Representatives from D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship Ventures Attend Siemens Stiftung Workshop

September 8, 2017

This month, representatives from four India-based D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship ventures attended epOnsite, a workshop organized by MIT Practical Impact Alliance member Siemens Stiftung in Mumbai, India, to learn more about organizational development. 

This three-day workshop introduced the participants to leading-edge approaches to building a professional, yet flexible organization through lean structures, dynamic processes, and a well-aligned team. Following the initial workshop, participants were also able to attend an additional day-long workshop on the art of storytelling.

The D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship program was represented by Barid Tarafdar of Zimba Water, Arun Cherian of Rise Legs, Rehana Razack of ayzh, and Prashanth Venkataramana of Essmart Global. Over the course of the workshops, participants not only had an opportunity to learn about new tools and approaches, but also space to learn from and share experiences with one another. Many of the Scale-Ups Fellowship representatives said it was a great opportunity for networking and making connections to further their venture. 

Here’s what the participants had to share about their experiences: 

“It was a great cohort with a very high caliber of people that we could work with, people who brought different perspectives,” Prashanth said. “It was great to speak about our business directly and bring out the challenges that we are facing. One of the big eye openers for me was the agile framework and human resources tools that we discussed. We learned a new tool where you look at hiring in a long-term sense and another for taking in consensus when making decisions, and involving people in decisions getting multiple opinions in a short amount of time.”

“The content was excellent and really well-articulated,” Arun said. “I was representing one of the younger start-ups in the whole group, and had an opportunity to learn from others. Most of them were four to six years old, one of the oldest was 25 years. What I liked about the workshop is how they were able to articulate it into simple steps that were actionable. It was very practical.”

“It was perfect mix of group of participants from different regions and sectors and the right number of people,” Rehana said. “The small group made it possible and easier for participant interaction. The session paced through a whole lot of interconnected topics and information that made me understand a lot about the organization working system. For me, though I was aware of Topics such as Purpose Refinement, Succession Planning, Consent Decision Making and Organization Structure, the session opened areas that need more focus and helped refine them.” 

“The focus of the discourses was to impart skills on building an ‘agile organization’ in order that the future growth could be sustained,” Barid said. “I found many of the [tools presented] are relevant to our context. I found 'Systemic Consensing' and 'Consent Decision Making ' were ‘Aha’ sessions… such as sharpening decision making abilities being so critical for an agile business entity.”

Already, the participants are thinking of how to apply what they have learned in their ventures going forward. 

“For me, there are two things that I am already working on,” Arun said. “One is being able to clearly articulate it the kind of people that I need and being able to put together a clear job description. Also, being able not to hire on knowledge and skills but also attitude. The second is making progress toward defining my impact metrics. For me, simplifying to just tracking the number of legs sold is not my definition of success. I may want to understand quality of life, or activities they weren’t able to do before and now they can.” 

Lauren McKown, MIT D-Lab