How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

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Location: India

Monday, October 03, 2005

Beyond the obvious

I am a voracious reader and sometimes can be quite undiscriminating about what I read. Certainly, not everything that I read gives me the same feeling of pleasure that the best reading does. I have found that any written piece - whether a book, an article, a technical paper, or whatever - that goes beyond the obvious, or distinguishes the unseen distinctly from the seen, gives me the greatest pleasure. For instance, I was reading an absolutely superb paper by two well-known academics in the Operations area - Hopp & Spearman - on what is the essence of 'pull production' and 'lean production'. This article brings out, in 16 pages, how these concepts have been widely misunderstood and misapplied over the last two decades, and consequently have fallen far short of expectations. It points to that essence of both 'pull' and 'lean' which really drives the potential benefits from their adoption. I was awestruck by the clarity of thought displayed. Perhaps that is why I like reading philosophy so much, its job is to go beyond the obvious. A certain poetry flows from such writing.

I also find that cultivation of a mindset of going beyond the obvious is also very important in practical, day-to-day life. As just one example, one can cite that of assessing the true nature of a person who we have to work with. A deeper assessment of the true nature of people will help a person become a better people manager. Many people have the experience of being misunderstood because of such superficial assessment by others. Take the example of Kishore Kumar. This man, from outward behaviour, seemed a wacky, crazy person who had little respect for any established system and loved money for the sake of it. It takes deeper probing to reveal the humanity in the man, which only people who interacted closely with him (S. D. Burman, R. D. Burman, Leena Chandavarkar, etc.) knew about. (Caveat: some people may be correctly judged even in a superficial assessment. Here the example of Mohammed Rafi is appropriate. From outward behaviour alone, one would have gauged this man to be good, in every sense of the word. And it turns out to be the right assessment.)

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