In the course of a research I am currently participating in, I came across some facts about the success of M-Pesa in Kenya which gave me food for thought about how business success can come about. First of all, in my experience, whenever someone mentions M-Pesa, it is typical to think about Kenya! Meanwhile, there are several countries which speak Swahili in southern Africa and several countries where the service has been deployed or tried. Kenya stands out because of the incredible success story surrounding the product. Here are some key contributors to the success of the product:
The Unknown Innovator
There is an unverified claim by one Michael N Gichuri that M-Pesa was originally develooped by him. If this is true then it is a case of Esau selling his birthright. Many young entrepreneurs sell out too easily to the highest bidder. I think it makes sense to ask an investor to let you have shares in the product you have developed rather than selling out completely. That is if you really believe you have come up with something of value. That said, I want to add that often, new thinking from young people can be the key to a large company’s next breakthrough.
M-Pesa was launched through a partnership between Safaricom and Vodafone. There are scenarios in business where a heavy financial, political backing or other similar strong influence is necessary to get that bright idea of the ground. Partnership could also take the form of collaboration with other young entrepreners who offer services related to your primary product. Maybe you can patronize each other, do trade by barter or even form a consortium to pay for external services such as advertising or office space together. The survival of your idea should be more important than the desire to boast that it was your idea.
In the official version of the history, M-Pesa operated in pilot mode for two whole years before the Kenyan government approved “go-live” in 2007. This is critical in any endeavour both for big companies and startups. In this day and age of stiff competition and disruptive innovation, it is important that the first impression the public has of your new product is not negative. Thorough testing or at least public awareness that the product is still in the trials phase will help to win trust and guarantee a product that will last long.
Meeting a Valid Need
Kenya had a bonafide financial inclusion problem. A large percentage of Kenyans did not have bank account and many in this category lived in the slums or in the villages which were often difficult to reach. If your product does not really meet a genuine need, it might as well be a hobby not a business! It is easier to sell a customer what he really needs that to educate him of a great discovery you have made to improve his life.
During the year 2008, quite a lot of Kenyans were apprehensive of moving too far away from their families due to post-election violence. Thus M-Pesa was a convenient way of sending money without endangering oneself. In addition, people had lost trust in the banks due to discord among bank executives bordering on ethnicity. It thus became wiser to save money in Mobile Phones!
In summary, a great idea brewed at the right time has a good chance of making huge impact once the right partnerships and due diligence are in place. A little lesson on copying is worth touching here. Copying is a great way to leverage what has already worked elsewhere but we must copy intelligently! It is important to understand as much as possible the hidden details of the original otherwise the copy will prove to be a far cry from the original. I sure hope this has been of some use. Let me know your thoughts!
1. Determine the Architecture capability desired by the organization
2. Establish the architecture capability
1. External Reference Materials such as TOGAF
2. Board and Business strategies, goals, drivers etc.
3. Major frameworks used in the business
4. Architecture capability
5. Partnership and contract agreements
6. Organizational Model for Enterprise Architecture
7. Existing Architecture Framework
1. Scope the Enterprise Organizations impacted
2. Confirm Governance and Support Frameworks
3. Define and Establish Enterprise Architecture Team and Organization
4. Identify and Establish Architecture Principles
5. Tailor the TOGAF Framework and other selected frameworks
6. Develop a Strategy and Implementation Plan for Tools and Techniques
1. Organizational Model for Enterprise Architecture
2. Tailored Architecture Framework
3. Initial Architecture Repository
4. Restatement or reference to business principles, goals and drivers
5. Request for Architecture Work
6. Architecture Governance Framework
1. Defining the enterprise
2. Identifying key drivers and elements on the organizational context
3. Defining the requirements for architecture work
4. Defining the principles that will inform any architecture work
5. Defining the framework to be used
6. Defining the relationships between management frameworks
7. Evaluating the Enterprise Architecture Maturity
The Preliminary Phase is the beginning of the ADM Cycle. This phase depends heavily on what the business really wants. Key decisions like the scope of architecture work and the framework to be used (and how it will be used) are taken here.
