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BookFish Community Story How it all evolved @ MindTree Pune

BookFish is a community for book lovers in MindTree. Following are the highlights of the conversation between Beena Arjunan (a BookFish Community Champion) & Shadab Lari (KM) on how the community evolved from a 3 member team to one of the most vibrant communities in MindTree.

Š MindTree 2011

SL: So Beena tell us, why did you feel the need to start a BookFish Community in Pune? Beena: I love reading and love sharing my thoughts and opinions about books with other book lovers. When I heard that they have a book club in Bangalore named BookFish (it was 2 months old then), I thought it would be good idea to start that here in Pune too (April 2009). I got in touch with the champs in Bangalore and asked them if they know of any such community in Pune. They said they had a few enquiries from some people here asking for such a community but nothing like that existed in Pune at that point in time. I felt it was a good time to get a book community started! I got in touch with those people from Pune who had contacted BookFish Bangalore and we got together to create BookFish Pune.


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© MindTree 2011

SL: Great! But how did the scenario look like while the community was getting launched? How many people participated voluntarily? Beena: At the start, I found out that there were 3 people from Pune who were interested in it. They had contacted BookFish Bangalore about it activities. I got connected with Dhimant Bhundia, Tushar Nafde & Anant Awadhut. That was start of BookFish in Pune in June 2009. Anant got me connected with Sonali Gogate who is one of our seniors here and since then she has been our mentor for BookFish activities and also a Champion for BookFish Pune. In the early days we used to have tiny 10 -15 minutes meeting to know each other and why we want to have a larger book lover’s community. Those meetings actually set the foundation of this community and I am proud to say BookFish Pune today leads in activities and enthusiasm amongst all the BookFish Chapters that are present in MindTree.

SL: Indeed! Now can you give us the sense of the challenges the champions faced initially? Beena: The first challenge was how to find out people who are interested in this kind of community. Second challenge was to have a proper charter and roadmap for the community. It took some time for us Champions to figure out a roadmap for our community. We knew from the beginning that it was not something we could do on an ad-hoc basis. Continuity was the key. If we didn’t have that, it would be difficult for us to mobilize a strong community around book reading and discussions. So before looking for members, we worked on our understanding 2

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Š MindTree 2011

about what the long term goals and road maps would be for this community. To find interested people we did some email campaigns and also put up a few posters in strategic locations in our campus- we made sure to provide only one contact email id in all our communications – this way there is less confusion and we didn’t lose out on meeting up with people who were interested in our community. Finding people who would host our sessions was also a challenge and I would say it would always be a challenge unless you are prepared. In BookFish, the champion team uses their personal networking within the organization to find out people who could be valuable facilitators for our sessions. Plus we keep asking for volunteers to come and facilitate our sessions or give us ideas for new events. Both these routes have been very beneficial for BookFish. Today at any given time, we have at least 3 people in our list who can host an event for us! We have been overwhelmed with the support and encouragement we have got from the community members and it is an awesome feeling to be part of this vibrant community.


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© MindTree 2011

SL: How did the community start getting a wider audience? What or when was the tipping point? Beena: Our monthly events brought more people to our community in Pune. The Champions took lot of pain to make sure such events had meaningful content and discussion to keep the community interested. Our 1 year Journey presentation (see ‘A Glimpse of BookFish Community Flyer’ snapshot available in the end - click here) captures all the events we have done in Pune and would be good learning point for Champions from other communities to look for event ideas.

Check out our BookFish Pune one year Journey presentation to see all the flyers we have created and also the events we did over a year time. The deck is available on Konnect.

However I can’t think of any single incident as Tipping point. I think it just got better with time. We interacted more with our community members in the events, organized contests and increased the flow of information amongst the community. It is worth mentioning here the response we got for our first event. The Flyer we created was attention grabbing and something that people had not seen before. The Event was in July 2009 and it created lot of ripples here in Pune teams. We included a book review ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ and the review was done by Sonali Gogate. We wanted to take a simple book with life messages that many people could relate to and this book was well received. The second part of our session concentrated on Slam Poetry movement which I introduced to our audience and we had shown a video in Taylor Mali recites his poem ‘What teachers make’. This struck a cord with the audience and we got a tremendous connection with everyone present for our event that day. Next session was facilitated by Raja Bavani , a book reading for the book “The Alchemist” which was again very well received by our members. Since then we have had an event


