GM: At IHT, I learned to look at health problems in a holistic way and incorporate behavior change theories into our approach. We broke down the building blocks of the Innovator’s DNA — unlocking the potential of teammates, delivering results, discovering new directions, and using “design thinking” — and discussed ways to incorporate it into our projects and organizations.
Coming back, I applied the concept of design thinking to better understand our dilemma. Our team realized that distributing the product alone would not solve the problem of indoor air pollution. We needed to convince the consumer (primarily women) by showing them (rather than telling them) that the stoves were easy to use, improved air quality, produced tasty food, and easily fit into their kitchen routines.
That’s how we came up with the idea of a cooking competition. Later that year, we introduced the first Dharma Chef competition in Gujarat. Women competed to cook the best dish; the only requirement was that they had to use induction stoves. Not only was it a lot of fun, but participants discovered that they could learn to cook tasty meals with almost no grime! Through our community outreach, we also discovered that it was just as important to engage men and community leaders who drive and influence purchase decisions in rural households.