THE CROSSROADS CHRONICLES: INTRODUCTION
In March 2011, my spiritual teacher and erstwhile ‘urban hermit’ GD took on a crazy and unprecedented experiment to put what he calls ‘The New Paradigm of Work’ to the fire test. And I want to share it because he did it using the same insights which I will be sharing in the ‘Crossroads Chronicles’ series of blog posts next weekend onwards.
Here’s how it happened: during a friendly conversation, GD and his friend, the Chairman and MD of an Info-Tech company, discussed the premise that a company can work to its full potential only if employees ‘evolve’ to their full human potential. GD proposed the idea of a 21-day experimental program using a critical mass of 108 employees. The MD agreed, and GD began developing the ‘New Beginnings Program’ along with fellow intuitive therapist and life coach, Sangeeta Bhagwat.
It was a daunting undertaking: the $150m Solutions & Services Outsourcing Provider had over 3000 employees spread across US, Canada, UK, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Middle East. According to business news reports, it had been under-performing and post-recession some staff had been let off.
Given their past experience, the HR department was unsure about turnout and suggested to GD that instead of a 108 participants, maybe one should settle for 30 or 40 participants. GD responded that this was a perfect chance for HR to put the basic principle the New Work Paradigm in practice: when one shifts one’s state of being, the ‘doing’ that follows generates miraculous outcomes. GD asked the HR team to release all goals and specific outcomes for this experiment, and to simply ‘play’ with him. Hearing this, the energy of the core team shifted from fear to joy. Instead of hard-selling this voluntary program, they sent out a simple and light-hearted invitation to the staff.
When the response came in, over 300 people registered and they had to stop the registrations at one point… and do the workshop in two batches!
The 21-day program contained a mix of guided meditations and daily tasks. Participants were given audios of a 15-minute meditation created by GD and Sangeeta which was to be used every morning before beginning work. They were asked to do ‘homework’ on weekends which involved catharsis, gratitude, inner questioning and gently stepping out of comfort zones. To kick it off, they had a town hall meet where GD shared the core concepts about ‘The New Paradigm of Work’ on the planet today.
Soon, the company message boards were buzzing. Issues like procrastination, lack of self-belief, irritability, frustration, and unhappiness with work were giving way to a sense of hope. And the company vibe changed.
A few weeks later, not only did the employees report that they found dramatic changes in their work, they also found they had triggered off a process of self-transformation. Many reported improved relationships with their family and a reawakened sense of appreciation for life. Some found a renewed vigor to revisit the dreams they had put away in the bottom drawer – one worker began playing the violin again, a long-cherished dream. The shift was not for a better performance that quarter – it was a shift towards a new way of living and working.
Interestingly, the bottom-line also showed an upswing. “I would say,” the MD wrote later in the in-house newsletter, “that our new logo wins are around four times as much as in the previous quarters. We had targeted to outperform on order booking this year. In December, that looked like a tough target. In April, I can see us outperforming in terms of number of new logos. And we still have a quarter ahead of us to get there in terms of order values.” He also noted a renewed surge of business in North America, a first-ever win in Canada, the unexpected end of a long-stalled delay in the UK, and a breakthrough deal in Australia.
And to me, the most telling proof of a true New Beginning was this: a few junior employees asked HR if it was okay for them to write directly to the MD. And they wrote personal thank-you emails to him for changing their lives. How often does that happen in a global company?