WARNING: These are my private notes
The TOGAF 9.2 Standard is divided into six parts:
Part I: Introduction
Part II: Architecture Development Method
Part III: ADM Guidelines and Techniques
Part IV: Architecture Content Framework
Part V: Enterprise Continuum and Tools
Part VI: Architecture Capability Framework
We can remember this using a simple mnemonic I3AEA. Or we can go further to construct a longer mnemonic of sorts:
Worth remembering is parts where the key concepts occur.
The ADM is the main aspect of TOGAF and the ADM Cycle occurs here there are nine phases in the cycle as shown in the borrowed graphic:
Preparing properly in the Preliminary Phase helps us develop an Architecture Vision that will B DAT foundation on which we find Opportunities and Solutions based on which we plan and Migrate to new architectures and then enforce Governance and Manage Change.
Concepts such as Architecture Building Blocks (ABB) and Solution Building Blocks (SBB) which are re-usable are discussed in the Architecture Content Frame part of TOGAF. ABBs relate to the Architecture Continuum and are defined in Phases A to D. SBBs related to the Solutions Continuum and are defined in Phase E.
Concepts such as storing the outputs of architecture activity occur in the virtual repository called Enterprise Continuum and Tools part of TOGAF. The word “taxonomy” occurs here and simply refers to classification.
The Architecture Capability Framework is a set of resources, guidelines, templates etc. that can help the architect establish a practice within an organization.
WARNING: These are my private notes.
Two weeks ago I did a Facebook Live post where I talked about leadership. I made reference to the tendency of certain kinds of leaders to try to control their followers by exerting unnecessary force, threatening them or being verbally abusive or intimidating. My position was that a leader need not try to prove that he is a leader for his “followers” to respect him. He needs not prove that he is superior to his follower if he really is. And in my opinion a leader is not necessarily chosen because he is better than all his followers in all aspects of life. A leader needs to know that and take advantage of the reasources he has within his team to make the betst of his organization. He must be humble enought to enquire (sounds like Edgar Schein’s book).
After I shared this video on my Facebook page, my boss drew my attention to another video where Malcom Gladwell, the writer of the book, Outliers gave a talk in a church about Power Distance. It was an intriguing discussion because he started the discussion with a particular plane crash and went step by step through a series of events that led up to the plan crash. He then settled on the conversation that ensued during the last moments of the plane being airborne as was captured by the black box. That conversation revealed the real reason the simple problems could not be solved quickly enough: communication.
The Asst. Pilot was not communicating clearly that there was an emergency and that lives were at stake. In talking to the control tower, he was using mitigation in his speech and the control tower perceived it as if he was saying things were fine. He didn’t want to sound demanding or commanding and this ended up ending people’s lives. Gladwell alluded to the fact that this Power Distance problem also showed up as an issue of culture. In some cultures, people are more likely to defer to authority than in others. What struck me really was the dire consequences of something so trivial.
I think any leader who wants to hear the truth from his “followers”, really inspire people and be remembered not regretted needs to reduce that so called Power Distance between himself and the people. I believe the onus lies largely on the leader to change the culture and create the enabling environment for authentic followership. As we have seen, the effects are significant. What do you think?
Last Friday we heard the sad news of a collision between a bullion van and a trailer in Techiman, Ghana which killed the trailer driver and spilled a significant portion of 60 million ghana cedis on the motorway. The story has it that instead of making efforts to help the wounded, quite a number of people rather helped themselves to the free money that had suddenly flown into their space without any any effort made on their part to make it happen. The question is, if you were there, would you have taken your share of the money? Would you have justified it as mob action?
Come to think of it back in the day, one could hear the “testimony” of someone who had picked up a small sum of money that someone else had lost at a public place. As far as he was concerned, it was God making a way for the finder. Well, we could argue about that in several directions but what makes it wrong to pick spilled cash from a bullion van if one can pick lost money and claim it is a miracle. The point here is, what would you do under the same circumstances?
