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Creating Flow

The Freedom To Be

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Our Work

Organization About the Organization Nature of Work
Unltd India A non-profit organization that finds, funds and supports exceptional individuals to become social entrepreneurs Leadership coaching for leaders of social organization supported by Unltd India, team building for Unltd India
Atma A non-profit organization that supports other non-profit organizations in the field of education Leadership coaching for leaders of educational organizations supported by Atma
Maharashtra Dyslexia Association A non-profit organization committed to securing rights of students with dyslexia An ongoing organization development assignment. Areas worked on – leadership development, cultural change and restructuring.
Mail Order Solutions India Pvt. Ltd. A family owned print production company An ongoing organization development assignment. Areas worked on – transitioning from owner driven to professionally managed organization, leadership development and employee motivation.
Kaivalya Education Foundation A non-profit organization that runs Gandhi Fellowship – a two year, full time, residential, social leadership program for Indian youth. Five-day Personal Reflection workshops for Gandhi Fellows focused on self-awareness, authentic relating and articulation of private dream.
Akanksha Foundation A non-profit organization, educating children from low-income communities. A workshop with the Teach For India Fellows on stakeholder engagement for bringing change to government schools
Kangaroo Kids Education Limited A education company providing learning curriculum and franchisee to more than 90 schools across India Designing and hosting school principals conference on the theme of innovation and inclusive education, conducting workshops on personal growth for school teachers.
Media Network & Distribution (India) Ltd. A media channel distribution company of the Times of India Group A leadership workshop with a focus on ownership to the organizational brand and bringing a culture of information sharing and openness
Hindustan Unilever A multinational FMCG organization Designing and facilitating a high level meeting with multiple stakeholder

Client Testimonials

“Flow ran a leadership development retreat for our social entrepreneur investees with great skill, grace and flexibility. It’s also wonderful to see Ajay and Payal clearly so passionate about and aligned with their work. Highly recommended.”

Richard Alderson, Co-founder and Director, Unltd India

“Flow consulting gives an amazing insight into organisational development and direction. Allowing people to get a macro view of where they want to go, while addressing the micro challenges in getting there. We would recommend their services to all as a benefit to all companies looking for organisational growth and development!”

Lee Bolding, Founder and Partnerships Manager, Atma

“A fortuitous meeting with Payal Gupta and Ajay Kalra through the Bombay Hub lead us to believe we had found the kind of facilitators we could trust implicitly to achieve our goals. While our project is still a work in progress, the FLOW duo have already helped us at MDA to reassess roles within the top administration, establish clear lines of open communication and delineate individual roles. Most importantly, the group sessions encouraged staff to voice their concerns and set the stage for more healthy discussions to sort out individual differences. We already see this new atmosphere of openness leading to better participation by staff members in group activities and organizational tasks even at this early stage, and look forward to continuing to work with Payal and Ajay in the areas of strategic planning and organizational development to fulfill, re-energize and restructure our organization to meet the ever-changing aspirations of our stakeholders.

Kate Currawalla, President, Maharashtra Dyslexia Association

“The changes have trickled in a ‘top-down’ manner and what Flow has accomplished is a start of much needed efforts to enrich interpersonal rapport, understand accountability and decrease stress levels. Ajay and Payal’s involvement and interest was seen through all tiers of the workforce and most importantly, they were fearless to point out what was not working irrespective of the hierarchy. The health of an organization is completely dependent on the people and with Flow’s help, we now have awakened minds. A Flow ‘health-check’ is recommended to jump start organizations to move forward in the right direction.”

Mehul Desai, Founder and Chairman, Mail Order Solutions India Pvt. Ltd.

“What I appreciate most was their ability to connect with, respect and appreciate the uniqueness of the Gandhi Fellows. This attitude percolated to the fellows and so they were able to draw real appreciation and respect from the Fellows. Flow has made a huge contribution to this growth in the journey of the 40 fellows.”

Tripti Vyas, Head – Gandhi Fellowship, Kaivyalya Education Foundation

Ajay and Payal deeply engaged with Akanksha staff in order to understand our context and needs, thereby helping us to achieve our objectives for our training with future school leaders. They demonstrated strong facilitation skills and their intuitive ability to assess and adapt to the needs and energy of the leaders during the delivery of their carefully planned workshop.

