Book Review : Infinite Vision

How Aravind Became The World's Greatest Business Case For Compassion

The Story Of a Hospital That Provides Free Treatment To The Community, And Is Yet The Best In Its Field In Terms Of Technology, Skills, And Throughput

By Pavithra K Shenoy and Suchitra Shenoy

Infinite Vision is the real story of a phenomenon, an anachronism that belongs more in the Satyug or Tretayug than in the modern cutthroat Kalyug, Anno Domini 2014; an absolutely unbelievable and yet completely true story of a family who redefined the concept of life, living... and Medical Care in the Modern World. A book that is guaranteed to take your breath away, a book that will challenge - if not actually change - the way you look at the world; a work of art, and a book that should be required reading in schools. I wish I could rate is 6 stars out of 5... stunning... 

This is the real story of Aravind Eye Hospital - of how one man, one single man went about doing the impossible. The story of one man who overcame a career-threatening illness to work for his employer till retirement. What makes him doubly special is that after retirement, he doesn't hang up his boots; quite the reverse - he sets about creating a concept that will one day shake the whole planet and its medical fraternity to its core. 

This is also the story of a family, a family that was cajoled, talked and convinced into sharing the dream stated above; note my words - "sharing" the dreams, not trying to fulfill out of love. It is the story of how every member of the family contributed to the dream. It is also about how the family, through sheer dint of hard work and performance, stunned the world, and made their creation - Aravind Eye Hospital - the finest of its kind in the world, a hospital focused not on profits, but on a dream - the eradication of treatable blindness  in India. 

The target was clear : eradication of Blindness. The method was clear - free treatment, or highly subsidised - and absolute world-class, the best treatment. The problem is that nothing comes for free in this world. At this point, they made what would seem to us to be an illogical decision - we wont accept donations or grants. So, they went about creating internal systems and procedures that would minimise expenses, while not compromising on quality.

Infinite Vision, indeed - appropriate title for the book. It is the engaging story of how these Doctors, MBAs, Business Professionals connected together, and created the internal systems, procedures that ensured they handled the highest number of patients worldwide, by a factor or 3 times. Procedures that ensured that they achieved and maintained financial independence, while providing free services to the community of the poor people, who could not afford to pay! The Money Will Come - Focus On Your Tasks was the constant refrain - dont worry about money; if we are the best, money will come. Remember 3 idiots? Chase Excellence - Success will follow. Well, the Aravind Eye Hospital is the living proof of that statement.

Aravind Eye Hospital is also the story of the chase of excellence in treatment; of the sacrifices everyone made for the greater goal. It is the story of a single-minded chase after excellence, and the pursuit of perfection, challenging all norms, modes and systems. It is the story of how one Hospital went about ensuring the availability of the best the world has to offer in a 3rd World country like India, and then subsequently beating the world at their game. 

It is a text-book case study, in that it covers every aspect of a modern organisation - from Marketing to Operations, and from Finance to Human Resources. This is the book that will help you understand the importance of Vision and Mission of an organisation; this is the book that will teach you the magic of training. This is the book that will teach you the importance of constant upgradation of skill sets; of a single-minded focus on employee retention and how it works wonders in the company; This is the book that will teach you the importance of backward integration, of research, or opening markets, of a planned and strategically executed expansion strategy - of bringing the latest technologies to India, of setting state of the art manufacturing facilities, and consulting houses.

This is the book that teaches you the benefits of a focus on the long-term, of the importance of total intolerance towards short-termism that is so common now, this is a classic case of how to plan your human resources both for the current-to-mid term as well as the long term, of smooth succession planning right till the topmost levels without compromising on even one single point. This is the book to read to learn just how vital a long-term look at Human assets is important, and how training can play a pivotal role - and of the importance of robust systems and processes in an organisation; and how following the basics and building blocks leads to marketshare, leadership as well as an excellent top and bottomline. At is also the story of how one organisation can create a worldwide ecosystem, and create as well as define a new market - becoming the leading consultant in the world. It is a story of sharing information, and helping the competition - and reaping rewards from the experience. A book that challenges long-held notions, and does so quite successfully.

 The writing style is engaging, and keeps you absorbed. You are not taken into a series of numbers and facts; instead you are taken onsite, and get a prime seat among the main players as the time rolls. You are treated to organisational lessons for learnings in a fun form, loaded with examples and practicalities, while fully detailing the roadblocks, problems that emerged, internal as well as external. 

All in all, a deeply engaging book that leaves you richer for the experience, and successfully changes the way you look at life and business... A must read book of how one family created an ecosystem, as well as the finest Eye Facility in the World - a book that should be required reading for everyone in India at least. Last but not the least, Infinite Vision is the book that explains how having a purpose and a dream can be actioned, and of the importance of having your soul in what you are doing, combined with a higher purpose- while meeting the requirements of practicality. A book that reaches deep into your soul, and forces you to ask some tough questions of your own self.. .


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