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Gardening the Culture of Innovation Here's how every startup and entrepreneur must engage to survive in a VUCA world

By Manoj Joshi

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Startups have paced a special status in all major economies. Their autonomy and increased professionalism has been the core to their high performance level. The founding entrepreneurs—whether first time, serial or emerging from family businesses—have crafted a renewed journey in the new economy. This implies that entrepreneurs are more receptive to newer creative verticals, experimenting their insight-foresight combinations. It is interesting to explore as to why such entrepreneurs and their innovative firms make an impact on their cohorts. We are living in a world, which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The response must combine agility with resilience and be constantly innovative. Can this be replicated?

The centre to such entrepreneurial and innovative firms is the high level of entrepreneurial recognition and orientation. These firms have scaled their journey from being less than a five year startup, to a maturing one with 5-15 years of existence and the matured being with over 15 years of existence. The author classifies (metaphor) them as chimp type (start-ups under five years of existence), hyena type (existence between 5 and 15 years) and lion type (more than 15 years of existence) enterprise, after comparing the survival behaviour compared with the identified animal kingdom. These entrepreneurial and innovative firms possess similar characteristics, exhibited during their respective business life cycle, hunting for survival and expanding boundaries, very similar to a chimp, a hyena and a lion from the animal kingdom and have "gardened a culture to innovation'.

Innovative Practices—A compelling reason to study

Most of the wealth is being created by these entrepreneurs, adding value to old assets, engaged in creating newer wealth fountains. While the old ones have also done so, the new ones cannot be ignored. The newer ones (startups) such as Flipkart, Inmobi, Quikr, Zomato, Olacabs, Paytm, Snapdeal, Pepperfry and Grofers, among others, have made an everlasting impact, as "entrepreneurial firms'. Some of the ones have graduated to becoming a Unicorn, with over $1 billion in valuation. Is your startup in the pipeline?

These startups truly engage in wealth creation, thus, being prudent to build an opinion on why some sectors create more wealth than others? It may be conclusive to investigate, as to why some sectors create added wealth and hence some nations are more prosperous than other. Are innovations and innovative practices the answer?

Strategic Innovations

"Strategic innovation' is a closer response to this query, having an everlasting impact as in competitive entrepreneurship. These innovations can emerge in any field or form, a convenient location, a process, etc. These chimps, hyena and lion type innovative and entrepreneurial firms are constantly engaged in value creation. They act as driving a driving force.

"Innovativeness' for them is an intangible asset. The younger startups (chimp type) are actively engaged in assaulting the bigger firms that are the established ones. At the same time, the ones like hyena overpower and create newer rules in the industry. The older ones classified as lion prefer to take on the conventional wisdom of doing business. These younger ones manoeuvre through VUCA times, bleeding the established giant. They attack their toes and grow by milking their blood.

Moving forward

# Consider being an entrepreneur as its rewards are everlasting.

# Create an inventory of what you like and dislike.

# Investigate market gaps.

# Examine your potential customers.

# Craft a plan as to how to meet expectations of the customer.

# Identify the road blocks.

# Choose location and the probable core team members.

# Create a viable business plan.

# Keep a flexible strategy.

# Implement the business plan in an efficient and effective manner.

# Make trial runs.

# Create a dynamic growth closer to your vision.

The presence of innovation in old and in new ventures is largely dependent on the business environment and is dynamic by nature. Majorly, the entrepreneurial firms be it at any stage of their business life cycle, must garden a culture to innovation.

Manoj Joshi

Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, Director, Centre for VUCA Studies, Amity University

Dr. Manoj Joshi is a Ph.D., Fellow Institution of Engineers, Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, Director, Centre for VUCA Studies, Amity University, with 27+ years of experience in industry & research. He has authored 40+ articles, co-authored two books “The VUCA Company”, “The VUCA Learner” and is also on the Editorial Board of several international refereed Journals.  

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