Monday, January 12, 2009

Vechaa Kudumi

It is interesting to note the "extreme"ness when people process information and interpret anything that is told to them. Among the things that I struggle while communicating with people - positioning 'degrees of something' or 'magnitude/proportion of something' has been one of the hardest. I have come to believe that people can assign only binary values to most things and it is almost impossible to convince them that there lies a spectrum of continuous values. For example; attributes like confidence, courage, honesty, credibility, unpredictability/randomness cause the most discomfort among other things.
Recently, I remarked that a person was more honest but also more unpredictable in his behaviour. And it was considered by some to be contradictory and by some to be impossible. A person is either totally honest or completely dishonest - they told me. Nowadays arguments have become 'arachai maavu' and so tiresome. So I didn't bother responding. However, I do think this trend is more dangerous. Many years ago, when I was interviewing college students when my IT company visited their campus, we caught a boy lying about his "extra curricular activities". I argued that the lie necessarily did not mean that his entire resume was a lie. That the people who didn't get caught were simply more lucky and not necessarily more honest. But these so-called high-moral people used an absurd logic of "oru paanai soru" (one apple is indicative of the entire set) on his resume and called his entire resume a bluff.
This so called "modern generation" has started to see a spectrum in things like "marriage" and "virginity" (as in 'she is more of a virgin than you') and I thought they would get the point when I argued that this 'extra curricular lie" could be an acceptable level of honesty. For example - it could be that the dishonesty that other Indian IT companies are now practising is more acceptable than what Satyam practiced.
Unfortunately, this generation of people have also grown up on useless pazhamozhis and proverbs that are more absurd than helpful. Stupid things like "if you can't do something 100% perfect.." seem to dominate the modern thought process and produce idiot columnists and nonsensical opinions. So absurd that if you mention that "person x is slightly more confident during interviews among the people I've seen" people assume that he is a stud-man rock star and totally capable of wow'ing everybody. They come back and tell me "he didn't get the job so you must be wrong and he must impotent" (when it is completely possible that his confidence may not have had much to do with his job result). "Somewhat" is always inferred as "100%". There is no moderation or middle ground. Everything is rounded off to its extremeties. Satyam's recent news items and a spate of opinions from people who have no clue as to what happened is also a case in point. Times of India had a headline fancily called "a-Satyam, Satyam a 1000 crore lie, etc". It could very well be possible that Satyam is 99% honest and 1% lie and so more honest than another IT company, which hasn't been found out yet.
Which brings us to a point on how people depend so much on "results" and "ends" to pass judgement on anybody. What does a scandal appearing in the media or a CEO confessing to fraud have anything to do with whether a company is operating outside the law or not? By virtue of the way this information has been given to us - it is almost as if we get this information when it is the most useless to us. Sounds simple when written in a blog but whether your or I can actually use rational thought process in the real world is the more interesting question.
Note: I use Satyam as an example only because it is recent and fresh. I don't know anything about the specifics of what happened/is happening. This post is about how people react to such type of information.

10 comments:

Barani said...

very True.Nice point.

The best example is the share market's knee jerk reactions.

The Day Raju wrote his confession, not Only did Satyam shares fall into an abyss, Other Indian IT Cos Shares felt the Pinch . Now I'm sure credibility of all Indian IT companies will be Questioned.

People like "NRM" saying things like "We woudn't touch a tainted company like Satyam" Proves the "Vecha Kudumi" attitude.

Destination Infinity said...

Interesting analysis. But the one percent of the lie brought down the other 99%. Everything associated with Satyam is seen as a fraud more due to the wish that it should not happen again, than as a punishment to what happened already! That would explain why people and computers resort to the binaries!

Destination Infinity

Anupadmaja said...

"Recently, I remarked that a person was more honest but also more unpredictable in his behaviour. And it was considered by some to be contradictory and by some to be impossible. A person is either totally honest or completely dishonest - they told me."

