Over the last couple of days, it has become more evident that Safaricom is on a path to manage its operations and overall management.
Its CEO, Peter Ndegwa, has just finished one year since he assumed the role, having worked in a beverage company for many years before. This is his first time in a technology company, and the changes he is proposing are what we have seen in the West.
The changes are under an Agile Plan, which most people have not grasped thanks to the misinformation that has since spread, even attracting the attention of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU).
Tribes and Squads
In a nutshell, the agile working system proposes that organizations should focus on interactions and individuals over tools and processes. To this end, Safaricom suggests the formation of tribes (of between 60 – 100 workers) and squads of between 8-10 employees.
Agility plans also seek to enforce robust customer collaborations and responding to change (which happens in technology companies) over following a plan.
Word from the operator adds that Safaricom is only matching its operations to international standards because leading tech companies are using the same model. Specifically, software companies (Amazon has been cited a ton of times) target to satisfy customer through timely and constant delivery of valuable services.
Agility also encourages welcoming changing requirements, even during late stages of a development plan. This ensures that changes and processes are harnessed to gain competitive advantage.
Safaricom Picks Gifted Employees
It is also an open secret that Safaricom picks the best talent in the country. This is particularly true for tech companies, and CEO Peter Ndegwa has been quoted previously that he would focus on hiring more tech talent.
Gifted technologists align to the agile plan in many ways: they pay attention to continuous attention to technical excellence and good design to bolster agility and are capable of reflecting on how to become more effective by making the necessary adjustments.
Dumb It Down
So, to put it briefly, what does this mean?
Look at it this way. The proposal is a way of managing and running projects whose timelines/inputs/dependencies are hard to predict up front, such as software projects as opposed to other projects (e.g. building construction) where the timelines and all inputs plus dependencies are well known in advance, thus easier to plan ahead.
Basically, Safaricom intends to follow the plan to remain robust (it is a leading corporation from all angles) and to surpass expectations, hence it needs Agile.
The CEO has asked some workers to reapply for their jobs, and this has sent many tongues wagging because it means exactly that; there are fears of job insecurity. Nevertheless, the adoption of the new agile model is likely going to create more jobs, unlike what has been reported that workers will be sent home.
Still, there are some issues that must be highlighted.
Will redundancies occur? Likely.
Will some workers take early retirement? Another likelihood.
Will others get promotions? Yes. Maybe a few.
Will new people be hired? Likely too.
Nevertheless, almost everyone else should keep their job.
However, the move, as expected, has sparked controversy, and this letter from COTU says a lot:
It’s insensitive and inhuman, for Mr. Ndegwa, to bring about drastic changes at Safaricom PLC while infringing on the rights of workers who have built Safaricom to what it is today where it enjoys more than 30 million subscribers. It is also shocking that even though Mr. Ndegwa is the first Kenyan Safaricom CEO, he remains the most dangerous CEO the company has ever had when it comes to protecting workers’ rights.
COTU SC Francis Atwoli
All we know, for now, is that the carrier is going to execute Agile. Whether it will reconsider it is something we will have to wait and see but as things stand, Agile is the future and Safaricom is focusing on just that for the moment.