Science Fiction as a genre has caught the imagination of the masses and inspired many towards scientific thinking. Indeed Science Fiction has immensely helped advancement of science/technology.
Sramana Mitra is attempting similar advancement in Entrepreneurial thinking and economic growth through her market-rooted Business Fiction. I’m simmer reading Sramana’s book Vision India 2020. [ Too bad the friction to insert the image of the book from Amazon is too high! And no image of the book at Sramanan's site either]
[ Image credit aquababe]
Unlike the usual business books that tell strategy of success story post-facto, Vision India 2020 is an imagined retrospective Circa 2020. The book features ideas and strategies that are likely success stories at 2020 – outlined as a source of inspiration to young Indian entrepreneurs. The book attempts to sincerely answer the question: What are the businesses to be started today at 2010 and scaled over the decade for India’s balanced all-round economic and social development by 2020?
This narrative form is perhaps inspired by the complex Indian Epic form, where time and space are stretched, mythology and history are juxtaposed, and street creed and mysticism are liberally intermixed to drive across the multi-layered point in an absorbing and interesting way. The epic form has indeed stood the test of time, so there is some merit right there! [ Image credit: neeraj chawla
Real business names and people are liberally intermixed with Sramana’s imaginary businesses that became the runaway successes of 2020. Like in Science fiction, Sramana has paid attention to the plausibility each ‘story’. Each story has nuggets of strategy and positioning wisdom. In fact it is the vision of converting this plausibility into reality that drives her to write the book. And she is not sitting idle to say at 2020 ‘I told so at 2010!’. She is conducting weekly online roundtables to inspire and guide entrepreneurs. Also roping in many Entrepreneurship Development Organization(EDOs) into the roundtable to share the vision and make it into a movement. In short, the book is an expression of a vision in fiction form.
Speaking about plausibility of the biz-fictions, like the science fiction counterparts, it is possible to find wide holes. For example, Camellia : Flower Farms outlines an social biz idea around residential educational institution for slum children that also cultivates flowers. And the produce is retailed through a network of urban slum based entrepreneurs. The trouble with the idea is it is already true sans the social dimension. Many political big-wigs in TamilNadu own vast swathes of land that cultivate cash crops(like flowers). And these guys ‘own’ Engineering Collages and other educational institutions too. And flower is indeed retailed through urban slum dwellers. [As a side note, Florists around my neighborhood are economically well off - they own 2-wheelers, gadgets and gold and send their kids to English medium schools BTW.]
I see a co-relation between plausibility of the business idea and Sramana’s direct familiarity of the segment. For instance, ideas like TrueCFO : SaaS-enabled BPO and Equity Dispatch : Equity Research are very plausible.
Just like science fiction, making people find holes in the story is the best way to invigorate the discussion. If that happens, the book has served its purpose well.
In my opinion, the paper or even the e-book format is too restrictive for this kind of book to reach its potential as a Entrepreneurship stimulation tool. A wiki like format that encourages the evolution of the ideas and discussion around the strategies will be more productive. Perhaps a multi-player Online Role Playing Game(MPORPG) format will balance the monetization, engagement, evolution aspects well.
Ha! Now I’m proposing an Idea! Do I leave it as such or run behind it? If I leave it it is like letting loose a colorful balloon. It is fun. If I run behind it, it is like sculpting a stone. Something solid, lasting and beautiful could emerge. But I have to overcome the resistance of the stone. If I choose the latter, help is around via RoundTable!