Thursday, February 15, 2007

Side Effects of Simplifications

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler."
Albert Einstein

Some Snippets from events happening around me these days

  • A newly wed guy thinks that his wife is having a cool life with no worries . cook,clean,eat,wait & watch TV .

  • A Developer Thinks that his Manager is a real parasite who is adding no value to end result

  • A Teenager actually believes that his parents just don't want to see his point view on anything Pizza ,Party or his GF.

  • A Schoolgirl i know , cries when she didn't get admission in a school of Architect . She thinks she loves designing buildings. why ? Because she still play with Lego Block and showed me some snaps of her creations . [they were impressive ]

  • In my previous assignment when i asked my tech Manager and CEO to explain the reason for one of his decision. he said "I don't want to explain my each and every action to you . i can't Run the company in exception handling mode . you need to follow the guide line from management .its as simple as that " need less to say i didn't believe him and thought he is taking an easy way out by borrowing strength from his position .

  • My Landlord thinks that people from bihar are not trust worthy.

What's common in scenarios described above ??

You may disagree with me but i seriously believe that subjects in all these scenarios are having a wrong assumption about the way thing s work . I believe that this is because of the fact that they are suffering from side effect of Simplification.All of them lives in a world and deal with the people and things around them but for the most part its not a direct experience .its not first hand . their interface with the surrounding has been a bit too structured and simplified . He don't really understand all the complexity which goes in to the transaction . and its Human nature that when you don't Understand the complexity You can't appreciate the effort , you only care about the end result . Its Fine with Machine,Software ,Gadgets but Its not a Good paradigm while dealing with human being .

  • Don't you think that it would be great if ..............

  • If wife can tell her husband what it takes to do thankless household chores and do it every day for the rest of your life [Ans: Boredom,Dedication,Monotonicity,Faith]. I think He will be respecting her more if she do that . because 90% of Guys will not opt for a job like this . but still females shield the complexity by greeting him with a 1000 Volt smile when he get back home in the evening and He thinks she was like that whole day . [ Copy to all the "Moms of world:" you spoil us before SHE does . but thanks for raising the Bar ]

  • If Manager can tell his team what it takes to sell a project with 100 known bugs to customer and still get the money and Next order for maintenance release with same billing rate probably 80% of Developers will be on their knees with reverence .

  • Like Bill Gates If Parents can tell their kids "Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room." you know it will be a good lesson for kids.but parents hide every details from Kids[specially in India ] and kids hate them [innocently ]

  • Someone Please tell that school Girl that Architecture is not about Lego Block and Sketches . Its about standing on Highway in Direct sunlight with Daily labourer and managing a Big Fat Contractor . not a setting for Her highly creative mind . But we don't [Never] give our kids a glimpse of life in their chosen line . Is it that tough ? does her Father don't know a single Architect ? isn't there a slight possibility that she is confusing Interior Decoration with Architecture ?

  • if my manager could have walk me through the reason and his thought process i would have been continuing in that job [ BTW i am glad that he opted otherwise :) ]

  • I don't want to think about my landlord except when i have to go see him for rent .

Each of the example proves that there should be some healthy level of awareness about complexity in life . specially when it comes t o human relationship . Still world is racing toward simplification Why ?

Scalability ,Racism & Simplification

I always find it amusing how eager We are to generalize the things . We simply don't want to deal with events and people on case to case basis .We don't have the energy and intent to experience any thing different . we want routine, we want process, we want scalability. we just don't want to think. Not every time .

HR say that We only hire IITians [but admit that Talent do exist out side of IIT also] ,

Accounts Deppt. says our Travel expense limit is up to 50$ /Day only [but admit its hard to sustain in US when a water bottle cost 3 $ ] .

An IT Project Consulting Firm claim that a good software Testing Guy who is being billed at $35 /Hr by Infy should be fixing 10 -15 Bugs a day [No consideration for Nature of Project ,No constraint on hours spent in meeting per day , whether fixing a bug may introduce new one ,Even no attention to the fact that whether there is 10-15 bugs to start with in the first place or not just a number 10-15 bugs Per day . Go Figure :).]

These are case of people trying to deal with information overload by making very very wide ramifications. Most of the times we don't make informed opinion . what we have is a rule of thumb , a heuristic,a bias, a prejudice . i don't see a prejudice driven decision making process as a sign of good mental health . But as a human being we all are more or less prone to it .Once Bitten Twice Shy

We have few bad experience with members of a particular community and we become averse of dealing with them . it may sound like an extreme extrapolation but i would like to go ahead and say that "Racism is result of our societies tendency of over simplification."

if you think that you love simplification and you make assumption based on your [limited ] experience , but that doesn't makes you a racist . I am sorry to say but You are probably wrong . what ? you don't believe me ? May be you would love to have a look at Project Implicit and give their online Test for judging your Racial orientation . You will be shocked to see your performance and i am sure you will agree with me after that .

Exception & Mediocrity

I always believe that when we are seeking scalability we opt for Mediocrity as a byproduct. Go see the efficiency level of big process driven IT Firm you will discover that its not even 40%. Most of the start up are chaotic because only in a setting like that you can create exception . I work in a startup as program manager Essentially my job is to co ordiante with Tech team and customers but i also help HR in sniffing Good candidate , i help some project manager in organizing their Beta program , I take some sales enquiries too . and i am not the only one in my company who do this . everyone in my team do that according to their strength, interest & schedule .Having a little interest in everybody business give us the understanding of the hardship they go through so we respect each other more . this work as a glue to hold our team together . our attrition rate is lowest . we only lost three people since being incorporated in india . two for personal reasons and one for higher studies . And the result ? we have a world class product , we are awarded Most innovative company in India by Nasscom and our President received this prize from PM of India .

I some time wonder if this can be done in a start up why can't we do it in our family , neighbourhood and society ? what is stopping us from understanding and appreciating our peers in different spheres of life ? why is world on a simplification overdrive ? why the conventional wisdom doesn't looks like wisdom to me ? I try to understand but can't conclude ? Do you have any idea ?

Let's embrace a little bit of complexity .Its Good for all of us :)