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Creating Flow

The Freedom To Be

1. Flow Consulting Profile

2. Conversing for Organizational Performance

3. Flow Work Philosophy

4. My Journey

1. Flow Consulting

Flow Consulting is a niche organization development consulting firm based in Mumbai, India. It provides services in the domain of leadership development, cultural change and building organizational capability. Having worked with organizations both in the non-profit and profit sector, Flow Consulting endeavors to bring humanness to profit driven and professionalism to non-profit organizations.

Flow Consulting is represented by it’s founder Ajay Kalra. He has a decade of work experience having worked in organizations such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, Schindler, Edelweiss; across functions ranging from finance, human resources and organization development. Ajay is a qualified Organization Development professional, Business Coach and Chartered Accountant.

2. Conversing for Organizational Performance

Background

Having experienced a variety of behavioural training programs, over more than a decade, both as participant and as a trainer, I have come to the conclusion that training does not bring sustainable change.

Most training programs comprise of some activities, games, processes, case studies, videos, group discussion or presentation. Most of these activities are pre-designed, with a pre-thought intent.

In my own experience, the effect of a training program is temporary. At the end of the training, most participants experience a high. However, that feeling does not sustain, neither does it translate into a new approach to work or a significant difference in work relationships.

The other popular approaches to behavioural changes such as assessment/ development centre, 360-degree feedback or psychometric profiling have their own limitations. Quite often, they confuse, rather than simplify.

What Organizations Want?

What any organizations wants irrespective of its size and purpose is to have employees engaged with their work and act in synergy with each other, to meet the organizational goals.

This is common across organizations.

There are a variety of ways organizations adopt to manage people. The final intent being to achieve tasks in an effective and harmonious manner. Each organizational leader has his distinct approach to management and that quite often becomes the management culture of an organization.

What are Real Conversations?

In my work with teams and organizations, over the last three years, I have observed that real conversations create a significant sustainable shift to how people work and relate in an organization.

What happens in any organization is an intermingling of the relationship people have with their work, team members, leaders and organization. These relationships emerge out of the perceptions and feelings people have about their work, team members, leaders and organization.

These conversations happen in all individuals, but never get expressed. This could be because of various reasons. Fear of consequences or an inability to manage them in a responsible manner.

The latent potential of any organization lies in tapping these conversations and getting the energy behind them to build effective working relationships. These conversations can result in change in the invisible part of the organization – feelings of ownership, engagement and trust and the visible part of the organization – policies, systems and processes. They also highlight how both are integral to each other.

FLOW Process

In my work as an organizational consultant, I collect these conversations and get people to engage with each other, to find individual and collective insights for meeting their team and organizational goals.  This is easier said than done, as it requires the following:

* A leader who is open to transparency and self-reflection

* Creating trust and safety among people to share and listen

* Facilitating meaningful dialogue that builds relationships

* Offering a systemic unbiased perception that may not be available to an insider

* Helping the organization members to see the linkages between the soft elements – feelings and perceptions, and the  hard elements – systems and processes of an organization

* Openness to emerging perceptions and new relationships, rather than a predetermined outcome

Most of the work I do is sustainable and focuses on effective functioning of the leadership and departments and greater synergy between inter-departments and hierarchy levels. It has been my experience, based on the feedback of the organizations I have worked with, that such an authentic interaction builds trust, engagement and empowerment. It also results in individual and team awareness to resolve blocks at work and relating, leading to enhanced organizational performance.

3. Flow Work Philosophy

Fundamental to the Flow working philosophy is being in touch with the present moment. It is also called being in the here & now. This means while there is a basic design for any interaction, there is openness to what will emerge in the moment. Hence, one may say it is creative in the true sense of the word and co-creates learning and insight, not alone for the individual, group or organization, but also for facilitator of the process. Given this approach, Flow processes are exploratory and constantly evolving with the emerging outcomes at each stage. This requires adaptability to the emerging reality and flexibility with the initial design.

Flow believes the facilitator of the change process is the primary instrument of change. Flow does not work with power points, established concepts or management literature. It values emotional and cognitive shifts, far more than transferring conceptual knowledge. Flow allows concepts to emerge in the moment and give space for unique learning for each individual.

Flow does not believe in right or wrong. Flow allows for multiplicity of perspectives and create a safe space for them to engage with each other, without any pressure of reaching a similar conclusion. Flow believes free experience and expression are far more powerful change agents, than reasoning and explanation.

Flow strives to achieve and communicate a fine balance between being personal yet professional. Being emotional, yet rational. Subjective yet objective.

Flow does not market or sell our work. Clients reach us by synchronous circumstances. It believes clients who have derived value from our work are our best brand ambassadors.

Flow does not send proposals as a means to know us and our work. It believes it is important to  meet and talk to  prospective clients, give them a chance to experience the philosophy of Flow.

Flow takes up assignments only when it has been able to establish mutual trust & respect and agreed terms of contract with prospective customers. Thereafter a proposal is sent, documenting what has already been agreed upon.

4. My Journey

Different things have been important to me at different times of my life. Yet if there is one thread that ran through all my past experiences, it was to find my calling. To be able to do work that would quench my thirst for self-expression. Interestingly that journey began after my education, when I started working.

“I have met many people who are doing things that they are not meant to be doing, yet I haven’t  come across anyone who is as divorced from his natural self and the work one does, as you are” said a friend to me once.  At that time I was working as management accountant, in the finance department of a multinational company.  She was right. I did not like my work one bit. I have no interest or aptitude for numbers, which people find hard to believe considering I qualified as a chartered accountant. I attribute it to a cocktail of poor awareness, fear of being a failure and desire for social recognition. I could further attribute it to a poor education system that rewards learning by rote, parenting that defines success by social parameters or my destiny. Having said that, yet if I were to look at it from a larger perspective, everything had its place, time and reason. What did not make sense earlier, made sense later. The fact remains all that I have learnt is from unlearning all that I had learnt, like peeling layer after layer to uncover my natural self.  Perhaps it is essential to lose yourself, before you can find yourself.

It was not an easy process though. I remember the time when I quit my high paying job, with the hope of becoming a corporate trainer. I thought then, if I had to work with people that was the only way to go about it. I remember the vulnerability of not having a job for a few months. I remember going back again to the security of a job, out of the fear of not being able to support myself. I remember the immense boredom of it, yet not knowing or having the guts to try again, after having failed once. I remember moving from finance to human resources, something unheard of. I remember the dissatisfaction and failure at being a trainer, simply because I did not believe in it and could not modulate my voice to engage my audience. And, I remember clearly sitting one day with my head in my hands, with every cell in my body crying out for self-expression, yet not knowing what it was, that I was meant to do.

The work I do now is not only an expression of who I am, it is a culmination of a long journey in finding meaning. There is no path I can point to and say it got me here. Yet one thing stands out. All that I did, that was not organic to me, dropped off one after another. Borrowed causes I call them. Every  new turn, even though scary at that instance, got me closer to what I was meant to do. What finally remained was truly mine.

There are various labels to what I do now. Organization development consultant, management consultant, human resource trainer, facilitator, coach or change catalyst. Yet the truth is all I am doing is being myself. Just as writing this piece does not make me a writer. It is simply a means of self-expression. In hindsight, the journey was not of finding my calling; the journey was of finding my-self.

It feels like coming home.

www.flowconsulting.in

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