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Served in a Fast Food Joint: 7 Nuggets of Ugali

August 23, 2013

As days go by I am beginning to feel like we are living in a technology lab. It's like every aspect of our lives has been invaded by either one technology change or another. Others call this invasion innovation but I think it's more of a revolution than anything else. Whatever name you want to call it, it is fast changing life on planet earth as we know it.

For instance, the number of manual transmission cars against automatics is incomparable. Actually, come to think of it, do they still manufacture MT cars anymore? If you still own one please consider keeping it as an antique or a museum piece because I get this feeling that a few generations from now, those guys will have no clue what the word "manual" means; they'll probably think that the only definition that word has is "a set of instructions".

Communication has had a serious revolution too. Remember the days of public pay phones, and how guys used to horde them waiting for their "personal" calls since they used to give the pay phones number as their own? Thinking about it now makes me giggle... I could narrate enough public pay phone experiences to fill up a book! But moving on swiftly, after the pay phones came the affordable fixed landline house phones, which killed the pay phone experiences, and later the mobile phones which ensured the pay phone experiences were dead and buried. Once again, the generations that were born in the nineties will never understand what I'm talking about, unless someone invests in a museum to collect all these antiques.

Everything has changed. Even the way people relate with each other has changed. Relationships are more gadget-facilitated than one-on-one like they used to be. I already talked about this in some previous posts, so I will skip this part. In a nutshell, all areas of our lives have been touched by the changes happening in the world today. Soon we will be operating our TVs by winking and gesturing at them, which I guess is ok. I also won’t have a problem operating my car by giving it voice commands, just like I don’t have a problem talking to Siri, the iPhone robot. In fact, I will have no problem at all having my eye scanned in order to open the door to my office. All these innovations are good. What I have a serious problem with is when someone messes up my ugali.

You see, ugali is my favorite meal. Just thinking about it now, served with sukumawiki, meat stew and a shot of teargas (pilipili), makes me salivate. Yeah, that’s how simple I am. Then, yesterday I saw an advert somewhere that shocked me. There is this fast food joint that has taken innovation to another level. This joint now has a new item on the menu; 7 nuggets of ugali and some spicy gravy… see the advert for yourself. (Name of joint and location hidden).


Now, If this isn’t taking and embracing innovation to another level, then what is?

Who would ever have thought that ugali can actually be sold in a fast food joint? You know, as much as I was shocked when I first saw this advert, I have to admit I love the way the person behind this strategy was thinking. You see, I know very many people who won’t buy fast food because they feel (especially the men) that the fries are not filling enough. What better way to target that market, other than introducing ugali nuggets, 7 of them to be precise?

Now, if someone can take ugali and come up with such an innovative idea of how to sell it in a fast food joint, then why is it so hard for some of us to accept that times have changed? Why is it so hard for some of us to realize that we cannot continue doing things the same way we used to do them twenty years ago? Why is it so hard for people to embrace change?

You know, for those who do not want to change voluntarily, a time always comes when they are forcefully forced to change. For instance, how come today we don’t see people walking around with bell-bottom trousers and high afro hair styles, like they used to dress in the 70s? I believe if you dressed like that today the fashion police would lock you up in a dungeon!

How come we don’t use pigeons and messages in a bottle to deliver messages, unless one is trying to be a romantic? Speaking of messages, do we still have people using telegraphs? Or fax machines? If they do, its not because they don’t have better technologies to use; they have simply decided to live in the past. Somehow this kind of people remind me of those who always speak of their past glories. Ever come across such people? All they do is talk about the successes they had at a certain far-back time of their life, basking in past glory. When you ask them why they can’t do the same now, they will always say something like “things have changed”. My question to such a person is, why can’t you adapt to and embrace change? Of course that question in most cases would be followed by an excuse. Indeed like Viktor E. Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves…” The problem is that very few people really want to change themselves.

Any company worth its salt definitely has leaders who will tell you for free that being number one, being at the top of the pack is not the tough part; maintaining that position is the greatest challenge of all. They will also tell you that the only way to do this is by ensuring that they change with the times. Those that have remained rigid and unchanging in their operations have definitely remained rigid and unchanging in holding the last position in their industry. You cannot continue using old-fashioned strategies and technologies in the world we are living in today. You need to keep refreshing your menu; every so often you need to come up with a new unique item in your menu, like the 7 nuggets of ugali.

If today you are an employer but you keep surrounding yourself with employees who lack ambition and innovation, just so that you can feel you are in control, then I can tell you for free that you are headed for failure, if you already haven’t failed. In today’s business world, you need employees who can challenge your thinking; you need employees who can bring new and fresh ideas to the table, and you as the boss need to be ready to embrace them without fearing that your position will be undermined by your staff. To apply what Les Brown said in one of his many motivational sessions, "If you're the smartest person in your group, then you need a new group." You as an employer need to be surrounded by smarter people than you are so you can tap into their ideas. I don’t know but I am guessing the guy who came up with the idea of ugali nuggets is someone with a boss who is not afraid of embracing new ideas.

In conclusion, I leave you with words derived from Apple Inc, “Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Now you know what you need to do in order to change the world; think different; embrace change; be the change… and by all means go create something crazy like 7 nuggets of ugali and some spicy gravy!

Wishing you all an innovative week.

PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 18th August, 2013, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"

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