Vandana Goel, CEO, Akanksha Foundation

“Despite the very short timelines and the complexity of the task, Ajay and Payal were able to achieve this objective, in a way, that went beyond our expectations; in the creative and highly engaging way that they designed the conference. Their passion towards the conference was as keen as ours and they guided and assisted us from conceptualization to finish including the mundane details of execution, which most others expect clients to look into. They even did a pre-conference interaction (not part of the contract!) that helped bring the entire team on the same page and have the conference executed without a hitch. I, for one, am definitely not going to look for another team for our subsequent conferences.”

Lina Ashar, Chairperson, Kangaroo Kids Education Limited

“It was amazing to see how Payal and Ajay without being part of the organization, how beautifully and actively, got involved in the discussion ,coming up with ideas and solutions to get us where we want to be. We felt they were part of the team and we were together striving towards achieving the common goal of bringing each and every Team Lead of the organization on the same platform.”

Mohua Banerjee, Head – Human Resources, Media Network & Distribution (India) Ltd.

“Their facilitation was an effective balance between personal and professional and they truly flowed with the requirements of the stakeholders during the meeting. This was followed by a process report that gave valuable insights for future meetings. We would highly recommend Flow Consulting for design and facilitation of meetings of various stakeholders. They truly co-create!”

Stacie Shelton, Lifebuoy Social Mission Program Manager, Hindustan Unilever Limited

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Mohua Banerjee, Head – Human resources

We are a joint venture between Bennett and Yogesh Radhakrishnan; it comprises a mixed group of employee’s. Where some of the employees have been transferred from Bennett and there are fresh hires from the relevant industry. Been a start-up we were looking for a platform where we could help each employee to identify themselves with the brand and have a sense of belonging to the brand, also since we had a mix set of people who have been part of Bennett for a long time and the once who have been hired in the recent past, the people in the team came from diverse culture and values. Our objective was to bring about cohesiveness in the team so they understand each others values, work style, and together work as a team with common objectives and values. We wanted our employees to understand who we are? Where are we heading?

 Flow provided us with the platform that we were looking for at that point of time. They had to design a process where people open up to each other and talk to each other and share their concerns their values  and together through the process identify with the Brand and come on the same page. The challenge here was how to get people talking to each other about themselves, about their feelings and express themselves without having a fear of been judged based on what they say in the open forum.

 Ajay and Payal first met up the Leadership of the Organisation individually and designed the workshop accordingly. It was decided that there would be a two day workshop, first for the Leadership of the Organization and we would then phase this out and have another workshop for all the employees of the Organisation.

 The workshop designed by Payal and Ajay was exactly like the name of their Organisation. It just flowed effortlessly where people started talking without any inhibitions and various questions came up which were answered within the team by the various process owners. The discussions took different routes and brought about different shades in the employee’s, they got to know each others emotional sides their likes, dislikes, preferences and values, touched upon various issues and concerns which maybe none of them would have brought up in their day to day work and interaction with each other at work place.

 The second day got further intense and we were gradually getting where we wanted to be. The Team Leads started connecting to the Brand Prime Connect as the brand they come from and they belong to rather than their past associations and slowly the discussions started transforming from Me ,I and then to We and US and what the employee’s together want for Prime Connect and where we together want to see Prime Connect.

 It was amazing to see how Payal and Ajay without being part of the Organization how  beautifully and actively got  involved in the discussion ,coming up with ideas and solutions to get us where we want to be. We felt they were part of the team and we were together striving towards achieving the common goal of bringing each and every Team Lead of the Organisation on the same platform.

 The two days’ workshop brought about cohesiveness among the leaders and we are looking forward to extending the workshop into the second phase where each and every employee of the Organisation identifies with the Brand and works with same set of values and beliefs and Corporate Ethos.”

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Tripti Vyas, Head – Gandhi Fellowship

“Flow conducted a five day Personal Reflection process for the fellows of the Gandhi Fellowship program. The brief to Flow was to design a process that would enhance the fellows’ self-awareness, get them to systematically begin exploring the question, “Who am I?” and thus be able to reach clarity about themselves so as to enable each fellow to articulate to herself his/her early version of their ‘private dream’; which is a the pivot around which the Gandhi Fellowship program is designed.

Flow had to design a process that explored the innermost questions of each individual but it had to be done in a group and it had to be designed for 40 people. How to design a standard process that can be customized to the needs of each individual? And most importantly how to do this an environment that is emotionally and psychologically safe? These were the issues around which Flow had to work.

Added to this was the challenge that these were no regular corporate employees, who would do a process simply because they had been asked to. The Fellows are individuals who will not do anything only for the sake of it and they are people who will ask questions and demand reasons for what they are getting in to.

