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Monthly Archives:June 2016

A small but expanding list

This post is an overview of my books.

The Fifth Idiot:

This is a fiction about entrepreneur’s aggression to expand rapidly to please PE investors and creating wealth through an IPO. & how one incident changed everything. Read how he becomes employee happiness-centric from mere profit and market share-centric.

The book has earned praise from Ritesh Agarwal of Oyo Rooms, Ninad Karpe of Aptech, Richa Anirudh of Zindagi Live TV Programme and Dr. Anupam Sibal of Apollo Hospital

A reader’s review on Amazon:

The Bread is Moving:

The book is primer for Indian entrepreneurs on the subject of customer experience (CX) and service design. What, why and how of CX.

The book is praised by Govind Shrikhande of Shoppers Stop and Joy Chakraborty of Hinduja Hospital.

One of the readers recently tweeted.

The Highest Ignorance:

The book is a fiction. A story of a woman’s journey who discovers self is not a body but a soul and road she takes once ignorance about the self evaporates and the deep desire for enlightenment emerges.

This book has received praise from Dr. Jagdish Sheth, Professor at Emory University – USA, Christopher Chapel of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA Vallabh Bhansali of Enam, Padmabhushan Mallika Sarabhai, CA Bhavana Doshi of KPMG & CA Pradeep Shah to name a few.

“For today’s brake-less and largely aim-less people, Sunilbhai has created a ‘sugar coated’ fast pill. Fiction that presents the highest wisdom in a practical and applied manner. Hope a lot of readers take its benefit.”

– Vallabh Bhanshali , Co-Founder & Chairman , ENAM Group

“Beautiful……. very touching……… lucidly written story … A must read for all… young and not so young, initiated and non-initiated…… “

– CA Bhavana Doshi, Senior Advisor, KPMG

There are some good readers’ reviews on Amazon. This book an English translation of my Gujarati book Titled ‘The Shortest Journey’.

Wow ! & Weird:

This is a collection my choicest blog post over last 6 six years. Infact this is available free on my blog on registration. Welcome to register and download this ebook.

The book is praised by CA Ashwin Parekh, Ex – E & Y, Anand Rathi, Bijou Kurian of Reliance Retail and Rajnikant Patel, Ex – MD & CEO of BSE and ICE.

Coming up next:

Dangerous Debt – What every entrepreneur must know.

This is at the manuscript stage and I am inviting beta readers.

Wish you a happy READING experience with these books.

Sunil Gandhi

Yoga – aspects you may not know

The world is celebrating International Yoga Day today.

Yoga is popularly known by Asana i.e. physical movements and Prayanama, breathing exercise performed by practitioners. Asana and Prayanama are what the Yoga means is the belief of most practitioners when most think about the Yoga.

Now, since the Yoga has gained international acceptance and popularity, it is pertinent to know what the Yoga means.

Yoga is a way of life and not limited to Asana and Prayanama. Sage Patanjali had about 2000 years ago, prescribed Yoga in sutras in his treatises known as Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Even before Patanjali Yoga was practiced and considered a way of life in India.  However the oldest Sutras, we have in written format is by Sage Patanjali.

Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means ‘to join, to unite’. Joining or union of the self with the supreme.

Yoga has eight limbs and is known as Ashtang-yoga (Ashtang = Eight Limbs). Asana and Prayanama are only two of them. This is considered a way of life to achieve the highest objective of human life. The highest objective is known as Samadhi, union with the object of meditation or enlightenment. Therefore, in broader sense Yoga is a road map to attain enlightenment.

In order to achieve this higher state, we need a moral code of conduct and self-purification. These are known as Yama and Niyama, two of the limbs.

Yama means a moral code of conduct. There are five Yamas.

  1. Satya = Truthfulness
  2. Ahimsa = Non Violence
  3. Asteya = Non Stealing
  4. Aparigraha = Non Hoarding
  5. Bhramhacharya = Chastity.

Niyama means acts of self-purification. There are five Niyamas.

  1. Saucha = Purity of Mind, body and thoughts
  2. Santosh = Containment
  3. Tapa = Penance
  4. Swadhyay = Study of self, self-reflection, study of religious texts
  5. Ishwarparidharna = Surrendering the self to the God

Next two limbs are what have commonly known Yoga with; Asana and Prayanama.

