The Elephant Catchers

Book Title: The Elephant Catchers – Key Lessons for Breakthrough Growth

Author: Subroto Bagchi3-d-cover-Elephant-Cathers

Who does not want to scale? Almost every entrepreneur wishes to do what Mindtree (the organisation referred to in this book) did, take their startup through a successful Initial Public Offering (IPO). Since the stories of scaling are told by Subroto Bagchi (co-founder, Mindtree), it adds greater credence. Upon reading the book one can clearly understand why “scaling is not for the faint of heart”. As the author clearly suggests, it is not necessary to scale unless one wants it, the business needs it, and one is comfortable with the idea of magnitude.

The book covers considerable ground regarding the topic of scaling an enterprise. I especially liked the chapters on strategy, leaders, boards and consultants. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur you will first have to get comfortable with the notion of size, understand the variety of factors that contribute to scaling (boards, leaders, strategy, structure, consultants, sales, etc), be ready to learn from others and be willing to ask and take help from the right people. I think it is this idea of identifying, seeking and being ready to receive help on specific matters important to scale that makes all the difference. It is quite evident from the book that the founding team cannot scale all by itself. In one of the evenly laid out short chapters the author clearly highlights why those who start and those who scale have very different mindsets, knowledge, skills and attitudes. While some can learn both, most founders assume they have both. Could this be the reason why we have so many small and medium enterprises in India and very few who scale successfully?

The book presents number of interesting philosophical ideas for reflection. I loved some of the references to philosophers and books, especially the one from Khalil Gibran: “You children are not your children… They come through you but not from you… And though they are with you they belong not to you…” I think this extract from Gibran is particularly useful for entrepreneurs. Not understanding this is probably one reason they don’t allow their enterprises to blossom to potential. I also loved reading the four clusters of attributes that leaders ought to have when an organisation scales: Ninja; Coach; Thought Leader; and Rain-maker. The other interesting idea that caught my attention was the thoughts that Shombit Sengupta shared with Subroto Bagchi. I will leave it to you to delve into the book and figure these out for yourself.

In recent times I have been reading books written by researchers. To give myself a little break I chose to read a practitioners account. I think it was time well spent. If you are an entrepreneur / business owner (either attempting scale or scaled successfully or failed to scale) you will most likely resonate with the ideas in the book. I am sure it will make you stop and think. The book stops short of making suggestions on how you can use these learnings in your scaling endeavours – but that I think is best left to the reader to identify. The inspiration lies hidden, subtly, within the text.

As shared with you a little earlier I am presently teaching a new course titled “Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organisation” for a group of second generation family business owners at The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII). Since much of the course hovers around discussions on scale, I thought it would be appropriate to explore the views / opinions / learnings of someone who has successfully scaled from India. This will help me enrich the class with close to home examples and personal anecdotes of a seasoned entrepreneur. I look forward to sharing these interesting thoughts with my students in the coming classes.

If you wish to know more about this prolific practitioner-writer, check this out: http://subrotobagchi.mindtree.com/the-elephant-catchers/

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AMJ PDW IIM Bangalore 2018

The Academy of Management (AMJ) conducted the first Paper Development Workshop (PDW) in India last month. The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore hosted this program on its beautiful campus. The two day event (17-18 February 2018) saw about 40 papers (in progress) presented by aspiring scholars desirous of publishing in the AMJ. I am so glad I was one of them. Thanks to AMJ Editorial Team and The IIMB organising team for all conceptualising and successfully organising this event. It gave all of us in attendance a great opportunity to receive feedback from the editors of this prestigious journal. It also gave us a chance to learn much about publishing at the highest level by listening to the reviews / comments / observations and suggestions offered on so many other papers.

Overall it was great learning for any management scholar! IIMB also organised for a short nature walk as a breakout from the intense discussions. It was a welcome break which offered some relaxation and opportunity for bonding. We made some new friends in the process. Here are some memories captured and shared by the AMJ and IIMB teams:

Thanks to the AMJ Editors and IIMB for providing a wonderful learning opportunity for Indian researchers. Hope more such events take place in India.

Free Book on Entrepreneurial Cognition

Happy to share a 2018 book on entrepreneurial cognition! I have met both the authors of this volume (Professors Dean Shepherd and Holger Patzelt). They are inspiring academics! Both are well known scholars in the field of entrepreneurship. When they put together a book, it should be compulsory reading. For those interested in the psychology of entrepreneurs – this is a must have book.EC Book Cover

The book (in my opinion) is aimed at researchers, doctoral students and educators in entrepreneurship. It provides a good source of available knowledge and numerous future research areas.

This open access book is available for free download at the link below:

Link: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-71782-1

Meet Brajesh Singh – a passionate wildlife photographer

I am a teacher. I spend a lot of time with learners (of all ages), albeit mostly adults. Considering that they are pretty mature it is difficult to teach them. Hence much of my time is spent facilitating and inspiring these learners to manifest their learning. And since I teach and research – innovation and entrepreneurship, most of these discussions hover around “Passion“.

Most people believe they are passionate about something or the other. I don’t disagree, but often end up asking them to describe their passion. Many of them explain their interests and misunderstand that its their passion. So my suggestion to most such people is – “manifest your passion”.

And all of them ask – “How should we manifest passion?”

I met Brajesh Singh (http://brajeshsingh.in) recently in a Management Development Program (MDP) on Intrapreneurship. I was stumped when out of the blue he presented me a calendar. I thanked him and that night I realised that I saw the answer to the above question.

