Author Archive

CARES Standard

June 10, 2009

To continue with my previous post about dignity. I wanted to share with you how LifeSpring has built a standard for providing customer service. It’s termed as CARES Standard or CARES Protocol.

CARES stands for:
C – Courteous – We will be polite in our communication whether oral or written. We will acknowledge customers and their family members by smiling, making eye contact and offering assistance

A – Attentive – We will attend to customers and families immediately. We will listen carefully to customers needs

R – Respectful – We will respect the dignity of all and will show empathy in our words and action. We will respect all coworkers, customers and their relatives equally.

E – Enthusiastic – We will trust, respect and support customers. We will be timely in meeting deadlines.

S – Safe – When caring for customers we will wash our hands. We will maintain a clean and safe environment for customers and employees.

For all employees joining LifeSpring they are given a booklet that describes the standard behavior in details. Everyone is expected to keep this book with them while at work.
CARES Booklet

To further emphasize the model behavior LifeSpring used GlobalRickshaw to make a video that demonstrates the CARES protocol in action. All new employees are shown this video during the on-boarding program and expected to behave in this manner.

Hope you enjoy.

Importance of patience and dignity

May 3, 2009

As I write this blog post, I remember Katherine Fulton from the Monitor Institute talking to our fellows’ class in the nice conference room of Acumen Fund (NY office). She said to us that if  there was anything to take away with us for the rest of our fellowship it would be “Patience”.  Since I started my fellowship I’ve been working on a project has been on and off as the funding for it was to come from an external foundation. Finally after nearly nearly five months of waiting
we have received the funding and the project is in full swing. We are developing a learning environment so that as LifeSpring starts scaling up, the large number of diverse set of employees that need to be trained on the various processes can be done easily. The mood is upbeat and we expect to get this project done before my fellowship gets done this August. I have learnt that if you believe you are doing the right thing for the right reasons then
things will fall in place, you just have to be “Patient”.

Another insight that I would like to share with everyone is to do with “Dignity”. As I spend more time with Anant Kumar, CEO of LifeSpring I am convinced choice alone is not enough, dignity is equally important. This needs to be incorporated into the company culture if the enterprise wants to deliver these services to the customers with high quality. At LifeSpring no matter what anyone’s origin is, they deserve the same respect. In India there are cultural barriers, educational hierarchies, and organizational hierarchies. All these need to be put aside when
working at LifeSpring. Some examples of such a conflict are husbands of Customers of LifeSpring may be working as drivers at the doctor’s place. So imagine the doctor now having to respect the customer as they would any one else.
Or simply because the nurse is less educated does not mean they can be mistreated by the doctors. So key is respect and thereby dignity must be provided to everyone associated with LifeSpring – customers, team members, and partners.

I’d like to hear from you so please post your comments on what you think about this writeup…

Is it safe to blog in India?

February 25, 2009

Last couple of days there has been an issue that has been raised about a blogger being sued by a political outfit for defamation. And apparently the blogger has lost the case.

Here is a link to the article:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Bloggers-can-be-nailed-for-views/articleshow/4178823.cms

What do you think about this issue? Should the blogger be spared?

I think he should be spared – this is about expressing your views.

LifeSpring as a private company turned 1 year old

February 23, 2009

On Feb 16th, LifeSpring Hospitals celebrated it’s one year anniversary as a private entity. As a part of the celebrations everyone was expected to wear pink shirts. We also prepared a video where the CEO, Mr. Anant Kumar spoke to all employees and reminded everyone about the LifeSpring mission.

Here is a link to the video.

Meet the people of LifeSpring Hospitals

January 19, 2009

Theme for this month’s video blog is “Meet the People”. I would like you to meet the people of LifeSpring Hospitals and some of the challenges they face as the organization continues to scale. With 6 hospitals in place and more coming up later this year, they certainly have a their hands filled. I could not get everyone in the picture or the videos, but there are many more employees at the hospitals and in the field. I will try to get them online in the upcoming videos, so stay tuned!

As always, feedback on what else you’d like to see/read is most welcome.

First few weeks, back home…

December 13, 2008

Some thoughts on returning back home and recent incidents that happened in Mumbai…

Ajmal Amir tells his story

December 4, 2008

Ajmal Amir was one of the ten people involved in attack on Mumbai, on Nov 26. He is the only one captured with the rest shot down by NSF and Mumbai police.

(Times of India, December 3, 2008)

How the lure for respectability made this impoverished laborer believe in the Jehadi cause.