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© MindTree 2011

every month and the community participation and focus has increased. Also, as a community champion, I believe BookFish Pune has reached a very high maturity level even in terms of how it functions. In the past few months we have been making way for BookFish to connect with the external world. Subroto Bagchi provided us our first connection with a local book club in Pune and we managed to have a session with that book club in which Subroto spoke about his book “The Professional” and his recent work. We look forward to getting BookFishers connected with famous authors, book clubs and relevant organizations in our country and abroad – that is the larger goal in front of us. One important point is that the core team of BookFish Pune believes in having close one to one connection with our members. For us they are not just names on member list – they are people that we know ourselves and have a real connection with. I personally believe that we need to have a genuine wish to connect and know people otherwise it is difficult to create and grow a community. As the core of any community is its people and they are the ones that make things happen.

SL: What do you guys do to keep your community spirit alive? Beena: We as a champion team are passionate about reading and the benefits that can come to all through reading. Our aim in BookFish is to introduce more people to the world of books and world of knowledge sharing. If the core team is passionate, enthusiastic about the cause and driven, the community around it stays receptive to ideas and shows active involvement. This is our experience with BookFish community. 5

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Š MindTree 2011

SL: Our US geo also has BookFish community presence now. How did that happen and what does the community there feel about it? Beena: That is one of our special stories of BookFish. We share this often! Anant Awadhut is the founding member of BookFish Pune. When he moved to US for his project, he promised us that he will stay in touch with BookFish Pune champs and continue contributing towards the idea generation and growth of the community. After reaching US, I think he started missing our BookFish monthly events a lot! He used to write to me asking how can we create BookFish in USA and we used to brainstorm on that. It is not same like here to create community there as people are on different projects in different locations and also have different work schedules. But Anant was driven and his love for BookFish is awe


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‌ But Anant was driven and his love for BookFish is awe inspiring.

© MindTree 2011

inspiring. He connected with Arlette there and both started working on the first event for BookFish. They connected with like-minded people there and started having BookFish USA community meetings since Dec 2010. It is now a 5 months old community and we are all so happy and excited for what Anant had done there. Once a BookFisher, always a BookFisher!

SL: What are the community members’ reactions before & after joining the community? Give us a sense of that. Beena: Most people expected this to be a normal community that would discuss technical books. We surprised them with a bunch of events which had things like movies, videos and exciting games other than book reading and discussion sessions! I think we completely bust the myth that Book clubs are boring places for nerds and bookworms. Many people have told me that they hate reading or reading makes them sleep. I

Many people have told me that they hate reading or

requested them to join us for an event or two

reading makes them sleep. I

and now they are converts and fans of

have requested them to join

BookFish. I think we have changed people’s

us for an event or two and

perception plus showed them that Books need not be like sleeping pills, Books are Fun!

now they are converts and fans of BookFish.

I feel happy with some of our members come and tell me they have read one or two books in past few months and they want to discuss it with me. These were some people who had given up on reading or didn’t read at all. I can’t express the Joy it brings to me. I feel my work with BookFish is done perfectly and our team of Champions has done what we had set out to do. It is a tremendously satisfying feeling and makes me proud to be a BookFisher.


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© MindTree 2011

SL: That is cool. By the way, any impact you feel the community has made to the organization? If so how?

Difference BookFish Community has made

Beena: There are a lot of benefits for the organization from BookFish Community. Some of it I would like to list out here: Some of younger members with poor communications skills

within the organization

• Helped shy members with poor communication skills to improve in these traits.

have found a platform to speak without feeling afraid as BookFish is a friendly place to come and chat about Books. We

• Many BookFish champions

strongly encourage people who are shy to come up and use this

have now become experts

forum to improve their communication skills. This is the reason why we allow discussion on all types of books – technical, fiction, non-fiction, etc. People need to be in comfortable environment to be able to address areas where they need to improve and BookFish certainly provides that place for them.

in event management.

• Many of our members say that they have started networking and getting to know people outside their project groups. This is something they wouldn’t have done in normal

Many of our Champions have now become experts in program/event management. Over the past 2 years, BookFish has organized small and large event. Our recent Osmosis stall was one of our largest events with more than 300 MindTree Minds attending and participating in our different activities! Please do check out our awesome Osmosis BookFish videos. Many of our members say that they have started networking and getting to know people outside their project groups. This is something they wouldn’t have done in normal circumstances. We in BookFish want our members to cross the boundaries and reach out to similar minded people across our organization. From that point of view we have been trying to synch the functioning of all BookFish Chapters across Mindtree – we


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• Our senior members tell us that they have got a chance to share their knowledge on different topics with so many people now in a very friendly atmosphere.