Flow Consulting designed a process that effectively and intelligently worked around the above-mentioned challenges and constraints. The design of the process was accurate to the last minute and yet left room for ideas and emotions to flow when needed. Within a tight design, there was room for adaptation, participation and even co-facilitation. The beauty of the process was that by the second day fellows themselves had begun to contribute to the facilitation process.

The process stretched the limits of all, the fellows and of members from Flow Consulting too. A process of such intense nature that extends for five days can be an emotionally and psychologically draining but Ajay, Payal and Jaya flowed through the ebb and flow of intense emotions with consummate ease.

What I appreciate most was their ability to connect with, respect and appreciate the uniqueness of the Gandhi Fellows. This attitude percolated to the fellows and so they were able to draw  real appreciation and respect from the Fellows.

The most evident outcome of the process has been that the Fellows have learnt how to accept the emotion they are feeling at a given moment and then give word to their emotions. This ability to connect to the ebb and flow of one’s emotions is the first step towards taking responsibility for one’s feelings, which in turn is a giant step in reaching true maturity.

Flow has made a huge contribution to this growth in the journey of the 40 fellows.”

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Our Note

From 40 to 100, from 100 to 250. Since our first facilitation of the PR process the size of each  new batch of Gandhi Fellows has grown and continues to grow. To know more about Flow’s journey with Kaivalya, read our blog post Kayaking With Kaivalya

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Mehul Desai, Chairman and Founder

“MOS came across Flow by chance and until then, we had not even thought about engaging a professional to help achieve certain goals. MOS is run single handedly with a core team that came together from different walks of life and groomed to work in a certain way. With the rapid progress that we experienced, newer talent was hired and it became evidently important to transition from a ‘one man show’ to a ‘professionally run’ set-up.

Flow was consulted with solely this challenge in mind – to make the core team and the new professional blood work cohesively and each independently bringing their strengths to the fore and using their own emotions and thought processes rather than blindly clutching for support.

Flow took a step by step approach and in that Ajay, Meena and Payal  met with many individuals at different levels in the organization, where they were simply scratching the surface to understand the ‘nature’ of the company and the people.  The next step was to synergize the energies of the top leadership tier to make the ‘goal’ even a possibility.  This tier was more extensively probed to gauge the intellect and ability to be instrumental in the ‘transition’.

Once the key leadership team was identified, Flow charted a casual off site workshop, which was very subtly structured. It was an open forum where each one was required to speak from the heart and not mind without fear of being judged, bearing consequences, also facing and accepting that each one is unique and capable of having an opinion! ‘Open communication’ and ‘connecting with one-self’ was the main premise that caused an emotional and mental churning.

The workshop infused freshness and empowerment that is visible even months later. The changes have trickled in a ‘top-down’ manner and what Flow has accomplished is a start of much needed efforts to enrich interpersonal rapport, understand accountability and decrease stress levels. Further, Flow has also conducted individual leadership coaching for a few key profiles.

Ajay and Payal’s approach was refreshing, not so ‘in your face’, rather casual and kept each one engaged. Their level of involvement and interest was seen through all tiers of the workforce and most importantly, they were fearless to point out what was not working irrespective of the hierarchy.

The health of an organization is completely dependent on the people and with Flow’s help, we now have awakened minds. A Flow ‘health-check’ is recommended to jump start organizations to move forward in the right direction.”

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Kate Currawalla, President

“The Maharashtra Dyslexia Association is a not-for-profit organization working for the last fifteen years to secure the rights of people with Special Learning Disability to an appropriate education within the mainstream. Over the years, the organization has grown exponentially to include around thirty professional and administrative staff spread over three service centres and consultants at outreach projects across Mumbai and beyond. A major concern, recently, was the general feeling that many of those who had joined the staff in recent years were not in tune with the philosophy of the founders and the commitment and team spirit that had existed earlier was diminished as a result. This was exacerbated by the exigencies of our work, which essentially requires professionals to work one-on-one with each of their students over long periods of time. With MDA evaluating how it could best meet the challenges of a rapidly changing education sector, we felt there was need to build better communication and cooperation amongst our team in order to re-establish the participative and co-operative structures that have, in the past, helped individuals grow along with the organization.

