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The hardest thing in business: building an efficient organization (Part 2)

__Talking a good game is not enough.

I was meeting with one of New York’s most successful bankers, when he quipped, “In my business we don’t rely on intellectual property. There’s nothing we do that’s so special; we’re just damned good managers of businesses!”

I could immediately understand what he meant because when, for instance, you stop to think about a business like McDonald’s, you ask “What’s so special about a hamburger?”

But somehow out of that humble hamburger they’ve built a $96bn business… a global business bigger than the GDP of Kenya ($70bn)!

__They are “just damn good managers of business!”

When we launched our Mobile Money business in Zimbabwe, it wasn’t a new idea in Zimbabwe, or in Africa. To be honest, one of our competitors was a year ahead of us, but it really didn’t matter to me. I knew that when we finally launched our own service, it would be bigger and better because “We’re good managers of businesses! It’s not all IP and innovation!”

Whenever I see a business, as a management practitioner, I’m interested in how it’s run. I’m always asking myself, “How are they organized?”

We hear a lot spoken about good leaders, but a good leader who doesn’t know how to manage effectively, using the latest management techniques, is a total waste of time as far as I’m concerned.

You’ve heard the expression, “He talks a good game, but he can’t play.”

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are like that. They can talk a good game, but they cannot manage an organization. Talking a good game can be important, but it’s not enough!

If you want to build a profitable and growing business organization, you must first have an acute awareness of the role that organizational management plays. Your awareness must extend to an appreciation that it is a “technical discipline” which must be learnt.

It doesn’t happen naturally: Good management is something you must apply yourself to. Never fool yourself into believing that if you have a good idea, and some money, you just hire the right people and “Hey presto, you have a big successful business!”

I want you to be different: I want you to be able to pick up an idea, any idea, and turn it into a successful business organization that generates profits, and can grow into a national, regional, and continental champion, even a global one.

To be continued. . .

by 14 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

14 thoughts on “The hardest thing in business: building an efficient organization (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    A young Pastor who was a highly gifted preacher once came to me for advice:
    “When I hold crusades I draw huge crowds, but my congregation does not grow. People come but they never stay. I don’t understand why we don’t grow into a big, big ministry?”
    “Show me your organizational structure, and also the qualifications of each of your professional staff” I asked him.
    Then I took his bible, and showed him the story of Moses (Exodus 18:13-27). Then I added:
    “Having a proper organizational structure with qualified staff who have been delegated their functions, and empowered properly was necessary for Moses. Surely it must be good for you too?”

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tino,
    Writes:

    Strive Masiyiwa so what happens when you are a starter and only people you have been able to team up without payment are just technical crew, now that i already have my service how do i crack the sales puzzle, seriously am getting alot of challenges, more to that my business is a technological innovation. I need people to know what i have done how do i reach people with a compelling message? because if i don’t sale now i won’t be able to run this business and I’ll go off it. Any ideas big brother

    My reply:
    Go back to the beginning and go through all the Posts I have done over the years, and you will find the answers to your questions. For instance I have addressed this very issue you raise.

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Patrick Chewe, writes:

    When i read your posts i am pumped up. i see what you mean. when am in shoprite i realise its jst a the same business concept like my local store in my neighbourhood but the difference is tht shoprite understands how to run a business

    My reply:
    Very insightful comment.
    The guy behind Shoprite, a South African Supermarket chain, is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today.
    As you get better at management, and business leadership, you will learn to appreciate the guys who are good at their game. This guy is a “Pep Guardiola” (Manager of Manchester City)–top drawer.

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    I once asked a friend, who had just been elected President of his country, why he had chosen a certain individual as Minister with responsibility for a big ministry with some of the country’s key assets:
    “He is one of my most loyal supporters, and worked very hard for our election.”
    “How about the actual job, you want him to do?” I asked.
    __”if you were the manager of a football team, is that the basis on which you would select the goalkeeper, for instance?
    __With respect this guy has not run anything bigger than a tuckshop, and he will work very hard to turn everything under him into a tuckshop.”

    Reply
  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:
    A good football manager knows that he must have the most skilled players available for each position. He knows that the formation he applies in the game is extremely important for the type of game. And the team must work as a single functional and intelligent unit. They must play with and for each other.
    Having followed soccer for a long time, when I go to a game the first thing, I need to see is the Team sheet, then I want to see the proposed formation.
    One player who either is not skilled enough, or is selfish can destroy a game…and if one player takes a bribe to throw the game?

