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Can you get lessons in HR through drama? At the SHRM India Annual Conference and Exposition 2017 in New Delhi, Ashish Vidyarthi and Abhijit Bhaduri wowed the audience with a new form of theatre. Their joint session called 'Dramatic Conversations,' was inter-woven with a story and laced with the tenets of HR function.
The duo chose drama as a tool to connect with HR professionals because they believe it explores and expresses human feelings better than any other medium across all cultures.
They delivered the message, 'Creating a Winning Mindset,' through a riveting storytelling performance told through three main characters: Gagan, Gagan's father and Mr. Chawla. They explained that each story, regardless of its genre, has five distinct stages: once upon a time, everyday, one day, because of that, and until finally. Every person's personal and professional story goes through similar stages. Only the time and event change.
Once Upon a Time...
Gagan's father is proudly discussing his son Gagan's achievements with his friend, Mr. Chawla. Gagan is pursuing the dreams that his father wanted to achieve for himself – become an engineer, embark on official trips to foreign lands and settle abroad. Gagan belongs to today's generation who is passionate about what they do and works hard to achieve their professional and personal aspirations. So when Gagan's CEO invites him and other management trainees for a dinner in a 5-star hotel, his father is elated. After Gagan returns from dinner, he shares his experience with his father. He says that 5-star food is very expensive and can't beat the simple home-made food in taste.
Gagan also narrates an important management lesson he learned when he addressed his CEO as 'Sir' – there is no hierarchy in organizations, only merit matters. Ironically, Gagan doesn't imbibe this lesson in his real life. He wants to attach a tag of 'Executive' in his job title because an 'Officer' is not such an elite position.
Well, the time flies and Gagan becomes a successful executive. He charges ahead of his peers at the workplace through 'First Mover Advantage' and 'Exploiting Every Opportunity' he gets. As his father had dreamt, he settles in the U.S. for a high-flying career. He even marries an American and fathers a son.
Gagan's father is looking forward to meeting his son, daughter-in-law and grandson during their visit to India. Apparently, he hasn't met Gagan's family before and is quite apprehensive. To his father's disappointment, Gagan comes alone to meet him. When his father questions him, he makes excuses. On further probing by his father, Gagan breaks down.
Because of That....
Gagan reveals that he and his wife are divorced. He admits that he is not living the life he or his father had dreamed of. He is working to earn more money, exotic vacations, bigger homes and more mortgages. He feels lost and doesn't know who he was. If old age is lonely, leading a highly successful life is even lonelier. Gagan's father realizes that in a bid to impose his own unfulfilled dreams on his son, this situation has occurred. He then motivates Gagan to take up his childhood dream of becoming a chef because dreams don't have an expiration date. That night, both father and son spoke heart-to-heart for the first time in their lives.
Gagan opens a successful restaurant named 'A Winner's Mindset'. He gives his dishes unique names – Belief paranthas, First Mover salad, Evolve curry, Fire Manchurian, Resilience ki kheer and Collaboration biryani.
Ashish and Abhijit explain that every person can savour these dishes at work and all other areas of life. These dishes are akin to six HR tenets – Belief, First Mover, Evolve, Fire, Resilience and Collaboration. When you get out of your comfort zone and apply these tenets to work-life, you get what is called a winner's mindset. Just the way Ashish, an actor stepped out of his acting zone to become a leadership coach and Abhijit, an HR professional, became a storyteller-writer-actor.
Every person hails from a unique background and body of experience. It is only when they bring their background, experience, passion, innovation, beliefs and attitudes instead of only skills to their work, they can move towards their goals with their 'full-self'.
Ashish and Abhijit have touched upon key workplace concerns with their dramatic conversation:
The story narrated in the session also subtly reinforced the importance of core HR doctrines that are necessary to promote a winning culture in the organizations:
Who could have imagined that dramatic conversations can entwine HR concepts with such a depth!
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