  • > The 21 year old captured fidayeen was born at Faridkot Village (population 3000), Dilapur tehsil, of Okara district Punjab province, 50 km east of Multan. Family belongs to Qasai caste. Father, Mohd Amir Iman, runs dahi-puri snack cart, mother, Noori Tai, looks after ramshackle home
  • > Ajmal is one of 5 kids. Eldest brother, Afzal 25, works as laborer in Lahore lives near Yadgar Minar. Sister, Rukaiyya Husain, 22 is married in village. Then comes Ajmal. Sister, Suraiyya, 14, and brother Munir, 11, still at home.
  • > Ajmal’s poor father can’t keep him in government primary school. In 2000, 13 year old Ajmal, just past class 4, is sent to Afzal in Lahore. The brother, then 17, hardly has means to look after his young brother.
  • > Ajmal shuttles between Lahore and Faridkot. In 2005, fights with father and leaves home. Not welcome in Afzal’s house either. Stays at shrine of holy man Syed Ali Hajveri. Like elder brother, works as a laborer.
  • > Finds the work degrading. Gets attracted to petty crime. With friend Muzaffar Lal Khan, launches new career in armed robberies. On Dec 21, 2007, Bakr-Eid day, they go to Rawalpindi to buy weapons.
  • > It’s here that they run into activists of Jamaat-ud-Dawa – Lashkar-e-Taiba’s political wing – handling out pamphlets about their group. After a brief chat, duo sign up – not because of conviction but for training they might get. That, they feel, would further career in crime.
  • > Reach LeT’s base camp, Markaz Taiba. It’s here that Ajmal starts getting influenced by films on India’s “atrocities” in Kashmir, by impassioned speeches by preachers, including LeT chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. Starts believing it might be worth sacrificing his worthless life for glory of Islam. Camp gives him sense of belongings that he never had. When he comes home during a 2-month break, finds he is suddenly treated with respect by family and community.
  • > After this break, Ajmal chosen for LeT’s basic combat course, Daura Aam. Does well and chosen with small group of 32 for advanced training, Daura Khaas, at camp near Manshera. Does well here too.
  • > Selected for high-skill marine commando and navigation training, imparted to the team of 10 fidayeen chosen to attack Mumbai. At 4:45 am, on Nov 23, Ajmal with the unit, sail off from a forlorn creek near Karachi, each equipped with AK-47s, 200 rounds of ammo and grenades.
  • > LeT military commander Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi promises Rs. 1.5 lakh (USD 3000) reward.

(end of excerpt from paper)

 

Everyone talks about the atrocious crimes the terrorists (as they call them) have committed. And I don’t mean to say they haven’t. However, no one is talking about why these people are doing this. The social fabric is not even questioned when you can see from the story of Ajmal (and I call him by his name because he is just has human as you and me) that it is strewn with lack of dignity of labor, lack of education (tied to lack of money), lack of basic family planning. Five children in today’s day and age is a recipe for disaster even in developed worlds given the escalating commodity prices and education costs. Think about the strain on a laborer father. Finally USD 3000 reward to the family is all you need to hire Ajmal and young adolescents like him.

 

My comments may seem caustic or even combative. But what are we doing about this? Quite frankly I’m tired of listening to theories on how a strategic alliances between countries can end the “war of terror” – to which India has also been inducted!

 

You can only cure something if you know the root cause.

So “what is the root cause?”

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, please send me comments if you’d like.

Hope

November 18, 2008

(With $5 in cash and $6 metro card the fellows were sent out into NYC to spend the day – this is an excerpt of my experience)

My friends and I were trying to find a shelter that was close by. As we walked along, we met Charles who had a table setup on the street that read United Homeless Organization. We felt that it would be best if we asked Charles where the shelter was. Now, why would Charles try to help us? What could we ask him such that he would give us the address of the shelter? So my friends posed as homeless people stirred up a conversation with Charles asking him for help. When he came to know we were homeless there was an instant sense of connection he felt with us. Even though he did not know the exact location he started to think how he could help us. Just as he was thinking of options, his friend Anthony walks by. He shouts out, Anthony, can you please help these folks? Can you give them directions to the shelter? Anthony says Sure, why dont I just walk with you to the shelter, I am going there anyways? Thats how I met Anthony!

Anthony was a tall, skinny, curly haired man. His cheek bones protruding out almost like those youd find amongst native Indians. He was wearing a denim jacket and trousers with sneakers that looked fairly new. I started walking with Anthony and I introduced myself and he did the same. What follows is an excerpt of my conversation with Anthony.

He said My real name is Yusuf Ali and I am from Puerto Rico (same as Charles, whom we had met earlier).

He also indicated that he had some heritage from Saudi Arabia. This background was certainly intriguing. We continued our conversation.

I asked What about your family? Where are they? Do you have any kids?

He said I have eight children six boys and two girls. They all lived with my wife in Brooklyn and my parents also lived nearby.

I asked Anthony where do you work? Or what do you do for a living?

He said I conduct seminars on HIV/AIDS throughout New York city, about three or four seminars per day. He kept talking and I kept listening.

He said I used have a nice Audi A6 which I sold and bought a house for my parents as I wanted them to live nicely. Whats in a car, I can always earn money again to buy it, but my parents should be living well? As Anthony was talking, I was just thinking to myself. Does he really want anything different than I do? A good life where kids, wife and parents are all taken care of, isnt it?

I continued the conversation; I said Would you like this Biscotti, it goes well with the coffee? How long ago did you come to America?

He took the biscotti, put it in his jacket pocket and continued talking I grew up in this country. In fact, I was in the army, in the special forces unit. I was very good at rope climbing. They (the army) had trained me and sent me to Iraq when the war began. But I tell you, I dont like Bush, he is really a trouble maker.

All this while we were walking along and my friends were following us. We perilously crossed the road without any regards to the traffic on it as if we were in our own world. Just as we crossed the road, Anthony excused himself and entered a pharmacy store. I waited outside the pharmacy patiently. He was in the store for nearly fifteen minutes. He came out ignored me and started walking away. I walked up to him and tapped him on his shoulder with a hope to continue our conversation. We walked a few steps quietly. Just as we reached a crossing Anthony took a turn and went off. I didnt know what had happened between him entering the store and returning but it certainly seemed like he was in no mood to talk to me any more.

I continued walking alone thinking about Anthony, who was he? What did he want in life? What did I want in life? I dont have these answers, but I can say this all my life I have lived on the hope of doing better than what I am doing or where I have been in life and that has kept me going. Was Anthony telling me the things hed like in life? Was he living in the hope that hed have a eight children, comfortable life for his parents? I can only hope to answer his questions. I can only hope that Anthony gets what he desires in life.

As Aristotle rightly put it Hope is the dream of a waking man.