• BookFish platform lets its members reach so many people and from so many different corners of our organization.

Š MindTree 2011

have some success in that area and still a lot to be done. Our senior members tell us that they have got a chance to share their knowledge on different topics with so many people now in a very friendly atmosphere. This was something they could do only within their circle of influence earlier or limited project team members. BookFish platform

We at BookFish believe

lets them reach so many people and from so

our growth is fuelled to a

many different corners of our organization!

large extent in Pune due

We at BookFish believe our growth is fuelled

the support of the Senior

to a large extent in Pune due the support of

Leaders in Pune like

the Senior Leaders in Pune like Sonali

Sonali Gogate, Rajesh

Gogate, Rajesh Zele, Raja Bavani, Chinmoy

Zele, Raja Bavani,

Bhagawat and Pramod Paranjape who take

Chinmoy Bhagawat and

part in so many of our events and encourage

Pramod Paranjape ‌

others to read and share their knowledge! As mentioned above, BookFish Pune is

networking with Book Clubs in Pune city and this would provide a platform for BookFishers to connect with well-known personalities from other industries and companies in Pune. Such activities would also create more visibility for the MindTree brand in our city. We plan to upload some edited videos of our events on social media platforms like YouTube with help of our Marketing team, which will surely show a different facet of MindTree to the outside world and reinforce our image as an

We believe this would also help attract new talent to our organization.

organization that is focused on employee engagement and growth. We believe this would also help attract new talent to our organization.


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© MindTree 2011

SL: Anything else you would like to share? (For e.g. what went behind the scenes, interesting quotes from community members etc.) Beena: Sure! Here are some of our tips and tricks in the way we work. I hope people who are reading this will find them useful: • Our Champion team meetings are short – 10 or 15 mins. We usually meet in Pune library as it is like Heaven for any book lover – awesome collection of books and such a relaxing ambience! • Rest of our interactions is generally over emails. We even fight over event idea in emails • Weekend email interactions are mostly for deciding our event Flyer content! • In BookFish Pune, for every event we plan – we create a backup plan. The reason is simple. If urgent work calls away one of our presenter’s we don’t want to leave our members feeling disappointed. So far we have had to use the backup plan only once! We love to be prepared and take no chances. Our community member must have a good take away in terms of learning from each of our event and we make sure we deliver that. Hence, we have a good membership and a brand name. • We reach out to our Senior and Top management team members for conducting events and to give us ideas. As I said earlier, I strongly believe that unless we actively network we will not be able to connect with the right people in the organization who can help us grow. BookFish Pune Champions team especially is highly networked and we continue our efforts in trying to bring in more of our seniors to our events as presenters and attendees. Sometimes we have to follow up for months to get some of the seniors as presenters, but we don’t give up!


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© MindTree 2011

SL: Now the last one, do you have any advice for other community champions? Beena: Sure. Here are the top things that I can think right now: 1. If you are passionate about a cause and believe a community around it will help

Quick Advice

you and the company then don’t think too

- Be Passionate for what you believe

much – just go start that community! 2. Mindtree is one of the very few companies

- Take the initiative. Seek KM support

that I know that gives you the freedom

- Use the platforms – virtual / face-face

and the guidance to realize the power of

- Network, Network & Network

community. KM team supports awesomely

- Lead proactively & actively

with tools and ideas, so if you are just starting off I would advise you to speak with Shadab Lari and your local KM reps about your ideas and brain storm with them. 3. Use Konnect to spread information about your community, your community events and keep the members informed. It is a great tool for collaboration and knowledge sharing and all communities should try to leverage it for their growth. We have started using it for BookFish and believe it to be an important tool for any community. 4. Network with Champions of successful communities and check out their best practices. 5. Most importantly, Champion must take their responsibilities as leader of community seriously and have to make all efforts to get to know as many of their community members as possible. You cannot be a champion if you do not believe in connecting with other human beings. Having great ideas and knowledge is of not much use to you and others if it is not shared and for sharing you have to connect. Community Champions must make efforts to be good presenters and coach for their community.


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Š MindTree 2011

Flyers More details here


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Š MindTree 2011


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Š MindTree 2011


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Š MindTree 2011


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Š MindTree 2011


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For more details about Communities @ MindTree visit

BookFish Community Story