Last year Citi FM turned 10. Naturally this called for celebration but I do not believe they got the attention they deserved. I expected recognition from government and other institutions for the contribution of this small organization towards our democracy and the general welfare of this nation’s citizenry. The impact of Citi’s contribution is enormous and for us at CSD Africa and SPiD-UP® they epitomize high performance in every sense of the idea.
A high performance organization is intelligent; it understands itself, it understands its environment and knows the manner in which it can maximize its existence by affecting its environment. The folks at Citi have done this in the deftest manner. They appear to also understand performance theory and how the world works. They clearly ensured that every individual in the organization meets a certain standard. This comes about with the understanding that the performance of an organization directly depends on its individuals as the most active sub-components. High performing individuals makes high performing organizations and it is a simple as that.
A high performing organization understands how to leverage strength in order to make impact in an already saturated market. When Citi came into the business of radio broadcasting, there was a clear leader of the Bolt Caliber. To outclass them must have seemed an impossible task unless you understood strategy and had an unfathomable amount of confidence. This says a lot about the leadership of the organization as they clearly set out to lead the market with what will be referred to in business parlance as product leadership. Every single product they put out was above average and they seemed to have mastered the art and science of brand building quite well. In every area they appear to lead with a brand or two. This includes news and current affairs spearheaded by the nation’s number one breakfast show, entertainment, events and sports.
The intelligence of the organization is clearly demonstrated in the brands as they appear to be aware of the idea of the influence of the sub-component. To have a high performing organization you need high performing units– high performing products that are created by high performing individuals. I dare without sounding too esoteric; postulate the as above so below concept as the driving force behind such thinking. For a breakfast show for example, they pack in five people who on their own could have given any other breakfast show a run for their money. This is a clear demonstration of the intention to lead the market with a high performing product.
Intriguingly, they did not do all these at the expense of operational excellence. From where I sit, they match every best practice in running a modern business. They appear to have not have thrown ethics out of the window either and have consistently contributed to the welfare of the underprivileged. To understand our findings on the Citi performance analysis, it is necessary to discuss some thoughts from business theory and a bit of our own performance theory without over-digressing.
According to business theorist, very rare businesses are able to master two of the three driving forces of business strategy i.e. Product leadership, operational excellence and customer intimacy. Most successful companies focus on one of the three and this enables them to lead the market in a way. This of course makes sense given that there is the need to prudently apply effectively the limited resourcesavailable to organizations. At CSD Africa we proposed structure and content both being of high quality as the means by which high performance can be attained. This is a question of what is being delivered and how it is being delivered both being of high quality. In practice this will mean that an organization must be high on both product leadership and operational excellence. This is not a deviation from the business theory of course as it proposes that whiles one may focus on one of the three, the other two must also be at appreciable levels. (I recognize that this needs further discussion)
Citi appears to understand both theories and have broken the barrier building the much needed bridge. Perhaps a new theory can now be formulated based on how they run their business. Although, I suspect the new theory will validate the idea of quality in both what is being delivered (content) and how it is being delivered (structure). We do not always have to look outside for our success formulas. We can formulate our own based on our own narratives.
So if there are any hints there, they will point to
Understanding your market and developing the right products
Understanding your strengths and weakness (I know it sounds a bit cliché-ish but it’s useful)
Being clear about your target
Having a reliable and modifiable business model and a clear strategy (extremely important as it shapes how the business creates and delivers value)
If you have any fear of a Goliath in the field the above will kill it in your head and you will walk confidently into your victory. Just like Citi has done. With that; it is appropriate to recognize key individuals, who by their performance as micro-components have ensured that the larger organization performed at a very high level.
Samuel Attah Mensah –
High performance in leadership
A great personality by all standards, it took one meeting which lasted not more than ten minutes for me to conclude that he is a masterful judge of character. By our second meeting which did not even involve a direct conversation, I begun to understand the depth of his social intelligence and integrity. Frankly we don’t have that many of his type in Ghanaian leadership.
Indeed one cannot discuss leadership in our time without mentioning John C. Maxwell. In his book 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, Sammens as he is affectionately called was clearly captured in the first law. A true leader is the one who raises other leaders. If there is any leader within visibility who has achieved this, it will be Samuel Attah Mensah. Another lesson from the Maxwell leadership class is: leaders are trail blazers, they lead by example and this man iconizes this in more ways than one. He has a great connection with his team and his leadership can only be described as exemplary. Bernard Avle appears to have learnt from this as he demonstrates this through his leadership of the market leading Citi breakfast show.