Asana is physical movements designed to keep the body functioning in proper order. There are various such movements and practices covering the entire body and all body parts / systems.

Unless the body is fit the person can’t focus on the higher purpose. Therefore, fit body is necessary for higher pursuit and Asana helps in achieving and maintaining a healthy body.

Pranayama is about breathing exercise. Prana means life force i.e. our breath. Controlling the breath is what Pranayama is. But why do we need to control the breath?

There is a sutra in Yoga Sutras which says;

‘Chale vate chale chitta, nishacle nishal bhavatu’ which means;

Our mind is wavering as our breath is not under our control so in order to keep the mind fixated and concentrate on one thing, controlling of the breath is necessary. Pranayama helps us with that.

All these four limbs i.e. Yama, Niyama, Asana & Prayanama are known as Bahirang i.e. external limbs of Yoga. These prepare us for the higher pursuit which the next level of limbs aims to take us.

The next four limbs are known as Antarang i.e. Internal.

These are Pratyahara, Dharna, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Pratyahara means moving inward from our senses to our internal world. This is the withdrawal of senses. We experience the external world through our senses; our senses are our doors to the external world. Now we are moving inward so withdrawal of the senses in order to experience the internal non-physical world. Just closing of eyes and ignoring all the signals of the senses can help us focus inward.

The next is Dharana. That is focussing on just one thing i.e. concentration on one thing.

The meditation has become very famous and popular the world over. This meditation is known as Dhyana and this is the 7th limb of Yoga. Continues focus on one thing for a longer period is known as Dhyana. Continues Dharana is Dhyana.  We focus on breath once is Dharana and continues focus for a long time is Dhyana or Meditation.

One can realise why Asana and Pranayama are important and precedes internal limbs? If the body is not healthy and fit one can’t sit in meditation for a long time and if our breath is not under our control our mind wavers during Dhyana. Asana and Prayanama prepare us to practice Dhyana.

One sitting for a longer period in Dhyana, focussing only on one object or even not on any object but absorption with the self, achieves Samadhi i.e. enlightenment. The ultimate objective of the human being i.e. to become one with the self i.e. Soul.

Therefore,  Yoga is a complete road map till one achieves enlightenment. All the preceding limbs prepare the practitioners to practice the successive limbs. However, most of us are using this rich and elaborate roadmap for merely achieving a very low aim of physical fitness by practicing Asana and Pranayama. Yes, this is a starting point, but we should not stop at this. On this International Yoga Day,  we should expand our understanding to know more about these aspects of Yoga and pursue it as and when time permits or the time is right.

For those who is only practicing Yoga for healthy a living, there are a few cautions:

Hathapradapika, one of the texts on Yoga which was written between 14 to 16th century says;

Yoga fails by six causes: Over-eating, over exertion, talkativeness, undisciplined life, promiscuous company and unsteadiness.

Gherandsahita says; the one who practices Yoga without control on diet will attract many diseases and will not get success in Yoga.

The point is Diet plays very important role in our health and even Yoga i.e. Asana and Prayanama practitioners will not get success if one is not disciplined about the diet.

For more curious readers the book on Yoga Light on Patanjali Yogasutras by BKS Iyengar is quite in detail about Sutras.

PS; The right pronunciation of ‘Yoga’ is ‘Yog’ and not ‘Yo ga‘.  But as Krishan has become Krishna and Ram as Rama, Yog has become Yoga.
Sunil Gandhi

Do you possess this CRITICAL skill? Perhaps NO.

Today, Saturday, so my blog is about personal matters.

“Communication starts and prevents wars nowadays.” French political consultant, Jacques Seguela

Ajit Pawar, ex-Minister in Govt of Maharashtra, in his recent meeting with party workers, advised them to speak cautiously as he accepted that he has lost everything because of his bad communication.

During the recent Mathura incidence, the way MP of Mathura, Hema Malini responded initially to a journalist was just short of pathetic.

UPA minister and prominent lawyer Kapil Sibal accepted that UPA had failed to communicate its achievements.

