This is how it started! :) The snow! :)

November 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

Little flurries.. floating around in every direction, taking its time !! 🙂 Haha .. nice..

Kapil, Amani and Luke! 🙂

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Quote: To Dream #06

November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea

– Antoine de Saint Exupéry, a French writer, poet and aviator

HBR Notes : Disruptive Innovation for Social Change

November 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

A personal review of an article titled – Disruptive Innovation for Social Change.

In 140 Characters

Disruptive solutions (ones that are simple, convenient and cheap) are sufficient to address big problems both in private and social sector.

What are Disruptive Innovations

Disrupting innovations as the name suggests are innovations that disrupt or create a dent in the market via products, services, etc. Normally it is via simpler solutions that have been overlooked previously. Or taking advantage of emerging consumer needs. It may not offer all the features/benefits of the current practice. But, they are convenient, cheaper and simpler. This makes disruptive innovations appealing. An example quoted in the HBR is that, South-West Airlines did not offer in-flight refreshments and their initial target market was leisure travelers who did not want to pay huge ticket costs. So, basically the services offered by South-West Airlines were a subset of what was available for air-travelers before their launch. But, they were successful!!

Why incumbents do not score a Home run on Innovation
Incumbent firms, in most cases, never come up with/implement disruptive innovations. This is true in a high number cases and the author makes a very good point on the why part. An incumbent firms’ resources are tailor made to suit their survival. So, pursuing a break-through innovation means neglecting its existing investments. In other words, incumbents choose continued usability of their resources over market/customer needs. This ultimately leads to the demise of incumbent firms.

Simpler solutions unlock new markets
There are several examples of organizations doing this kind of innovation, but most noted and easy to grasp is Micro-lending by Grameen Bank. Another one was brought about by Arvind’ eye hospitals in India. The eye hospital manufactured their own lens at $10 per piece instead of using the ridiculously expensive $140 per piece. More on that can be read here.

Catalytic Innovations and How to identify them

When Disruptive Innovations are applied to Social Sector, they go by the term Catalytic Innovations. As per the HBR piece, few signs could be used to identify such innovations, 1. Whether a new firm is offering low-cost, but high-convenient product/service, 2. Solution sustainability & scalability across geographical regions.

Five qualities catalytic innovators (image credit:hbr)

That’s pretty much what I got! 🙂 Anyone, feel free to correct my opinions! 🙂

– Arun Vallappan

CSR Outsourced

November 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I think this a pretty good concept – Better The World. In their words, “Better The World helps organizations develop engaging fundraising and corporate social responsibility initiatives“. I would prefer to have an organization that does Socially Responsible activities on behalf of companies. Like, this organization can come up with different oppurtunities to address Poverty, Education, Health, etc and companies can pick the one that interests them most and fund the project. If not the entire budget, a part of it.

On the other hand, It’s getting common for companies, especially multi-nationals to have their own CSR wing, and titles such as
Sustainability officer, Sustainability Coordinator, CSR Manager are easily seen. So, wondering how much a company like Better the world  can add value to an organization’s existing CSR programs. May be all CSR activities could be outsourced. Let’s compare CSR Outsourcing & CSR Wing Within Company

  CSR Outsourcing
CSR Wing within Company
Team         Dedicated One or two dedicated & rest of the team volunteers from organization
Skill set     Very high The dedicated ones would have high skill sets. Rest minimal
Cost         Ideally this should be low  
Social Impact         High (with resource pooling)*    Could be high if enough funds are available
Branding/Identity     Medium (one among many contributors to a campaign)     High as it is individual

*Resource pooling – A single national project can be funded by financial resources supported by many companies to manifest a bigger impact (like Teach For India, which is a national program), which may not be possible for smaller multinationals.

So the value-add from CSR outsourcing would be, Expertise & Low cost. But, companies might lose out on branding and visibility, which could be one of the top-most priority for spending!! Hmm!

– Arun Vallappan

Quote: Paralysis Of Thought #05

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

We can’t define anything precisely. If we attempt to, we get into that paralysis of thought that comes to philosophers… one saying to the other: “you don’t know what you are talking about!”. The second one says: “what do you mean by talking? What do you mean by you? What do you mean by know?

-Richard Feynman

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