Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ready made

Ready made

I know someone who got married at the age of 22. When I heard that, for a moment I almost started laughing. And suddenly, I was impressed. The most common discussion we used to have among friends while growing up was, what is the right age to get married and finally, when to start a family? The number of people I have had this discussion with and the number of times I have had this discussion, 22 yrs was no way close to the age we ever finally agreed upon.

I keep thinking when is the right age to start, well, anything. When should children start going to school? When should one start tuitions? When is a boy/girl ready to start body building, dating etc. When does one decide to get married or start a family? Someone who is settled financially, has a supportive family, no or minimum personal liabilities and ready to take on more responsibilities. In effect, s/he is ready to move onto the next level of existence, the higher orbit of living, the next stage of maturity. Does one get married the day/month/year one gets into a job? Or wait for a reasonable bank balance, a fair amount of soul searching for the soul mate, a considerable research on prospective partners? Does all this depend on a certain age? May be or may be not.

Since the time I have started working, the most common phrase hear is, “we are not ready for this.” Companies are wary of many “new” ideas. Well, not exactly new, per say. Many of them are being practiced by big companies. I call them, “best practices”. Any practice when repeated over numerous time intervals becomes a habit. Proper documentation supporting this habit makes it a process. A process is a document with a valid scope, consistent inputs, logical flow, quantitative and measurable outputs. When these measurable outputs over time are linked to business imperatives assisting to increase productivity, generate revenues or cut costs, in the long run is called a “best practice”. Nothing is achieved in a jiffy. Neither 90% marks in exams, 6-pack abs or creation of an MNC.

Why are people apprehensive of following best practices? When is an organisation ready for the next challenge? When a start-up, an organisation will have the ‘ignition’ issues. Management gurus call it the gestation period I think, so be it. Six months to a year, they have the teething problems. A year to a couple of years down the line, they have to do the balancing act between a start up and a rapidly growing company. Next comes a new set of issues of becoming a successful brand and hence people and promoters leaving the organisation leveraging on the new found success. So, when does an organisation start following best practices? One year of starting, two to three years of running and settling a business or right from the word go? Does it depend on the age of the company? May be or may be not. By the way, I don’t support the term “Indian MNC”. All Indian companies are “lala companies”.

There is nothing ready made. Everything is made ready. Even a so called ready made trouser needs alteration. Customization of processes may be necessary. What is important is ‘intent’ and ‘value add’. Best practice organisations have an ‘intent’ to institutionalize processes with business metrics which ‘add value’ to the organisation. Long run is the key here.

One mother and nine months make a baby. Nine mothers and one month do not make anything.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Be Patient

Just this Thursday, I was informed by my parents that a very young cousin of mine was being operated in AIIMS for some eye problem. It was known that the kid was born with deficiencies and needed special care right from the start for his low vision in both eyes. Otherwise, he was a very intelligent kid and highly energetic. Despite his vision being low, he still manages to run faster than kids his age, passes all his subjects with high grades and is known for his practical pranks, age no bar.

Knowing him since his birth, I thought I should pay him a visit post his surgery. I reached AIIMS and called my uncle to know their ward number. He said they are at the ENT department for some check up and clearance. I was impressed. Just after a day of surgery, the patient was being checked and cleared for discharge. I asked the enquiry desk and got to the ENT floor. What I saw and got to know there was unheard by me till date.

The kid patient had not been operated on Friday as there were no pre-surgery clearances attained by various necessary departments as mandated before an eye surgery. They had spent 5 days already in the private ward of the hospital talking to all possible eye specialists, doctors and nurses. No one had once mentioned the process to follow. How on earth would I know if there is water in Mars? Only a Martian can tell me that, right? Did I tell you that the private ward for which they were paying 1500 bucks per day had a TV which was not functioning, leaking bathroom taps and an Air Conditioner plug which gave out sparks sometimes?

If that was not enough, at 0800 hours in the morning the ward boy who was to take them from the private ward to the ENT department actually took and made them sit in the Neuro-surgery department. When in doubt and asked by the parents of the kid, some official of the hospital reassured them that this is the right place as the ENT and Neurology department have shifted to this New Building, where they were waiting. Till 1100 hours with no sign of the Doctor, they enquired again. Their papers were taken and kept by an Attendant. When the Doctor finally arrived, they were told the real news and that they would have to come back to the Old Building and visit the ENT specialist. By this time I reached the hospital and was with them. This was not all. The ENT specialist recommended nasal and Chest X-Ray, based on which she would give a clearance or otherwise. When asked where the X-Ray department is, she told us the way but she was not sure if it would be open as it was a Saturday. Rightly so, the X-Ray department closes by 1100 hours on Saturdays. The kid who had woken up at 0600 hours for clearance checkups had not had breakfast as advised by nurses. It was well past 1300 hours and we had got clearance from even one department. We went back to the ward and made him finish his lunch. We had to go out for X-Ray and wait for an hour for the report.

It was 5 days that the patient had come for an eye operation. Leave alone the eye, when we came back and showed the X-Ray report to the ENT specialist there was a new recommendation been made. The kid needed a nose surgery as his nasal glands had expanded and may pose a problem in the near future.

It was 1800 hrs. All departments were closing. The only department that we could finish during the day had given us news of a new surgery which am sure would entail a new set of pre-surgery clearances to be taken, new buildings to sit and wait at, some more X-Rays to be taken and may be news of another possible surgery.

I may be over reacting as this was someone known to me. No hospital can ever become a tourist spot. No one likes visiting the place either. But I suggest all to visit a hospital. Especially, a Government hospital makes a wonderful setting. It is worth mentioning that many private hospitals are not far from becoming perfect examples for aspiring proprietors of hospitals. Just walking across one of the corridors will give you an idea how not to run a hospital. Ofcourse, the population, the amazingly ill facilitated, mismanaged and disdainful medical facility of our country is such that I really think MHA (Masters in Hospital Administration) as a professional degree and aspirants of this course should become really serious about it. Proprietors and our Government, no matter which party forms it, will gain much from this set of academia and professionals in a big way. The patient community will certainly be benefited on a large scale.

As to parents of the kid, all I can say is, he is our patient, let’s be patient.