February Innovation Forum: Exploring the Base of the Pyramid with Jack Sim

This February we had Jack Sim, the founder of BoP Hub and World Toilet Organisation visiting BRAC. We snatched the first opportunity we could find to talk to his team and hence we brought them over for an Innovation Forum at the Head Office. Here’s a quick look at the discussion highlights from the February Innovation Forum.

Just right where he started to speak, the crowd went crazy! His never ending gigs on people and frugal solutions to every problem were indeed introspective! “There are no good or bad people, there are only useful people. If we run a contest “My toilet my pride” and color the toilets in the rural areas, just as colorful as their sarees, suddenly the perception towards sanitation changes and it becomes exciting. Village gossipers are also very useful in this case. If you can utilize them its good if they can be mobilized. Just focus on what you can get from whom and you’re through!”

On what he thought the biggest barrier to collaboration was, Jack said

Not understanding the motivation of the other party or person. Remember back in school you weren’t friends with everyone but with those you understood and who understood you. You understand their motivation and they become your friend here too. You find a good timing for good motivation and you find a friend in your collaborating partner.

When asked about if big organisations can innovate he said

“Looking from the external fresh eyes, BRAC being a mission driven organization with humility, a combination we rarely see, especially when successful and big. Success brings arrogance but that hasn’t ever been the case for BRAC. Every time you bring somebody who feels smaller than you, you lose a friend. Humility combined with Sir Abeds value system is sufficient to ensure you keep learning. Not feeling superior enough makes you want to feel superior. And that will keep you going!”

Innovation lab is to be a dream factory where dreams come true. Every year if we can produce 20 companies who solve problems, soon we will run out of them (problems).” Jack ended with his vision for innovation labs across the world, in context of big organisations being innovative.

“I worked with the Public Private Partnership projects in Singapore, one of the barrieers is, aside understanding aspirations of an organisation, it is also about understanding the several dynamics of it, the ceo might say go ahead but the second or third person might show resistance. You need to have champions in that level because if you are not friends with them, its difficult, with the mid level managers on your side, you can move mountains. You need to find that right pitch to the right people, everyone has a pitch. You also need to know when to walk away from a deal, when to exit. There is a govering principle, if you have 3 party and one party feels they are not getting equal as the other two. You need to go back and fix that.” Yee Ting Wong, BoP Hub

“Young people get depressed once turned down. One thing I learnt from jack is to have a goal in mind ahead of you. Then all these yes (acceptance) and no (rejection) may become the catalyst of achieving that goal”- Liu Yan, BoP Hub

Masrura Oishi is an over-thinker and procaffeinator. In her free time, she pretends to be a philosopher and does some development work for BRAC Social Innovation Lab. She invests her insulin pumped energy into reading, writing, traveling and living!

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