Confirmation bias, lack of circumstantial thinking and "nenappu" really add fuel to this. A person can say a sentence in one situation and say the same with a not in another. He/she would sound very unpredictable if the sentence was simply quoted with and without the “not” spurring reactions like "annikku appidi sonniye ..." with a lot of nenaippu as though they hit a jackpot. But if it is put in perspective, it will start sounding sensible. But the jackpot hitting nenaippu will prevent the person from wanting to hear a clarification 99% of the time.

That said, Satyam's case, I probably dont agree that much. The fact that the account keeping involved such a big fraud questions the credibility and more importantly the accountability of employees at Satyam. If no one knew was aware of the fraud profit numbers were reported to the investors or if the ones who knew were involved in the fraud, it is okay to not trust the company any more. But yeah it speaks only about the current management. But again, that does not mean Satyam is pure. May be all the fraud in the previous managements were not caught. Clearly Satyam lacks the ability to have a clean management. Who knows to what levels the fraudulent methods have trickled? Such things are tougher to change then say an underperforming team.

I guess what I am trying to say is, a person sounding inconsistent need not mean he/she is dishonest. But if a person is known to be dishonest (like in the case of Satyam), it is okay to not trust them. Just because an honest person sometimes sounds inconsistent, does not mean that a dishonest person has to be benevolent.

ஆளவந்தான் said...

how you are defining percentage of lies?
There is a hole for Rs.7000Cr. Is this 1% lie.

I just want to remind you that there is one dialogue in Anniyan by Sujatha, how to define the intensity of the issues. Hope you know about that well.

One request:
Is there any specific reason for word verification? if not, could you please remove it. Thanks!

Hawkeye said...

Barani,

Yes. NRM's attitude is very funny.

Destination,

/* But the one percent of the lie brought down the other 99%. */

my point is every company has some 1% lie assciated with it. Just that not all instances result in such a public disaster.

/* more due to the wish that it should not happen again, */

But it will happen and continue to won't it?

Anu,

/* Confirmation bias, lack of circumstantial thinking and "nenappu" really add fuel to this. A person can say a sentence in one situation and say the same with a not in another. He/she would sound very unpredictable if the sentence was simply quoted with and without the “not” spurring reactions like "annikku appidi sonniye ..." with a lot of nenaippu as though they hit a jackpot */

I bayangara agree.

/* But the jackpot hitting nenaippu will prevent the person from wanting to hear a clarification 99% of the time. */

I bayangara bayangara agree. This is preciselymy feelings put into words.


Also, I used Satyam as an example because it is more recent and fresh. It wasn't my intention to neither justify what they did nor criticise them even further. I think by the time the truth comes out this won't even be a 15th page news item.

The post tried to highlight a comment like that of "aalavandhan" that followed your comment - where he clearly interpreted "could" = "is".

Aalavandhan,

see above.

rangarajaniyengar said...

hey, good post and i agree.
Most people do not have a neutral stand on almost anything.
as a team you are as slow as the slowest runner, similarly, as a company u r as dishonest as the most dishonest guy even if it is only 1% of the population.

as for the NRN stand that they will not touch tainted Satyam, it is not binary anymore ;-). They have now said that they will not be averse to touching Satyam clients!

Alan Smithee said...

Did you try to say "vechaa kudumi serachaa motta"? Add another 'a' to vecha.

Bala said...

Brilliant post !! Largely the opinions people form are from past experiences. Those get hard-wired.
A person's interpersonal qualities as you mentioned invariably suffers criticism from the "hardwired" minds.

The reason being the moment Contextual information comes into picture, people cannot come to conclusion and which makes them to take a stance to avoid being tagged as "unbalanced" by others.
"Thelliva sollu , yen Kozhapara ??"

Source of information gather to make a contextual analysis is still another contentious topic.

It would rather be safe to just contemplate yourself rather than to those hardwired.

Classic examples in Mahabharatam support this. "The context" is the prime factor in deciding what is Dharmam.

I'm glad that some of the comments and this post really conveyed some of the points that I felt.

DIVYA said...

I can't imagine, what if Microsoft ends up like this, IT industry would be fried?

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