Bernard Avle –
High performance in radio broadcasting (Current Affairs)
As far as I know, breakfast show meant Kumla Dumor. Prior to that, it was good old TAF and Charlie Sam. In fact one might even argue that Komla brought the whole breakfast show hosting thing to a new level standing albeit, on the shoulders of the giants before him. I did not see how I was going to listen to anything or anyone else. What were they going to say and how were they going to say it?
All that changed of course when I stumbled upon the Citi breakfast show. I honestly didn’t know what it was that captured my attention. It appears the structure and the contentwere both right (pardon my need to use performance lingo). This means that both what was being delivered and how it was being delivered was of a high quality. The voice was distinctively Ghanaian without blemish and so was the language with traces of useful verbosity. Soon I was imagining a great personality behind the voice. My dial started shuffling between Komla Dumor and Benard who? This was happening subconsciously until I woke up one day and realized I was listening to Bernard Avle all the time. When Komla left the local scene– that was it. We gained in Bernard Avle an indisputable king of breakfast show hosting who did not drop the standard as we have seen happen in other areas. The lanky Ewe boy has taken the place of his mentor after giving him the only real competition in his breakfast show hosting career. To say it is possible Bernard was the reason why Komla moved on will be a fair speculation probably not too far off the mark.
Bernard’s achievement can fairly be described as phenomenal and his portrait rightfully belongs on the same wall as the greats. He is clearly a market-leading individual who runs a market-leading product in a market-leading organization run by a market-leading leader. This is no coincidence at all if you understand performance theory (the behavior of the micro-components determines the behavior of the larger entity). He learnt from the best and is clearly applying his knowledge through the engagement of his gift. My only problem with him is that, he has done it all and doesn’t appear to know where to go next; this worries me of course because I happen to believe that it is continuous progress that sustains an entity’s existence and ensures its maximization. If you like something, you want it to be the best it can be. And that is what I will continue to insist on as far as Bernard Koku Avle is concerned
Jessica Opare Saforo –
High performance in radio broadcasting (Entertainment)
I was being driven from the airport on the day I had returned from my sojourn in another country for a considerable number of years and naturally I had lost track of what was going on in the country. I asked to listen to the radio and when it was turned on the voice hit me. Who is that I asked almost instantly? Jessica– came the answer. Wow! came my only response. That’s what happens when you encounter a great product. It was almost like my first encounter with the iPod.
I really didn’t care much for what she was saying and that is being plain honest. She was in argument with another presenter whose name I don’t remember (funny) about the man and woman difference thing. The question is; how do you like someone who is arguing against your very nature. High Performance. If it’s Jessica then you really don’t mind. You just want to listen.
There was another shift in power base when Jessica started hosting the Citi mid-morning show as she clearly took some shine away from good old Doreen Andoh who a priori had been the undisputable queen of mid-morning radio. It will be surprising if Jessica didn’t look up to her at some point given the age gap and depth of experience.
The thing with Jessica is this; she is just entertaining to listen to. She is incredibly smart, adoptive and a super-talkative. Most importantly, she has high social intelligence which makes her a great conversationista.Have you ever met someone who knows what to say and when to say it in the most entertaining way– all the time? Erm…that will be Jessica. I guess you can call it versatility. Such persons are very aware of their environment and how it works. This makes it easy for them to fit in and affect it in their own way. Put her on another planet and all she will need is a microphone and some music.
Whiles there are other great personalities at Citi who by their effortlesshard work have made it the outstanding radio station it is, these three personalities have been the key driving forces behind its leadership. However, it is important to mention names like Shamima Muslim; who put the evening news on top of the list, Gary Al Smith and Godfred Akoto; who put the sports in its own class, and Richard Sky who made short documentaries fashionable again. There are several formulas for performance as we have discovered at CSD Africa in our research. The one I would like to share in concluding this article is
What you choose to do + how much of it you do + the nature of your output / the period of time in which you do it – the comparison to others.
That may not sound functional now but take some time to think about it. Over the last ten years Citi have decided to do radio and they have done a lot of it consistently. I truly cannot recollect any down times since I have been listening to them and comparing them to the best, they have done better bringing broadcasting to a new threshold. All of this has been made possible by great leadership and performance consciousness.
This article was written for the sole purpose of recognition based on our evaluation of the organization in question over the period of its existence compared to others. It is possible that the writer may be Citi’s number one critique. I do it for the good of mother Ghana and Grandma Africa. May you also be the best you can be in your field and get recognized for it. To ensure high performance this year get configure 1.0 now