One of the professions that requires the most agility is an author who writes a series. Unlike novels and movies which are published in one go, series are done in a constant interval over a period of time and you can learn from the audience pulse. One such writer is Kalki Krishnamurthy, who started writing historical fiction called Ponniyin Selvan in the 1950s. The story is about the younger days of Raja Raja Chola, one of the greatest emperors of his time and his path to the throne.
As the story is about a great emperor, the author decides to give him an entrance after the other characters are introduced in the plot. For the sake of weaving the plot he introduces another small time prince Vanthiyathevan who has only one line written about him in the entire chola history. His idea was to make the character disappear once the all the main characters and the protagonist are introduced. Kalki’s writing is magic, when I read the 1st part of the 5 part novel I had a compelling urge to go and visit the places mentioned in the book. Such was his vivid description that you can sense a movie running in your mind.
His magical gift in writing worked against him, people fell in love with Vanthiyathevan’s character and it had a big fan following. A lot of people related themselves to the commoner looking Vanthiyathevan than the emperor. At one point as per his plans the author takes him out of the story and starts concentrating on the main plot. People were not happy and the author received a lot of letters from his readers asking to reinstate the role. Reluctantly he reinstates the role and to his surprise people consider and celebrate him as the hero of the novel than the intended person who was an emperor.
The novel reached a great status in modern literature and is considered as one of the most important literary works. Many people read it, admired it and passed on the interest to future generations and the legacy carried on. Had the author not listened to the audience and went about his way of writing, it may have ended up being a mere documentary fiction.
Isn’t this true for any business, continuously checking what the market wants and keep altering their course even if it is against what a business owner or product owner has envisioned? How many leaders will have the will in themselves to kill their protagonist and go for the one whom the market likes? I feel the leaders want to do it, but it is the ineffective feedback mechanism from both inside and outside is what makes them stick to the plans. Listen and act, have an easy learning horizon, see lucky accidents happening.
Would we still have aeroplanes if Wright brothers were not able to invent it? The answer is yes, someone else would have made the breakthrough may be months or a few years later. It is applicable for most of the inventions. The end result for the general public will more or less be the same; even if there was no Marconi, JL Baird we will still be having radio and TV. Things will happen and breakthroughs will be made, some winner may take it all, but inventions would keep happening irrespective of those individuals doing it or not.
Who creates and invents things? Is it the individual? No, it is the environment. If we look through the history, inventions mostly come from places where lower hierarchy of needs are taken care and people are able to concentrate on more complex things to solve problems. To learn well & build upon previous inventions requires a certain level of development and surplus of food, skills and mind space (to mind one’s own business).
Many organisations that I have visited or interacted with the people who work there are doing something the opposite. They are grooming individualistic culture of heroism and rockstars. Some of them have gotten into rewards and recognitions on a big scale to the point of very small achievements are rewarded well. A few lucky individuals who get noticed end up getting a lot of support and becomes a showcase for self fulfilling prophecy and others have to be motivated a lot to do their day to day things that they sign up for.
Workplace has to be an engine of producing high quality people who go on to bring results instead of focusing on identifying high quality people and giving them the upper hand. Workplace should encourage people who are inclined to continuously learn and work well with each other, build on top of existing advancements. It is too easy to focus on top performers but that tilts the balance further out of aspirants.
I was reading Nassim Taleb’s works and one of the writings that stuck to my mind was how seemingly harmless things can add up and cause great distress over a period of time.
There are lots of activities that does not have any significance if done in isolation but when done repeatedly or multiple times over a period of time it ends up creating a profound problem. One such he states is smoking a Cigarette. The risk of smoking just one cigarette will not even have any noticeable effect on the body, but it is a well known fact that years of smoking will eventually lead to bad health compared to non smokers.
In the current knowledge world it applies to our habits at workplaces as well. The risk due to procrastinating a whole day and not learning anything new in a day is almost zero, in fact it can happen for a few months without much effect on one’s ability that is how we take vacations; but there will come a time when we will be left out of the crowd if that procrastination prolongs.
Simple things we do or don’t do in a day can cause a lot of harm in the long run.