Thanks to TED, today I happened to listen to this inspirational talk by Dr. Thulasiraj Ravilla, CEO of Aravind Eye Care. That he is leader and part of the team that provides community service for a noble cause stuns me, but more important than that, Aravind is a business case study for all of us. Here’s why:
Prolog: At a 100,000 feet level, I believe western countries are able to achieve their economic status because of their ability to spend, their affordability of the quality of life etc…Both as a cause and consequence, this means the costs will be high. This is also why developing countries make their export revenue. Whether it is manufacturing related (where cost savings is by virtue of geography), services (where cost savings is achieved by infrastructure and efficiency) and knowledge (such as in medicine, IT etc…). Again in a crude sense, this cost savings is achieved by deployment of certain themes, which as we will see, has been executed extremely well by Aravind. Aravind is a 30-year old eye-care network based in India, which — frankly — has been silently performing to such levels, that the modern industries (like IT) are yet to perfect. Infact, some of us are familiar to these concepts only in powerpoint presentations.
Case in point: I don’t want to take you through the entire story of this network. But get this straight — Aravind has been providing eye-care to people all over the world. In size, they provide eye-care to almost 60% of what the NHS provides (surgeries alone counts to 300,000 a year) for the entire UK, at sub-1% of the cost and at 40% margin (Topline doesn’t matter, but if you are curious, it is $22 million). Read it again. My first time listening to the speech I became emotionally attached, but I listened to the speech a few more times. The things he is talking about are not new to any of us (esp if you are in IT or management) — component re-use, maximize utilization, innovation, operationalization in conjunction with empowerment, vision and purpose, communication, customer focus, training, standardization.
Epilogue: What Aravind is doing is social service. A lot of what they provide is free. But using all the levers like the above, they have maintained a corporate posture in terms of business model.
I call them a living case study.