On 29th July, 2021, Master Oswald Gennuah, of Christ Ambassador School of Excellence, decided to document his expectations from his mother as the school’s end of term party approached.
One thing led to another and Oscar’s letter found its way into social media, as pretty much everything does these days.
Nine-year-old Oswald’s letter was an instant hit because it had many elements. It had clarity of thought with no ambiguity at all regarding what Oswald’s expectations were. It revealed a Master Communicator who could lay out clearly his expectations, sometimes even with sketches and arrows to aid thought process and decision making.
Oswald’s brevity yet clarity is a master piece of goal setting. Big Coke, small Fanta, big Ceres, small Sprite, white chocolate, pack of biscuits.
Oswald also made sure timelines were clear as key milestones were also very well communicated. This must happen this year, not next year. Breakfast is served at 9:00am to 9.30am and lunch at 12:00pm to 12:30pm. “Our Day” is on Friday.
Oswald also gave performance options. These were two sets of biscuits and two sets of drinks for mummy to choose, from with a concise “choose any of them, don’t buy both”
Perhaps the most endearing part of Oswald’s note to mummy was the part to do with his class teacher, Mrs. Appiah. It screamed appreciation.
“Our Day” is meant primarily for students. But for little Oswald the first wish on his list was the big coke for Mrs. Appiah. For his own consumption, Oswald had asked for small Sprite or small Fanta. Not for Mrs. Appiah who clearly had been a mother figure of a teacher, moulding young Oswald into a performer.
If Mrs. Appiah had anything to do with how organized Oswald’s presentation and thought flow was, it is little wonder he put her up first for recognition.
The treatment Mrs. Appiah receives from Oswald, perhaps, most validates his own expectations from his mum. Mrs. Appiah had done a good job of being his teacher and mentor. She deserved something bigger than what even Oswald wanted for himself. Profound.
Well, Oswald himself didn’t disappoint his mum in the exams so it was her turn to show appreciation and recognize him for delivering on the goals she had set for him.
“I didn’t disappoint you in the exams so please don’t disappoint” Those were Oswald’s final words to his mum. I have done my bit; can you now also deliver on our unwritten agreement?
Oswald’s ‘note to mummy’ in an uncanny way delivered so many key management principles. One cannot help noticing how well put together it was. Even more remarkable that this was from a nine-year-old.
Here are the few principles I picked from Oswald:
- Communicate clearly. Keep it simple and concise. Define the parameters with precision so there is no ambiguity.
- If possible, reduce targets to measurable and precise parameters. Big Coke. Breakfast at 9am. Lunch at 12pm. The day is Friday.
- If possible, give options to offer flexibility. Oswald communicates these principles best with “choose any of them, don’t buy both”.
- Show appreciation. Be grateful. Be thankful. Always remember those who help you to succeed. Share your reward. Spread the recognition.
- Reward good performance. Deliver on your promises, both express and implied. Don’t let people down after they have delivered their part of the bargain. Do not disappoint.
Thank you very much Oswald, for capturing some key management and leadership principles in such a simple easy to appreciate manner.
The reason 100 companies and individuals reached out to you to ensure you had your party is not just because you said you deserved it, but you explained why you thought you deserved it. You made sure you carried people along, you put emotion in your narrative to reflect how much you were connected with the entire process of making a promise and keeping it.
Keep up the good work of not disappointing and the world will cheer you on to your just rewards. It is still a beautiful world if we all keep it simple, apply ourselves diligently and keep our promises.
The writer is the MD/CEO, FBNBank