Godin: “Management Can Change the World”

This is from Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast, “Aravind”.  His summary of the episode is a single sentence, our title: “Management can change the world.”

Aravind is a chain of eye hospitals in India that has saved the sight of millions of people by treating curable, treatable eye problems.  They are also a great picture of how management and leadership work together.

Management and leadership are not the same things, and we need both.

  • Leadership: what happens in between the moments we are managing.
  • Management: helping people do the same thing they did yesterday, but faster and cheaper.

Leadership: the founding doctor of Aravind built a culture of innovation, all aimed at improving care AND improving costs.  Their mission is to provide quality eye care for all; their profits every year are not given as dividends to the shareholders or bonuses to the executives, but are invested in improvements.  They have built a management culture that continues to pursue this vision, even after the founder’s death.

Aravind’s Laws of Management

1.Quality and continuous improvement: how do we do this better than we did it yesterday?

2. Patient-centricity: when in doubt, do it for the patient, make it better for the patient.

3. Self-reliance: instead of buying machines and drugs from out of country, Aravind invented better devices and drugs on their own, and then shared them OPEN SOURCE to clinics around the world.

4. Staff-centricity: work is voluntary.  If you can’t serve the people work for you, then they won’t choose to work for you any longer.

5. Frugality: spend money wisely to achieve your goals.

Aravind doesn’t worry about how to get more, they worry about how to be better.  And they do it through good management.  Management can change the world, it’s the only thing that can.

What are the practical steps that your organization takes to move in the direction you want to go?

How can you get better?  When you get better, what will you do with the benefits (profit, efficiency, free time)?

What are you measuring and why?  Short-term focus–e.g., quarterly profits–don’t motivate organizations to make continuous improvements.  

How does what we measure fit with our goal for our product?  Are we trying to make our product more profitable? more effective? more efficient? more widely available?

What determines the direction in which you make tough decisions?  Aravind decided that it would make decisions in directions that favor patients and staff.  Are you managing in favor of customers, or in favor of yourself?


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