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There is a general consensus that as soon as an idea comes to your mind you should start working on it my making more concrete steps and often used sentence is “Putting idea to paper”. Though it leads to making an action, many times people take an illformed idea to paper. Our mind is awesome when it comes to dimensions, any idea we have it is so easy to visualize and develop. Sometimes we have to let the thoughts ruminate and let the idea evolve before finally putting it onto paper.

Why should it be that way? Because we are not so good at expressing what is in our head either in words or picture. Also there is a risk of getting stuck on what we put to paper because of the sunk cost fallacy. Every new idea that comes up will be very very abstract, if we try to channelize energy in capturing it then it won’t be something that is easily actionable. Very few people will be able to represent on paper what they had in mind, like artists but they rely on their ability to iterate on paper or discard their work if not going in the right direction as they thought about it.

When ideas come out in our mind, it makes sense to capture what the idea is but not the details just in case those ideas come as shower thoughts and can quickly melt away. Once the idea gets planted in our mind, it has to take shape. This is where we jump the gun and try to put it to paper and many times let it slip away.

I have observed ideas to be shaping up in my mind like a bell curve. It usually gets more evolved when I run thought experiments but after a while if I don’t put it to paper it disappears, so I had to put it to concrete plans at the right time else it is of no use. People may argue that this is procrastination and it is encouraging people to postpone their work.

We are very poor in putting a well known idea to paper. Read about this experiment where people were asked to draw a bicycle from memory. It looks like most people who have ridden a bicycle all their life will not be able to draw one even to some degree of making a working prototype out of it.

Any idea is worth putting into iterations inside our great brain which can evolve it in multiple dimensions before it can be put to paper. All we need to know is the right time to put idea to action else it will not take off because of analysis paralysis.

Recently we did some renovation at home which involved buying a few big ticket items. As I had read a lot about supporting local vendors, I drove to the stores after doing some browsing online on big marketplaces for options.

My first reaction on the purchase experience was the level of willingness to negotiate an offer when the bill is running close to a lakh. Every shopkeeper wanted to keep the conversation on the MRP, declining to accept credit cards or were trying to pile on more charges like delivery, installation etc when preparing the bill. In all, the transparency was poor and the mindset to extract as much as possible from a lead was set in stone.

The same I had observed from a medical store nearby, with aged people at home; the maintenance medicines for a healthy life add to substantial costs, so I tried asking the store keeper that I will place order with them month on month but let us work out a deal because the big medical chains give me 20% and I am willing to take a cut for convenience. The shop keeper flatly declined saying that he does not do business less than MRP and I can continue to shop at the retail chains, he does not need my business.

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Why is this happening? We perceive a loss to be greater than a profit of same magnitude. Winning a gold coin may not be equal in magnitude of happiness compared to the sorrow of losing a gold coin. That is what is at play at the small vendors. They do not see the overall profit gained in the transaction instead they read the money lost on the transactions that could happen on MRP. This clouds the judgement even if this can tun into a repeat business with a steady cash flow.

On browsing more for stores, finally I found places that gave a good deal even bettering online deals. These were businesspeople who are in the same business for generations even though their turnovers were small, looks like the family wisdom is passed on as a trade secret and I ended up noting their numbers to give to friends who will have similar needs.

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A zen monk was watering a plant, a follower was puzzled as the monk was watering the plant which was full of thorns, people have been injured regularly from the pricks. The disciple went to the monk and quizzed about why a plant which harms others is being nurtured. The monk replied, I am watering the plants for the beautiful roses that will bloom, it is the roses I care for and nurture it.

As many of us are not monks, I think most of the rules and regulations are centered around preventing something from happening than making things easy. It is evident in the corporate world, in simple things like office libraries. It defeats the purpose of having a library if a user cannot browse through books. I had a habit of going to the library after lunch and browse through a few books, if interested read for 15-20 minutes and then get back to work.

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I was able to read a lot of books during my breaks, it is when I changed jobs and went to a new office that I realised people can lock libraries. We had to stir up a movement to get the administration to open up the library for casual reading instead of lending only policy which was put in place to prevent book theft.

Most of the systems are designed to be like this, in order to reduce the undesirable activity by a small margin, we tend to impact good behaviour on a larger scale. It is also the result of measuring the wrong things, like an admin being measured on reducing bad debts. There are some initiatives of coming up with designs that promote good behaviour like smart speed bumps but it does not gain traction as people in charge don’t have any incentive to design it that way. So everyone of us will have to go over that nasty speed bump in the neighbourhood for years to come because some random idiot will speed through.