SHRM India- Annual Conference & Expo (Part 1) #SHRMI16

It was two days of intense conversation, content and of course a whole lot of fun. SHRM India‘s Annual Conference and Exposition ( #SHRM16 ) was filled with it all.

While going to the conference I had written about what I sought to get from a conference. I did get far more than that.

To storify the tweets from the conference has meant going over thousands of tweets and curate what I experienced struck my eye and triggered a memory or arrested a thought. So, what you would find here are just a sliver of the overall experience. Do look up the hashtag, and explore even further. Am sure there is much more than what I put across here in two parts.

Day One was an arresting diversity. From Pramod Bhasin to Vicky Roy to the awards ceremony and a scintillating performance.

You will find Day Two as a separate post here

Day Two was an expansive play of ideas, debates and some olympian stretches of the imagination. Overall set the agenda for a longer conversation thereafter.

Future gazing

The few days spent in Washington DC attending the annual conference of the World Future Society was quite an experience. ( Detailed agenda and such else is here ).  I had curated a collection of tweets from the conference and was published by team Founding Fuel earlier.

The future has been a topic of interest for a long while and the new ideas and conversations with several other futurists has only deepened it even further. Our future emerges at a faster clip that we dont often get to see the resultant changes that envelope us. How will our lives change with all the technology around? Will we live longer? Will we be happier? What would we drive around in? How will we learn? What will be life like in the age of our kids? How do we prepare them for that future? And of course, how will the future of work shape up? These and more questions abounded when I went in.

I intend publishing a few more blogposts over the next few weeks and share some ideas, learning and experiences. As always, I seek your responses, comments and ideas.

For now, here is what got published at Founding Fuel earlier.

Singularity University India Summit – Feb 2016

There is one aspect of Singularity University that has been on my mind for a while now. The very idea of it!

It is an idea that perhaps is ahead of its time. Maybe not, some would argue. For it is right here indeed. Perhaps it is an idea that is knocking on the high gates of the future, helping reimagine what lies ahead. Treating what we know with respect but not deference, in the quest for the seeking out a future that is beyond the grasp of linear minds.

So when Singularity University’s India Summit was happening here, and an opportunity to attend it presented thanks to, I made it there. The India Summit happened in partnership with INK Talks and Deloitte.

Here is a summary of tweets. You will get to understand the summit, and hopefully will dig in a bit more about the idea of it all. In any case, I will write in more. I promise.

Mumbai, 26th/27th Feb 2016

Mumbai, 26th/27th Feb 2016



Facilitating a conference on facilitation!

There is one conference that I make it a point to be around, it is the India conference of the International Association of Facilitators. For a variety of reasons. For one, it is a brilliant community with loads of equanimity. For another, there is no question of sitting back, staring at a deck of PowerPoint slides, slickly produced corporate videos and listen to suave speeches or a panel discussion, which is the staple fare of most other conferences. Nothing wrong with that.

Just that, the IAF conferences require active co-creation, reflection, and meaning making as an integral part of every minute. IAF events are truly immersive experience for everyone in the room. Never a dull moment. Perpetually inclusive and trusts the wisdom of the community to keep it moving along. That is a rich wisdom and I have always been enriched after each meeting!



To share, learn and grow with the community is a narrative that is dear. We (Me and the L&D team from Asian Paints) were there this time around too, to share our experiences with facilitation, but more importantly to co-evolve along with all participants, a ideas and thoughts alongside our experience.

We ran a concurrent session and here are some highlights and reflections that we shared and helped co-create

a. The detachment that is necessary from labels & tools and in order to attach ourselves to outcomes seemed to resonate with many. The ‘lightly-tightly’ way of working. There were several models that got built atop that vector.

b. Every tool has a place and needs to be respected for that. Overuse can undermine, and under use can be a travesty of what is possible if that tool too had been used. Training, Facilitation, Coaching etc are different tools. ( Tools that carry different meanings in the minds of many). Attachment to outcomes, can bring about a focus on interplay and ownership.

c. Questioning of assumptions can alter the dynamics of how the future (and organisational processes like ‘reviews’)  can be differently built. To begin working on a problem as its stated, but to enable reframing of the ‘problem’ by all stakeholders, with imagination, can cause considerable shifts. We shared a couple of examples, the group constructed a few that were neat.

d. Of course, there were multiple rounds of discussions on ‘dismantling the hierarchy’ and the imaginative ways of co-creation that can be enabled by simple sharing and ‘letting go’. I would reckon the ‘letting go’ bit is a difficult but necessary pill (if it were to be one), for outcome effectiveness to reign.

e. We had begun by getting the group to imagine ‘all interactions’ within an organisation. The choices made by random diverse groups reiterated to me, how common organisational dilemmas are. And more importantly, for how long they have been around. We need new ways of working with and resolving these dilemmas. The old ways don’t work, for they were meant for an old time. And of course, we ourselves are new.


Another feature of IAF Conferences is the open, transparent way of gathering and collating feedback. What you see above was feedback sheet of participants from our session. It left me smiling, while serving as a pointed reminder of the work to be done.

The world and the #FutureOfWork, need an inclusive approach to life, living and work. The foundations of ‘facilitation’ stretch far beyond a clutch of skills. It presupposes an inclusive, generous, mindset that is not bound by ‘control’ but lead by ‘a letting go mindset’ and get everybody to take responsibility. It is a key skill to imbibe and get proficient with, for now and the times to come. With an emphasis on community, common ground and development. Skills to stitch together the future in the face of ever widening differences, are critical. Now, more than ever before.