A fortuitous meeting with Payal Gupta and Ajay Kalra through the Bombay Hub lead us to believe we had found the kind of facilitators we could trust implicitly to achieve our goals. While our project is still a work in progress, the FLOW duo have already helped us at MDA to reassess roles within the top administration, to establish clear lines of open communication and delineate individual roles. Individual and group meetings with staff members across all centres and discipline have given a clearer idea of areas of staff interaction and roles definition in the secondary layer of administration that need to be addressed. Most importantly, the group sessions encouraged staff to voice their concerns and set the stage for more healthy discussions to sort out individual differences that now take place regularly, as individuals look within to re-evaluate their personal aspirations and understand better our organizational goals. We already see this new atmosphere of openness leading to better participation by staff members in group activities and organizational tasks even at this early stage, and look forward to continuing to work with Payal and Ajay in the areas of strategic planning and organizational development to fulfill, re-energize and restructure our organization to meet the ever-changing aspirations of our stakeholders.”

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a facilitator’s journey

Mumbai, March 2011

“You can consider them for PR” wrote Aditya Natraj, founder of Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF) in a mail to his colleague Tripti Vyas, marking us a copy on it. “PR?” I thought. Public Relations. We don’t do PR?! Yet I was keen to work with Kaivalya in any capacity. I had read the blog posts of a few Gandhi Fellows – the term used for the youngsters undergoing a two-year full time, residential leadership programme called the Gandhi Fellowship. The authenticity of their sharing and the earthiness of their challenges engaged me.

The Fellowship recruits graduates and postgraduates from colleges across the country and puts them through an intense experiential learning process. They work at the grass roots, as assistants to headmasters in ailing government schools. During this journey the Fellows go through a variety of self-transformative processes of personal reflection, slum or village immersion (staying with slum dwellers or villagers for four weeks as one of them), learning journeys (attending a vipassana camp, group visits to development organizations, articulation of their private dreams). It is a rigorous experience and a social experiment of sorts, that brings together youngsters from a variety of geographies, classes, cultures and ideologies. As the KEF website states, “The Fellowship is a nursery that raises youngsters’ aspirations and inspires them to become the change they want to see in the world.”

Having got a taste of the Fellowship world reading their experiences, I was eager to work with these youngsters, desirous of real change – inside and outside. It was also a first of its kind long-term residential programme that I had ever come across, whose primary focus is on self-awareness and personal growth. It was a welcome change from working with corporates, where inspite of repeated clarion calls for human change, the primary focus continues to be target achievement and wealth creation.

We met Tripti Vyas, Head of the Gandhi Fellowship programme, at our office one lazy afternoon. Having taught English literature for twelve years I noticed her articulation was word-perfect. She also enlightened us what PR meant. Personal Reflection. We heaved a collective sigh of relief. This seemed closer to what we did. The fellows underwent three PR processes over a period of two years. Each process is spread over five days, with the primary objective of creating awareness towards relating with self and others.  As the discussions proceeded over the next few days, Kaivalya grew confident of our facilitation skills and we drew reassurance from their values that resonated with ours. Soon we were contracted for the PR process of forty Gandhi Fellows at Ahmedabad.

Ahmedabad, May 2011

The first thing that hit me at Ahmedabad in May was the searing heat. The second was forty youngsters singing Chetana Geet at full lung capacity. There were youngsters in all shapes and sizes. A whirlpool of colourful headgear, long beards, trendy T-shirts, short kurtas, lengthy bermudas. This truly was a social churning pot!

We divided the youngsters randomly into three groups for separate PR sessions with different facilitators. We had kept the design simple. Ask one person at a time to choose any question that is most relevant to his life at the moment and explore that question deeply from multiple perspectives. The other participants would assist in his exploration with their own questions. After the exploration was over the person would be requested to share his feelings and insights if any. The organizational focus was on facilitating each person to find his private dream and helping him to articulate it. Our focus was on getting the person to touch a chord within himself that reverberated deeply and gave an insight into his question. Somewhere in the process we hoped to bridge feeling with purpose.

I began kayaking (facilitating) the river of self-exploration with the fellows.

It started with easy paddling into the waters of introduction.  As the first person volunteered for exploration, the water flowed faster.  Post that I came across a few small rapids. “Is this all there is to the design?” “What is our concrete take away or action points?” The kayak shook slightly. I peddled saying “Yes this is all there is to the design. Why not be patient and give it a try? As regards action points, is not our surreal inner world made of ever changing thoughts and feelings. Yet we want bulleted action points to make us feel that we have learnt something new about ourselves. Does it result in any real transformation?” I manoeuvred the first rapid.

