December 8, 2023

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Soludo On The Driver’s Seat: A Third Order Change, A Big-Bang, Cometh!

Ik Muo, PhD

There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things. (Nicholo Machiavelli,(1532)The Prince; A handbook of power, politics and statesmanship;p49)

Change (not Chaangi, the APC/PMB model) is inevitable for individuals, organisations and societies but this has been more pronounced in organisatiions, which from 1980’s, started suffering from acute changemania; that was when change became an epidemic or even a pandemic! It became so rapid and complex that Bennis (1977)writes about the raplexity of change while Buono and Kerber(2009) define continuous change as the new normal because according to Cagan( 2014) we are faced with the inevitability of instability. Under these circumstances, organisations and societies become works in progress (Burnes,2009)  as change is simultaneous, unpredictable and turbulent( Jick, 1993), with rapid and worldwide impact, leading to a need for rapid response! With this intimidating rate of change, effective change management becomes a competitive necessity ( Kanter,1989), organisational asset (Macredie & Sandom, 1999), and a core competence (IBM, 2008)!

All these were caused by changes in technology, and customer make up and tastes; increasing competitive intensity, explosion of knowledge, globalization, ‘restlessness’ of the environment( PESTEL) and to a certain extent, follow-follow( copy and paste), as people changed because others were changing. In the process, organisations engage in deliberate or forced alterations of hard or soft aspects of their operations so as to improve their economic performance or ensure regulatory compliance, move from an existing plateau toward a desired future state in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness, alter the core aspects of an organization’s operation (See l, 2002; Mills, Dye & Mills,2009) and  it may be sporadic or ongoing as organisations react to external forces of change or as a part of voluntary improvement initiatives . Organisations manage the process of deliberate or imposed changes so as to achieve pre-determined objectives, explore and exploit opportunities that occur along the way, and come out better (or at least not worse-off) than they were before. The essence is to change from the current state to the desired future state while minimizing negative outcomes.

We based this ‘background to the study’ on organisations  but government is also an ‘organisation’, except that its objectives are not strictly profit optimisation. It operates in an environment and is thus subject to the dynamics of TWOS (Threats, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Strengths; we have had enough of SWOT!) deploys resources to achieve objectives and as the environment is changing ‘like mad’, the government has to migrate into the continuous change management mode so as to deliver services to its masters, the citizens. Change is classified in terms of scope, speed, source and internal dynamics. Some of these classifications are radical, progressive, creative and intermediating; evolution, revolution, adaptation and reconstruction; sustaining and disruptive; dramatic, systematic and organic; episodic and continuous, vision-led and vision-driven, fundamental or transformational and transitional and transactional;  evolutionary, incremental and first order changes or transformational, strategic and second order changes; top-down(centralised) or down up(decentralized); incremental, architectural or discontinuous innovation.( Ik Muo,(2014) Change management practices and challenges in Nigeria: Evidence from Top-Tier banks).

As Professor Soludo takes over the reins of office on Thursday, 17/3/22, there is no doubt that Anambra is in for the type of change probably never witnessed by any state government in Nigeria. Soludo has already said so emphatically both by his statements and by his body language. He has used the term disruptive change repeatedly. On 29/1/22 at the inaugural graduation of ‘School of Politics, Policy and Governance’, founded by Oby Ezekwesili, he spoke on ‘The purpose and price of disruptive change’ and explained how the Post oil economy requires massive disruptive transformations and liberation from rentier politics; those who expect something for nothing, which he admitted, would be costly and dangerous. Somewhere else, he declared that the times are hard and the immediate future will be challenging; that the teeming millions just want the civil service to work and do not care who delivered them and that ndi Anambra expected extraordinary outcomes, indeed miracles, and that  no excuses will do.

He has already shown his okpa-egwu(dance steps) through the size and composition of the Transition Team, lean and fanfare-free inauguration, which is expected to last a few minutes and attended by a handful of those who have roles to play, staring work on 17/3/22, choice of Innoson as his official car and locally made products( Akwaete clothes, shoes, palm-wine et al), advertisement for EOI( expression of interest) from problem solvers and partners (more than 20,000 have already applied), the promise to terminate all revenue contracts, some of which were granted a few weeks ago and the resolve to engage those who will perform, even if they are from Uzbekistan!

Soludo’s model of partnership

But these are just petty, tactical issues; the REAL DEAL is yet to come.  It has been argued that he who wants to see what is to come should look at what has happened; that is, the best way to anticipate the future is to look at the past. In effect, if you want to know what somebody would do, look at what he has done before. On 6th July 2004, Soludo started off as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria with a regulatory quake. As banks were trying to get attuned to the Universal Banking Model, he emerged with his 13-point agenda, which included the thousand-fold increment in capital requirement (from N1bn, which some banks were yet to meet, to N25bn, with full compliance before 31/12/05), which resulted in unprecedented consolidation and the reduction in the number of banks from 89 to 25.

