Catalyzing rapid growth and transformation within a broad portfolio of businesses, including retail ventures, healthcare services, insurance, and banking
La Victoria Lab is comprised of a group of designers, anthropologists, architects, and entrepreneurs working on improving the lives of the Peruvian middle class. Founded in 2014, it’s part of Intercorp, an economic group of more than 30 companies spanning banks, malls, cinemas, schools, and more. It’s owned by one of Peru’s most successful entrepreneurs, Carlos Rodríguez-Pastor, and in total these companies employ 56,000 people and account for a staggering 2.5% percent of the gross domestic product.
Rodríguez-Pastor and Intercorp’s destinies are intertwined with those of Peruvians. Peru is one of South America’s fastest growing economies, with a healthy 6 percent year-on-year growth from 2002 to 2013, on average. That rising economic tide, along with government policy, has created extraordinary social mobility: Between 2005 and 2013, poverty was halved. In 2013 alone, nearly half a million rose out of poverty, of a population of 30.8 million.
Julisa and Jairo Pineda, a young entrepreneur couple, helped researchers understand Peruvian needs. Jairo has a full-time job during the day and at night he and Julisa sell clothes they bring from China online.
As Peruvians’ lives have improved, so the new middle class's needs and aspirations have changed: They’re entrepreneurial, expect great services, and want the best for their children. That challenge and opportunity led Rodríguez-Pastor to enlist IDEO to bring our empathic approach to the construction of a new school system, Innova, from the ground up, and to redesign their retail banking at Interbank.
Success there bred an ambition. Intercorp, Rodríguez-Pastor realized, needed to build two capabilities: a deep, bedrock understanding of the new middle class, and an innovation capability with which his companies could create new products, services, and experiences. “I want a little IDEO,” Rodriguez-Pastor said, and the germ of La Victoria Lab took root.
In early 2014, as contractors broke ground on the Lab, its founders set about hiring an eclectic team from across the globe and undertook their first project: to deeply understand the needs, desires, hopes, and dreams of the emerging middle class.
Three months of ethnographic research was followed by three months of bringing their insights to life. The Lab team surrounded themselves with mementos of people’s lives: toys, products, ads, as well as video interviews with families, to help Intercorp’s executives literally step into the lives of their prospective customers.
La Victoria Lab reshapes the value proposition of Intercorp’s businesses and, more important, shakes up our leadership’s mindset.
Hernan Carranza, chief innovation officer, Intercorp
In doing research to understand emerging Peruvian families, we interviewed Bertha Cassinelli, who goes to the market every day to buy the ingredients for that day's meals with the money her husband, Luis, gives her each day from his earnings as a taxi driver.
Powered by those insights, La Victoria Lab has brought human-centered problem-solving to a variety of Intercorp’s companies, including new retail ventures, and improving the cinema-going and banking experience.
In 2015, the Lab began scaling its efforts to build innovation capabilities across all of the portfolio companies by using IDEO’s innovation readiness assessment, Creative Difference. Each company received a report of their strengths and improvement areas, and as a result, the Lab facilitated workshops and community groups focused on building essential capabilities.
"Creative Difference is the first tool that has allowed my team and the organization to have a precise picture of where we are in the spectrum of doing truly innovative work. Now, we can identify our strengths and areas of improvement, we can develop work plans and actions based on data, and can start to really dig deep into innovation,” says Aurelia Alvarado, director of innovation, Innova Schools.
La Victoria Lab’s experiments are catalyzed by Intercorp’s scale, reach, and national ambition. Innova, for example, is set to become Peru’s biggest private school by 2018 with a total of 35 schools to date (read more about Innova here). And Interbank’s new experience is being rolled out to more than 180 branches nationally.
As it matures, its focus is changing, says Hernan Carranza, chief innovation officer, Intercorp. “There's a transition taking place at La Victoria Lab, from a studio undertaking typical design projects, to a platform for impact-led journeys that start at pipeline discovery, defining key performance indicators, all the way to implementation and stewardship."
An Intercorp team celebrates their awards for two of the six essential creative qualities that are measured and tracked in Creative Difference, customer-centricity and employee empowerment, during Intercorp’s annual innovation festival.
Just as important as the projects it delivers is the wider intent of the Lab. The aim is for IDEO’s role within La Victoria to wane, as Intercorp’s waxes, and the company’s internal innovation capability and culture strengthen. The Lab's ventures range from mindset-changing initiatives, such as curating Peru's largest innovation festival, to deeply transformative endeavours targeted at reinventing the core value propositions of Intercorp's insurance, drugstores, and medical services. It envisions massive cross-organizational transformation.
Innovation, said Rodríguez-Pastor, is too important to be outsourced.