It was in 2011 that I first attended the Asia Conference of the IAF in Bangalore. There were delegates from many parts of the world and every corner of Asia. It was 2011, the world was still reeling from the shock of the earthquake and Tsuanami that hit Japan. That conference had a number of facilitators from Japan, who detailed and demonstrated how ‘facilitation’ was getting deployed to rebuild the community in Fukashima. It was a deeply moving and a very thorough experience.

The conference provided perspectives, a clutch of skills and a sea of global friendships. I remember leaving that conference thinking if facilitation could aid complex community building work (like the Fukashima example) from the ground up, adapting it to the precincts of organisational  realities required a dash of courage and oodles of imagination. Nothing more. In more ways than one, it sparked a fresh bouquet of thoughts and has kept us busy for a long while.

Heres some news : The Asia Conference of the IAF is coming back to India ( It went to Schenzen in 2012, Tokyo in 2013, and Singapore in 2014).  Sometime in August 2015, Mumbai will play host to the IAF, Asia Conference. Thats the best news I have heard in a long time.  Watch this space for more.

In the meanwhile, here is Brig.Sushil Bhasin’s generous take on our session. Do read and give him a shout! 🙂 His energy is infectious.

Social Collaboration in Berlin


That title could be misleading. Let me hurry and add, almost a month ago I was in Berlin. At this Social Business Conference  . While we got to share our story, it was interesting to get a perspective of how organisations in Europe and America seemed to be faring on Social Media. It appears that most of us are on the same boat! 🙂  More on that later.

I have had numerous conversations on Enterprise Collaboration with hordes of people over the last few years on this topic. Every conversation has left me thirsty for more. This conference was no different. It gave a key-hole into whats happening in different organisations in different continents but more importantly triggered a few thoughts on what we perhaps could do. I have always held conferences that did precisely in great stead. All the sharing that takes place is extremely contextual but to craft an action plan to suit my context is a fun-filled challenge.

John Stepper’s  blog post gives a super snapshot capture here of the conference. .

As I sit with all my notes from the conference and think here are some ‘thoughts’ (random ones) that stand out.
1. Most organisations that are in the same sea, as far as Social Collaboration is concerned. Some are ahead, some behind. The seas are rough and there is no sight of land. Yet, everybody is in this passionate mode of search and discovery! Ok. So much for metaphors.

2. A majority of people who came in for the conference were either from Internal communication, IT or Social Media / collaboration. Folks from HR / change management seemed a pronounced minority. Introduction of such technology is about change management and OD as well. The absence of ‘Change’ people by itself tells a story! ( I was reading this , ‘change management’ or rather a lack of it, stood out as a hypotheses)

3. One of the answers that I have been searching for, out of my own curiosity, is this: Who is asking for these social tools in an enterprise? In this conference, the answers were mixed but there also was a preponderance towards “our IT team has found an interest in this”. (The more I think of social tools, in particular, the more I realise the need for stoking this conversation and seeding the idea in different groups outside of IT as well. Collaboration starts before the cradle!

4. Conversations around Social and Social Tools have a tendency to meander around the features, the plausible benefits the tool could bring and the good that would arise out of using that tool / technology. The other conversation that occasionally pops up, but usually a very intense conversation, is one that focuses on the culture and context. Organisations like MAN, Ikea, Novozymes and others had me go wide eyed when they shared stories of culture and community being the central themes on which Social Collaboration rides on.

5. If there is one fundamental shift that I have learnt to embrace in my mind at the end of this conference it is this : Images score over letters. Video score over paragraphs! The importance of video and the dominance that it has ( and consequently, the hold it would have on the future ) was something that I have read about and heard different people speak. But after this conference, I am a convert.

6. Players in the Social arena including Jive, Tibbr, Zyncro, Yammer and others were all there. Each has a niche and features that can dazzle a keen eye. Some are better than the others and am not going any further on that. For now. AND, the struggle to build adoption and make this a way of life seems to be universal. Ultimately, it is not the tool. It is in how and what we want to use it in.

7. At the core of making it work in various organisations, seemed to be weaving it into mainstream ways of work ( and not as an ‘optional extra’). Easier said than done but all it takes is some imagination. And that is something that was a common thread across all the ‘success’ stories. The use of ‘badges’ to incentivise the use of such systems were also showcased by a few other peers. I have had misgivings of that approach, but it seems to have worked for a few organisations.

8. The other learning that sits pretty in my head now is that Enterprise Collaboration System have a long gestation period before pay offs. Assuming that people will take to it because of the pervasiveness of ‘Facebook’ and ‘twitter’ etc outside the firewall is disproportionately erroneous. There needs to be several concerted coordinated ways of weaving this into work and helping people embrace a new way of working. Yes, it’s a new way of working. Not another initiative. And no, there is no such thing as ‘over communication’!

9. It was super fun to anchor a session as well. And oh yes, I loved the conference format. I have attended several conferences, but the opportunities to learn through and from interactions with each other was woven into the format seamlessly here! It was good fun. Many congratulations to the WE-Connect team!


10. Meeting all the wonderful people including Philipp Rosenthal (pictured in action above) , Frank Hatzack Nathan Bricklin, John Stepper, Bonnie CheukPaivi Raity, Wolfgang Jastrowski, Edward Krebs, Cecilia Scolaro, Bryan Barringer and all others were all superlative in sharing their thoughts either from the stage or at their world café break out areas or at the breaks for tea! I am making a grave mistake here by mentioning a few here and not mentioning many. Its been a month and I am not getting any younger. My ageing memory plays effortless truant. There were several others and most of them are here in this Twitter List! I cant thank them enough for the sharing.

Now there remains a horde of things to be done! Armed with the new friendships and ideas, there is adjusting of the sails and more work to be done. As always, am in the market for conversation and ideas! 🙂