We can stretch this thinking to other scenarios. We have recently had some bruhaha over the Comprehensive Sexual Education content design by global organisations to deploy in Ghana and maybe other African nations. The decision as to whether or not to adopt this content now lies on the current government and maybe the next. As much as we are quick to discuss these matters in our homes and other fora, I also like to ask, If I were the president of a nation, what kind of pressures would be on me to accept such content and what would my decision be? How would I communicate my decision to the nation and to the rest of the world who may perceive my disposition as being intolerant or archaic? These are the questions on my mind this morning.
I think that the decisions we will take in the face of such dilemmas are determined by what we do now to form our character and shape our values ahead of time. The values we imbibe when we are not yet faced with complex decisions will help determine how we take those decisions. It is obvious by now that coming into contact with large amounts of money or a significant position suddenly can easily change a person depending on how strong that person’s values are. So before we discuss others and their decisions in their circumstances, we need to examine ourselves, realise we are possibly going to be exposed to similar temptations and then take our position firmly before the time comes.
I got into a conversation with a colleague last week on how certain things that occur in our lives that appear negative are actually blessings in disguise. While making reference to the fact that the orchestration of such things could be from an external entity he referred to this external entity as “Nature”. He went further to explain that he is of the school of thought that believes one should reserve references to “God” for more serious matters than the matter he was discussing. He preferred to say “Nature” orchestrated the events.
While the above sounds very reverent, according due respected to the eternal Supreme Being there are number of thoughts that came to me within and after the discussion. One of them was the fact that we could be rather disrespecting to by attributing to “nature” or “the universe” like some others say things that were actually orchestrated by a living and Intelligent Being: Almighty God. If that is the case then our sense of reverence is somewhat misplaced.
Another thought that occurred to me is the distance we place between ourselves and God with our “reverence”. When the Lord Jesus taught us to pray, He taught us to refer to God as “Father” not the “Most Holy, Omnipotent, Immutable Creator of the Infinite Universe who Dwells in Unapproachable Light and Has no equal in Heaven or Earth”. I am sure the Lord’s Prayer would have been much longer if He had used the latter. He simply used “Our Father”.
I am told that the original for the expression the Lord Jesus used for Father was “Abba”, an expression which was even more personal and informal than “Father”. Maybe “Daddy” or “Dad” or “Papa”. Jesus was introducing us to a more personal relationship with the Infinite Creator of the universe than the Jews were used to. He opened a door to Heaven that closes the huge gap between us and God. God came down to our level.
I respect the sense of reverence my colleague was alluding to in his school of thought but I also think we must humbly accept the privilege God has given us and call Him “Daddy”. It may even be a much higher form of reverence than otherwise.
In his interview with the BBC on the series 13 Minutes to the Moon, Jim Lovell described how amazing a view the had of the earth from the moon. He said that at a point he put his thumb on the glass through which they looked and realized he could completely hide the moon behind his thumb. The message delivered to him in that experience must have been how small the earth is compared to the Milky Way and compared to the Universe. In fact he said that in comparison to the Universe, the earth vanishes into oblivion!
Isn’t it amazing that every piece of gold we could ever mine, every grand structure we could ever build, every piece of clothing we could ever make or wear and all the accolades we seek in this world can be hidden behind a man’s thumb. All the wealth that men kill each other and themselves for is smaller than a man’s thumb. The whole thing is an issue of perspective.
Exposure to a larger scope always gives us a new perspective. I had a short discussion with a friend a few weeks ago who alluded to this by saying that people who are widely travelled are typically less tribalistic. Tribalism, xenophobia and racism on large scale can be traced to minimal exposure in certain cases. When we have never gone through the experience of the other party, we tend to exclude them are foreign to us.
A South African who has never lived as a foreigner thinks of everyone that crosses the border into his country has a leech coming to suck his country dry. A Fulani who has never lived as a trader in Southern Nigeria thinks of all Igbos as threats to his existence. All of it is an issue of perspective. A Christian who has never lived in the Middle East considers all Muslims armed terrorists.
Perspective changes our pattern of thinking and can help change the way we relate with other people. Let’s work on increasing the scope of view of ourselves and possibly that of our children. You can listen to the BBC Podcast here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p07grjp4