The communication between, otherwise prolific communicator, another UPA minister Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi on Twitter had cost the Minister his ministership.

We now see the difference between the communications styles of our present verses the ex-prime ministers. Communication can win elections and can make you the world leaders. Many world leaders lack clear communication skills and therefore, those who can do it better will immediately attract attention. Some of the Indians think our PM talks too much. For them, knowing the role of a leader is important;

“Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.”

— Gilbert Amelio, President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.

Bad communication is not the monopoly of mere politicians, Dr. James Merlino in his book ‘Service Fanatics’ writes:

“Effective physician communication is a critical component of patient experience…. Most physicians believe they are excellent at patient communication, but the data suggest otherwise. Like a new medical treatment or surgical skills, effective communication skills can be taught, require practice and matter of proficiency.”

We can see that degrees or status don’t guarantee better communication skills. This is applicable to every profession.

What to talk, how to talk and how much to talk is an (important) art, a skill which everyone must master as what we do the whole life is communication.

We know the cases of broken marriages around us due to lack of communication and broken children/parents’ relationship due to inadequate communication. This is beautifully worded by George Bernard Shaw:

”The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Many times HOW matters more than the WHAT. WHAT demonstrates your thinking and IQ and HOW demonstrates your attitude and temperament and even deficiency.

I can’t resist writing what Mark Twain had said about WHAT:

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  Mark Twain.

Tim Ferris is a well-known author and podcaster. He in his own podcast he answered a question asked by one of his listeners.  The question was what would he major in if he goes to the school again?

His answer was: Obsession and communication

Recently, many boards’ results are announced. Hope students while selecting the degrees they wish to pursue focus also on communication skills before they complete the graduation. They will soon realise in real life communication skills precede every other skill.

Sunil Gandhi

How Service Design influence our happiness?

We have known about the importance of service design and how it can be implemented in solving people problem in previous two posts.

One of the fundamental principles of Service Design is it is Human Cantered. Human be it customer, citizen or patients’ or patients’ relatives.

The largest service provider who touches the maximum humans in any country is the Government (Govt.) of that country.

Governments are the biggest service providers in the world. Everything Govt. does is a service to the citizen. Govt. touches many aspects citizen’s lives.

  1. Direct Tax Departments
  2. Indirect Tax Departments
  3. Railway/Public Transport
  4. Passport and Immigration
  5. Water supply and cleaning up of the cities
  6. Policing
  7. Healthcare (To a large extent)
  8. Education (To a large extent)
  9. Insurance (To a large extent)
  10. Banking (To a large extent)
  11. Business Policies
  12. Welfare Schemes
  13. Judiciary

All these are services and mostly provided un-designed in a human-cantered way.

Which single private company can provide so many important and inescapable services?

Every important sphere of human life is influenced by the Govt. Imagine if these services are not designed keeping the HUMAN aspect at the core, how much irritation and frustration they can create?  We all are experiencing the pain of our Govt. services so no need to borrow our experience.

What we experience when we deal with Govt. services is (One or all) ;

  • Inconvenient
  • Inefficient
  • Irritable
  • Irresponsible
  • Indifferent

& therefore results in stress and frustration. This is perhaps the cause of massive and wide spread corruption as we all want to avoid such experience.

Perhaps happiness index of the country can change if the Govt. behaves and offer these services in a human-cantered way. It is not the money which gives happiness to the citizen but it is the Govt. Services which are responsible for our happiness.

Not convinced?  Don’t agree?

Let me explain.

As per the World Happiness Index 2015 and Accenture Citizen Experience Study;

70% of the people in the US are ‘not satisfied’ with their cost of living and only 3% is ‘very satisfied’. But they rank 15th in the world Happiness Index.

In Canada, 22% are ‘very satisfied’ with the cost of living and 47% are ‘not satisfied’ but they rank 5th in the world happiness index.

Even in Singapore, 27% are ‘very satisfied’ with the cost of living and 37% are ‘not satisfied’ but they rank 24th in the world happiness index.

& in Australia, only 11% are ‘very satisfied’ with the cost of living and 64% are ‘not satisfied’ but they rank 10th in the world happiness index.

