Mahindra Partners adopted gamification approach as it was low on cost and high on return
Mahindra Partners, the private equity and venture capital division of the Mahindra Group which explores avenues for investment and incubates new businesses, has been looking to create robust portfolio companies and to cross pollinate ideas between them. Its portfolio spans across multiple industries and the division’s mission is to accelerate value creation through a diversified global portfolio of emergent businesses. Moving towards this goal, the division has outlined its vision 2021 as “Accelerated value creation through a diversified global portfolio of emergent businesses driven by constant innovation, prudence and creative business models.” For this, the core focus for Mahindra Partners has been to work towards disruptive innovations and mental agility.
Need to build entrepreneurial mindset
In the absence of agile entrepreneurial mindset for disruptive innovation, Mahindra Partners was missing out in terms of its portfolio companies (both topline & bottom line); it was also losing opportunity to build synergy between businesses. As a result, Mahindra Partners noticed that the retention and overall engagement of young talent was below expectation. Even the possibility of talent fungibility (lateral movement of employees) between portfolio companies was negligible in the company. All these factors were likely to lead to stagnation of revenue in the companies.
Mahindra Partners at first acknowledged the prospect of running an intervention in each portfolio company through an external consultancy firm as it involved outside perspective on how the company’s objective of talent development could be achieved. Further, high credibility brought by top-notch consultancy firm would ensure commitment from stakeholders. However, this framework was cost and time intensive since understanding business intricacies would take a long time.
Mahindra Partners instead adopted gamification; it created an initiative named ‘Mind Games’ for talent development. Here teams of three employees (across functions) from each portfolio company choose live business cases of other portfolio companies and devise innovative yet viable solutions. Mind Games was not only low on cost and high on return but also increased interactions between employees from different companies.
Building agile mindset through gamification
Mahindra Partners kick started the intervention by approaching each portfolio company to state the operational business challenges that they were facing. The division placed a very high focus on implementability of solutions so that the initiative would not just end in ideas but lead to tangible business impact. Ideas developed under Mind Games have had a significant business impact on numerous portfolio companies so far. In addition to the business outcomes, Mind Games also substantially improved employee engagement within the organization; development of talent with increased talent fungibility is another area where all the companies benefitted from the adopted intervention.
Taking Mind Games to the next stage
In order to develop Mind Games to the next stage, feedback from jury and participants were taken for Season 1. The responses reflected a few opportunity areas for improvement; one of these was that interactions with the company buddies (designated to help the participants with their ideas) were limited. The organizing team therefore decided to pre-calendarize calls with these buddies and the teams so that interactions were regular and fruitful. As a result, Season 2 of Mind Games saw multiple interactions between every single team and the company buddies. Through such interactions, the teams were able to ensure that their ideas were viable and implementable. Further, Mahindra Partners has now introduced high impact awards (to be given eight to ten months after the grand finale round) in Season 2. Besides the three evaluation rounds of the competition, this will include rewards for the team which actually gets their ideas implemented and creates the greatest business impact.