Great leaders focus on process than on managing people

Kotsanai Matereke, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Soko last week during the latest Kenyan acceleration workshop spoke to the Kenyan cohort on matters relating to understanding a company’s value generation. He discussed the importance of identifying what problem your business is trying to solve and how to develop frameworks to improve on your business’ value generation.

Kotsanai has vast experience in business development and is passionate about people, knowledge transfer, training and business. He joined Soko during its early stages as a consultant and shortly after that, he was absorbed within the organisation as a Manager, then later a Director. He rose up the ranks to Managing Director (Kenya) before being appointed as the Chief Strategy Officer and today he holds the position of Chief Operating officer.Soko is an ethical African fashion brand that works with marginalised artisans in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia connecting them to a vibrant and competitive international fashion market using technology. Founded by three ambitious women; Ella Peinovich, Catherine Mahugu and Gwendolyn Floyd, Soko uses an innovative mobile-to-web Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution that connects the independent artisans directly to their global customers. When Soko was  in the Kenyan cohort, the acceleration programme served as a great platform to clearly define the venture’s vision and mission.

Kotsanai Matereke, Chief Operating Officer at Soko during the workshop

The key element in value generation for any product as shared by Kotsanai, is developing a strong logic model. He broke it down further and explained that to achieve this model it is important for the entrepreneur to begin with defining the problem their business is trying to solve. Defining the problem helps avoid a situation whereby you are selling a product that nobody wants with the hope that it will eventually gain traction. Every business owner must understand why they are building the business and for whom and this must be addressed at the onset of the business. When an entrepreneur is aware of the problem they are trying to solve then every smart idea that is developed will always be aligned and applicable to the problem being addressed.

The opportunity is vividly seen when the problem is clearly defined and articulated thus an applicable and sustainable solution is generated more efficiently. The entrepreneur having defined the problem and developed a sustainable solution, can then focus on building the value generation.

Value generation encompasses various elements such as;

  • Building a value delivery system that addresses getting the right product for the customer
  • Understanding the constraints that exist around the business
  • Developing a decision matrix that helps you check the idea against the problem being solved to avoid creating new constraints
  • Training people with capabilities within the team to help make decisions in developing the right assumptions and scenarios to ensure that the business maintains a competitive edge
  • Understanding that the operations of the business cannot support everyday change since change is consistent and expensive. This means you need a strong logic model that supports movement of goods, the customer experience as well as the team.
  • Understanding where the product is, where it should be and if the customers are giving the right feedback about it
  • Consistency – this requires developing process flows and patterns that customers adhere to at any given point

Kenyan cohort following keenly through the Value generation session

Kotsanai added that entrepreneurs need to develop documented Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) that clearly define key processes to help ensure consistent and quality output from their teams. “Great leaders focus on process rather than on managing people,” Kotsanai stated. As an entrepreneur you will need to have patience in training your teams to maintain the business output.

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