Here is a man who “manifested passion”. I spent much time that night looking and re-looking at the pictures in his calendar. Amazing is an understatement! It was his own calendar – the Brajesh Singh Calendar! Here is one photo of Brajesh Singh

BrajeshSingh Photo

So I spent the lunch next day (during the MDP) asking him so many questions. As he spoke I saw what “passion meant”. It was so easy to see that “wildlife photography” was his passion. Several colleagues of his joined us and appreciated his photographs and his passion. The way he spoke about wildlife and his reminisces of capturing photographs enthralled us. Sadly we had to stop and get back to our MDP sessions! But I had something to tell my students.

If you are passionate

  • clearly define it (Brajesh does not shoot any photo – he captures wildlife in the wild)
  • do something about it (Brajesh uses his camera, captures and shares it on his website – http://brajeshsingh.in)
  • take action and showcase it (goes on expeditions and captures photos; shares it on his website; joins other wildlife photographers; learns from those much younger than him)
  • create and share your passion in whatever way possible (Brajesh creates an annual calendar)
  • sustain it (Brajesh’s annual calendar is now in its sixth year)

 

Clearly Brajesh manifests passion. In today’s digital era, it is easy to manifest passion. So the next time you catch yourself talking about Passion – stop and take action! Manifest it.

I came away inspired. This is what happens when you meet a passionate soul. You can like his photography here too: https://www.facebook.com/BrajeshSinghsPhotography/

Thanks Brajesh! My passion is to teach and I took one more step in that direction by sharing your story with my students and readers. I manifested my passion!

If you (the reader) like reading this, do something about your passion now. Manifest it today!

A new journal for entrepreneurship education research

Last year I visited Peru, South America and helped start the ‘Diploma in Innovation and Entrepreneurship” run jointly by CIDE-PUCP and Future Startup Heroes. I spent almost three weeks in Peru visiting number of cities helping promote the culture of entrepreneurship. Here are some photographs capturing my Peruvian memories.

Before leaving Peru I promised the participants of the first batch of the diploma program that I would send them every month, two “readings” on entrepreneurship education. I kept my promise and this month I am sending them the fifth and last installment. As I was putting together the readings I realised that I had an opportunity to not make it the last mail from me (entrepreneurial educator?).

Last week, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) launched a new journal with a focus on entrepreneurship education. It is called “Entrepreneurship Education & Pedagogy” (EE&P). Its name and form confirm its sibling status to “Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice” (ET&P) – a premier journal for entrepreneurship research. While I was enjoying the articles from the very first issue of this new journal, it occurred to me that I should share this with my friends who will be soon completing their diploma and becoming entrepreneurship educators.

Would they not benefit from having access to a spring, instead of a glass?

Therefore instead of sending two articles as I have done in the past four months, I decided to turn this into a blog post and send it to them. I hope they read all the articles in the first issue of EE&P (for this month) and continue to look up this journal from time to time. The journal has research articles, cases, instructor resources, and games. This will help them as they embark on their journey to being world class entrepreneurship educators!

Peru is an entrepreneurial country and with a host of entrepreneurial educators the nation can catalyse its entrepreneurial journey.

Good Luck to every one of them.

Discarding before starting again

Before planning new projects (something that gets done during this time of the year) it is important to clear up the table (physical, electronic, and mental) before starting anything new.

A good way to do it is to “tidy up” your place – keep what’s useful; give away what you may not need any longer (but someone else may); and discard what is useless.

I tried doing this over the last weekend and I was surprised !!

Never realised how so many things got accumulated. So many papers, books, stationary, clothes and other things which I had not even looked up for months on end lay right there on my shelf and around my room. Removing them needed time as I had to look at each of them and decide if I would use it going further (in the next year). Honestly, a difficult question to answer. I felt like keeping every single one of them (telling myself how important it was). Thank God I had recently read a little book called “The art of discarding” by Nagisa Tatsumi (‘Suteru Gijyutsu’ in Japanese) and this helped me happily reason to myself and become freer in life.

Interestingly a day after the tidying project I find myself immensely productive. So if you are wondering how to spend your last week of the year – “decluttering your home or office” by discarding what may be unnecessary could be a great way to finish the year — and an even greater way to enter 2018. It might help you find a lot of things that could be more useful to others.

Think about it!

Are Startup events the new Reality Shows?

A student of mine recently wrote to me saying he was surprised that most of the B-Plan competition winners failed to start or failed after starting. He looked back at one award winning B-Plan presentation and found that even he (a nascent entrepreneur) could easily locate significant gaps in its business model. What surprised him was that none of the jury asked him anything related to that. They were enamoured by his presentation. That boy, encouraged by the jury and the award went on to start the business and eventually failed.

Could this unnecessary failure been stopped? Is it the responsibility of those who sit in the jury to be critical? But then how will these competitions run? Events are a part of the show business, “show” is critical.

His mail reminded me of a Reality Show on TV for identifying super singers. On one such final the boy who delivered the best performance did not come first. It was the one who got the maximum votes from the public (the most popular one) who came in first. One of the famous singers who was on the jury came to the stage and said something like this to the that boy who sang well and did not win “You may not have won the title today, but remember you are a real super singer.” And if I am not wrong he also offered him a chance to sing in one of his upcoming movies.

This is what I told my student – Please understand that the business model of events and reality shows is to create hype and raise emotions. It thrives on populism. Though they call themselves “Reality Shows” the only thing missing is “Reality”. So be wary! But remember that they are important and have their place in any entrepreneurship ecosystem! Make use of these events if they can help you, but don’t spend your life trying to be the new actor on stage.