Monday, October 30, 2017

Low hanging fruit

There are two ways to be considered learned. One is to know things that most people do not know. The other is to talk of things in a manner that people do not know or readily recognize. You would be pardoned for thinking that all of management consists of finding out pithy terms for things that everyone knows already so that you can speak of them in a 'learned' manner.

Take this 'low hanging fruit' for example. All that the dratted thing means is that you should try to make money in the easiest way possible - something that any town drunk could have told you centuries before people had even thought about such a thing as management. Picking the low hanging fruit, forsooth!

But then there IS a reason why a pithy term for this idea became necessary these days. In the not too distant past, people were lauded for the difficulty of the tasks that they attempted. Edison did not try to corner the whale oil market and make money - he tried endlessly to invent the electric bulb and succeeded eventually. But then he did not have the benefit of a management education or, even, a management consultant. Poor chap! No Hillary would climb the Everest. Ah! No! The local hillock would do very well for 'low hanging fruit'.

Oh! Well! I know what you will say. That getting the 'low hanging fruit' does not mean that you leave all the ones higher up to the monkeys. But...consider...did we, in the past, leave the 'low hanging fruit' to the monkeys and chase after ONLY those hanging higher up? Why does it even need saying? What, the metaphor does not really mean that things are as clear? The fact that it IS 'low hanging fruit' is not as apparent? Perhaps...but then consider the consequences of the metaphor. Everyone and his uncle prowls the jungle looking for 'low hanging fruit' and disdains the effort to go any higher. If this tree's easy-to-reach fruits are all taken then it is better to search for another tree than to climb up this one. You look such a fool putting in so much effort when everyone else is merely reaching up for fruit. AND, if you are truly the guru, you blame the fruit and the tree for the fact that the fruit is NOT low-hanging!

And, thus, you have people who want books written in the words that they already know because it is too much effort to learn new words. You have citizens wanting news and analysis squeezed into 140 characters because it is too much to expect them to read a couple of pages. You have marketers who want a product that they can readily sell because it is too much effort to craft a strategy to sell a product that the customer is not already known to want. You have...well, you have a world full of people all looking for fruit to fall into their mouths conveniently.

I should have made a meme out of this...THIS sort of long piece certainly does not count as 'low hanging fruit'!

Monday, October 23, 2017

This game called Bridge

Ever heard of this card game called Bridge? One of the stupidest games I have ever heard of, let me tell you. I mean, yes, I know games need not necessarily be about real life. Like, nowadays, people seem to play about in dungeons with dragons and all, so, yes, it can get real weird with games is the thing...there ARE some common factors in know, some...human elements. But this game...this Bridge...

I mean, come on, how can the damn thing call itself a card game when winning and losing is not determined based on the luck of the draw? To be honest, though, there have been sensible people who have put in place a version of the game - rubber bridge, they call it - where the winner gets decided based on the cards that they are dealt...of course, you need to PLAY them well as well but if you are as able as the other team and you get the better cards then you won. Simple...and just as things should be.

But...there IS this thing called 'Contract Bridge' which is used in tournaments and, boy, is THAT a mind-bender. I mean, hey, these guys actually decide winners after taking out the element of luck as far as they can. Like, you and your partner play your cards and, if they are, say, the Ace to five of spades, and the other three Aces, you could bid '7 No Trumps' and sort of lay down the hand and claim a win. (What is 7 No trumps....? Give it a rest, just take it for granted that it happens. What's the point learning a game where luck does not play a part?). High points and all, yeah, but here is the hitch. There is a sort of round robin with the same hands dealt for the four seats...and your opponents here would play THIS hand against some other team, as will THOSE guys against someone else and so on and so on and the teams will be ranked on the basis of who made the maximum points with the SAME hands being played. Given THIS hand, it is only a total brain fade that will cause ANY team to not make '7 No Trumps' so you really are at par with everyone else.

All that luck of getting the best possible hand and still no victory...does that sound like a legit game or some sort of mind-f***? I mean, come on, what is this crap about how I PLAYED my cards mattering more than what cards I got? Do you ask Mukesh Ambani how he would have played HIS cards if he had started out life like you did? Of course not! Then what's this shit about playing my cards in this card game?

Things get even funnier with this damn game. I mean, there would be this team which sort of managed to top the charts and one partner would be ripping the other guy apart.

"Why did you play for the Queen in North's hand?"

"Well, it WAS there, was it not? So we got a couple more tricks and that won us the tourney."

"Nonsense! There was NO reason to know the queen was in North's hand. We would have made the contract safely without the finesse. And if the finesse had failed, we would have been down three tricks."

"It did not, did it?"

"Just luck. Any partner of mine who depends on luck..."

Ye Gods! Absolutely NO luck? You get ripped apart for trusting to luck even when you win? These Bridge players seem to belong in some fantasy world.They do not even seem to know that only losers talk of luck. Winners always talk of a judgment call, after a careful assessment of all possible factors.

Any game that respects its players only on how they play their cards and whether they played without depending on guesswork is, like, more fantastic than fantasy. It is...heretic that is what it is...absolutely heretic, this belief that you should not judge people by the results but by how well they apply themselves. 

