In the movie matrix Agent Smith says to Neo “But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned” as an answer to why an Utopian matrix was a disaster.  So many inventions which have been dreams to our ancestors are now an indispensable everyday need in our life. Right now an individual with an average income is able afford phones, computers, automobiles and so on which was not so easy to possess just a few decades ago. Yet we crave for better ones and we keep getting them.

Countries where first civilizations surfaced and lived a life ahead of its times were later colonized by more technologically advanced nations which sometimes were much smaller in area and people count. If the civilization stops advancing then it is destroyed or taken over by an advanced one.

There has to be a constant urge to keep pushing ourselves to improve, upgrade and innovate else it is very easy for us to be pushed out of existence. The fact does not apply only to civilizations, it is for individuals or organizations as well. The pay check after easy days at office gives a false sense of security as it takes care of immediate and long term basic needs. Jobs are easy if there is not a slight stretch or push; a stretch or push means we are out of the comfort zone learning and unlearning, if we are learning and applying then we are advancing. If we advance then dreams become true through inventions and they become necessity.

As the advancements in technology and methodologies keep going sky high, the amount of preparation an individual goes through before landing at the workplace is also increasing. That puts a greater emphasis on effective and efficient learning right from childhood that will keep going on and on and on. Workplace always has a cycle of tight work, vacation and lean days, we can plan our continuous learning such that we don’t get burnt out and at the same time we are not left behind.

Every morning in Africa, a deer wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest deer, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or deer – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It was the eve of a festival and I was returning back home from another city. The gateway to my home town was choking with unusually high traffic with everyone trying to rush to meet their near and dear ones. A stretch of few kilometers took more than an hour. It is at this time I witnessed a miracle. There was a sound of an ambulance siren approaching, on hearing almost every one on the road made their best effort to make way for the ambulance. In such a dense choking traffic there was a pathway made under a minute good enough for the ambulance to pass through. The patient who must have survived her illness might not even realized how tons of strangers on the road help save her life.

We humans are altruistic by nature and some how from inside it makes us feel good when we help others. Reader’s digest also mentioned in one article that may be only humans who were helpful to each other survived droughts, war and other adversities so that trait is deeply ingrained within us. There are also some beliefs about collective intelligence being superior than the sum of all individual intelligence. This is very evident from team games like football where the understanding between the team members a mix of skills gets the team to win. I have observed the striker scores more goals than anyone else in the team and most of the times ends up being the most valuable player. In my opinion the striker who scores a goal is largely enabled by the other 10 in the team.

Workplaces are no different, at many workplaces team work always matters; and many of those workplaces have awards like employee of the month/quarter/year or super star awards. The awards definitely help a lot to life the spirits of those who win it but it also puts a dent in the rest of the team’s spirit as the winner is enabled by the team and hardly there is a credit to the team. It is better to do away with these kind of awards and much energy can be concentrated on removing negative influence in the team like someone who exploits the system and team setup. It takes only one selfish person to bring down the morale of a high performing team, we must make sure our workplace does not offer any dividends to someone who tries to exploit; instead make the workplace such a way that the more cohesive the team becomes the more rewarding and enjoyable it is to work.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Humans over time have acquired the skill to use a linear scale. Radio Labs aired a talk which explained about experiments done with children and some tribes who have not been exposed to linear numbers. The experiments suggest that we are conditioned to use numbers in non linear scales. It is easy to express differences in ratios than linear count between them. The experiments have also been replicated on animals and found that they also understand differences in ratios than the count in between.

We are accustomed to say that the difference between 1 & 2, 11 & 12, 1001 & 1002 are all same.  When we project these numbers side by side as countable items like trees or birds in a picture; every one will immediately spot the difference between 1 & 2, most will spot the difference between 11 & 12 given some time to count and people will struggle to find the difference between 1001 & 1002 unless the images are arranged in neat grid with enough time given to count. The results of an experiment with Amazonian tribe who had not much formal education is here. In short, it illustrates that people will be inclined to choose their scale to be logarithmic instead of linear one. Musical scales are non linear where the frequency doubles every octave. Like music even the colour frequencies of VIGBYOR is non linear.

We deal with numbers day to day and most of the working force have spent significant amount time in school playing around with numbers which were in linear scale. Deep inside us we still carry what we inherited from our ancestors and are well suited to deal with ratios. May be that is why our ancestors designed the musical scale to be non linear. “The Da vinci code” novel also talks about golden ratio which is observed every where in nature and that is non linear.

In software development I have observed this is true when it comes to estimations. Instead of mapping estimates to days of effort it is more easy to represent it in Fibonacci series (the ratio is 1.6 or golden ratio in fibonacci) or Log base 2. Trying to fit in a linear scale has created more misunderstandings between team members as each one had a different picture on where to place an estimate on a linear scale. I have observed dissonances in estimates from people even when using logarithmic or fibonacci, that dissonance will increase manifold if we use a linear scale. If we try to deal with numbers in ratios in day to day life then may be we can get lots of advantage by using our hard wiring inside.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net