The 1st Phase of MTHR Global was where it just began with no defined objective but as a meeting of HR minds. Then it began testing waters doing evening Meets and started gaining some traction.The 2nd Phase is where full day Events got initiated! More Than HR Global evolved into a popular Knowledge community and also gathered huge support from Members.
Now MTHR Global has entered the 3rd Phase we would take some quantum leaps that take us to a higher orbit.
Here’s an interesting “MTHR Story” written by our very own Rajesh Kamath
Dreams are the seedlings of Reality:
When a friend Sangeeth Varghese of Leadcap Inc said our story would have been suitable for his just-in-print book “Open-Source Leadership”, I looked at him in wonderment. A year later, another good friend Sukanya Patwardhan, a leading Consultant, expressed interest in making a “Case Paper” of More Than HR Global. This time I was more serious (and wiser) and asked, what about our outfit, was interesting to her. There were a few disclosures that were rather evident to me. Yet, I met with my fellow “Core members” and we had a brainstorming session on what our key characteristics were. The extract of our animated discussion has been crystallized here by way of a few verses:
“Where People give of themselves and ask nothing in return;
Programs get executed, without policies, but with fun;
Leadership exists, yet without structure;
Experiences are created that shape the future!
Learning in HR happens without Frameworks;
Celebrities happen without Fanfare and Titles;
Innovations unfold without documents of strategy;
Where Knowledge is distributed freely, that is MTHRG!
Support for causes are frequent and Advocacy of the nation is sacrosanct!
The community grows by leaps and bounds and that’s no accident
Energy is neither created nor destroyed but here it can be felt passionately;
Customers get immense value yet everything is free!”
More Than HR Global (MTHRG) started out namelessly and brandlessly and its genesis is as exciting as its evolution. In those days, circa early 2000, Social Media barely existed, but electronic Groups (then taken over by Yahoo) called Yahoogroups, existed in every discipline, subject and area of interest. So also, in Human Resources, groups mushroomed and every HR practitioner used to be part of several of these. Many of us, who were not even remotely connected in our “physical” lives, started getting along virtually. As humans and especially as HR, we had a compelling need for Face to Face contact and thus many professionals agreed to meet up in various cities, on a week evening. When one of the professionals volunteered the Conference Room of his office as a meeting spot, the seed of a movement was sown. There was no intention of starting anything new let alone spectacular, rather the only purpose was to whet our own curiosity of “who were the people behind the mail IDs, the faces behind the names”. However, when the “first” meeting led to an energetic explosion of ideas and connectedness, a few of us volunteers knew we had something interesting on our hands.
The original four who planned this, reached out to two other friends from the group that gathered; yet we recognised that 6 men were one too many, so we cajoled another eager lady to join what became the Core Team, of a project, which was still to identify its purpose. A few beers and some spontaneous synaptic connections later, a clear image of what we would like to be, emerged. We had to be “More than HR” – we were all HR professionals in our respective companies and enterprises, but almost simultaneously, the need felt by all was to create a space where HR professionals would not only have fun and network, but also learn a few things they were not familiar with, outside the realm of traditional HR disciplines and systems. Another initial resolve was to not exclude other professionals on grounds of industry segments, city, hierarchy, allegiance to other groups, or anything at all. It didn’t take us long to discover that this was the beginning of a true revolution of inclusivity and community!
We found that the need to meet, network, connect, discuss, have fun away from the workplace, even vent, was immense for HR community members, and we satisfied that need, almost by default. We built on that need further and the MTHRG virtual community exploded from 25 members to around 500 in a few months. Another belief we held mutually was that professionals truly interested in learning should not be encumbered with a price tag for it. We literally altered the phrase “there is no free lunch”. We were encouraged and enthused to “grow” from evening Learning events to Full Day Programs. There was some anxiety that day long Programs, especially on a Saturday, may find few takers, but we outdid ourselves in terms of performance. Our first day long Event with “free lunch” and “Networking Tea-breaks” thrown in saw over 120 professionals turn up on a Saturday, all delighted with the Learning. Participants were surprised and even suspicious as to how an event could be free of any charges, but we had simply uncovered a truism – the HR community was thirsty for knowledge and HR vendors/ partners/ solution providers were hungry for HR outreach! All we had to do were become “connectors” – so these Solution providers became Event Sponsors. This was not always easy because such organizations wanted to often deal with registered HR organizations, but MTHRG were all that a registered body weren’t. Loosely organized, not legally instituted, had no Charter or Policy, had no bank account, did not charge for Memberships, did not care for a business model, and so on.
We evinced interest in many senior Industry professionals/ bodies who wanted to collaborate with us but felt the need for us to have a Revenue Model for sustainability, get registered, have a structure and all other things that “organizations” are supposed to have. Either we wanted to defy all rules or were simply too lazy for it, so we rather focused on Knowledge and building the Knowledge Community – we kept pushing the envelope as far as Event Themes and Event speakers were concerned. We encouraged everyone from students to Entrepreneurs to even spouses to participate with the only criterion of “inclination for learning”. We had Event themes ranging from Obscure sciences (Astrology and Graphology) to Indian Ethos (Arthashastra to Vedanta) to Arts (Theatre based learning) to Hard Sciences ( Anthropology to Astronomy) to Public leadership ( NGOs to Polictics) but also Communication, Fun at the Workplace, Industry – Academia partnership, et al over 40 plus events. Membership zoomed to over 4000 in just few years. Other newer HR Groups wanted to now become “like MTHRG” , HR Leaders wanted their own events to “have the energy of MTHRG” and large number of existing associations and professionals gravitated towards our philosophy!
A few other distinguishing phenomena was that though by choice MTHRG had mostly non-celebrity status speakers, many did become most sought after Keynote Speakers and Presenters – they hailed from as diverse backgrounds as Spirituality to Scientists; Medicine to Cybercrime – we continued to value our mutual relationships. MTHRG featured in Online and print publications to even Radio and moved Events from its original base of Mumbai and Maharashtra to 6 other cities of India. It nurtured its partnerships and even sent a Delegation to the world’s largest HR Conference. Audiences and speakers became geographically diverse too, representing Bangladesh, Canada, US, Europe and so on. What MTHRG most enjoyed was the support of its many well wishes from its days of infancy to those befriended in its evolving years. The entrepreneurial zeal, giving flight to dreams and throwing conservativeness to the winds gave it endless bouquets and brickbats alike ( MTHRG accepted the brickbats happily as feedback). Most of all, the Core Team consisting of 6 professionals complimented each other’s strengths and never gave way to “seniority” (not without its own share of differences – but they were finally subordinated to the greater good).
Over the years ( 8 years now), we innovated – put Social media to good use, honoured the several veterans of the community who have helped grow the profession, kept calling speakers from all walks of life, went on from day long events to some overnight Events, worked with Institutes to help their students and faculty; but 3 three key principles (3 Is) we espoused were never compromised:
1. Inclusive Learning – we respected and valued the Industry fresher as much as the Industry captain; students as much as the Directors; HR solution providers as much HR Leaders – after all each had something to contribute!
2. Individual Social Consciousness – at most events, we bring in an NGO with a cause to interact with the HR Community to amplify awareness about these causes. We have ourselves highlighted the need for being responsible citizens.
3. Indianness – While we have been at the cutting edge in Management and HR and even featured Cross-cultural Gurus, we have retained the Local flavor and also promoted eternal Indian wisdom and showcased national strengths and needs.