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The Jollof Rice of Human Resources
Organizational Cultures

The Jollof Rice of Human Resources

Deepak Nachnani
August 8, 2023
The jollof human resources

The aroma and perfection of Jollof

The Italian Risotto, American Jamabalaya, Indian biryani, Spanish paella, Indonesian Nasi Goreng, Persian polo, Vietnamese Xoi ngu sac, Chinese fried rice, Ghanian and Nigerian Jollof. The list goes on. Seeped in culture, history. Nothing describes the richness and depth of culture other than food from the region.

The art, the tradition, the connection and national pride all captured on a plate going back centuries. Perfected with love and care over time and passed down through generations. Just like stories growing up. 

Most dishes above are full meals, a mix of protein and carbs. The complexity and exquisite nature of preparation raise our senses, whets the appetite and gets our hearts racing. 

The end result, a delicious, aromatic, fulfilling journey that needs no other accompaniments that overpower the central attraction. Food raises passions and debates on culinary supremacy. Which is better: Nigeria Jollof or Ghana Jollof? Depends if you were associated with Nigeria or Ghana and preferential if you were not. Nonetheless, masterpieces on the culinary spread. Global yet very much local. 

Let's talk Africa 

While the Nigerians and the Ghanaians, battle over #Jollof gate and Jollof supremacy, the origins being in fact from the Wolof empire that originated in Senegal, added with the French influences of West Africa and basmati rice from India, we do realize a national dish is in fact global. Borrowing from cultures across the world made African by the very special taste of the continent. Global but made local by people. 

Now, what does a rice dish have to do with human resources? How does Jollof rice refer to human resources in Africa?

Firstly, the dish in itself, a combination slow-cooked over a wood fire (mostly) of various ingredients. It's complex, it's laborious, it takes time to prepare to perfection and it deals with people’s emotions. A master chef overseeing it brings it to perfection. Similar to HR - the function is complex, laborious, emotional, and requires a master chef to bring about the best in people. But once the stage is set and the right ingredients are available, the end result is something of sheer joy and to celebrate. 

“Once the connection, purpose, plan, and execution is established, the organization becomes superlative, no challenge is big enough, every customer must be satisfied, every target exceeded.” 

So what really should HR in Ghana, Nigeria, and other countries in Africa learn from the story of Jollof rice? HR as the master chef, bringing about the recipe together. Handling functions as diverse and shown below. Requiring the stage to be set up to succeed. A seat at the table? Yes, human resources do deserve that. Since the responsibility - immense as it is, can add value unseen but difficult to describe and measure hence relegated.

hr functions

The measure of success

The master, however, understands the ingredients, the facts that lead to success, the plan, organization and process around setting up the functional organization to make any business successful. Success? Defined by the CEO and the board, HR the executioner around the objective for the people layer. To connect, to inspire, to engage and to motivate to do more. To get the right people that fit the culture, to ensure diversity while maintaining consistency.

“Similar to preparing Jollof rice - the patience, the understanding of the ingredients, the interrelationships, the order and the quantity. Too much and it's soggy, too little and it's undercooked. Same with people organizations.” 

So what would be the most important element that HR needs to relate to the preparation of Jollof rice? The rice itself defines the dish. The type, long-grained, the texture, aroma, smoothness, the flavor - the main ingredient. Think of the rice in Jollof, being the standout, hence it is called separately as Jollof Rice, not as Jollof chicken, or Jollof parsley. But rice. A staple. 

“For HR, the staple is the platform that HR operates on. The tech to make sense and bring it all together. To bind it. A one-view, one type of rice. Not multiple varieties but consistency. Would you use 7 types of rice in Jollof? Then why would you use 7 systems to manage the HR function?”

HR, always close to the opportunity to be the master chef. Have influence over the most important constituency for any organization, its people. The need, to get the functional setup together, to line up the right process, to move away from just being a checkpoint organization or a process-driven one. To something that is special, easy to use, automated with AI to understand the language of people. To have data that tells a story interpreted in language and emotions, not just as a box with numbers. To read the story to figure out where the problems are, which characters and plots need strengthening. 

The reward

The servings, number of times people ask for more, a cultural pointer to a well-made dish. The numbers - the analytics that the platform provides you. Measurable and trending. An HR platform that provides for the numbers that define the effectiveness of the function. The elegance of a single platform, one cooking pot for one dish. Not mashed up together with different levels of consistency. 

When cooked together, the flavors intermingle. Similarly for HR, when the functions come together in a single cooking pot, the interpretations mingle and feed off each other. They enhance each other or worsen each other. You don't make Jollof by cooking the rice separately, but together with all ingredients so as to simmer and bring out the best. Your HR platform too, data are the ingredients, HR is the consumer and rice is the main ingredient, the tech platform that brings it about together.

The gaps 

Analytics provides for the gaps that exist in any organization. The scope for improvement, similar to what a master chef does with tastings as the dish comes along. Adjusting the fire, adding a pinch of spice, putting more salt. Similar to what a seasoned HR needs to do in every organization. Know the pulse, measure it, adjust for it. A continuous process.

The platform to choose

The ingredients in Jollof, not that expensive but the combination of various parameters makes it perfect. It's not caviar and doesn’t cost a bomb, it’s Jollof and it’s mainstream. It's soul food. And it's exquisite while being everything that everyone will like. 

“peopleHum, like Jollof, not too expensive, it's exquisite, it's mainstream, it's always there and it's end to end. It is a satisfying meal and it provides for everything that a master chef would need to create an organizational masterpiece.” 

Try it today and you will fall in love with it, as you did eating Jollof. 

About peopleHum

peopleHum is a one view integrated platform for the complete employee experience and journey from hiring to offboarding.

peoplehum offerings

Enable your employees to communicate, collaborate, and focus on resilience and productivity through a unique approach focused on experience design. All for a value equation for the South African market priced in Rands that is hard to beat.  

No wonder a plethora of companies of all sizes and partners, integrators and consultants are flocking to peopleHum to drive the future of cloud-based human capital platforms in markets like Africa.

Reach out to us to hear our story and how we can help your organization align and transform into the organization of the future.  

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