
Before you castigate let me share my thoughts.  
Today as we speak, Kenya has more people on the internet than the population of Sweden, Norway and Denmark combined, these people are constantly having conversations on social media sites, meaning that introspectively, they are one with the world, it takes less than one week for a thought process to be generated from any corner of the world before a Kenyan discovers it and ruminates over it.
Ideas like Big Data, cloud computing, business analytics are terms that have been heard in passing or extensively by this same body of people, but despite this, a majority of our populace cannot be commended for using the resources they have (for this example internet access) to advance themselves to levels that place them on the same mental apex as their counterparts globally.
Very few of our institutions can stake a claim is stating that they offer world class services, mainly because even if they may have the latest technology, they still have the most priced resource in any institution, the people, lagging behind in how we perceive ourselves and how far we envision our capabilities.
We are all somehow driven like a herd by this invisible stick that is forcing us towards short term wind fall gain, lack of attention to detail, copy pasting what our neighbor has done best and monumental lack of focus. We somehow lack the proclivity to pause, take some time off and ask what really will better our environment, our communities, our neighbors and then finally ourselves.
Many a times, you will find some very sharp software innovator, developing solutions for the market the best way he knows how, based on the intrinsic nature engraved in him by his prevailing environment that is; short term wind fall gain, copy pasting what has been successful with another developer, and lack of focus in bringing to market iterative upgrades of the solution that may have wide reaching global impact and change effect. 
My assertion today is for all of us to Count our costs before we begin to build anything. In the bible Luke 14:27-30,   “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘this person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
We need to have a long term plan to succeed and succeed spectacularly, so that the world will sit back and ask “what, have they done, that is so different?”
To do this first of all learn, study, research, what is considered world class.
Japan did it when it sent its young men to America and Europe in early 19th and 20th century. Samsung did it in the 1970s and 1980s when they made sure they engaged the best technology firms in Japan at that time, and even sent their engineers out to learn. Companies in the developed world do it when they hire from better performing firms.
Then make sure you, pause and have the right plan to get to the top, pace yourself, do not be in a hurry, we cannot be the creators of the Silicon Savannah (if we are being ridiculed on the quality of our products) if we are not attracting, retaining and inspiring the whole world on what we are doing, and we cannot claim dominance if, people come from other countries to lead our charge for us.
To achieve this, there has to be an all out war on our perceptions and mindsets, formed from engraved previous eras of corruption, hand downs, aberration and lack of good governance. We have to sound the trumpet for all to hear and perceive that to grow and be the best in the technology space, we have to think and know that we are the best, work as one, like what the South Asia Tigers have been able to do successfully. Individualism is overrated, and an invention of the western world that is already developed.        

Article done for the CIO East Africa December 2012 issue 
@edwin_moindi

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