It’s just been two months since I joined Samagra and I have already had more diverse and enriching experiences than I could have imagined. One such experience was attending Sanskar–our annual offsite. After three exciting days, I exited Sanskar with a sense of resolve and purpose–"My work truly touches the lives of millions of citizens".
Sanskar is a thoughtfully designed, immersive experience meant to provide a 360-degree view covering the journey of the firm and its people. On Day 1, we were told that the objective of Sanskar is captured through the 5Rs–Reaffirm , Rejoice, Reconnect, Reflect and Reenergize. Over three days it was the interplay of these five elements which made this into one of the most memorable professional experiences I have had.
Anyone who applies to Samagra "knows" about its mission to improve the quality of life of citizens through better governance. However, it was an in-depth session led by our Founder & CEO, Gaurav, that really drove home the meaning of each word in the mission. As everyone in the firm discussed the carefully-worded "Samagra Constructs"–our mission, aspiration, values, ways of working, etc.,–I found myself amazed at how much thought and deliberation has gone into codifying these constructs. Listening to team members who have been at Samagra longer talk about how these constructs manifest in our work, made every facet of the firm’s culture very real and not mere words.
As Gaurav moved across the room encouraging newer and old team members to contribute to the discussion, I could sense a mutual wave of determination, positivity and courage. These emotions were further amplified with echoes of us reciting in unison–
"राष्ट्र निर्माण के यज्ञ में हमारी भी एक आहुति होनी चाहिए" which translates to–In the nation building effort, there should be a solid brick contributed by us".
Creating impact by using governance as a lever of change is easier said than done. This has become apparent to me after just having spent a month looking at the daily ins-and-outs of the life of a governance consultant. And therefore the emphasis on “Rejoice” at Sanskar is that much more important. What did it look like? Beautiful and definitely worth celebrating. The first two days of Sanskar are focused on our programs (projects in common parlance). Teams shared the evolution of their programs across years, challenges they have grappled with and finally the impact they have been able to create in the last one year. As each program team shared the before and after journeys of farmers, students, teachers, and multiple other beneficiaries, I started getting a sense of what impact at scale truly looks like.
The 'Celebrating Success' presentations are definitely something I carry with me as a source of motivation as I go back to my program location.
Sanskar successfully helped me break the ice with people beyond my program team. This happened because everyone attending the event was grouped into teams with colleagues they haven’t worked with previously. And the thrust during these three days is for team members to meet and connect with each other beyond professional courtesy. A unique way in which this manifested was “feather” and “stone” conversations. Right at the beginning of Sanskar, Gaurav told us to look around the room, identify people who have either helped us through difficult moments, done something nice for us or with whom we might have had a not so pleasant experience. If we wanted to appreciate someone we were to go up to them, have a feather conversation and express our appreciation. If we wanted to clear the air about something that left us upset, then we would have a stone conversation.These conversations were truly liberating as by the end of the third day we all felt we had either let go of any pent up negativity or made someone happier by sharing our appreciation for something they probably didn’t even realize they did.
Vying for the honour of the best Sanskar team through quizzes, games and a talent show was a great way to bond with people I had not known well previously. Moreover, having people with varying experience levels in the team provided a much-needed mix of different perspectives during discussions.
It is rightly said that it's only when one pauses and looks back is one able to connect the dots. Sanskar was an opportunity to not just reflect on the journey of the firm but also on my own personal journey. And in both cases the underlying sentiment was of 'how far we have come'.
A particularly special Sanskar session was 'My story'. At the end of the second day, all Sanskar teams held separate 4-5 hour discussions on each team member's life story leading up to joining Samagra. Done in an informal and relaxed setting, being a part of these deeply personal conversations made the entire Sanskar experience truly humbling. Understanding the unique challenges faced by my teammates and listening to stories of their successes left me in awe.
The fifth "R" is the best way to summarize the above four "Rs". The outcome of all team members reaffirming their commitment to the firm’s mission, rejoicing in the achievements of the year gone by, reflecting on their own impact journey, and reconnecting with each other, was everyone leaving Sanskar reenergized. In my view, the energy created by Sanskar is the fuel which will drive us and the programs we are working on for the rest of the year.
Samagra prides itself on quality in intent and work, and Sanskar is truly a benchmark of quality for all. As I get back to the hustle, I am looking forward to the coming year and next year’s Sanskar.