Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Today’s blog is linked to the Podcast “Exponential Organisations” and is a loose transcript of the interview I had with Edgar Kasenene. It won’t be a word-for-word transcript of the interview but will rather be me highlighting some key things that Edgar said during the interview. I hope you enjoy it.
Edgar is the CEO for Rest of Africa at Retro Rabbit.
I have met Edgar a couple of times and he is a very interesting person to talk to. He always talks passionately about living and working in the exponential world.
Edgar, could you tell me about Retro Rabbit and your role?
Focusing on value
“Retro Rabbit is a software company, although that is a very generic term, and our core capabilities are software development and UX/UI design. We like to think of ourselves as a company that helps companies and partners transform digitally. We try and keep an open mind when it comes to technology and focus on value. My role is as CEO for Africa. The company has done incredibly well in South Africa and I was privileged to start in February this year to focus on the rest of the continent. The first nine months of my journey we have been focusing on Uganda and it is showing a lot of promise but it is also quite an interesting journey because it isn’t always easy helping companies to transform.”
Tell me about your view of the world?
“My personal opinion is that the world is going through quite an exponential change. When you speak to experienced business people they say that change has been a constant norm, and I think that is true, I just feel that we are at a tipping point. The change we are experiencing is exponential and is going to shift the social programming of society in general.”
Living in a global connected world
“What I mean by this is that the world has never been as connect and open as it is now. The internet fundamentally changed society as we know it. We used to live in a local world with a local world view and this has been flipped by the internet where we are just one globally connected village. This has changed our ability to access information and have choices. This has been flipped because we are seeing exponential improvements in technology from Quantum computing, robotics, 3D printing to AI and many more. When you put all this together in an open world, and to consumers that have choices, then we are seeing a fundamental disruption to every single business model as we know it.”
“The internet is not just limited to Silicone Valley and our access to technologies have become ubiquitous that anywhere in the world if you apply your mind you will very quickly have access to the tools you need to solve problems. This is very important for Africa (and I hate to use the word Africa because there is a perception and prejudice that Africa is backward) that if I am in Johannesburg then I have access to exactly the same resources as somebody in Silicone Valley. I get frustrated that we sometimes don’t see an Africa of so much possibility that we have and that we are not preparing society quickly for the massive changes that are going to be brought about by a lot of these exponential technologies. Technology is going to make life easier in Africa but it is also going to disrupt every single domain. This is both very exciting but at the same time challenging.”.
Do you think companies are currently equipped to face the changing business models?
Companies built for efficiency and not exponential thinking.
“I personally don’t think they are. It is always a tough question. If a CEO of a large company is listening to this podcast then he might ask what right we have to talk like this. The CEO would say that they have built their business over many years and been successful. But I think the actual business models on which these companies are based are changing. I am a big fan of Salim Ismail and he says that to a large extent companies in the past have been organised around efficiency and built to minimize risk. They aren’t built for innovation and exponential thinking.”
Experimentation and agility
“We don’t have the structures in most businesses for experimentation and this is what is absolutely necessary. What I mean by experimentation is that what is necessary in modern business is to have a hypothesis on how to create value in the market and then to take it to market very quickly, in a small manner, and to immediately start learning from the data. We can use that data to make changes or to kill the idea. This is a complete shift because a traditional business that is built around products. A traditional business will spend a long time, lets say 6 months, to develop an enhancement to an existing product, you do your own market research, build your own business case and then do a massive launch. There is nothing in this approach that allows you to fail. The modern concept pushes a product to the market quickly and when the numbers don’t make sense the company will have the ability to kill the product without huge negative effect on the rest of the business.”
How receptive are people to this new way of doing business?
The Corporate Immune System
“I am going to make a lot of generalisations during this interview. On a whole there is always excitement when people hear the message but when you try and get into the detail and execution but you always see what Salim Ismail talks about “The Immune System” kicking in. It is hard because the people I speak to have massive titles and massive responsibilities and now you are talking to them about change. Harder even is that this change isn’t something they can put their finger on because you are telling them that they need to learn. We don’t know 100% what the future looks like. To a certain extend they might feel like their power or relevancy might be challenged. The natural human instinct is to hide or go on the defensive. They will ask for fail proof business cases that will definitely work. All this is the natural immune system in response to massive change. So it is definitely not easy.”
What are your current projects and plans?
“Right now all my energy is in Uganda where in the last 6 to 9 months I have been engaging with a lot of business leaders and executives. We are very close to executing on certain projects, with certain financial institutions and one very exciting project with a media company. The potential is incredibly exciting but the journey to execution is excruciatingly hard.”
This is just a short extract from the interview I had with Edgar. Listen to the full interview for the discussion we had here “Exponential Organisations”.
Thank you Edgar for being my guest in this blog and podcast. If you would like to contact Edgar then here is his Linkedin profile. To listen to the full interview subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, spotify or listen on www.ideastorm.co.za.
I hope you have enjoyed and found this blog valuable. If you would like to talk about any of these concepts further, then let’s chat. You can book me online using Calendly at https://calendly.com/ideastorm, contact me through my website at www.ideastorm.co.za or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.