In India 34% people are ‘very satisfied’ with their cost of living and 36% are ‘not satisfied’ but we rank 117 in the world happiness index.

More number of Indian are ‘very satisfied’ with their cost of living than the people in the US, Canada, Australia and Singapore.

Less number of Indians are ‘not satisfied’ with their cost of living than the people in the US, Canada, Australia and Singapore.

& yet, India rank 117,  way below these countries in world happiness index.

We are more satisfied and less ‘not satisfied’ than our world peers and yet we are a lot more unhappy than them.

What could be the reason?

This is only because these governments’ offer better services like healthcare, lower perception of corruption, better life choices, high life expectancy etc. Better quality of life makes them happier despite being dissatisfied with the cost of living.

These data suggests two things.

  • The quality of Govt. Services to the citizen decide the happiness of the citizen of the country.
  • should not only focus on GDP growth but happiness matrix also should guide Govt. action and this means the quality of Govt. services to the citizen.

We do not need only rich society but we also need happy society & richness does not guarantee happiness. We all know this but Govt. also should know this and focus on better services. Human-centered service design is the answer.

& the fact is, our happiness to a large extent is dependent on Govt. services.

Sunil Gandhi

How service design approach can reduce waiting time?

Healthcare is the industry where people consume the service out of compulsion. No customer comes there out of their desire or choice. Perhaps customers come here when they are in distress and in delicate health condition. People accompanying the patient are also in the disturbed mind as their loved and dear one is suffering and they are apprehensive about the outcome of the treatment.

& therefore Customer Experience a hospital creates is very critical. Healthcare experiences for inpatients can be divided into following aspects:

  • Admission – Patient & relatives
  • Diagnosis – Patient & relatives
  • Doctor Communication – Patient & relatives
  • Treatment – Patient
  • Post Treatment Stay – Patient & relatives
  • Discharge – Relatives
  • Visitors Experience

Treatment part of course is the most important aspect of the healthcare. But all other peripheral experiences do play an important role in overall patients’ experience. Patients’ journey mapping can bring any insights on how to better patients experience with appropriate and smart intervention by the hospital management.

For a simple example, let’s take a queue for OPD patients:

For OPD patients, imagine a patient has to wait for hours before any doctor sees him. This is a normal phenomenon across the healthcare units in India as there is neither better time management nor usage of technology to reduce waiting time.

Tirupati Balaji temple in Andhra Pradesh is the best example of service design in action and what service design approach can achieve.

From an average 2 to 12 hours of waiting, the temple could reduce the queue time to half an hour.

  • They converted physical queue into an e queue.
  • Bar code is generated at the time of registration and the wristband is issued.
  • The pilgrim is expected to report just half an hour before the scheduled Darshan time.

Therefore, there is no physical queue and the pilgrim can be anywhere in the town and yet maintain priority in the system.

& the most important is there is no uncertainty and anxiety.  The system is transparent. The data generated on registration are also used for vehicle management and food and beverage supply.

The entire transformation was customer centric, in this case, devotee centric. Complete case study.

If Tirupati Balaji temple can curtail time for waiting in the queue by the devotees, why can’t our hospitals and healthcare units do it? Though the flow of people can’t be compared but ofcousre system can be generated to reduce waiting time substantially, reduce uncertainty and anxiety of patients and their relatives.

Long waiting time for the patients in the healthcare units is one of the major causes of stress for patients and their relatives. The idea of E queues can be explored based on the patients’ traffic, doctors’ consultation time. Usage of technology with these data can certainly improve patients’ experience. The service Design approach can definitely add value here and help in creating better the patients’ experience.

When the time is the scarcest resource, isn’t saving patients’ time is the 2nd most important thing healthcare organisations do to their patients?

Sunil Gandhi

Service Design – Why you can’t ignore it?

We all know the premium designers products command in the market. As far as services are concerned most service providers are not designing the service.

Services are about customer services. For new age businesses customer service is the core service. It does not come into play once the goods are sold and when the problem crops up. Be it banking, insurance, healthcare or hotels or any other services, their core business is customer service.

