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Intrapreneurship as a strategy to accelerate India’s creative ecosystem - Keynote speech - Mr. L.R.N

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

We are highly privileged to share excerpts from a Keynote address by Mr. L.R Natarajan Iyer a.k.a LRN, Former CEO, Titan Industries, New Business Division, Former Head-Titan Innovation council and Former Member Tata Group Innovation Forum. LRN is the Author of two books on Innovation viz., 9 nuggets of Innovation and Demystifying retail. He has held senior positions in large organizations such as Eicher Motors. Hero Motors, Greaves Cotton and Ashok Leyland. At Titan, he started the School of Innovation where he produced over 500+ innovators. He is also the Winner of 2 global competitions on Innovation.

Speaking at the Fourth Intrapreneurship Conclave hosted by Unfold Consulting, he shared his journey of spearheading Intrapreneurship at Titan’s jewellery division, in his role as Head of Innovation council at Titan. The jewellery division which started in 1995 was making heavy losses until 2003. This was the time an Intrapreneurship journey was initiated to turnaround the business. Several initiatives were taken by the council to bring about a culture of innovation. enhance team capabilities to think creatively beyond experience, and many ideas were generated before final selection. The ideas selected were actioned, measured and benchmarked against best-in-class global innovations and the result - 2007-2008 was the year when the company started making profits and also accomplished certain breakthrough achievements. The intrapreneurship program that was mandated for Titan Jewellery division turned out to be such a turnaround success, that the intrapreneurship framework went on to become a model for Companywide democratization across all divisions in the group from 2009.The insights and experience along this journey that was shared by LRN are absolutely inspiring and here we present excerpts for the benefit of those who also wish to implement intrapreneurship within their organizations.

In the keynote session, LRN covered three major topics

  • The Why of Intrapreneurship

  • Creative Ecosystem, The Titan experience

  • Breakthrough accomplishments

Why Intrapreneurship

His keynote began with articulating the why of Intrapreneurship. Citing several examples of how even established businesses faded away due to disruption from smarter technologies, he began to sensitize the audience to the fact that Intrapreneurship is no longer an opportunity but a necessity. To quote a couple from the several examples he showcased, Google disrupting Yellow Pages and Digital Cameras disrupting Kodak Films caught the attention. He added on his predictions about how Eye testing labs will in the future be replaced by gadgets that can be attached to smart phones and software that can generate refractive errors of vision in just a matter of seconds.

Takeaways from the examples -

  • Past and present success does not guarantee future.

  • Competition can come not just from perceived sources but also hidden sources.

  • Life of a product and life of business is shrinking rapidly due to several reasons such as rapid advancement in technology, ever changing consumer preferences and mushrooming of new entrepreneurs.

Creative Eco system - The Titan experience

Articulating on the journey of creative ecosystem, he started by sharing that the Titan Innovation Council comprises of functional heads across all departments. The team deliberated extensively and submitted a white paper with five actionable areas along with calendar and budget to the Board for sign off and approval post which, the journey began. Titan adopted a dual model approach across the Innovation Council comprising of functional heads from all departments. A bottom-up approach to reinforce the innovation culture and excite the team to think creative and draw wholehearted participation in large numbers. A top-down approach helped to demonstrate management commitment, empower employees and integrate intrapreneurship into business strategy

The five actionable areas were:

· Innovation enablers

Several enablers were implemented such as Innovation Bazaar, an offsite event held every year for employees to showcase innovative ideas and facilitate cross pollination. Other enablers included Titan interweave, Product innovation through partnering, Daily mails and Innovation websites amongst others, to facilitate idea generation and selection.

· Enhancing capabilities

This was an integral part of the program to facilitate employees to think creatively beyond experience. Training programs were organized with the help of Innovation School of Management which imparted training to 500 plus members who were sensitized to intrapreneurship and trained in Innovation tools and techniques. They were exposed to live challenges to choose and solve them using the tools and techniques. Teams were formed based on the selection and a four-hour time off per week was provided along with mentoring to solve the challenges and the 6-month long event concluded with a convocation and celebration.

· Idea generation through Tata Innoverse platform

This was a group initiative from Tata group to provide opportunity to employees to share their problems on a Web platform. The platform would be visible to thousands of engineers who were brimming with ideas but did not know how to share and where to share. The online platform gave the creative thinkers a fantastic opportunity to solve problems.

· Rewards and Recognition framework

Celebrating Ideas was an integral part of the process and there was no dearth for these initiatives at Titan. Jury members would evaluate ideas and various award programs were put in place.

·Innovation metrics management through Tata Innometer

This was the ultimate but most critical part of the process to evaluate the outcomes of the Intrapreneurship efforts. This innovation metrics tool helped to benchmark Titan along various parameters of the Innovation funnel. Parameters included drive for Innovation, the culture, process for idea generation and selection, process of commercialization and cross pollination. These parameters were used to benchmark Titan with the best-in-class companies across the global and help identify what they did well and what can be improved.

Breakthrough accomplishments

  • Titan processes enabled 1500 diamond settings per shift per person as against conventional 100 diamond settings per shift per person. The increased productivity resulted in a complete turnaround of business that was running under losses for several years between the years.

  • Gold with diamond jewellery as opposed to plain gold jewellery resulted in 3-4 times enhanced gross margins besides top line growth of 10-15%.

  • Retail and marketing teams were challenged to achieve 100 % growth as against existing 10-15% YOY growth. Deliberations of new ideas and actions resulted in a growth of 80% in diamond jewellery in the year 2009-10.

In conclusion, he recommended the 90 percent rule from a book written by Ken Tencer to create a culture of thinking beyond experience. While 90 percent of employees may focus on present, a 10 percent resource that focusses on the future will drive innovation in terms of how productivity can be increased or how can processes be improved. These, according to him will not only help in managing change within the organization but also help drive the 5 trillion-dollar economy vision that the Prime Minister of India has envisioned for the country.

A customized framework of Intrapreneurship model is key to success because every organization is unique in internal and external environments. Unfold helps organizations in building intrapreneurship processes and helps organizations benchmark results. To know more about how Unfold can support you in your initiatives, visit

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