- The Raul – Nicobar Context :Nicobar was started with a desire to create a culture as well as create an environment where people would grow. Covid made Raul understand his business in a way that he never understood before. He reflected on what he had done well at Nicobar, which was ‘people focus’ – an aspect he feels he worked on the most.
- Creatnet’s 5 Questions (C5Qs) : Creatnet’s 5 Questions is a framework devised to enable reflection and increase accountability for individuals as well as teams.C5Qs allow an individual to reflect and give feedback to themselves such that they can determine and work on their learning needs in a given time frame. As the general rule, the framework is practised weekly.
- RAI Framework : Raul felt that through the C5Qs, one can reflect on the outcomes achieved in the week that went by. He added that when the outcome or ‘creation’ was intangible, it became difficult for his team to justify the efforts or actions that led to the outcome. Raul supplemented the C5Qs at Nicobar with the RAI framework to enable deeper reflections, build accountability, drive innovation within each team as well as in the organisation as a whole.
- Systems: ‘ WE RISE TO OUR GOALS AND FALL TO OUR SYSTEMS ‘. Only a well designed system wins in comparison to setting goals. Committing to a process can help one learn and add a culture of discipline in an organisation. Raul emphasises that systems play a very integral role in brand development and growth.
- Alignment: Alignment manifests at different levels in an organisation: it can mean getting employees on the same page; it can mean that every leader in the organisation knows the bigger picture or it can also mean that everyone understands their role in the organisation as well as how they are contributing to the bigger picture.
We explored the idea, ‘How innovative frameworks , systems and their implementation bolster brand development & growth initiatives’ with a visionary entrepreneur, an extraordinary leader & long time friend Raul Rai (Co-Founder at Nicobar & Director at Goodearth).
The pandemic took the entrepreneurial world by surprise but despite the new climate, a few firms have successfully furthered their key initiatives – Nicobar is one such organisation that we’ve had the pleasure of working with. Over the last three years, Darshan Bhat and Raul Rai have worked together to contextualize frameworks into organisational practices. The plethora of ideas generated by Darshan have been meaningfully catalysed by Raul for personal growth and growth of Nicobar.
The Raul – Nicobar Context
Nicobar was started with a desire to create a culture as well as create an environment where people would grow. Raul has always been passionate about work culture, he feels a workplace should be a place of growth and learning. And, a good work culture equals effectiveness.
“Workplace should be a place of growth and learning. A good work culture equals effectiveness”
Covid made Raul understand his business in a way that he never understood before. He reflected on what he had done well at Nicobar, which was ‘people focus’ – an aspect he feels he worked on the most.
Another aspect that Nicobar focussed on was digitisation.
Pre-pandemic Nicobar was 15-20% digital and today it’s about 70% digital.
Reflection, Action, Silence (RAS), a practice highly integrated with the values of Creatnet, enables Raul to reflect and connect to himself.
Reflection – learning by using his mind ( study of vedanta )
Action – learning while doing something ( in form of a exercise )
Silence – learning to tap into his subconscious by calming everything down ( mediation )
All of the above have been instrumental in internally anchoring Raul. The right or enough combination of RAS allowed him to connect with himself. Raul credits mindfulness and the practice of meditation as the primary reasons for him to find his purpose and create the Nicobar brand. Through Nicobar, Raul intended to purposefully inspire the thought that modernisation is not akin to westernisation.
Raul’s work with Darshan and Creatnet, has enabled him to apply his ‘people focus’ in different areas that enable the building and running of a successful brand. One example is the way Raul adapted Creatnet’s 5 Questions at Nicobar.
Creatnet’s 5 Questions (C5Qs)
Oftentimes, we spend ourselves through actions or manage actions of others in the name of productivity. The continuous activity of one form or another (meetings, preparing presentations, brainstorming on ideas, etc.) which is not adequately backed by reflection, leaves us exhausted where the results achieved are only a fraction of the full-potential we can create through mindful well-reflected actions. Creatnet’s 5 Questions (C5Qs) emerged from this need of making space for reflection to give meaning to action and derive meaning/learning from different actions. Quite simply, C5Qs is a framework of inquiry that enables us to not only give meaning to the things we do but also puts us on a path of continuous learning. C5Qs allow an individual to reflect and give feedback to themselves such that they can determine and work on their learning needs in a given time frame. C5Qs are usually practised weekly but depending on the need, the timeframe can vary between a couple of weeks, a month, or a quarter as well. Again, the framework can be practised in the context of individuals as well as teams in which case we can replace the ‘I’ with ‘we’ in the questions.