Unlike products which are designed in factories and sold in stores, services are not designed but it is made available as and when the customer demands. & therefore SERVICE DESIGN is a very important part of all the services but it is not only ignored, but most providers have no clue about this new discipline.

Usually, services are not proactively designed and that brings subjectivity in the service delivery. The subjectivity of the person delivering it, the subjectivity of place of delivery affects the experience customer receives. For example, in the healthcare system studies suggest, heart attack victims more likely to die if admitted to hospital at the weekend. However, every medicine, which is a manufactured product, would perform the same way the whole day, every day. It is the service of medical professionals which are hampered on weekends.

Usually, services are not proactively designed and that brings subjectivity in the service delivery. The subjectivity of the person delivering it, the subjectivity of place of delivery affects the experience customer receives. For example, in the healthcare system studies suggest, heart attack victims more likely to die if admitted to hospital at the weekend. However, every medicine, which is a manufactured product, would perform the same way the whole day, every day. It is the service of medical professionals which are hampered on weekends.

Every service offering company has to have services designed. These companies have SOPs but SOPs are STANDARD and customers are not standard. SOPs are designed for organisation’s point of view and efficiency. Service Design is design principles which take customers’ requirement into consideration while designing the services. Service Design is human-cantered while SOPs are product and organisation focussed.

“It is because many services are almost invisible that nobody takes care to design them.” Andy Polaine, Lavrans Løvlie, and Ben Reason in their book Service Design.

Customer Experience (CX) is now in vogue but in most organisations the subject is vaguely understood. “Me too” is the mindset. Thought little, but in some of the organisations which are taking the lead in CX are also taking the lead only in measurements of CX with scorecard like NPS but not in designing the experience. Forrester recently surveyed 100 customer experience professionals and found that only 15% consistently follow a defined customer experience design process when they create new interactions or improve existing ones.

In the age of customer experience and sharing economy where social media is widespread, Service Design is a new and powerful approach for the service organisation to do their business with customers.

Kerry Bodine , ex Forrester CX Professional wrote;,
We’ve entered a new business era that Forrester calls the age of the customer — a time when focus on the customer matters more than any other strategic imperative. Service design provides a toolset and framework that enable companies to truly understand their customers and engage with them in meaningful ways — ultimately driving profits, cost savings, and competitive differentiation.

Service Design is about designing each of the touch points of the organisation which customer interacts with. Customer Journey Maps are the foundation, based on which services can be effectively designed.

When a customer enters the hotel for check in or when a patient is admitted in an emergency department of the hospital or a customer is in the bank to withdraw cash, at each of such instances which parts of the organisation are triggered and comes into action?

It is not the front end staffs which are exposed, but the entire check in, admission and cash withdrawal services are in action and therefore exposed. How these services are designed or not designed will decide the fate of the customer experience and kind of interaction the customer will have with the front end staff.

In most of the cases,there is no end to end design of the services and that is why customer irritation takes place.

• Long queues
• Irresponsive & indifferent employee behaviour
• No replies to resolve our queries
• Call holding for long and hearing recorded message
• Scripted call center response
• Standard answer to our emails
• No confirmation of booking or order
• Doctors communication style with patients’ and their relatives
• Not acting on our instructions
• Heavy traffic
• Not providing adequate information in advance

The customer irritation list is endless. This list can be shortened and perhaps eliminated with the service design approach by the service companies. Service industry in India is booming and now has a share of 52% of GDP. This is likely to grow in the years to come. However, the growth of service sector without service designers is going to create more irritation among the customers, more of red ocean markets.

The world over Service Design is getting the attention of the trendsetting companies. Mayo Clinic has its own design practice, Capital One bank has acquired design agency Adaptive Path, IBM is building its own design studio. However, the service design is not the discipline for large organisations. Like a product design is necessary for every product manufacturing company, a service design is going to be a necessity for every service provider company.

Governments are the largest service providers to the citizen. UK Govt is focused on the principles of service design and they have service design standards for Govt services.

Designers’ services are what we need now and the future belongs to the companies which invest in Service Design to create better customer experiences. Manufacturing mindset will not work in the new service economy.

Are you sure services your company is offering will be delivered to the customer to create desired experience every time?

Sunil Gandhi