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In the midst of the festive season, we’re proud to launch the Above N Beyond Quarterly newsletter.

It’s been an exciting first year for us. In the last 12 months, we’ve had the opportunity to engage with organisations - large and small, across verticals such as manufacturing, R&D, consulting and IT. Needless to say, none of this would have been possible without the wholehearted support of our well-wishers, customers, partners and families. So, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for believing in us.

Throughout, our philosophy has been to focus on achieving the right balance between business, people and processes; looking at the big picture but also getting to the root of the issue. We’ve taken a ‘hands on’ approach to consulting, with an emphasis on ensuring execution. 

The Q4 2016 edition of our newsletter includes some thought-provoking insights on people management, organisational structure and other aspects of running a business. We hope you find our newsletter engaging, interesting and above all, useful.

Read on and do send your feedback!

Best wishes,

Vivek Subramaniam

Introducing the Above N Beyond Blog

Our Above N Beyond blog is a platform to talk about interesting concepts around management and other aspects of running a business; share our learnings along the way and give readers an insight into our consulting philosophy. Do subscribe and read, comment, agree, disagree, and learn with us.

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Structured Change Management Aligned with Business Goals is Crucial for Success

When organisations reach the point where they recognise the need to make internal changes, the first instinct is to focus on changing people’s behaviour through communication and trainings. But this approach is likely to backfire unless it is backed by structural changes that support and encourage the new expected behaviour. This is because a person’s behaviour is closely tied with the context in which they are operating. Unless the context changes, any behavioural change is bound to be unsustainable.

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What is your 'breaking point'?

Like any other organization, my partner and I were discussing about how we want to run and scale our company, when she turned around and asked a very interesting question: “What is your breaking point? Because the answer in turn will define a lot of what shapes us as a company”.

While there are aspirations and ambitions to consider on one hand, each one of us has a ‘yield stress’, beyond which the ‘breaking point’ comes in. And once it does, all hell breaks loose.

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My learnings as an Entrepreneur

By Nupur Prothi Khanna, Founding Principal, Beyond Built

I am an urbanist with an education in Planning, Landscape Architecture and Heritage Conservation. Beyond Built Pvt. Ltd. (BBPL) was set up in 2003 in Bangalore (subsequently moving to Delhi) to deliver best practice spatial design based on in house research undertaken by Landscape architects, Planners, architects, and interns.

This experience has given me several valuable life lessons, which I’ve detailed below:

 

Be different

When most firms were picking up work with developers, we incubated an approach where we were doing ‘more on less.’ This meant taking up fewer works but spending enough research time to understand what made one endeavour distinct from the other and thereby more likely to succeed with the users.

My philosophy is to ‘deliver the difference.’ So, I believe in not restricting our work to designing, but to handholding the client and contractor teams right through to on-site completion.

Shatter stereotypes

Being a woman is not so unusual in the design realm, but I am usually the lone female on larger brainstorming sessions in the core construction sector. Being brought up as well as married into a defence services family, I usually do not give mind space to issues of gender identity concentrating instead on competence.

That said, while recruiting, I am empathetic towards the domestic responsibilities of women candidates and often find myself coaching them on the significance of persevering in their professions, irrespective of any other reality they may be faced with on a personal level.

 

Nurture the community

I am more a teacher at heart than a business woman. I consciously spend a fair amount of my energy coaching and nurturing those around me. Since 1998, I have been intermittently associated as visiting faulty at SPA Delhi and RVCE Bangalore. Since last year, I have been working with preteen students under the banner of a foundation we set up, called the Beyond Built Trust. Last summer, we held a series of workshops titled Cultu’re’connect for preteens to sow the seeds of our heritage, culture and relevance of design in our environment early on in their lives.

 

Trust your team

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of ‘trust,’ a guru mantra learnt on this journey. I have found there is nothing more empowering than this principle. We strongly encourage our team members to pursue their individual aspirations on our projects, while tying into the idea of the whole.

Micromanagement is a poor strategy when it comes to people management. Focus on the quality of output rather than actual hours spent. Good article on people management in Entrepreneur magazine.

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For years, organizations have lavished time and money on improving the capabilities of managers and on nurturing new leaders. This McKinsey article talks about the most common mistakes companies make when it comes to leadership training.

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From Silicon Valley to New York, and in offices across the world, firms are replacing annual reviews with frequent, informal check-ins between managers and employees. Without question, rethinking 

Embrace opportunities to learn

Our project profile has changed over the last 20 years. Each project has played a significant role in our professional and personal development. The small garden in Bangalore (2004) for an eminent ecologist where we went hunting for indigenous plants, sowed the seeds for the INTACH scholarship we won a decade later (2014), on the subject of indigenous planting.

The most challenging project (where my learning was trebled) was the 3.5 kms-long landscape for Terminal 3 at the Delhi International Airport (2008-10), executed from the client’s office with an international consultant. Another project, which we brought from concept to completion, is Elante Multi Use Development for Larsen & Toubro in Chandigarh. We won the CDOS commendation for innovative use of stone for this project.

The last few years, we have centered our energies on primarily public projects from parks to a series of riverfront projects in North and Central India. It’s a long journey ahead where we hope to showcase the contribution of design in the life of the common Indian.

As I complete two decades of professional practice, I realize the power of entrepreneurship to ‘make a difference.’ As an entrepreneur, the power of possibilities, freedom of pursuing one’s desires, overseeing this dream turn into reality have made this journey most fulfilling. 

Along the way, I have come to realise that the responsibility of bringing about a change for the majority in India lies with us, the minority who are privileged to lead a life of choice.

 

The ‘Dads for Daughters’ program is an initiative under the ‘Equality for Women’ foundation. The core idea is to bring in awareness among men and boys to drive the concept of equality irrespective of gender. We have started the campaign targeting a specific socio economic segment. The idea is to reach out to high school/college boys and talk to them about issues like eve teasing, groping and vulgarity. The plan is to brings dads together and train them on running these programs. Our aim is to provide a safe environment for our daughters.

performance management is at the top of many executive teams’ agendas. This HBR article talks about the primary drivers for this people management revolution.

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Always start meetings on a positive note

Psychological experiments have shown that the way a meeting starts, sets the tone for the whole meeting. Start the meeting with complaints, problems and mutual blame, and that’s what you’ll get.

 

But if you start out with something positive, the rest of the meeting is more likely to be more fun.

                                                           






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