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How To Overcome Operational Bottlenecks In Your Hospital

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My company, Cobblestones Consulting, provides non-clinical services and solutions to healthcare organizations in India. As management consultants, we partner with our clients, on fixed-term engagements, to ensure their people, I.T tools and processes help them achieve patient-centric operations and profit maximization.

One of our clients is a large +500 bedded multi-specialty hospital in Western India which operates in collaboration with the government in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. In addition to being a tertiary care teaching organisation that has all the important specialties, the hospital also conducts rural community health & training programs. It also serves as a research center for clinical trials, social sciences and operational research.

Public perception of this hospital was largely positive. It was seen as an effective provider of rational, affordable and comprehensive healthcare. However, in recent times, the hospital was in the news for all the wrong reasons.


The Challenge

The hospital was accused of not honoring its mandate to provide 33% of its beds free of charge to the poor and indigent, of having poorly maintained and at times, dangerous infrastructure, staff that was ill-trained and rude,  poor financial planning and excessive bureaucratization.

This negative publicity was influencing patient perceptions across the continuum of care, to the detriment of the hospital. Patient inflow reduced and the hospital began bleeding profits at an alarming rate.

The role of the Operations Team in this hospital was to streamline administrative as well as non-clinical operational process flows, in an effort to “render quality service at low-cost”. They were responsible for everything from surgical schedules, patient flow through the emergency department, coordination with community emergency services,  coordination with the various wings, wards and departments within the hospital, assessing the capacity of beds, staff, and equipment to satisfy random patient demand, and all necessary logistics.

The Operations Team in this hospital first sought to find out the severity of the issue. Then, they tried to frame methods to approach the problems and to figure out the obstacles. This was obviously not working out for them. With each passing day, negative patient experience in the hospital was causing fewer and fewer admissions & greater patient exodus to the competition. As is to be expected, the Board of Directors at the hospital gave more importance & focus to the solving of clinical issues by the medical departments, which only made the task of the Operations Team more difficult.

In this light, the hospital sought external expertise to find a stable and feasible solution for the current non-clinical problem viz., inability in achieving operational efficiency. This was seen to either contribute to or mitigate the healthy growth of the hospital.

Cobblestones Consulting was invited to join the management team of the hospital for a specified period, with this mandate.



The first thing we did upon joining was not take the diagnosis of the problem as given. Rather than work in the management mandated areas of quality, flexibility, delivery and cost control in the hospital, Cobblestones Consulting preferred the data-led approach to problem solving.

We conducted a market research exercise within the hospital, with both clinical and non-clinical staff, that threw up interesting statistics. 60% of the 352 representative respondents in our random sample ranked patient experience as a top priority for the hospital. Survey respondents also listed purposeful leadership and strong culture as the top factors in achieving positive patient experience.

Gap Analysis

To help the hospital administrators run the system judiciously, it was essential for us to find out the probable areas in the hospital’s operations where more attention was required so that the organization could become more dynamic.

The main roadblock between the present situation and the projected future for the hospital was the breakdown of operational processes in the hospital.

The reason?

  1. Staff was not comfortable operating computers.
  2. Computer stations were not synced fully with each other.

Something this elementary was causing bottlenecks to occur & backlogs to form in crucial areas. Surgical schedules were affected, upsetting patient flow from the emergency department, and causing ambulance diversions because of overcrowding.

Overhauling the long accepted operational practices in the hospital was not going to be easy, but it was the only way this hospital could succeed in the new and challenging reimbursement climate in the India of 2018.

Process Improvement

When operational processes broke down in the hospital causing bottlenecks to occur in critical areas, these problems exhausted staffing and other resources, prevented improvements, and most importantly, compromised the patient experience. A simple assessment of the present vs/- projected condition led Cobblestones Consulting to address the first most obvious symptom of this problem – “too many avoidable patient days”.