Creatnet’s 5 questions are:
1. What did I do against my commitment?
2. What got created?
3. What did I do that worked and what was I being that worked?
4. What did I do that did not work and what was I being that didn’t work?
5. What will I do differently?
This framework ensures that one consciously feels accountable to their actions. It can also be applied to understand where one is spending their time –work that directly helps them in their KIs, or activities which are business as usual.
When we spoke to Raul about C5Qs and how he implemented the framework at Nicobar, he felt that through the C5Qs, one can reflect on the outcomes achieved in the week that went by. However, when the outcome or ‘creation’ was intangible, it became difficult for his team to justify the efforts or actions that led to the outcome. This realisation led Raul to supplement the C5Qs at Nicobar with the RAI Model to enable deeper reflections, build accountability, drive innovation within each team as well as in the organisation as a whole.
As a leader , Raul wanted deeper insight into his team’s perception of results and their ability to attach accountability to effort or action. In the RAI Model,
R stands for Result can be either of the below two
A stands for Agile
I stands for Innovative
This model in conjunction with C5Qs ensures that anytime an individual is describing their effort, they first determine whether the action contributed as an input or an output. If their action led to an output then what got created through the action can be qualified as a result (R). And, if their action is at the input stage which hasn’t materialised into an outcome yet, then the quality of their input can be qualified as either agile (A) or innovative (I). Most of the work done at Nicobar is either done in a faster, more efficient way which means more ‘Agile’ way or in a more creative way which means more ‘Innovative’ way.
According to Raul, this new framework (C5Qs + RAI) has enabled his teams at Nicobar to do their C5Qs with more meaning, one that makes sense to them and therefore is more brand focussed. Raul sees the application of C5Qs at different levels. He adds that at one level C5Qs enable reflection, at another it leads to alignment and improved communication. He interjects that a founder needs all the tools to drive alignment. The founder of Nicobar feels systems need to be adapted and every time we adapt something new we also give up something.
“Systems need to be adapted and every time we adapt something new we also give up something”
Systems represent a few ideas, at the core it’s the idea of looking at how things interrelate. It could also include ways of doing things at different levels – strategic, execution/ operational, and people level. An interesting thought that emerged from our conversation with Raul is that ‘ WE RISE TO OUR GOALS AND FALL TO OUR SYSTEMS ‘. Only a well-designed system can lead to accomplishing the set goals. Committing to a process can help us learn. Systems constantly need alterations or restructuring and for them to run effortlessly, people need to be aligned. In the context of a founder transitioning from an organisation and integrating a CEO, Raul said that a system is needed to make a company independent of its founders.
“Systems constantly need alterations or restructuring and for them to run effortlessly, people need to be aligned. A system is needed to make a company independent of its founders.”
Alignment manifests at different levels in an organisation: it can mean getting employees on the same page; it can mean that every leader in the organisation knows the bigger picture or it can also mean that everyone understands their role in the organisation as well as how they are contributing to the bigger picture. Nonetheless, alignment is essential to keep the focus in people alive and strengthen their engagement within the organisation.
Raul approaches alignment in his own style by looking out for where there isn’t alignment in his firm and people aren’t saying it. Everyone at Nicobar is aligned on one of three large objectives – making Nicobar a great place to work , creating an innovative brand that shapes culture in a mindful way, and building a highly profitable mid-size business.
As the needs of businesses continue to evolve , it’s essential to continue finding ways to apply frameworks that support leaders in their work and personal lives. Discovering innovative frameworks and adapting them to the needs of the time, a leader, the stage of an organisation, or the development of its people holds the key to learning and advancement.
About this Article: This article is the emergence we experienced in our event series Dialogues with Darshan. In this event, we spoke to Raul Rai (Co-founder of Nicobar & Director at Goodearth). Collectively, we explored innovative frameworks that can transform organisational systems, their applications, and how systems can enable the growth of a brand. Raul shared with us his experience with Creatnet’s 5 Questions (C5Q’s), a framework introduced to him by our founder Darshan Bhat and how Raul later remodeled it for his teams at Nicobar.