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Vimbai Bosopo,
    Writes:

    In the event I notice this selfish player sir but is good in everything else what is the best thing to do

    My reply:
    There are two types of players you must get rid of:
    #Selfish players;
    #corrupt players who take bribes.
    __It does not matter how gifted, or competent or even loyal you think they are. Any organization that has this type of player is (ALREADY) dead, even if it appears otherwise.

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Morenike, writes:

    I really don’t understand this organisational structures, I own a small business and I can’t afford to pay staff yet, so I do almost everything myself. What do I need to do to build this organisational structure @strive Masiyiwa

    My reply:
    At the moment you are the sole employee of your business. This is a good start, but you will not always be like that. One day you will need to hire other people to help you, even if they are members of your family (relatives, including your children must be treated as employees, and paid if they work with you).
    It is important to still study and learn about how successful businesses, and entrepreneurs run their businesses, in anticipation of the day when you yourself need to grow your business bigger.

    Reply
  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Chigozie, writes:

    This is revelational truth about a successful organization or businesses. I have been fortunate to start up businesses with great and innovative idea and also raised capital for it but it often fails but thank you Dr strive for this revelation, now I know I got it all wrong, I have never had a management not to consider good management. I hope I can set up a good management system that can carry the business. I have always dream to take on big company establishment, now I hope I put up a management structure that will help to make it a reality. Thank you once more Dr Strive Masiyiwa!

    My reply:
    This is why you are going to be a success…a great success indeed!

    Reply
  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Kolawole wrote:

    I have been following you since 2012. In these four years I have learnt so much that I’m confident that I don’t need an MBA.

    But I have a question for you Sir. Is it possible that some people will only be given to service all their lives? Because each time they try to venture into business they fail to make any money.

    But once they concentrate on rendering free but quality services to people, it attracts a lot of people who want the services because it’s free.

    Then again they thinks of monetizing these same services then he gets silently labeled as greedy. Most of them might not tell you to your face but they’ll just refuse to buy!

    Is there something these set of people don’t know yet? Or are they suppose to keep on rendering free services for as long as possible till they are able to make a transition in the minds of the people who already knows them? Or they should just stick to providing free services all the days of their lives? Like it’s a calling of some sort.

    Can you enlighten me on this Sir? I’ll appreciate it greatly.

    My Reply:

    Kolawole,
    I enjoyed what your colleagues said in response to your question. I cannot answer it in such a short comment. In many ways you will find answers in things I have said before.
    Remember my afterthoughts, are often more important than my original post.

    Reply
  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ernie Van Staden wrote:

    Your point is exactly right.
    As an aside however McDonald’s isn’t about food. ..its about property! They own the prime retail real estate sites where they establish so the business is assured of being perfectly located!

    My Reply:

    Ernie,
    The best way to understand the business of a public company is to go to its published financial statements. A Google search on McDonald’s financial statements, and the reports from their chairman are wonderful reading.
    If you want to dig deeper, study the reports of analysts and brokers who follow the company. With a little more effort, you can get to these reports on the Internet.
    A few years ago, I did a series on the power of financial statements of companies. One of my favorite business tools.!

    Reply
  11. Antoine

    Building an efficient organization is equivalent to having the best systems running in your business. Systems such as financial, procurement, order, manufacturing.. etc.

    Reply
  12. Brown

    Hi Strive,
    Above all thank you for being available.
    I had a good business idea & so I registered a company but I need capital. How can I go about acquiring the same (CAPITAL) without digging a hole for the company ? Also I have been following the trail of most of your talks & writings in regards to corruption and I do visionaries a better global village from your words, however in my country of residents that is a struggle that we still have to tuckle – what would be your advice to me as a future contributor to a transparent global business village in my current cercumstances where every major player is a GOLIATH and I need to survive.

    On a different note, I do have some projects (Integrated Pool of Funds & Violence Interrupters) that I have been working on & I would like to think they can qualify under the philanthropy topic.I believe these projects can assist a lot here in Africa given the level of poverty and quality of infrastructure.

    Strive, I would like to share these with you and may be you could assist me with the enhancement or refer me to someone who can light the path for me on how I can share these ideas with my global neibhours in the most strategic and organized manner . I would like to share more, please let me know how I can reach via email, mine is brownsaranji@gmail.com

    Thank you & GOD BLESS

    Reply
  13. Ibuodinma Somtochukwu I

    I with my brother and some friends in october started a plantain plantation (3,000 trees), a vegetable garden (sitting on 2 acres) and an onions farm (on 2 hectares of land). we have thoughts of expansion in 2017. but is it not too early to start talking about structures since we have not made a single harvest yet?

    Reply

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