This was because, the hospital was often deemed to be operating at “full capacity” for various reasons: Many patients were in isolation due to which second beds in semi-private rooms were unavailable; sometimes all the beds in the hospital were actually full; sometimes a patient waiting for discharge occupied a bed when there was no medical necessity — simply because it’s easier to stay in the bed than to go home that day!

What needed fixing urgently in the hospital was this mismanaged patient-bed-diseases process in the hospital. The hospital was not benefiting from having separate wings and wards with specialized equipment, where different types of patients were treated by nurses and doctors with special expertise.


Cobblestones Consulting helped the hospital build positive patient experience into every operational process in the hospital. We did this by implementing a new strategy based on NABH standards, to positively affect the perception of patients in the hospital regarding the quality of care they received. Our operations management improvements began at the top and became a part of the strategic plans and goals shared by the entire organization. From the front desk staff who greeted patients, to the nurses and physicians, to the housekeeping staff who maintained the cleanliness of the rooms – everyone bought into processes that drove a positive patient experience.

We achieved this using a three pronged strategy built on bridging identified gaps in operational efficiency. Through knowledge sharing, training & setting quality indicators backed by a strict monitoring of the results, the desired perception of patient care became a reality in this hospital. Every patient interaction only added to the positive perception about the hospital.

Benefits To The Client

  1. 40.5% increase in patient flow in the current financial year
  2. Hospital rapidly gaining competitive advantage
  3. 10% net gain in return on investment in the hospital
  4. Reduced time consumption
  5. 38% increase in revenues in the current financial year
  6. Streamlined hospital processes
  7. Enhanced operational efficiency
  8. Refined quality of care in the hospital
  9. Organized and smooth hospital workflow
  10. Elevated scores of patient’s satisfaction for the current year (moved from a score of 3 to 8 in Customer Satisfaction and from 6 to 8 in Quality of Service)

Key Generic Takeaways

Issue 1 – Operational gaps weaken the hospital system which completely curtails productivity. This diminishes the effectiveness & efficiency of the healthcare service and adversely affects service quality & patient satisfaction.

Strategy To Remedy This Issue – Reduce the gap by communicating & circulating the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). Provide staff regular training and set up a monitoring process to help them follow the SOP.

Issue 2 – To maintain the overall efficiency, patient care quality & cost effectiveness, it is necessary to conduct on-going process training focussed on implementing full capacity protocol in the hospital.

Strategy To Remedy This Issue – Find out the gaps in the process flow of every operation in the hospital. Perform a data-driven analysis to study the gaps and draw out a workable organizational strategic plan. Frame policies & SOP’s based on the requirements of the hospital. Implement them in the day-to-day process of the hospital system. Evaluate & compare the performance.


  1. Is your hospital system running judiciously? Can you list the indices to measure the same?
  2. Are you aware of the probable areas where more attention is required so that your hospital becomes more dynamic?
  3. Can you list the exact obstacles causing the gap in your hospital system?

If your answer is a “NO” to even one of the three questions above, you could use our services. Our aim in the hospital assignment you just read about was to enhance the operational capabilities of quality, flexibility, delivery and cost control. We achieved this.

You could use our expertise to figure out the best strategic plan that suits your hospital. We frame “Standard Operating Procedures” based on National Standards. Further, we assist you in implementing the newly framed strategies through knowledge sharing, training & setting quality indicators. We evaluate the performance of the new strategy & compare it with the standards.

Revamping the standard procedures in your hospital is sure to enhance its operational efficiency which will yield results of high productivity.


Picture Credits:

  1. Hospital Room Photo by Martha Dominguez
  2. Stethoscope Photo by Hush Naidoo
  3. Castle Ghosts Photo by  Joakim Honkasalo


PART 3 – THE CHECKLIST : For High Value Healthcare In India

You are a leader of your own healthcare organization in India. Or, you are looking at the numbers and deciding to foray into India’s dynamic and growing healthcare market. As part of your market scan, you understand only too well the pressures that rising health care costs place on individuals, employers, and the government, as you are of the unacceptable shortfalls in the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the country.