I would not do it the same way now, based on what I have learnt over time of kayaking. Taking responsibility for someone else’s learning and giving them explanations for my design and approach, is not the best kayaking move. It puts me in a parental mode and the other person in a child mode. We stop relating as equal adults.

As I moved further down the river, I came across another rapid. Something someone did affected me adversely. I chose to overlook it. Not only did I choose to overlook it, I overlooked it more than once. Now from what I have learnt about kayaking, this is a criminal thing to do. It is akin to your kayak hitting a rock and developing a hole in it. A little water is beginning to seep in. I let it be, saying it is not much bother. It is just a teeny-weeny hole. Another rock another hole. Very soon, the boat will have enough water to capsize. That is precisely what happened with me. Not expressing my anger as it occurred, at the specific person, for the specific situation, bottled up feelings inside me and made me feel vulnerable later. It came out as a general volatile expression to the entire group.  It left the group confused and alienated from me. The kayak was beginning to topple over. No amount of skillful paddling would help. Neither, did I have any skill or energy to paddle in such gushing waters. I did the only thing I could. Let go. I got in touch with my feelings in the moment and responded from that space, without any attachment to outcome. This is the best kayaking move that one can ever master. Just flow with the force of the river. Don’t try to master it. Submit to it. Unfortunately surrendering can never be learnt through effort, it happens when all effort comes to naught.

Even though the kayak fell down a huge waterfall, it survived. The natural flow of the river brought it back to course. I was totally drenched and exhausted, yet in one piece. As we continued on our journey, the rapids were less lethal. Perhaps we had encountered our worst fall and survived it together. As the journey came to an end after five days, I was shaky and scattered. I needed some quality “looking at the ceiling time”. As Tripti mentioned in one of our funnier moments, it is that time when you are hit so hard by life, that all you can do is lie down on your bed and stare at the ceiling. I did my time and learnt a few lessons. The primary lesson being,a feeling of humility that comes from experiencing your vulnerability.

Mumbai, June 2011

I have realized two distinct organizational behaviours about Kaivalya over time. Their legendary planning and their proficient use of acronyms. Both of which we have learnt to be comfortable with over time. Tripti mentioned to us in our post PR meeting at a Mumbai coffee shop “We have planned the PR1 for GF4 will from 17th to 21st October”.  PR meant Personal Reflection. GF meant Gandhi Fellows. Some other acronyms used are. PM for Programme Manager. PL for Programme Leader. VI for Village Immersion. SI for Slum Immersion. LJ for Learning Journeys.  LQ for Learning Quality. People are mostly addressed by their initials. I often joke that they should come up with a Kaivalya acronym dictionary. “It will be 100 fellows this time. We have decided to scale up the fourth batch” she added. I gulped my green tea anticipating what that would be like. I had forgotten Kaivalya’s third behaviour. Scalability!

As October approached, we were told that the PR would happen in Rajasthan at Jhunjhunu. Each batch would have about 15 to 18 fellows and the time would be approximately four days. This was a bigger challenge, a faster river. More people, less time. We came up with another simple boat design, to traverse this rapid. Each person at a time, chooses any one person in the group who he wants to relate to and starts relating. Once he is done, everyone in the group gives him feedback about how they experienced him and what in their view could have made the relating better.

Jhunjhunu, October 2011

This was my first trip to Rajasthan. The first thing I noticed on our way from Jaipur to Jhunjhunu was my skin felt stretched and dry. The second thing I noticed was that my work partner Payal kept asking, “How is the weather in Rajasthan?”  I raised my eyebrows. Were we not already in Rajasthan! It later came to light that for some inexplicable reason she equated Rajasthan with the desert. This became our standing joke throughout the trip, apart from my bag being the heaviest for a five-day trip! After a heavy oily highway meal, with the best buttermilk I have ever tasted we reached Jhunjhunu late evening.

The next day mid-morning we met all the hundred fellows in the hall. This time I felt more confident. It was like starting on another adventurous journey, after having learnt some lessons from the previous one. I began by reading a quote tattooed on one young man’s arm in Hebrew “If I am not there for myself, then who is? If I am not there for another, then who am I? If not now, then when?” I felt the meaning of that quote would experientially unfold for us in the next few days to come.

