Aravind Eye Care Hospital
Intro: What is ‘organizational disappointment’?
Aravind Eye Care Hospital
Lessons to be learned
Though innovative organizations are often held in a positive light, sometimes idealism comes into crash courses with pragmatism, and ‘organizational disappointment’ can occur. By definition, organizational disappointment is a letdown against some measure of performance, or a failure to achieve goals that are normally expected, but what actually causes this?
Purpose and mission
What potential lessons does your case analysis have for similar organizations? How would you use these lessons to advise your own group?
The organization for this case study is the Aravind Eye Care Hospital. It was founded in 1976 as “an 11-bed hospital in Madurai, India”, and it’s main purpose is to put an end to unnecessary blindness, a rather lofty goal; however, the organization is doing a fantastic job. Wanting to simplify, the hospital focuses on just one practice: cataract surgery.
Currently Aravind has six hospitals which collectively perform more than 300,000 eye surgeries annually, really making their goal of eliminating blindness feasible. What the group was considerably effective at doing was developing a painstaking, disciplined system with routines, consistent practices, and continuous growth. “Strict task specialization…enables steep learning curves and focused skill development”. The organizational culture of Aravind just continues to grow as it expands.
Of course, the organization isn’t perfect. After setting a very ambitious goal of reaching 1 million eye surgeries per year by 2015, Aravind started to experiment with different models and solutions. One of which was a “Managed Care” program that attempted to forge partnerships with other hospitals that complied with Aravind’s best practices. This fell apart after five years because it of “differing organizational contexts”; it simply wasn’t practical.
The one major takeaway from this case study is that sometimes, in fact, many times, innovative solutions are not ideal, and can even be detrimental at times. Many persistent problems in this world cannot be solved with a magic formula or a miracle pill, but with “long-term engagement that enables steady and less risky progress”. Aravind is a classic example of how “relentless attention to incremental improvements” is the key “to build capacity and to make an impact” on a global scale. Making an impact on the world is the result of consistency, dedication, and routine, not spontaneity or bursts of genius. Unfortunately, that’s not what the world wants to hear. Many prefer the ‘sexiness’ of innovation, the idea that there is always a shortcut that will give people the biggest ‘bang for the buck’. Clearly, this notion is flawed. Thus, what organizations need to understand, my group included, is that it’s more valuable to treasure consistency, patience, and conscientiousness rather than bursts of creativity or strokes of genius. Most of the time, it’s those who understand that the process is slow and pain-staking and are willing to take the time to work, are those who best address the prevailing issues of our time.