I mean, give me a dungeon, with a dragon, to play with any day!

Monday, October 16, 2017


You know, it is difficult to imagine what the world would be like without acronyms. Especially in the social sciences. I rather fancy that 90% of the work of social scientists is devising the acronyms to capture the attention of people.

It certainly seemed that way in Management. There was this time when an 'alphabet series' was all the craze. When first someone devised 'Product, Price, Place and Promotion' as the four Ps of marketing management and it caught the fancy of the world, they set off a revolution. Soon, every single management theorist worth his salt had picked up his alphabet of choice and started on his own theory on that basis. 7 S, 9 this, 5 that...

THAT, though, is not really acronyms. Politics, especially Geopolitics...Well, the days of the cold war were full of wonderful acronyms. SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) and so on. They really got the attention of the public and THAT made the citizens invested in the process. Too often, though, you DID find that your leaders thought that having devised a catchy acronym, their job was done and nothing further was needed but still...

I rather feel that this Climate thingy is suffering from a lack of attractive acronyms. I mean, take that UN nodal agency - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I can quite see Donald Trump starting off with UNF and wondering how many Cs came after that. It was not like UNICEF where he could roll it off his tongue with no-one the wiser about the fact that he was not sure about whether it was a 'C' or an 'S' in the middle. No wonder he wants OFF the entire Climate thing only to avoid mucking up with UNFCCC.

Just imagine if, instead, the UN had named that agency United Nations Framework for Using Climate Knowledge (UNFUCK). THAT acronym just rolls off the tongue. AND Trump could find it rather handy when he is caught swearing ('Oh! I was speaking of Climate change. You just did not hear that UN there'). It also leaves the issue delightfully vague as to what use you would put the climate knowledge to, leaving the back-door open for a retreat. Of course, it intrigues the common man, if any such exist. He starts wondering about how one could undo an act that everyone thinks of as irreversible. THAT creates a climate where...err...climate can be discussed.

You need to devise dinky little acronyms for the actions of the agency as well. Like, say, Polluting Industries Suppression Strategy (PISS). Or, to take another example, Crackers Reduction Universal Drive (CRUD). Or, even a proposal for nations to act upon - Suppression of Harmful Irritants Tariff (SHIT) and, possibly, a Suppression of Nitrogen Oxides Tax (SNOT).

Can you not see people discussing on the streets like this...

"CRUD, I think, is a necessary accessory to PISS"

"I think that SHIT is an important adjunct to PISS"

"SNOT, I think, should go hand-in-hand with SHIT"

There you go, make the thing popular and you get a buy in from global citizenry. But the UN seems to have totally lost the fine art of creating acronyms. Or, maybe, they just do not realize that social re-engineering is ALL about proper acronyms.

No wonder, the world is knee-deep in shit (the non-acronym version) on this issue of Global Warming!

Disclaimer: Please do not read a Trumpesque disdain for Climate change into this and uncork vituperation. IF I can write self-deprecatory humor, I CAN make fun of my own stands on social issues, too.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Freedom of Speech

I wish I had been born a generation later. So many things have changed for the better for the child that it would have made a tremendous improvement to my childhood experience if only I had not been born too early to take advantage of it.

"Suresh! What is Boyle's law?"
"It explains why milk boils over while water does not."
"Wrong answer! Stand up on the bench."

And, being born too early, I had no choice but to stand up on the bench for the entire period. Now...ah, now I could have told the teacher, "You cannot punish me for exercising my freedom of speech."

How handy it could have been in inter-boy relationships too. AND on the consequences of the inevitable ructions that occur in such interactions.

"I love Chess, Suresh"
"Namby-pamby! Only cricket is worth any interest."
"I understand that. Chess requires brains after all"

I smack that guy for restricting my freedom of speech and the issue, obviously, gets escalated up to the parents.

"Why did you beat him?"
"That #@&! said that..."
"Suresh! What have I told you about using swear-words?"

AND when I get spanked I cannot even tell my parents that using corporal punishment to restrict my freedom of speech was a grave violation of my fundamental rights.

Not that it would have been any help with parents. They WILL bring in the fact that I smacked that guy, too. Parents really have no grasp of nuances. Have you seen that? They do not understand, that when I smacked him, it was in defense of my right to speech whereas when they spank ME it is a contravention of mine.

What was that? This freedom of speech thing that I hear of is from ADULTS? Not children?

Come on, they say it when someone is only saying that what they say is wrong? Even when they  speak of 'freedom of speech' when all that they need to do is prove that they are right?

They are really adults

How can that be? I mean they say it even when someone is merely disagreeing with them. Since when have adults thought that disagreeing with them is tantamount to stopping them from what they want to say?

They. Are. Really. Adults.

You are joking, right? I mean, like they are on Facebook, in groups that give out a mile long list of what they can say and cannot say and do not consider THAT a restriction on their fundamental rights. But, if someone opposes what they say on that someone's own post, they remember their constitutional rights?


Oh! All Right! If you say so...

Though I must say that what you have been doing so far is a restriction of my freedom of speech!