We had made a long list of all that we would say for context setting. Like an instructor narrating the security instructions before the kayak hits the water, we began telling what the passengers of this kayaking experience could expect, what would help them to get there, what approach we would take and what our expectations were from them. The core message was, what we meant by self-awareness. Not reflection. Not analysis. Not introspection. It was being aware of what was happening to me right now! I snapped my finger for effect. Right now! After we were done with the context setting, we got a lot of resistance. “The Buddha says there is no such thing as the now.” “Is it not necessary to be selfish?”  “Do you mean to say we should stop using our intellect?” “How can I trust you when I have been betrayed earlier?” The kayaking had begun. I was surprised and glad to come across this collective rapid at the start of our journey. It gave us a chance to emphasize that the PR process was not mandatory. Each individual could exercise his choice whether he wished to be a part of it or not. Just as we could choose who to work with or not. There was full freedom for all concerned.  Of course with full freedom also comes full responsibility. Having said that I felt absolved of being a parental figure to them and sensed that they were now ready to take responsibility for their learning and making their own choices. It was an important equalizing process, of relating adult to adult. A mandatory requirement for kayaking.

I was allocated the Udaipurwati group. As we settled into the room, I started the kayaking expedition with introductions and meanings of each name. It amazes me at times how much one can learn about a person simply by what his name means and how he relates to it. They wanted to know more about me. I shared my journey with them. I shared the design of the boat that we would travel in the next four days. One person took the initiative and selected a person to relate. The first movements were very formal and stiff. Almost like seeking information from another, with no reciprocation, self-disclosure, curiosity or experiencing of self or another.  The next few interactions continued like that, with little spontaneity and greater self-consciousness. As we moved onto day two one person broke the spontaneity barrier and chatted heart-to-heart, clearing old misunderstanding and blocks. Then another did it. Then they started getting a hang of it. And then…boredom set in. Someone said if this was all there was to the design then she felt bored and she was speaking for some others in the group. I thought about what she said, and tried to get them to move to a space of here and now relating, where one explores relating as and when a feeling happens, be it anything – anger or affection. I tried various ways to get them to understand what I meant, through experimentation and role-plays; to no avail. Then came the turning point in our expedition. Someone mentioned “I am confused tell me what to do?” That made me angry.  I was not a parental figure to take care of her confusion; neither was she a child to seek my help whenever vulnerable. I was struggling in this learning journey as much as she was. Yet this incident gave me a ray of hope, to explore my anger with her, then and there. And then, the group began to get what it means to relate with feelings that are alive right now, irrespective of whether the incident happened five years back, six months back, yesterday or just now! The sooner we explored our feelings in relation to someone the better it is. It avoids judgements and unnecessary baggage. It could result in either greater trust or clear choices. The kayak had manoeuvred this difficult turn in the river successfully.

From then on the group moved seamlessly into relating about clearing past misunderstandings or expressing what they felt about something or someone there and then! Some members were so taken up by the idea of relating in the “here and now” that any discussion of past events was considered a waste of time, even though some authentic sharing was happening.  It seemed that their “conceptual idea” of here and now stopped them from being in touch with others and their own feeling in the moment.

As we cruised the river of relating, a radical thought started germinating in me. “How would this boat travel if I as the principal boatman did nothing!? Would the passengers be able to paddle and manage this boat on their own? Or would it capsize? I had never tried something like this in any of my previous expeditions. I took the chance. First, I stopped telling them what to do, then I walked out of the room, telling them that they were doing fine and that I would return in sometime. I walked down. Poured myself a cup of tea. Took a long walk. Went to my room. Rested for a while. I returned to the boat after two hours. As I sat down, I heard that they had designed a new boat for us to travel in. A process by which each person would get a feedback from another.  They requested me to also participate in the process. At that moment, something magical happened. The best thing that can happen to a kayak boatman.

The kayak had turned into a long canoe with all of us sitting divided on either side of the boat paddling together. Just like the snake boat used during the Kerala boat festival. It was miraculous! The kayak instead of capsizing had become a bigger boat that could accommodate all of us, with each one of us taking responsibility for our own paddling! Even though I had strongly resisted being a parental figure, I felt just as a proud parent would, on seeing his children become independent. The journey perhaps was not of the kayak, traversing the river. The journey was of transforming the kayak into a canoe. The ultimate accomplishment for any facilitator of human processes.

Mumbai, November 2011

“It was a powerful design” said Tripti, sipping her coffee at our regular meeting place. “What is better is that it is scalable. We are looking at around 250 Gandhi Fellows in the next batch.” I wondered what that would be like?

We would need many more boats to take so many people on river expeditions. The need was now to train more boatmen to launch many more kayaking expeditions. As I shared this, I saw the seed of a social change revolution begin to sprout.

It felt good watering this plant.

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