This post is written by Hemakshi Meghani of IndusAction and Harvard Kennedy School of Government
It is really easy to get trapped in our echo chambers and feel stuck. Innovation needs the right partners, but most importantly diverse partners. refine+focus, among other things, does an amazing job of bringing the best and diverse minds together.
Indus Action is an organization that works in New Delhi, India to give access to high quality educational opportunities to children from socially and economically disadvantaged communities. Like any other organization, we are facing scaling-up anxiety, and want to build a platform that connects volunteers with families in underserved communities. Using this platform, want to enable the community and the country to act, while we provide the technical ecosystem to do so. But, building platforms is a wicked problem!
This firecracker of a team made platforms seem so easy and interesting in this workshop focused on platforms, in their beautiful Boston office. A group of 10 people went through a stimulating session that grounded everyone in the technical aspects of platforms- pull effect, facilitation, matching and network effect. Just the way these concepts were broken down by refine+focus team, explained through vivid examples made us want to be on all platforms possible! Seeing something like platforms, which we use everyday, with a new decomposed lens was refreshing and exciting. We then used Indus Action’s need for platform as a case study and the engaged participants understood the complex realities of on-ground operations in a nuanced way.
After a few clarifying questions about work of Indus Action, we were pulled into wearing our creative hats, matched with one another awesome participant in the room, facilitated by amazing team to build on each other’s idea, which tied us in a network! At the end of this energizing workshop (and stomach full of yummy falafel), Indus Action has a repertoire of amazing ideas to build a platform, and actually an ecosystem, which will help families to reach out for help from volunteers, NGOs and government bodies across the city to help their children get admission in excellent schools.
Getting perspectives from people who are removed from Indus Action’s work but have deep understanding of their own fields and what goes on to make platforms impactful, can be really enriching. The way the workshop was designed helped all its participants learn new content and jargon, apply it to a live case study and then synthesize learning in a generalized way. These 3 hours helped me personally appreciate platforms so much more, and realize that it is all about creating value for every stakeholder involved in the most optimal, engaging way.