Through your personal experiences in your own institution and through communication and collaboration with colleagues in others, you may have learned that better health outcomes at lower costs can be achieved through care transformation initiatives. These measures yield improved results, more satisfied patients, and organizational cultures of continuous learning.

In this last of the three part blogpost series, I have created a set of questions that you can use in the form of A Checklist for High-Value Health Care In India. My attempt is to describe, in as generic a way as possible, the foundational lessons that will be relevant to every Medical Director, CEO and Board member, and to the healthcare delivery organizations they lead.

These are central not only to your work, to date, in Indian healthcare, but also impact your ability to sustain and reinforce the system-wide transformation necessary for continuous improvement in the face of rapidly increasing pressures, demands, and market changes.

This Checklist is intended to be a living and dynamic document, and I invite both suggestions to improve its utility and reach, and inquiries from decision-makers of healthcare organizations who wish to incorporate these transformation strategies for effective, efficient, and continuously improving health care for all Indians.

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The absence of continuity of care in healthcare delivery systems is the main roadblock to sustained profitability of the organization.

  • What is our strategy for continuous improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of care, and are we reinforcing it with every member of our organization?
  • What else can our Board and its members do to emphasize and help drive our continuous improvement efforts?
  • In what ways are our employees at every level supported and empowered to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and outcomes in their daily work?
  • What tools have we built into our processes for continuous feedback and action to improve care delivery?
  • How well is our I.T. system used to help providers streamline administrative tasks and improve the care experience and patient outcomes?
  • How well is our Electronic Health Records (EHR) aligned with Meaningful Use requirements?
  • For which of our most common and highest-cost conditions and procedures do we not yet have evidence-based care protocols? What is our strategy for filling these gaps and keeping others current?
  • Which of our care protocols are not yet integrated into provider workflows via our EHR and what is our plan to fully integrate them?
  • What procedures have we put in place for continuous monitoring of patient flow, occupancy, and staffing levels for each major service line?
  • What indices do we use to identify and eliminate unnecessary and wasteful fluctuations, variation, and inefficiencies in each element?
  • What procedures ensure optimal care transitions, both within units of the hospital and between the hospital and the community?
  • How do we assess which care setting is most cost-effective and appropriate to the patient experience and outcome?
  • How do we define the patient’s care team and ensure that each care step is delivered by the most appropriate team member?
  • What tools are being provided to our clinicians to aid in the communication of complex medical information to patients and their families?
  • How do we require and facilitate the routine engagement of patients and their families as fully-informed, active decision makers in the planning and execution of their care?
  • What is our procedure for identifying, engaging, and tailoring the management of high-risk, resource-intensive patients?
  • What resources are we dedicating to the targeting and intensive management of the health of these patients, here and in the community?
  • For which of the most common injuries and errors have we developed or adapted specific protocols to reduce their incidence, and what are the priorities ahead?
  • How are these protocols fully integrated into existing workflows, such as through prompts in our EHR?
  • How do we measure and benchmark adherence to evidence protocols, service utilization rates, and performance on quality, costs, and outcomes?
  • What are our procedures for using performance data to improve outcomes and reduce variability, costs, and waste?
  • How do we communicate clinician specific performance data back to clinicians, and how can we improve that communication?

The Checklist addresses the systems-level issues central in transitioning to a high-value healthcare system in India, one that improves outcomes while reducing costs. The Checklist’s 22 items reflect the strategies that, in my experience, have proven effective and essential to improving quality and reducing costs.

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The healthcare delivery systems today aim to reach for this low hanging objective.

They describe the foundational, infrastructure, care delivery, and feedback components of a system oriented around value, and represent basic opportunities – indeed obligations – for hospital and healthcare delivery system CEOs and Boards to improve the value of health care in their institutions.

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The healthcare delivery systems should aim to reach this profitable objective.

Taken together, this Checklist needs to be woven into the organizational strategy for improving quality and reducing cost amid a changing landscape, one that is marked by growing demand for cost-effective, quality healthcare services in India, the rapid proliferation of telemedicine, the penetration of health insurance companies, mergers and acquisitions leading to rising corporatisation in the medical industry and government schemes that are fast changing the competitive landscape.

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Featured Image Source:

PART 2 – CRITICAL TRENDS IN THE HEALTH ECONOMY Government Measures That Are Shaping The Indian Healthcare Market Environment In 2018

In this second of the three part blog post series, I am describing the slew of government measures that are rapidly and permanently changing the way medicine is practiced in India. It is creating a level playing field in Indian healthcare, opening up the sector to greater domestic and international competition and forcing established players to quickly adapt to the new paradigm. At the end of this blog post, I will chart out, in terms of its profitability, the competitive intensity and, therefore, the attractiveness (or lack of it) of the changing health industry in India. This should be a valuable decision making aid for you as Medical Director, CEO or Board member of the healthcare delivery organizations you lead.

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Read the rest of this entry

Who is your Indian Customer? KYC!

Much has been made of India’s demographic dividend. Just the sheer size and volume in market segments has business owner’s itching to grab a slice of the Indian pie.

Consumer India Demographics

As a business owner looking to enter India, your natural query is – Who is my customer?

The easiest way to answer this question is for you to hire a market research agency.

You do just this. Sure enough, after much statistical jugglery on their part and head scratching on yours, you now hold in your hand a well-crafted report filled with tabulated Indian demographic data, geographic mapping of consumer spread and drilled-down socio-economic classification. This is observable, easy market research that can at best tell you about the user status for your business offering, its usage rate among consumers, their stage of adoption and loyalty status.

So, now you know “WHAT” & “HOW” Indians consume your market offering. Great analysis for your good money, huh?

How does this research report help you to sell more, sell to the correct target group, at the right price, using the right platforms?

It doesn’t.

To do that you need to understand the value your product/service delivers to your Indian consumers. For which you need to sell to the right TG. To help you make sense of this amorphous TG, I’ve created out of them, a matrix of what I call Six Market Ready Indian Segments.


This grid is based on the first publicly accessible “LOHAS”-type segmentation equivalent for Millennials in USA. It was created by the Kansas City-based integrated marketing agency, Barkley USA, in partnership with Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

This segmentation grid transcends any particular category, specific micro-age groups, issue or dimension and it also acknowledges the importance of life stage in shaping consumer behaviour in India. A Mother is not interested in the same things as the Activist. Likewise, it acknowledges that while this generation of Indian consumers as a whole is defined by its passion for causes, interest in the environment, and use of technology, they are not true of all consumers, and even goes so far as to identity a ‘Path Breaker’ segment.

In my conversations with this age group of consumers in India, many say that they do not identify with all of the characteristics ascribed to their generation (s) in traditional marketing analysis (Baby Boomers/Gen X/Y/Z/Millennials). This segmentation helps to drill down a bit into that issue.

For marketers, these segments help to put a face on some of the more prominent Market Ready ‘archtypes’, especially in the Indian context.  You wouldn’t address a Gadget Guru in the same way as you would a Sanskaari, when talking about technology, and perhaps a few other related categories.

Any blanket segmentation has limitations and this one is not a replacement for an age-based, category-specific segmentation, particularly if your category doesn’t readily line up with the dimensions used to create these segments. For this, please reach out to me on my website or leave your coordinates in the comments section below. I will be glad to serve you.

Nevertheless, this segmentation matrix is a step in the right direction and should provide terrific starting point for those business owners wishing to drill down into this cohort for specific insights that get beyond the generalities.

Have a safe and relaxed weekend, peeps. See you on the other side.

PM Modi’s Fourth Marketing Mantra – REALIZE

Driven by several hundred million young women and men, India’s consumer story is one of the world’s most compelling in present times. While India is the fastest growing major economy in the world today, companies are still struggling to enter this market or to stay afloat here.

My previous posts spoke about how you could not just survive, but also thrive in Indian markets, by taking a leaf out of the Marketing Manual of India’s best marketer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi  (read posts here:,, and ).

As a business owner in the Indian market, you need to stay profitable. To do so, you need to source locally and sell via e-commerce. This is where your competitive advantage lies. Just as you are digesting this rather unsettling fact, here comes another one – in India, more than just profitability, what is more important strategically, is how you REALIZE profitability.

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A common mistake many business owners looking to play the Indian market make, is to apply Western business metrics that work best in homogenized settings, to measure marketing effectiveness in a country as diverse & complex as India. As a business owner, do recognize that the Indian market is still an indigenous (swadeshi) market that is extremely cost-conscious, fiercely competitive, one that is dominated by disruptive start-ups, where consumers have low disposable incomes (do not be fooled by rising statistics for this indicator – family & business in India are still notoriously tightfisted when in comes to spending) and are easily adaptable to low cost technology. So how you measure your business’ success in the Indian market is something that requires careful thought.

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Yeah, no one said this Indian ride would be easy! But I assure you it is worth it. You can actualize profit through three focussed marketing strategies.

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To learn how you can  create these focused strategies to actualize business profits in India, reach out to me on my  website at or leave your coordinates in the comments section below.

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How can you incorporate all this in your business plans and actions? Do you have the market knowledge and marketing expertise to handle treacherous Indian market conditions? Can your business gain with the help of professional & trustworthy business advice and/or hands-on tactical help?

Feel free to reach out to me at for Market Research & Business Consultancy advice. I’ll be happy to serve you.

PM Modi’s Third Marketing Mantra – CREATE

You have decided to enter the Indian market, much encouraged by the initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. You have engaged the consumer, segmented the and market and now stand poised to take the next step, when media gets buzzing with the GST bill. In the fast changing Indian markets, this is just a reminder to you.

GST = Get your Strategy Together!

A very important third step in Modi’s Marketing Manual is CREATE. Read about it more at

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Case in Point:

The Prime Minister is a firm believer in the power of technology. Since taking office in May 2014 the Prime Minister has sought to increase the usage of technology in the working of the Government. He launched the Digital India initiative, an all-encompassing programme, to invigorate the working of the government with latest technology and provide solutions to people’s problems through the power of technology. The Prime Minister has started a unique initiative PRAGATI, a technology based multi-purpose and multi-nodal platform where projects are monitored and people’s problems are addressed. On the last Wednesday of every month, the Prime Minister himself sits down with top officials during the PRAGATI sessions and covers substantial ground in a wide range of sectors. This has made a very positive difference in the lives of many Indians.

Like PM Modi, do you have an  Automation, Technology & Engagement Strategy (A.T.E. Strategy) in place to capture a large market share?

Here are a couple of pointers to get you started:

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It is common knowledge that the proven channels that helps businesses top the ranks in digital marketing ROI and which offer them a cost-effective way of reaching out to customers are, email marketing, closely followed by social media listening. Automation technologies for data storage and sharing as well as for measurement & analytics can help businesses perform better and deliver results no one expected.

Do you have an integration mechanism ready for this in your marketing strategy?

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Navroz Mubarak, peeps. May this New Year be filled with success, prosperity & happiness.


PM Modi’s Second Marketing Mantra – Segment


This is the magic marketing  mantra used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rack up his impressive wins at home and abroad. You can read about it here –

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Source: Google Images

In this post, I will introduce the second syllable in this mantra. S= SEGMENT.

Segment to succeed

For companies looking to win in the Indian market, given the geographic spread, cultural differences and price sensitivities at play here, segmentation is a sound basis for developing targeted and effective marketing plans. Furthermore, analysis of market segments enables decisions about intensity of marketing activities in particular segments. A segment-orientated marketing approach generally offers a range of advantages for both, businesses and customers.

To get you started, here are nine questions you can answer. If your answers are not convincing enough or if you aren’t sure the answers are correct, do not hesitate to undertake Market Research. It can make all the difference between your market credibility and market disappearance!

For any Market Research activity in India, and consequent strategic marketing advice, please do not hesitate to contact me. Visit my website for more details.

9 Modi-fied questions

Remember, in the relationship-based Indian market, success is relative. More success, more relatives! Stay safe and have a good weekend, peeps. See you on the other side.

Do You Understand The Pulse Of The Indian Market?

Forget what you learned in B-School about marketing and selling. Demand = Sales is an equation that doesn’t work in India. Sure, to succeed in India, you certainly require a sustainable business model, great execution, and something in reserve to avoid being derailed by bad luck or a shift in business environment.

But is this all that is needed to succeed in India? I think not. Just ask Hyperlocal grocery delivery start up PepperTap, which raised over US$50 million, including a US$36 million series B round led by ecommerce player Snapdeal in September, 2015, LocalBanya, which raised US$5 million, or GrocShop, founded by IIT Bombay alumni and selected by Google for mentoring. All of them floundered and bit the dust in spite of hedge funds and VCs falling over themselves to back these internet businesses in India. Same is the case with edtech start-ups like iProf & Purple Squirrel, used car marketplace Zoomo (earlier called GoZoomo), Getit Infoservices, the parent company of ecommerce marketplace AskMe, on-demand laundry start up Doormint, FranklyMe and Murmur,  well funded food delivery startups like TinyOwl, ZuperMeal, BiteClub, Zeppery, iTiffin, fashion ecommerce start ups like Fashionara & Ladyblush, fashion rental companies like Flyrobe, Liberent, Elanic, SwishList, Klozee & The Clothing Rental, logistics-transportation-delivery start ups like Parcelled and TruckMandi, the marketplace for building materials in Delhi NCR – Buildzar, the mobile app to enable an entrepreneur to send a pitch to an investor with a single click-Shotpitch, mobile auto-hailing app Autoncab, and finally, the heartbreak of India’s first Tinder, Cogxio, shutting down.

To understand how to win in the Treacherous Indian Market which is littered with folded-up companies, business owners can learn from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Marketing Manual. This is a man who wins election after election, each more convincingly than the previous one by using a simple Marketing Mantra – E.S.C.R.O.W.

To know what this is, read my blog post at

Using Modi’s Marketing Mantra, you can also succeed in Indian markets.

I will tell you something you don’t hear in B-Schools or read of in scholarly course material. To sell to Indians, what is needed the most on the part of the business firm is Empathy & Compassion for the customer. This has to come through first, above all else. Its time to unlearn your Marketing knowledge, folks. In India, we are like this only!

Any company wanting to engage consumers in India with their market offering must be seen as Empathetic and Compassionate. Indians describe Empathy as the capacity to ‘see from another’s point of view’ and Compassion is the capacity to ‘feel with the disadvantaged and less fortunate members of society’. These twin qualities are at the heart of what makes us Indian. This is our DNA. These are the two strands that wind around each other like a twisted ladder, giving us Indians a unique and distinct identity. Think of Empathy as the red coloured oxygen atoms and compassion as the blue coloured nitrogen atoms in our DNA helix.

In India, power is vested with the Prime Minister. Since 1947, when the modern Indian nation state came into being, till date, Indians view their Prime Minister as the ‘Ruler of the Land – A Karma Yogi’. The main reason why PM Modi is able to hold on to and improve his popularity ratings among Indians at home and abroad is that he is able to embody this most crucial aspect of Ruler of the Land. He is perceived to be a Karma Yogi – one who lives out the tenets of Karma Yoga. In Indian philosophy (which is a living, breathing, everyday construct in the life of the average Indian), Karma Yoga is a technique of performing actions as a duty without any expectation of rewards. The concept of duty arises in relation to others and an absence of desire for rewards implies an altruistic motive. Thus, the actions of a Karma-Yogi are necessarily altruistic.

To illustrate this point, one has to only see the recent exercise of Demonetization that PM Modi unveiled on November 8th last year. Demonetisation is unlike other policies, it has benefits but also pain built into it. Black money in India is like a cancer. It has spread all over the country, almost like a parallel circulatory system for our economy. The use of currency notes is a big part of it. Black money stalls growth, kills efficiency and keeps the economy sub-optimal. To that extent, to cure black money, the government justified demonetization as a treatment that resembles chemotherapy. The Demonetization step is, therefore, welcome. However, what is not acceptable to Indians is the government (or its fanboys) gloating over the brilliance of their idea to do a chemo, and being unwilling to look at or address the ugly side effects that come with it. No doctor gloats after giving a patient a chemo. They work to lessen the pain of the patient and limit the impact on good, weak cells. This is what PM Modi was perceived to have done. He understood that for India’s poor, all it takes to make them descend in a negative spiral of abject poverty is one brutal blow – daily wages lost for a few months, savings wiped out because no bank took them, a job loss as their employer shut down, an industry downturn or a hospital turning them away – and they can never get back on their feet again. The chemo of Demonetization could do that. To ignore that would have been both insensitive and irresponsible.

No matter how brilliant the solution, the execution here was vital. PM Modi was roundly criticized by the media, the pundits and the Opposition parties for his government’s execution of the Demonetization exercise. They said he hadn’t done it as well as he could have. That we still don’t have enough notes, banks have queues and people are being inked for taking out their own money. Policies are changing on a daily basis. That the finance guys sat at the meeting hailing this plan, and nobody invited or heard logistics professionals, who were needed to make this happen.

Cutting through the noise, Indians saw empathy and compassion in this act. They saw Demonetization as PM Modi’s generalized disposition to engage in altruistic helping. Here was a man who came from humble beginnings; he knew first hand, the compromises that ordinary Indians make every day just to put food on the family thaali (plate) and out came the empathy and compassion of ordinary Indians, mirroring their ruler’s attitude. They patiently stood in long bank queues, surrendered their small savings in old currency at bank counters, put up with a daily and weekly ceiling on their cash withdrawals, tolerated ATM’s running dry and watched on with wry humour, as people who had no stake in their welfare blathered on about how ‘ordinary Indians were being inconvenienced’. Using social media, digital platforms and electronic & print media, PM Modi convinced ordinary Indians that Demonetization was necessary chemotherapy administered by the government to root out the cancer of black money. That managing the side effects and showing empathy to the patient was top priority for him now. After that, he would take steps to ensure there’s no relapse. Indians bought into this premise. They saw Demonetization as necessary and laudable. The painful treatment was worth it. PM Modi would do his best to ensure the carcinogens, the stuff that caused the cancer of black money in the first place, were eliminated too.

The recent assembly elections in five Indian states were seen as a referendum on the government’s Demonetization move. PM Modi won in four out of the five states.

Question:       Why did PM Modi succeed so spectacularly in the recent assembly elections?

Answer:         He is seen to be Empathetic & Compassionate. Sure he has definite motives to accomplish. He is not completely altruistic. But by his actions and his public engagement strategies, he is able to mould public perception in his favour. He comes across as Empathetic & Compassionate.

In the eyes of most Indians, only when an individual has genuine empathetic concern for others can he/she be sensitive and be aware of his/her duty. Empathetic concern and role-taking with respect to individuals affected by one’s actions constitutes moral sensitivity, which is the first step towards moral development. This is what makes a person a Karma Yogi and a ‘ruler of hearts’.

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So what can you learn from PM Modi as a business owner? First, engage your customer, don’t start selling straightaway. Use content to drive dialogue and automation to enhance your reach. Second, spend time, effort & money creating a strong connection between your customers and your brand. You can do this by creating programs that serve their needs and address their biggest pain points. Third, demonstrate compassion for your customers by creating marketing programs that are informed and driven with empathy.

In my previous post, I had triggered thought in the minds of business owners by posing a set of questions. Answering these questions honestly will trigger an empathetic & compassionate mindset among business owners that will serve them well in the Indian market.  Empathy is reflected through a company’s ethics, leadership, internal culture, brand perception, and public messaging via social media. A company’s singular quality to be accepted by Indians is to be perceived by them as being high on empathetic concern for their customers and low on personal distress in their marketing effort. Such businesses are thought to be more likely to take actions for the benefit of their consumers rather than for their own benefit.

To be a market leader, your company (i.e. YOU – the owner) must be perceived by consumers to be a Karma Yogi. To give you a small exercise, rate yourself of the following Empathy-Compassion scale. This will tell you how much of a Karma Yogi you are.

Scale for Karma-Yoga: Sense of duty or obligation towards others

  1. I hesitate to do what is expected of me∗ (negative).
  2. I willingly do whatever task is assigned to me, even if I do not enjoy it.
  3. I am aware of my obligations to society.
  4. I willingly perform all duties, which are expected of me.
  5. I feel it is my duty to contribute to society.

Scale for Karma-Yoga: Absence of desire for rewards

  1. I work only in order to get some personal benefits∗ (negative).
  2. While working, I keep thinking about success or failure∗ (negative).
  3. I expect to be rewarded for good work done∗ (negative).
  4. I often dream of becoming very successful∗ (negative).
  5. I am disappointed when the outcomes of my efforts do not yield the results I expected∗ (negative).
  6. I strive to be selfless in whatever activity I undertake.


Are you a Karma Yogi? How can your company be seen to be Empathetic and Compassionate? Write in and let me know.

If you require professional assistance in doing this, please contact me on my website at

Like Daniel H. Pink said, “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” To this, may I add that in India, this can make all the difference between market longevity and market disappearance!

In tomorrow’s post, we will discuss the second Mantra in Modi’s Marketing Manual – Segmentation.



PM Modi’s Marketing Mantra – How He Does It and How You Can Too


Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trending big time! Across the world. There is much we can learn from this man who has single-handedly changed the political narrative in India. He has not just changed the narrative but the entire political paradigm across the world! In recent times, PM Modi is the only politician who can fill up an entire stadium and have people hankering for more. All this without losing his shirt (à la Premier Putin) or his sense of humour (like President Trump).  This is brand building, brand conversion & brand evangelization at its finest.  Modiji is so good at Marketing and Product Delivery that ordinary Pakistanis want him as their leader!

Aaj Tak Modi

Source: So Sorry: India Today Group’s innovative politoons

In the wired world we live in, consumer lives are both incredibly nuanced & pervasive. Businesses need to design products & services and deliver better experiences, at the speed of Wi-Fi. This requires reinvention and reinterpretation of the market offering against the backdrop of conflict resolution. Businesses will do well to emulate PM Modi who has both the experience and ability to breed focus and consistency through governance. And orient the commitment through his clarity and voter responsiveness. The manner in which he transforms experiences using marketing media, marketing channels, discourse and personal connect is laudable.

Any business organisation’s ability to Modi-fy the market with its brand will create the only possible differentiation in the easy-to-imitate age we live in. How can businesses do this? Unfortunately, there is no one giving an answer to this question & that’s where the problem lies when it comes to Indian Markets. As a business owner looking to start your venture in the deceptively simple Great Indian Bazaar, you want winning mantras.

Look no further. I am unveiling today, Modi’s Marketing Mantra for your quick reference.

ESCROW – meaning place in custody or trust until a specified condition has been fulfilled.

E.S.C.R.O.W. = Empathize. Segment. Create. Realize. Obliterate. Win.

To understand how Prime Minister Narendra Modi uses this mantra to rack up his impressive wins is interesting. But to understand how YOU can use this mantra to succeed in slippery Indian Market terrain – now that is putting your money where your mouth is!

In tomorrow’s post, I will unveil Modi’s Marketing Manual – how he uses this mantra to succeed and how you can use it.

PM Modi says it for me “Hum wade nahi, irade lekar aayien hain (I come, not bearing promises, but carrying intention)”.

Stay tuned, peeps. This stuff is impressive.

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