Editor's Choice July 2012: Checklists and tips for the busy but enquiring practitioner
'What have I forgotten to think about? What else do I need to cover?' or even, 'Where do I start?' These are always useful questions to ask when forging ahead addressing a new challenge. But if the answers are buried in a heavy manual, or are solely in the experienced heads of a few experts, they are unlikely to unearthed by the busy practitioner.
So this month's Editor's Choice is the new series of Checklists, produced by the Business Innovation Facility. They condense years of experience in Inclusive Business development into 2 pages, simply listing the top questions and issues to consider. So far there are 4 checklists:
Developing Inclusive Business Is your company adequately prepared to develop an inclusive business model that will succeed?
This helps the reader to self-check: firstly, is your company prepared for IB (its leadership, its culture..) and secondly is the business model robust enough to engage the Base of Pyramid effectively? As an essential introduction to IB, this one covers 4 pages.
Reaching the Rural Consumer Is the village entrepreneur (VE) or local franchisee the right model for your initiative?
If you are assuming that a rural distributor or village entrepreneur is the easy solution to cover the last mile distribution to low income consumers, this Checklist provides a reality check. Have you thought about the risk, capital, marketing and more, to check whether it will work?
Designing effective programmes for ethical supplier performance Are you considering implementing a programme to improve social or environmental performance of your supply chain?
This Checklists poses the questions to ensure you review the company business case and resourcing plan, and also check whether suppliers and other stakeholders have buy-in.
If the question is 'how can I adapt my business to meet the challenges of climate change?' this Checklist lists the issues to consider for an overall business strategy, for action to mitigate the impacts of business, and for adapting the business model to climate change.
The Checklists are not based on abstract thinking but on real experience. The Supplier Performance Checklist stems from work done by the Facility with Marks and Spencers in India and Bangladesh. So while 2 pages can only pose the questions, and not give any answers, the reader who wants to delve further will find are links through to more detailed documents that underpin each one.
Why have we written them? In the Business Innovation Facility, at the end of Facility support to each venture, we find the providers of technical assistance and the entrepreneurs running the inclusive business, have a wealth of expertise that would be useful to others. But it is only inside their heads and their business. Developed with DFID money, it is important to share these insights with others.
While detailed reports are appropriate in some cases, it is often not the detailed solutions that are relevant. It is the headline awareness of the top 6 issues to consider, that has wider utility. Hence the 2 page Checklists that simply list the questions to help others think around the issue at hand.
If you have suggestions of topics we should cover or ways we could do it better, let us know! Email me at caroline.ashley[at]businessinnovationfacility.org.