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Category Archives: Flow Client Stories

KA Hospitality Logo

KISHOR BAJAJ, Chairman and Managing Director

“KA Hospitality, is the food and beverage arm (Roti business) of the Badasaab group. The other businesses of the Badasaab group comprise of premium clothing (Kapda business) and construction of luxury service apartments (Makaan business).

KA Hospitality is the first Indian Company to bring Michelin starred restaurants to India, in a free standing format.

Meeting Ajay was a divine intervention, specifically at the time when KA needed to grow from being managed by the founder to being professionally managed. It required a professional management to manage the scale at which we wished to grow and to take organizational decisions and execute KA’s strategy accordingly.

Ajay began with interviewing thirteen people across the organization. The remarkable thing about these interviews was that he could gain their trust in a manner that they shared freely about the organization and the management. On listening to what these thirteen employees had to say, (in their own words, as Ajay had noted their views verbatim) I saw KA Hospitality and my own role in it, in a new light. I realized the changes I needed to make as the owner, founder and Chairman & Managing Director of KA Hospitality.

This resulted in key strategic decisions to move the organization towards a professional management by giving charge to an able and qualified CEO and restructuring of the organization. This brought in a surge of ownership and initiative among the management and employees in the organization.

Thereafter, KA Hospitality engaged Ajay for Leadership Development and a long term Organization Development initiative.

During the first phase of organization development from December 2012 to September 2013, lasting over 10 months, Ajay has been able to facilitate the following results for KA Hospitality.

1. Removing blind spots in leaders of KA, by creating the ecology of firm belief in the process of reflection and deep thinking.

2. Building an organization culture of ‘trust and empowerment’. This led to shift of our management style from being finance and control driven to operations and sales driven.

3. Transition of company’s communication style to ‘Adult to Adult’ applying the fundamentals of Transaction Analysis.

4.  Adherence to hierarchy protocol, respect for each person’s role, bringing role clarity and last but not the least – the necessity to give authority before seeking accountability.

5. Explaining the larger context of our organizational challenge of shifting from Entrepreneurial Management to Professional Management and the rigour and discipline required for this transition

6. Presenting the Organization Life Cycle concept and relating it to KA Hospitality’s current organizational growth stage and the need for transitioning to the next stage of organizational growth.

7.  Bringing to awareness management styles of senior leaders of KA Hospitality, and also demonstrating the importance of vital vitamins of the four management functions “P A E I” – Productivity, Administrating, Entrepreneuring and Integration.

8. Shifting the management focus from short term effectiveness and efficiency to long term effectiveness and efficiency, by initiating a process of monthly “E” Meetings among the management team.

9.  Review of financial statements and business plans to assess their impact on organizational growth and strategy. Facilitating a dialogue between the founder and the professional management for common understanding and better synergy on funding and expansion strategy.

Ajay has been actively involved in all aspects of the organizational change process, be it:

– Strategic decision making

– Organizational structuring

– Interviewing candidates for key management positions

– Initiating the setting up of systems and processes

– Leadership Development

– Team Building

– Cultivating a culture of trust and respect.

Ajay’s work is highly personalised to each organization’s context, holistic in its vision, evolves and adds value as it moves forward. It may seem unclear what one can expect at the start of the change process. However, having experienced Ajay closely as an organization change catalyst, in the past 10 months, I see clear value in his work approach.

Consulting provided by Ajay is organic in nature and hence cannot be sold or marketed and therefore it may be difficult to comprehend for anyone who has not experienced it.

The value that Ajay’s consulting provides to the organization and its leaders is immense. He is independent in his expression, neutral in his stance and is willing to take risk, by communicating “difficult realities” to people in power, for the sake of a greater common good.

 I feel fortunate to experience his work as organizational change consultant, in the past 10 months of building KA Hospitality. I look forward to taking this organization development initiative forward to further strengthen KA Hospitality.

Ajay’s contribution to KA has laid the foundation for scaling our operations for further expansion. It is difficult to capture in words his role in transitioning KA Hospitality towards professional management. I have highlighted the most significant contributions of Ajay in helping me and our leadership team in building KA Hospitality.

I strongly recommend Ajay, for his expertise in Organization Development Consulting services, to all organizations, particularly to family / founder owned organizations, which are looking to transition from being founder driven to being professionally managed.

Ajay is an organization change catalyst par excellence!”

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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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