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December 17, 2014

What’s missing from our answers?

Recently, I published a slide of two very frequently asked questions during interview in campuses, including most commonly accepted answers.

Given that these answers are commonly accepted, there were hardly any comments offering alternatives or modifications. Think through and we will realize that putting a simple validation to check if A & B (include C for Q2) are of same value we don’t need to run the logic and simply exit or display a message saying all variables contain same value. This is making logic and system withstand boundary conditions or simply put making your logic and system idiot proof.

Why is it important enough for me to write but more importantly why should you read?

Let’s begin by examining what happens when question is asked? Respondents answer assuming that variables have different values, while ignoring to test their logic for boundary conditions.

Real importance of this lies in understanding underlying operating mechanism we use while interacting with people and our environment. Every time, we interact with others we act based on our assumptions. It’s like answers to questions in the picture.

We often use “Perception is reality“. Our world is our perception based on our prejudices, shaped by our fears, fueled by our ignorance. We have either been told or have told someone to manage their perception. Manager’s with all good intention end up saying, “you need to manage your perception”. Is it really possible for anyone to manage other’s perception? It is far better to share specific expected behaviors and actions.

People repeatedly say – Life isn’t fair. This phrase is answer to every situation – whether someone is imposing unfair solution, reward, work, pay etc or trying to console someone in bad place. We even use it while trying to motivate people. But who needs to be reminded that Life isn’t fair.

We all are in pursuit of happiness; chasing one dream after another, one milestone after another and one acquisition after another; while ignoring to test our actions for boundary conditions. I am reminded of a quote from Victor Frankl: “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.”

A wise man once said – “People need connections, if you have connections you will live happily.” Nothing demonstrates this more than our emphasis on connectivity for all gadgets (Internet, Bluetooth, wireless etc).

You have responsibility for your world (perception, point of view and so on). Don’t let others shape your point of view. This is ignorance. A colleague once shared a gem; he told responsibility is responding with ability.

We spend so much time and resources in improving processes to remove non value added activities but we spend so little on improving human processes and take out non value adding emotions from people’ life. (HOW : Retaining Leadership)

The picture, “Perception process capability Six Sigma way”, demonstrates work and discipline we need just  to accept different realities around us. Accepting them is mere first step in dealing with different realities.

Adding the validation for all variables having same values is great example of ability. Similarly, to have connections, you need to look past your own assumption and a different reality. Appreciate all subjective realities, without judgement.  Your reality is limited. So are others’. Break your limitation and make room for theirs, even if they can’t or don’t.

You have ability to see the world from others points of view. This is Care.  When you do your tasks by appreciating there are many forces at work, not all under your control, this is wisdom.

Another year comes to an end, we will be trying to connect dots and figure out what worked and what didn’t work. What we accomplished and what we didn’t. Organisations will be working on performance management using various approaches. Individually and collectively we will be setting out goals and actions for year ahead.

While connecting your dots and finding answers remember not to miss :

  • People need connections, If you have connections you will live happily.
  • Life is not fair. But you can be, even if others can’t or won’t.
  • Move towards wisdom from Ignorance by responding with ability and Care.
Wishing you and your loved ones, Happy Holidays and Great New Year 2015!!!

Warm Regards,

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1 comment:

  1. BTW, there's a language assumption in both of those questions. For example, in SPSS (a statistical package I use), a missing value causes any boolean expression to no be evaluated. Yes, this causes (A OR B) to never be true if either is missing!!!

    The effect of this for the first problem is that the additions and subtractions can't be performed; they cause missing values if either A or B is missing.

    For the second problem, the if statements can't be executed if there are missing values.

    For SAS, a more prominent language, missing values are assigned the smallest possible value in the format used. Therefore, if A is missing and B is anything else, (A>B) is never true. Also, missing values in arithmetic propagate, as in SPSS.