VOLUME 1 > ISSUE 4 > JANUARY-MARCH 2014

I N D I A ’ S F I R S T M A G A Z I N E D E D I C A T E D T O I N N O V A T I O N
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NEED FOR INNOVATION IN GOVERNANCE
SHAILESH GANDHI
I
ROHINI NILEKANI
I
P SAINATH
I
MARK TULLY
SCAN THIS TO STAY
CONNECTED
CHANGE MAKERS 58 Archive of Indian
Music, Fittle, Navdanya: Case studies.
INTERVIEW 29 William Dalrymple:
Innovating is in India’s diverse history
and culture.
COLUMN 34 Ashok Soota:
Tips to market your innovation.
Innowin January-March 2014 50
A good idea brought you this far. Going further
might need a few more rounds of innovation
and some serious escape velocity. You know
this is true when you can see more business
opportunities staring at you increasing the
potential of creating more impact. You want to
take it on—but you also realise that the existing
model may not be able to handle the scale.
And you just don’t have the capacity to deliver.
How can you unlock this [dilemma]?
ARE YOU SCALING BY DEFAULT
OR DESIGN?
It’s a choice really: should we grow as is,
taking one day (or a year) at a time, with all
its opportunities and uncertainties? Or is
there value in taking a pause to refect on the
current model, review ambition, bring in a
fresh perspective on the roadblocks, evaluate
mindsets to understand what could be creating
the limits, and bring in an innovation lens that
can help fnd new insights to create scale?
Einstein famously said that problems cannot
be solved from the same mindset that created
them and that, in essence, provides a path
forward. Once you decide that you want to
accelerate by design, and not by default, here
are some preparatory steps that will get you
ready to move forward:
 Unlocking the ‘possibility’ mindset not
only for yourself as the leader but also for
the team—maybe even your board and
stakeholders. We were working with a team
focused on creating livelihoods. They were
reaching around 20,000 youth each year
through their vocational training centres and
wanted to scale up to reach 100,000 youth
annually with their programmes. But it was an
insignifcant volume considering that over
BY DESIGN, NOT DEFAULT
ACCELERATE
Parvathi Menon
Founder and MD, Innovation
Alchemy Consulting Private
Limited. MIF partners with
Innovation Alchemy to
accelerate innovative social
organisations under its
Social Innovation
Acceleration Program.
MARICO INNOVATION FOUNDATION (MIF) SECTION
From a cool innovative start-up team that would hang out after work each day and spend hours iterating to
improve ideas and test hypothesis, you are now in the middle of a demand curve that seems to be going
upwards rapidly. If you are building an innovative solution that flls a real gap, chances are in a few years
of operations you would acquire new clients, witness an increase in demand for your product or service,
and have stakeholders who push you to go further. However, you would also see insuffciency in the
backend, not enough people in the team, limited working capital, too many disconnected pilots, and sparse
operational ability.
Scale can creep up on you. Here's a fve-step guide that will help you innovators and entrepreneurs
prepare for scale.
Marico Innovation Foundation 51
When scale goals are
established based on
existing capability within
a team, they intrinsically
limit growth.
12 million youth enter the workforce each
year in India, and most of them lack any
productive skills. The market was so huge,
the need for impact was so high yet the scale
goal was constrained.
When scale goals are established based
on existing capability within a team, they
intrinsically limit growth. This is not an error
because to begin with, a team needs to
demonstrate its impact on a small scale.
But in order to grow the same approach
becomes a limitation and needs to be
fundamentally reviewed, in the context of
the size of the opportunity. Opening up the
‘possibility mindset’ led this team to see
how large the potential of impact really was.
They took on a much higher ambition and
reorganised themselves to reach the goal of
impacting one million youth each year, in a
consistent, sustainable manner.
 Listen to your ecosystem because it is
sending you the signals you need to fnd
the solutions for scale, fgure out where it's
heading, what are the triggers for momentum,
and what you can be leveraged by you. After
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Innowin January-March 2014 52
opening the possibility mindset, the livelihoods’
team in the above example asked themselves:
could we reach one million youth each year
with our programme? How do we need to
prepare ourselves if that’s what we want to
do? What is happening in this domain that can
help create some velocity for us?
The Government has large schemes in this
sector; perhaps platforms such as the National
Skill Development Corporation can help with
working capital; the World Bank is keen to
fund replication in low income states; young
professionals are interested to work in this
area; senior experts are keen to mentor new
ideas and corporate organisations are willing to
help support early prototypes because these
are so critical to them. After they stated their
ambition and carried out a deep review of the
ecosystem, the team found itself surrounded
by support, propelling it to the next level.
In 24 months this team has revamped
its operations, prototyped new ideas,
demonstrated a new approach that’s showing
results, has raised funds for growth and is on
its way to reaching the one million mark in a
couple more years.
 Organise your cash fow; get your anchor
in place. Being cash starved and trying to
accelerate your business could be impossible.
This is an important aspect of sustained
acceleration. Taking on speed too early,
without the basic fuel can destroy a good
team. Often, entrepreneurs link money to
growth; thinking, “If I had more money, I could
grow my business”. Sure, but are you earning
enough money right now to keep the business
going as usual? Do you have some sustained
activity or business that fuels your cash fow, do you have
visibility into the six months for that and most importantly, can
the leadership take out time to focus on designing scale without
the entire business collapsing? If you can’t, then stop and get
that sorted frst.
Accelerating a model needs extra fuel and committed time
from a team. Sivakumar Surampudi, the wise and seasoned
architect of the ITC e-Choupal, once shared how the basis of
scaling the e-Choupal model was the design of the anchor
business. The core cash fow came from procuring produce
directly from the farmers and trading that forward. Having a
stable process and cash fow from doing this allowed them
to invest in building those relationships, seek new insights,
prototype new ideas on the ground, fail at many ideas and still
fnd success overall. In my mind, this has always been a golden
nugget of experience. What helped e-Choupal scale is a great
reference point for every social enterprise. Ask yourself: What is
your anchor business? Is it in place and can it help sustain you
through the initial turmoil of acceleration?
 Find a few trusted advisors and/or mentors, who are willing
to be your primary ‘provocateurs’. Increasingly, I fnd the words
mentor or advisor too limited. When an organisation decides it
needs to accelerate and reach a much higher level of impact, it
needs something much more assertive than mentoring. I would
say it needs structured provocation.
Get yourself access to a few people who bring multi-industry
perspectives to the table, who will push, provoke and enlighten,
who can help connect dots and flter insights about the
market and your organisation in a way that gives you multiple
perspectives, a drive and clear direction. We often play this role
with the organisations we partner with, and I fnd that the most
valuable compliment is when a team looks back at a year of
good acceleration and says, “We just didn’t see how to leapfrog
our impact 12 months ago and we have come so far, so fast!”
 Learn the art and science of leverage. It will be one of
the most important skills that your organisation will apply
to accelerate by design. Leverage is about relationships,
collaborations, partnering, co-creating and engaging mindfully
with others who play in your area of work.
In the next article on this subject, I will focus on leverage:
how you can use prototyping to leapfrog your business impact.
Stay tuned.
What is your anchor
business? Is it in place
and can it help sustain you
through the initial turmoil
of acceleration?
Read, be inspired, innovate!
Learn more on how the Marico Innovation
Foundation reaches out to social organisations
looking to take the quantum leap in growth
through innovation
Feedback: innowin@maricoindia.net
COLUMN / MENON

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