Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rimming and no good

Acme office has four employees and a manager. All four employees have similar jobs with identical pay and perks. They are all expected to contribute to the company adequately and the manager is tasked with incentivizing to get the most out of them. The complication is that the employees are different people with different needs. Employee A sees his job as a stepping stone to a bigger job with more scope to keep rising. Employee B is purely concerned with the money he makes and is driven to make more however he can. C is one of the creative types, he wants to do his job with interest and minimal compromise. D wants security, stability and a stress-free life. They are all equally good workers so long as they are happy and the company wants to keep them happy. So how does the manager view and work the situation?  

The manager is also a real person. He has certain cognitive biases that affect his choices. He may want to make his job easy and just use money as an incentive to please his employees. He may be of the idea that the job has to be done with pure interest and urge his employees to change their views and buy in on his model. He may be genuinely interested in his employees' welfare and may give them whatever they need without focusing entirely on company profit. Or he may be a dark lord and twist the whole situation to one where the employees are his mindless fearful servants who have forgotten what perks, fairness and a life are. 

How many of us have already made our interpretations, judgements and choices on the matter? How similar are our choices? Is there a single formula or a handful of set formulae? Will our choices change with time and situation? Is employee B a bad person? Is the company evil because it is the company? Obviously management graduates and professionals are the apparent experts and have rolled their eyes a while ago. The rest of us still have to struggle along without the training because we have specific versions of the above highly simplistic situation to handle today and every day; mostly just to manage ourselves (How much of a break do I take? What sort of break? Am I entitled to this?). How we do that defines us entirely. 

Now everybody is defined in his/her own way but I figure that there are three things that are involved in the process:
1. Non-negotiables
2. The formula
3. and the feedback

The non-negotiable is the backbone and everything needs to start with that. It is the condition that will never be sold for a price. There probably are situations where such structuredness may not be useful but those unstructured events are very temporary and hopefully not life staking. The hope is that the non-negotiable is an ethically positive thing like no matter what happens, I will not pirate music. Too many non-negotiables create practical problems too, turning you into a angry hippie.

The formula is to be built around the non-negotiables. It branches off the non-negotiables and can be changed with time and situation, many times needs to be. Even in the simplistic situation above, it is evident that one formula does not fit all. They all need different incentives which the company should hopefully be able to provide without getting sucked dry.

The feedback is what effects changes in the formula. Some even change their non-negotiables based on the feedback they get (referred to in ancient texts as kali kaalam). 

The disaster situation. Also known as our life as it is now.

1. The non-negotiables belong to someone else
In other words, Parental pressure, peer pressure, job pressure, hot air pressure

2. The formula was downloaded from the interwebs.
In other words, I am baffled that the next big thing is not the same as the last big thing.

3. Poor feedback 
In other words, am I truly happy?


Sunday, December 29, 2013


Apparently it is a TV show but sounds more like a disease. A lethal neural disease. 

I enjoy drives but never the muscle car variety. I believe in driving smooth which most often than not requires driving slow and steady. Minimal acceleration and no swerving. The roller coaster experience is for amusement parks and not public roads. Not a tough thing to do but the existence of differing peers makes it a complicatedly judged situation. 

Three things define a quality driving experience - for both the driver and others in the car and outside. 
  • Focus
  • A proper understanding of the rules and obedience
  • Patience
Obviously texting, making tea and club grinding inside the car will make you a murderous psychopath sooner than later, so there is not much to say about focus. There is a clearly distinct line that would require a crazy amount of twisted logic to distort.

Despite the fact that rules exist in print and are completely factual, somehow we feel that there is a lot of play in this sector. We apply the same formula for them as we do for religious texts; they are guidelines. We feel that we can still have extended debates on how much deviation on the speed limit we can get away with. Even if I humor the logic that the speed limit is more of a flimsy guideline than a fixed barrier, the deviation about the limit would possibly be to account for errors in the speed reading. Or our judgment as we regularly wake our foot on the accelerator. That could give a play of < 5 mph. But in excess of that is either proper negligence or pure arrogance. It is a sense of entitlement, that the road was built for us and us alone. That the city and road planners took less than the fraction of a thought that it took us to deem ourselves bigger than the rules. 

I always thought that by rule, experience would make us more mellow. That we have a responsibility to be cool because we were given patience until we developed that experience. On the road, we display our experience with increased measures of road rage instead. When I hear of people getting angry on the road, it scares the living daylights out of me. It feels like an angry serial killer is making my meals, guarding my house, handling my finances and being my coworker. He controls my life and could any day turn on me. On the road he has a killer machine that moves like a deadly raging tusker. And he is pissed off with everyone around. Here is his bloody checklist of elements that deserve his fury:
  • Women drivers
  • Senior citizens
  • Learners
  • Children
  • Heavy vehicles
  • Pedestrians
  • Animals (why don't they all just die)
  • Non-natives
  • Old cars
  • New cars
  • Fancy cars that aren't doing stunts
  • Stop lights and road signs
  • Just everything else in his field of vision
My point is simply this - if you are not able to hold on the the above three points, you are indisposed. Take a break and get behind the wheel when you are sober. This is not your kingdom and you are not its despot despite what the hot air inside you cooks up. You have the privilege of sharing this world and these roads with others and you are to honor that privilege by everything you do on it. 

My wife and several others have made observations on how my driving style does not fit a stereotypical Indian male 28-year old. It is unfortunate that such a stereotype exists.