Finding the ‘Lever’ for scale
The basis for a lot of our work at Innovation Alchemy is the simple principle of the Lever. Archimedes famously said “Give me a place to stand on and I will move the Earth” – essentially illustrating how a lever could lift a very heavy weight, if appropriately balanced.
In applying Innovation thinking to social enterprise challenges – we are looking for ways to help the team significantly increase its social impact. To do this we focus on seeking the appropriate levers in a model which, if shifted and placed correctly, could help the team lift the large weight of the social impact they look to create. These Levers sometime exist within the business model or within the operational model on the ground and sometimes in the way a customer/ user adopts a particular product or service. Often a strong collaboration between two allied organizations could become the key lever. Our role is to help the social enterprises find these Levers and then do a series of prototypes to demonstrate how those levers can be applied to a particular problem.
I believe that Social Enterprises can be tremendously successful catalysts for change, especially if they are able to find the appropriate levers to achieve scale, enterprise and sustainability in their models. This was also the basis of my brief talk at a TEDx session organized by students of IIM Ranchi in February 2012.
Issues like education, health, poverty are all large weights that we will need to shift and help impact millions of people in India who are currently under served, unable to access these basic facilities. With over a million non-profits and several hundred new-age social enterprises working on these challenges in India – its a dramatic era of catalytic change that we are seeing unfolding.
Organizations like Chaitanya Gurukul, Akshaya Patra, OperationAsha have demonstrated that you can apply principles of business enterprise to work towards scale even when dealing with poverty related issues such as access to food, tuberculosis treatment and access to high quality education.
Last year we worked actively with a couple of non-profit social enterprises, applying a methodology to help them scale. Read more about the school drop-out employability program at Yuva Parivartan and the urban solid waste management effort at Waste Wise.
Here’s the Video from the IIMRanchi TEDx talk, elaborating on the methodology, examples and why its critical to identify the levers for scale.
You can also see the full presentation and the slides that were created as a background to this talk, via Scribd:
Our Team at Innovation Alchemy applies these innovation principals to facilitate social enterprises to accelerate the scale of their impact, through the Alchemize™ program. For more details on the Acceleration program and the core methodology email us at email@example.com and follow us on Twitter for regular updates.
We try to share a lot of our insights and learning through Alchemix, an open Community of Innovation Practice. The community interacts through facilitated open forum discussions between Founders, Entrepreneurs, Innovators, Designers and Engaged Citizens. These sessions are an opportunity to learn more about innovative and impactful social models across India. Read more about the Alchemix platform.
5th June 2012
on Twitter @parvathimenon