Discussing design

From Shakespeare to Game of Thrones, India’s startups are choosing quirky themes for their offices

Indian internet companies are taking nomenclature very seriously.

It’s not just people. A company’s culture can be discerned from even inanimate elements like the office halls, walls, pillars, walkways, and boardrooms.

For instance, earlier this year, when Uber sought to give itself an image makeover. Among other things, it symbolically renamed its conference hall the Peace Room, in place of the earlier War Room.

Indian internet companies, too, take nomenclature quite seriously. Be it e-commerce major Flipkart or e-payments firm Paytm or space startup Team Indus, they all thoughtfully choose in-house themes, ensuring that these reflect the company’s values and aspirations.

On the face of it, this may seem overindulgent, experts believe it helps build a company’s ethos. “Rituals and routines can play a role in developing an organisational culture by creating narratives within the firm,” said Suresh Bhagavatula, faculty at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. “Some talent may join startups because of these rituals and routines.”

So here’s what some of India’s best-known young companies are doing to give themselves a quirky, contemporary feel.


Room themes: Icons of various fields (The Beatles, Steve Jobs, Satyajit Ray, Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, Leo Tolstoy, William Shakespeare, and Ernest Hemingway).

The core theme for various rooms at Flipkart’s Bengaluru headquarters is “human greatness,” a company official said. “We believe that inspiration can be drawn from many aspects around us, but the ones that we closely relate to are human achievements,” Satheesh KV, director, Total Rewards (an employee rewards programme) at Flipkart, told Quartz. The wide range of fields reflects the company’s employee diversity, Satheesh said.

Team Indus

Room themes: Space missions (Mangalyaan, Voyager, Pathfinder, Pioneer, and Challenger) and inspirational words (Aspire, Believe, and Create).

In October 2015, when Team Indus moved to its new Bengaluru office, marketing head Sheelika Ravishankar took it upon herself to pick the names. “Everyone who works at Team Indus was a space nerd while growing up, so these names keep the magic alive for them,” Ravishankar said. “Many a times, when we have visitors, they request to be photographed with the doors carrying these names.”


Room themes: Fashion designers (Coco Chanel, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Gucci), sports legends (Pele, Roger Federer, Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Schumacher), technologists and inventors (Barbara Liskov, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, James Gosling, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison), showbiz stars (Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Nicholson, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg), and brands (Apple, Coca-Cola, Mercedes, BMW, Disney, and Google)

In 2016, the Flipkart-owned e-tailer named several of its meeting rooms after women achievers to symbolise gender diversity. “As a technology-led fashion e-commerce organisation, we draw inspiration from various sources and that is how we have named our meeting rooms,” a Myntra spokesperson said. “It adds a lot of fun and a sense of style to our workplace… Each room is also designed to depict the name through curated pics, themes, and colours, which add to the glamour of the office space.”


Room themes: Cricket stadiums (Lord’s, The Oval, Old Trafford, and Chinnaswamy) and locations from the Game of Thrones (Winterfell, Westeros, Pyke, and Highgarden).

One of the world’s largest online recruitment firms, Indeed.com, has offices in 60 countries. Whenever the US-headquartered company opens one, it leaves the theme to the local employees. Indeed believes this brings in a sense of belongingness among employees. One meeting room in its Bengaluru office is named Chinnaswamy, after the cricket stadium that can be seen from the window there.

“Creative themes add flavour to the sometimes banal work life. This reminds the employees that they are not just choosing an employer, but a way of life,” said Sashi Kumar, managing director at Indeed India.


Room themes: World cities (London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, among others).

These names at the the company’s office in Delhi NCR symbolise Paytm’s ambition. “Every meeting room is named after an important city in the world. Paytm senior vice-president Shankar Nath said. “It symbolises ‘built in India, built for the world. It inspires us to widen our horizons, and develop products and solutions that have universal appeal.”

This article first appeared on Quartz.

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What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

At the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, visitors don’t have to worry about navigating their way across the complex hospital premises. All they need to do is download wayfinding tools from the installed digital signage onto their smartphone and get step by step directions. Other hospitals have digital signage in surgical waiting rooms that share surgery updates with the anxious families waiting outside, or offer general information to visitors in waiting rooms. Many others use digital registration tools to reduce check-in time or have Smart TVs in patient rooms that serve educational and anxiety alleviating content.

Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

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  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.