The entrepreneurial spirit of Mu Sigma
Author: Abhishek Chandak
Published On: 07 February 2017
Entrepreneurship is the talk of the town today. We have 21 year old college graduates starting up businesses right out of college instead of working with a large organization, kids starting up companies in schools and even professionals with 30-40 years of experience quitting their cushy jobs and getting onto the entrepreneurship and venture capital band wagon. At such a time, young adults (mid-twenties to early thirties) who are already working in large corporations are also quitting their jobs to try their hand at entrepreneurship. To avoid losing talent, some organizations are reacting to this smartly by creating entrepreneurship cells to promote a culture of entrepreneurship within the company. Intrapreneurship, as this is colloquially called, has found buyers in organizations like Ernst & Young, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Amazon Web Services and Qualcomm. Google famously has its Area 120 where Googlers are provided with the freedom, resources and mentoring to work on entrepreneurial side projects. Organizations stand to benefit in two ways from entrepreneurship cells – good talent stays in the company and they can leverage the startup ideas that germinate in these cells early on to their advantage instead of competing against them or buying them at a higher price later.
At such a time, then, why does Mu Sigma’s founder Dhiraj Rajaram say that they don’t need such a program?
Mu Sigma, the largest pure play big data analytics and Decision Sciences Company is a place like no other. It’s a place where each employee thinks and acts like an entrepreneur every day.
As a 3000 people company with an average age of under 25 years, Mu Sigma is filled with limitless raw energy waiting to be channeled and wanting to create an impact. And the company does this very effectively right from day one for each and every person who becomes a part of the family. The entrepreneurial spirit is allowed to flow freely with a belief system that stresses on learning over knowing and breeds a fail fast, fail cheap mentality in each Mu Sigman.
Trainee Decision Scientists (TDSs), unlike employees of other companies, are groomed to be entrepreneurs and treat their engagements like their startups right from the beginning of their journey in the company. When these young Mu Sigmans hit the delivery floor, they work like startup founders to constantly grow their client engagements. They are irreverent about their lack of experience, yet humble to learn fast, fail fast and be successful. Like entrepreneurs, they constantly listen to their customers and react to the changing market to create the best possible solutions which can help their customers succeed. Like entrepreneurs, Mu Sigmans are deft at capitalizing on change, be it changing teams, requirements, technologies or even business environments. The TDSs fight for what they think is right for their engagement and don’t get bogged down by hierarchy or seniority.
When these TDSs go on to become Apprentice Leaders (ALs) and lead fulfillment teams of their own, this entrepreneurial spirit is only amplified further. These ALs, like entrepreneurs, have a Profit and Loss mindset and run their teams as their own small startups, independently taking business decisions that steer the course of their teams. Each AL doesn’t just “manage” the day to day fulfilment but also dons the hats of a salesman, customer relationship manager, finance officer and even a human resource manager for his/her team. They proactively scout for business development opportunities with their clients, develop connects with their customers, set financial targets for their teams and create plans for attaining them, and also engage their decisions scientists with multiple account and organization wide initiatives – apart from delivery – to keep up the team’s mojo and ensure a holistic development of each decision scientist.
Multiple such fulfillment teams are clubbed together to form Fulfillment Units (FUs) which in themselves act as business conglomerates that have multiple subsidiary startups – or fulfilment teams – in their portfolio. These Fulfilment Units, very similar to a conglomerate, have a horizontal FU Leadership Team which steers and provides direction to the entire FU. These FU leaders, like the top management of business conglomerates, set goals and targets for their portfolio teams, provide strategic mindshare for growth, and ensure a smooth day-to-day functioning of teams. The FUs compete against each other like in a free capitalist market, to realize the highest revenue in a financial year and have healthy business KPIs like employee engagement, fulfilment quality and team dynamics.
A company which has entrepreneurs at all levels of its hierarchy – who get countless chances every day to use their entrepreneurial mindset to grow themselves and the company, doesn’t need a separate initiative to promote entrepreneurship. Mu Sigmans are a unique breed who while being employees of a billion dollar company still are entrepreneurs. They are groomed in an environment unlike any other in the corporate world.
Each Mu Sigman is a maverick that takes risks, fights the system, revolutionizes businesses and realizes revenue day in and day out. Therefore, Mu Sigma – where everyone is an entrepreneur – unlike some of the largest business corporations in the world will never need an entrepreneurship cell.