The Mentors at The Growth Retreat

Only 10 weeks to go for The Growth Retreat, a networking, I am hosting at Rishikesh from 8-11th December 2022. From this issue, every week we will bring you a write up by one of the esteemed guest speakers of the Retreat, giving you a sneak peak of what they will be sharing with the participants of the Retreat. Here is the first one in a series of nine.
Making Elephants Dance
Disruptive, entrepreneurial changes can be shaped everywhere, even in large corporations.
by Damodar Mall
In the beginning, all creation journeys are shaky, vulnerable and unsure.  Even the winners begin their journey with sloppiness. However, we, as the audience, only witness the final story, which is coherent and linear and created after much ‘editing’. In reality the path from strategy to success is anything but linear.
I’ll share the conceptual framework for business creation that I follow, and the toolkit that has worked for me. 
Which is the most successful and timeless consumer behavior shaping model? Which idea makes a large number of consumers, over long periods of time, do what what is prescribed and make them happily pay for it too? The answer is, the model of organised religion! 
My business creation toolkit tries to draw some elements from my understanding of this phenomenon, which, in a very basic form, looks like this:

Belief: Any consumer business idea in its creation phase needs just a few empowered believers who are, crucially, ringfenced from the overall checks and balances of large organisation.
Design: Business design is an iterative process of Idea- Design- Pilot- Modify- Pilot, & so on. The mythology is shaped, with the benefit of hindsight, after the ‘promised land’ is discovered in the pilot.
I am a retail business leader at the Reliance Group, a business behemoth. No change that I have driven at Reliance Retail, started as a big change. Every idea always started as a pilot that, on the face of it, had little consequence. It emerged from an insight or a point of view about the opportunity. When a leader tentatively says, “I have this point of view. Shall we test it out in the market?”, sounds more vulnerable than “I have a big plan.” In the former, people become allies, while in the latter, they become critics. At this stage, you want them bring out their pencils, not their red pens!
This is a tricky period.  To be a leader and yet be unsure and vulnerable, requires courage and does not come naturally.  It is trained behavior. With this backdrop a quick, design/pilot/redesign play can be mounted with a small team of believers.
Once the signs of success become visible in the pilot, you write the big strategy. That’s when nuances and insights are stated with a flourish for high impact and followership.  At scale, you need to create the mythology that mobilises converts. The world of rituals and stories that ensues allows a large number of people to empathise and embrace the movement.
Once we have succeeded with the customer in the pilot and have built the mythology or strategy, we can remove the ringfencing around the project. Now we must have a project plan, network and even a set of people different from the task group that incubated the idea in the first place. From this point onwards, the big corporation and its methods to scale become a productive force. 
The rest, hopefully, is history.

Damodar is the President & CEO at Reliance Retail. He is the winner of Retail Icon and Most admired Grocery retail award winner. He led the creation and scaling of significant retail ideas in India: JioMart, RelianceSMART, FreshPik, Foodhall, Big Bazaar, DMart. Damodar is IIT Bombay and IIM Bangalore alumni. He has authored two books : SupermarketWala : Secrets of Wining Consumer India & Be A SupermarketWala :  Step-by-step guide to Supermarket success
You can connect with him on Twitter @SupermarketWala
Damodar is one of the mentors at The Growth Retreat.
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We have also archived all the old issues and you can access them at They contain some very good tool kits to take charge of your well being.
See you next week .
Sandeep Mall
The information provided in this newsletter is not medical advice, nor it should be taken as a replacement for medical advice. I am not a medical Doctor so I don’t prescribe anything. Most of the tools suggested are based out of scientific research and my experiments with them. Your healthcare, your wellbeing is your responsibility. Anything we suggest here, please filter it through that responsibility. 

July 17, 2022

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