This was the premise that iTeach founder and CEO Soumya Jain, Slam Out Loud founder and CEO Jigyasa Labroo, and Chief Program Officer at Simple Education Chandni Chopra sat down to discuss with current Teach For India fellows and The Circle Innovation Funding Grant awardees Anjana Balyan and Riya Parekh.
We at The Circle believe clarity of vision and a conviction in its relevance to be an integral competency that determines potential for an entrepreneur, and look for this competency in our quest to build our cohort of School and After-school entrepreneurs we incubate at The Circle in our 2-year program.
This is the first in a series of blogs aiming to share more about what we look for in a Circle ‘Entrepreneur-in-residence’.
The panelists are all Teach For India alumni, entrepreneurial and passionate about working towards educational equity in India. But that’s where the similarities end - more or less. Each harbours a distinct style of operating, a set of strengths and whimsies unique to them. However, one connecting thread continues to bring them together - that of a vivid conviction about pursuing their vision.
Keep reading to find out what we uncovered:
Commit to the Problem, not just the Solution
Choose issues that deeply resonate with you emotionally. Identify problems that you can't ignore and that touch your heart, as this emotional connection will drive your passion and motivation.
Consider problems where you can make a unique contribution. Think about your unique perspective or approach that can address a specific problem differently from others.
- Identify issues that deeply resonate with you emotionally.
- Focus on problems where your unique perspective can make a difference.
Alignment and Collaboration
Alignment is an ongoing process, necessary both in your personal and organisational journey. Align your passion, skills, and unique perspective with a problem. Finding the intersection where your abilities meet a compelling issue can guide your focus effectively.
Clarity is also about aligning the team and stakeholders with the organizational goals. Bringing people on board who share the same vision can reinforce the collective effort. Collaboration and shared understanding among team members enhance productivity as well as motivation and longevity.
- Align your passion, skills, and unique perspective with a compelling issue.
- Foster alignment within the team and stakeholders to reinforce collective efforts.
Clarity in the vision and mission of the organisation helps in making decisions, setting goals, and staying focused on the intended impact. It involves knowing what to prioritize and what to decline.
While some level of reactivity is natural, it's essential to respond thoughtfully and intentionally, aligning actions with the organizational vision. Sometimes, saying no to opportunities that do not align with the core mission is necessary. This selective decision-making ensures that the organization stays true to its purpose.
- Clarity in vision guides decision-making and goal setting.
- Prioritize actions that align with the organizational vision, declining opportunities that don't.
Community and Stakeholder Voices
Understand the context of your community or region. Talk to people, grasp their challenges, and identify urgent issues within that specific context. Sometimes, immediate local needs can guide your focus. Incorporating the voices of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and students provides diverse perspectives and enriches the organisation's understanding of its impact.
- Understand local challenges and urgent issues within the community.
- Incorporate diverse stakeholder voices to enrich the organization's understanding.
Adaptability and Flexibility
While having a clear vision, it's crucial to be adaptable and open to feedback. Being too rigid might hinder growth and innovation. Embracing change and being open to new ideas can lead to unexpected opportunities.
The concept of exploiting what an organisation is already good at while exploring new possibilities allows for focused work while also encouraging curiosity and innovation.
- Be adaptable and open to feedback; avoid rigidity to foster innovation.
- The Exploit-Explore Framework: Exploit existing strengths while exploring new possibilities for growth.
Action Orientation and Experimentation
Begin with small steps. You don't have to solve all the world's problems at once. Start with volunteering, small initiatives, or projects. Learn, grow, and refine your focus over time as you gain experience. Through experimentation, you can discover what resonates with you the most and where you feel fulfilled.
Remember, finding your focus is a personal journey that involves self-awareness, exploration, and a willingness to learn and adapt as you go along.
- Start with small steps and volunteer initiatives.
- Embrace experimentation to discover your focus and passion.
Clarity does not mean having all the answers from the beginning. It's an ongoing process of learning and refinement. As the organization evolves, clarity deepens, and new insights help in making informed decisions.
We came out of this conversation energized and convinced that clarity is not a fixed state but a dynamic process that involves continuous reflection, adaptation, and a deep understanding of the organization's purpose. Balancing focus with openness to change and learning from experiences are key elements in achieving and maintaining clarity.
If you’re a budding social entrepreneur, just remember to act, learn, and iterate to build clarity. Measure what matters, stay focused on the problem to be solved, and remain curious and open-minded in the pursuit of impactful change.
If you want to design, launch and run your school or after-school program, reach out because we want to chat!
Watch the entire conversation on YouTube here: