Wealth Out of Waste
Vedanta, Sesa Goa Iron Ore

Khattackkkkkkkk!! A loud slap landed on my surprised back.

I shouted, “Maa, whats wrong with you? It hurts!”

With equal irritation she replied, “What is wrong with you? Why are you wasting so much food?”

She pointed at the leftover cabbage, chilies and some cardamoms I had kept at the side of my plate.

“Its waste” I said. “Who eats that”.

This time with a patient tone she replied, “Son, food is precious. The food you called waste is completely edible, you just need to change your taste to ensure that you complete your food in the plate.”

To drive her point she told me the story of her workplace Vedanta Limited in Goa.

“Earlier we used to reject high alumina ore for producing sinter because just like you said about stuff you left in your plate, no one was using it. It created problem in our process and affected quality of our product. But then, we decided to change ourselves. Iron ore is a natural resource and precious. We should use it in a sustainable quantity utilizing first fully the excavated ores. Therefore, we decided to adapt and innovate. We analysed our process, reviewed our customer quality requirements, we brainstormed, we changed the way we operate our machines process thus not only fully utilizing the high aluminia ore but also producing top quality product from something which was considered ‘bad’ till now.”

I was impressed. I decided to finish the food I had left.

Mom said, “ Son, remember, nothing given by nature is waste. It is for us to find the right process and means to fully utilize it”.

What Can Happen in a Day?
Max Life Insurance

Claims is not only a service differentiator but a moment of truth and Raison d'être for a Life Insurance company.

To know key “outcome expectations” of our customers at claims, a customer insighting study was done by IMRB during FY 2015-16 which revealed, “Claims plays a critical role in selection of a life insurer” and “Claims processing should be faster”. Our Customer transaction surveys also highlighted that key driver for customer experience and in turn customer loyalty is “timelines of claim settlement’’.

Analyzing the above reports, our Vice Chairman & MD, Rajesh Sud, noted that although we were maintaining industry leadership in claims paid percentage, for past three years, there was an opportunity to improve upon on-time processing of claims.

During a fine Oct’15 evening, Ashok SN our SVP & Chief Underwriter, was presenting claims performance to Rajesh & V Viswanand our Senior Director & COO, which showed all key claim matrices in solid green, including performance of our claims service promise of delivering claim settlement in 10 days when, this interesting conversation happened;

Rajesh: what can happen in a day?

Ashok nonchalantly replied, “a lot”.

Rajesh: Can we do claim settlement in one day?

Ashok knew that claims process was already having a dream run and claim settlement in 10 days was already an industry benchmark, but he replied, “nothing is impossible”.

Later, with fair idea of task and challenges ahead, he dialed Head Quality, Vinit Sharma to seek this “Holy Grail”. They formed a cross-functional team of Claims, IT and Finance under leadership of Anil Sharma, Head Claims, to reengineer claims process under Project InstaClaim. Team was assigned a clear goal to improve on-time claims processing in one day to 95% levels by Dec’16.

Project team found that claim processing in one day met % was around 31% and average settlement TAT was seven days. The team followed Six Sigma DMAIC approach, made use of tools viz VSM, SIPOC & Ishikawa to identify improvement opportunities and then systemic changes made in three key levers People, Process and Technology to finally achieve claim processing in one day met % to 95% levels by Dec’16 and average settlement TAT fell to two days a whopping 71 % improvement in our TAT’s.

The project had the desired impact on customer satisfaction; more than 60 % respondents rated claims process as excellent for past seven months in CTA surveys conducted by an independent agency IMRB.

While project success can be attributed to cross functional team efforts with strong buy-in from leadership, we learnt through this journey that nothing is impossible provided we have intent and right quality tools (pun intended). We gathered important insights required for mindset shift and change management experience which broke existing TAT related paradigms to usher in these learnings across company in other key processes viz Policy issuance, payments and surrender payouts etc.

Now, Rajesh was fair bit satisfied that when some dreams and hopes are in jeopardy due to unfortunate event of death, Max Life is able to stand and deliver to keep its promises and keep a few dreams alive, in just one day.

Where there’s a will there’s a way
Lallu Joseph

The best part of being an assessor is the wonderful learning and often the paradigm shift in thinking out of experiences. In 2014, I was assigned to lead a team for assessment of a large multispecialty hospital at Hyderabad.  I completed the rooftop, fire drill, interviewed staff and moved to floors. The waiting area of the medical ICU had many relatives, congested, chaotic and dirty. Security was having a tough time managing the crowd. The situation inside the ICU was unbelievable with three relatives every patient. Nurses and Doctors were struggling.

The next day in management review meeting I raised my concerns to MD about visitors in the ICU and the lack of discipline in the most sensitive area of the hospital. He was apologetic and expressed his inability in handling local customs, sentiments and the lack of awareness of public about infection control and prevention. I wished him well and ended the management review with some lighter conversation and a cup of tea.

Two years later, I was allotted the same hospital and was eagerly waiting to visit the hospital. Among other memories of excellent Hyderabadi biriyani and Karachi biscuits, the scene inside and outside the medical ICU were vivid in my recollection!

After facility assessment my immediate thought steered me to visit ICU. I was pleasantly surprised to see minimal crowd outside and only one visitor with the patient with personal protective attire in ICU. Doctors and nurses were less stressed though the ICU was full.

I waited to meet the MD and my immediate response on seeing him was appreciation to the clean and disciplined ICU. We shook hands and he handed over a pack and told me that was the secret. I opened the pack and found a disposable cap, foot covers, a mask and an apron and was puzzled as to how that was the solution. He smiled and narrated how he decided to allow relatives into ICU without any number restrictions provided they were willing to buy the pack with Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) for Rs. 300, wear it and then enter, so that patient safety was not compromised.

He said the results were remarkable and since each visitor had to spend Rs. 300 and hassle of wearing all those, the numbers dropped.  He suddenly noticed a jump in visitor entry after a month and noticed one relative coming out with the PPE, removing them and handing over to the next relative, who donned and went into the ICU. He said, “I became smarter”, and I put a bin adjacent to the security and instructed him strictly that visitors must Doff and throw the PPE in the bin as soon as they move out of the ICU. He sounded very happy and proud that he was able to restrict entry and claimed that his intensivists and nurses are extremely happy that they don’t need to answer queries of multiple visitors. I realized that problem solving is an art and needed innovation, lateral thinking.

You are Suspended!
eClerx Services

"November 2016, ISIS militants shot dead 52 people in east of Mosul city, Iraq." – read the morning newspaper.

Depressed, I flipped over; Dear Zindagi had released a second trailer.Will the movie be a hit? Being King Khan’s movie, they will sell it and people will have the cash to buy it!

Talking of cash, I started pondering over how terror groups would be financing their missions? Unlike legitimate businesses, terror enterprises cannot rely on loans or issue stocks to fund their activities; it definitely must be any system’s loophole.

I, Shubham am associated with the Account Suspension team of eClerx and our client is a global multinational bank that deals with various investment products and financial services.

My team is responsible for closing accounts or relationships that have been inactive in the last 18 months to stop money laundering. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Anti Money Laundering (AML), and Know Your Client (KYC) regulations are considered while account deactivation. An inadequate suspension activity may lead to terrorist mishap.

Account Suspension is one of the oldest processes with us and has matured through continuous improvement.

Over a period of time, even biggest and best-equipped ships run into trouble and it's the same in the world of busi                ness. As the wind outside was so turbulent, we promised to do something new, provide even more secure and better option to the client. Now it was either "You are Hero!" or "You are Suspended!"

We were on a mission to redesign the entire process with Prerna, our Quality POC, senior management, and few other cross-functional teams. We designed a new process flow and shared it with the client. It was a lot like crossing the ocean in a freighter — survival was uncertain. There were days of smooth sailing, and of course, the rogue waves that hit without warning.

Unfortunately, Abhishek,our Client Operational Excellence manager wasn't happy with the solution. He suggested to quit the drive and move ahead with the current flow.

“We are already in middle of ocean. Going back to the original process flow would be safest route. But would that be best for you and team?” With eyebrows raised and a witty smile, asked Ajay, our program manager.

“Definitely Not!” I gave a loud whisper. I turned back to my team and mustered courage to give it another try. With the help of our top management we could now involve Abhishek’s team from the Client side in resolving the issue. Leaving no stones unturned, we gathered their suggestions, carried multiple iterations and studied response and implemented the solution.

At the end we were at the peak of happiness with a robust process design, pleased customers, a satisfied team, proud management, and maybe reduced number of sorrowful columns in the upcoming newspapers.

You can never inspect Quality into a Product
Balaji Reddie

You can never ‘inspect’ Quality into a Product . This was the poster put up by the Quality Manger of the Organisation Mr. Gunvaandhari . A machine operator – Mr. Kuchkat read this and came to Mr. Gunvaandhari . ‘Sir , with due respect , what does this poster even mean ? I’m not able to grasp its message’ he said . 

Mr. Gunvaandhari just smiled and asked simply – ‘Does Inspection create Quality ?’
‘No’ , said Kuchkat .
‘Then how is Quality created ?’ , asked Mr. Gunvaandhari .
‘Well , by doing your job properly !’ , answered Kuchkat .
‘What do you mean by “properly” ?’asked Mr. Gunvaandhari .

Kuchkat was confused . They recently had had a session on Quality with Mr. Gunvaandhari where he defined Quality for them . He went back to his desk and searched for his notebook he had taken for the session . He found the book , and started reading the sentence which struck a cord with him . ‘Quality is conforming to requirements’ . He began thinking . He went back to the poster .

‘Whose requirements am I supposed to conform to ? The Inspector ? The Manager ? The Owner ? God – what a mess ! I don’t even know whose requirements I’m supposed to conform to !’

He went back home and sat down to have his dinner . When his wife served him his food , she asked him how the meal was . He smiled and said , ‘you should know , you must have tasted it , right ?’
‘Of course I tasted it , but I made it for you , and if you like it , then I feel like I’ve done a good job !’ .

‘That’s it !’ exclaimed Kuchkat . ‘That’s whose requirements I need to conform to ! The person who works on what I make .’

The next day he went to the worker who processed the output of his process . Kuchkat had a long chat with that worker about what he wanted and expected from him and his out put . He realised that he was not focusing on what was important to the next worker , but only on himself all along .
After taking the inputs , Kuchkat made changes to his equipment and process and then started delivering his out put to the next operator .
After a week , the operator came and thanked him and said , ‘you know what ? I don’t even need to inspect your work . Otherwise , the work had to go through multiple checks and I used to waste my time throughout the day ! Inspection does not do anything to the product – it only qualifies it !’

It dawned on Kuchkat why Mr. Gunvaandhari put up that poster . Indeed , you can not ‘inspect’ Quality into a product . You design it in with the intent of meeting Customer Requirements .

………and they all lived Qualitively ever after !


Your Perception is My Reality

The Experiment
In olden times there was a noble King who was keen to improve the life of people in his kingdom. One day he decided to check what people think about him and his welfare work. He went around the kingdom in disguise and interacted with people as a common man with a view to understand what the subject thinks of him and his policies. The kind of feedback he received came as a shocker to the king. It seems, people did not have a very good perception of the king. The image that he thought people held of him, was shattered. On further engagement with the people, he could figure out that the problem was implementation and not his schemes.

The Awakening
This was an eye opener for the king. The king concluded that people feedback is extremely critical to effectively manage his welfare work. Also the perception of King among its subject will be good if and only if they are happy and satisfied. Hence he decided to evaluate his ministers’ performances basis what the subject perceives instead of notion of excellence carried by the king and his ministers.

The Action
Next, the King called for a session of his court and asked his ministers to present ideas on how to evaluate if the subject is really happy in his reign.

The wise royal sage to the king said,” O King! I suggest you set up a way to gather direct feedback of your subject. You should set up a two big Bells outside your palace connected to a rope hanging from the terrace and name them as SHUKRIYA and FARIYAD. SHIUKRIA will sound happy and melodious when rung while FARIYAD will sound harsh and unpleasant. Encourage the subject to approach your palace and ring those bells as per their wish. The number of such rings will tell you if your subject is happy or sad.”

King was extremely excited with the idea. He added that each and every FARIYAD will be listened to by himself while all SHUKRIYA bells will be rewarded. The ministers became alert. They knew that if they do a good work this will come back in the form of a SHUKRIYA

The Efforts and the Results
Such a thing was unheard of in those days. The people of the kingdom were very happy with this arrangement. Whenever they were happy / unhappy about any service they would go to the palace and register their SHUKRIYA / FARIYAD with the king himself. This ensured that the ministers were on their toes. They started ensuring that the subject was really happy and getting the benefits of the various welfare schemes launched by the King. This was to enhance the sound of melodies as against the cacophony of FARIYAD bells.

This resulted into more and more SHUKRIYAs as it became imperative to the system to perform and deliver.

The number of Happy Bells soon became 5X that of the Unhappy Bells.