When Professor Kash Rangan first visited Aravind, he found a sophisticated working model that no one there had fully discussed or documented. Thulsi laughingly admits that the detailed strategic framework underlying Aravind’s work was articulated in hindsight— to explain Aravind’s success, not achieve it. But the absence of a traditional business plan does not make the organization a fortuitous accident. Its trajectory was directed by conscious, if unconventional, decisions and one man’s extraordinary compassion.

“Dr. V was able to get into the lives of the patients,” says Natchiar. “Before they suffered, he suffered. ‘Blindness kills a person every day,’ he used to say. ‘It takes away their sight, respect, ...

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