Our SOLUDOnised banking industry

(See Ik. Muo (2013) Nigerian banks and endless transition: Issues and challenges. The Nigerian Banker: Journal of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria Jan-February, pp4-16). It was reported that his epochal address to the Bankers Committee that heralded the strategic shifts in the Nigerian banking industry (Consolidation ConSOLUDOtion, SOLUDOnisation), the greatest regulatory quake in Nigeria, was typed from home that means, that NOBODY in the CBN had a foreknowledge of its disruptive contents.

 So, on 17/3/22 and going forward, there will be positive SHOCK and AWE in Anambra state and indeed, across the country. In the background to this study, I highlighted some typologies of change, including disruptive change, which is Soludo’s favourite. However, what we will have on that day thenceforth, will be. Watzalawick Weakland and Fisch (1974) classified change as first or second order on the bases of issues affected, difficulty, length of initiative and reversibility. First order change is about procedures, second order change is about policies.

In 2000, Casey added the third order change which is about values; rethinking of governance values. This is very difficult, takes a relatively long time and is irreversible. It involves procedures and policies but it is all about culture change. It is VERY difficult because culture (the way we have always done things) is always at variance and in conflict with Change (where we want to be; doing new things  in new ways).

Thatcher &  Lawson, (left); Architects of the Big Bang

Furthermore, Anambra will experience a BIG-Bang. The BB refers to the complete overhaul of the London Stock Exchange rules on 17/10/86; the day the stock market was totally deregulated, allowed foreign firms to acquire local stock brokers, became a private company, allowed corporate entities to register as dealing members, ended the divide between stock-dealers and advisors and adopted automated price quoting mechanism.  We also had the Japanese BB: financial system reform, which started in November, 1996. In the change-management lexicon, BB refers to a situation where and when the extent and speed of change are both high:  speedy implementation of seriouschange.

Achievable quantum leaps

As a Spirit, a prophet and a Change Manager Consultant, I foresee a period of paradigm shift, calculated audacity and  achievable quantum leaps. And I believe that these goals are achievable and if, for any reason they are not achieved, it is common knowledge that, 25% of 1000 will always be better than 100% of 100 and that is why Less Brown advises us that it is better to  aim high and miss than to aim low and hit. It will be turbulent in the short run but ultimately, I believe that we will win, especially if we are together…

Change is inevitable and we are on the verge of multidimensional, volcanic change.  We cannot continue to do the same thing the same way and expect miraculous outcomes. Extant literature shows that culture change is the most difficult to undertake; it is bitter but it is the most rewarding if and when it works out. It also generates the highest level of resistance and I am sure that Soludo, given his experience at CBN knows about this.

He has also admitted that what he is about to start is dangerous. So, there will be quakes but Anambrarians are  is in a  better position than Nigerian banks in 2004: at least, he has given us snippets of where he wants to take us to.  So, as he takes over on 17/3/22, we await the 3rd other change & the Big Bang.  I expect that we shall receive the bitter medicine at once and then gradually and diplomatically manage the transition, after which we shall all clink glasses of palm wine. I believe that it shall be well with Anambra State and that the state will NEVER be the same again after Soludo.

Amaka goes home…FINALLY

Initially, it looked like somebody was playing an expensive April fool joke, even though we were in February. But as the days went bye, it became obvious that it was real, especially with the Requiem Mass at St Aquina’s Awka  on 10/3/22 and series of online and physical meetings for the  funeral. You could not miss Amaka (ogonogo) anywhere and this was not because of her height. She was very vivacious and active; she was committed 100% to whatever she believes in and she was bent on ensuring that things were moving smoothly. At Ezeamaluchi Muo’s compound, at Ide JNC Ezeife’s compound, at St Aquinas’ or St Michael’s Catholic Church, Igbo-Ukwu, at the meeting of Umuada( daughters of the family) or Inyom-Ona (wives of the family), at the meeting of her Alumni Association, you must know that Amaka was around. She was friendly and had an enviable organisational acumen. 

Once a task was assigned to Amaka, the assignor could go to bed! But it is time to go; He who giveth and taketh had taken and that is that. On Thursday, 18/3/22, it shall be the dust for dust and that will be the FINAL farewell. Amaka, Ogonogo, ka chi fo and may your soul rest in peace!

Oracle at 3

I completed this intervention  on Friday 11/3/22, the third anniversary of The Oracle. It has been 3 years of  simultaneously serious and jocular interrogation of global, socio-economic managerial and general issues  all done as the spirit directed. The greatest concentration of my efforts was on Oga-Coro, on which I had written 50 articles in the past two years. If things work out, the Coro series would come out as a book, before this year runs its full course.

In the past three years, ‘The Oracle’ has made 139 interventions, which has been patronized by 35783 readers (as at 7pm on 11/3/22) from Nigeria, USA, UK, Netherlands, India, Germany, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Spain, France and indeed, from all over the world.

Ik Muo, PhD. Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. 08033026624