Information to Knowledge to Wisdom

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Oflate, a new documentary on education system is making lot of waves in the USA. Its call Most Likely to Succeed. (You can watch trailer)

 

It takes a very narrow view of school education. The documentary is in the context of new education system being propagated by Tech Elite, where medium of instruction is thru Project based, group working methodology. The emphasis of using information technology as pivot for schooling system.

 

We know that our education system was built 100 years back at the height of industrial revolution. The object was to prepare qualified clerks to take up the vast jobs created by factories and administrative work. Over a period of time, our system has become instruction based, and a rot system. The objective is not learn but to cram as much as information possible with an objective to score good marks. For all parents of 21st Century, it baffles the way, kids are taught, it also prompts us to vent our frustration about not doing anything to change it. On one hand, even Bill Gates want every kid to learn, How to Code? and on there hand, still, our examination system mandates kids to remember lot of facts, that can easily be retrieved by googling.

 

So, in a sense, the kids should know where to find information, and should not remember the information. Some time, we wonder does it make any sense to learn languages, or is education useful in life.

On the far end of the pendulum, you have IB schools, focusing more on the project based learning. If you have watched the trailer or studied the Website, you will find idea very fascinating. Unfortunately, it will be long time before we can get opportunity to watch it in India. If you want a different perspective, watch TED talk by Ken Robinson (one of the most watch TED Talk) you will get a different sense on education.

 

In the information age, where Artificial Intelligence is taking over various small jobs including something like legal research or data analytics by small bots, certainly, the skills that may be required in coming days would be far more different than what is been taught now.

So, we should junk the old system and focus on education should be reduced, as we all know, how stressed our children are; unfortunately answer is not in affirmative. Why?

Because, What is the final essence of education?

 

Information to Knowledge to Wisdom.

 

The basis of all knowledge is information. Yes some rudimentary information can be retrieved using googling, if its not repetitive. Like finding the specific dates, some event happened in history but what if, you have to use computer, every time to convert Kilometres to Meters or even worse, to calculate 19X14. In essence, we must know the basic tool kit of information in real life, else you can’t take knowledge based decision. Think of making a decision based on marginal cost of an item or computing discounted value of a thing. The information, thus turns into knowledge, a basis for taking day to day decision. Mostly, all of our working hours or even daily life decision are taken alone and not in groups, ergo, life is not a project, though we learn a lot from working in a group, but that limited to certain degree of learning and should not be the basis of life learning.

Finally, Wisdom, how to achieve proverbial wit and wisdom. Computers are smart at processing information. They have no knowledge, may be super computers yes, but can it apply Wisdom. For a human being, wisdom comes from knowing the ones limitation and ability to look at things from multiple perspective, without being subjective. Ability to learn pattern from complex scenario, identifying the solution to social/economical/emotional problems by tool kit of understanding life. All these can only come from knowledge in true sense. A knowledge not only acquired from information but from experiences in life. Even a person who is 7th pass can have much more wisdom, than a Phd.

I am not saying education system is perfect or no changes are required, however, adopting new way of thinking blind side us with obvious requirements of a normal life. As for soft skills, the lessons of handwork, perseverance, resilience, problem solving etc are all learned by the exam based education system. The sad part is kids carry the burden of our expectation. And thats where we get answer, use our own Wisdom, get out of rat race, and keep expectation from schools, educators, system at very realistic level and finally lower our own expectation.

 

Peter Principle/Peak Performance

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You must have heard of Peter Principle.

 

“Every one rise to the level of incompetence.” So, if you are CEO of the company, and you can not grow beyond, you have reached a level of Incompetence in your life.

 

Read it in the context of Peak Performance Theory.

 

A state when, you are at the peak of your performance. This applies to every one, from actors to sportsman to writers etc. Taking parables from Cricket, many a time, we have heard, Tendulkar reached its peak performance, but again he risen from ashes. He was probably, outlier. But, look at Yuvraj singh, do you think he is beyond his prime days. Emotion apart, Yes. If you look at many businesses, products, services, we know for sure, its beyond its best days. If you use Samsung Galaxy S Phone, you know, its beyond its peak, the product has stopped delighting us. I am not an Apple Fan Boy, and certainly Android continues to bring more people on Smart Phone platform and keep delighting its user, but looking from Hardware perspective, there hardly seems tobe any frenzy on new S-6 launch. If you are in Ahmedabad, you know, Restaurants like Sankalp have stopped pleasing its patron, it doesn’t seems to be priority destination for NRI. The examples are endless, both the way. But let us stick to companies that have achieved proverbial success and now stagnated.

Individuals are no exception. Yo Yo honey sing, does not attract the attention anymore. May be due to stereotyping the craft, whereas Mr. Bachaan continues to reinvest himself.

 

The question before us is to know, have we reached the Cul de sac movement or reached our peak performance?

 

Whether we continue to delight our customer with superior services or we are bettering our past performance. Normally, defining moments in life are known to us, only six month after the event happened, while peak performance is difficult to know, with our own bias, though by being brutally objective, we can get our own answer.

Psychologically, its very difficult to admit our own shortcomings, and we are certainly good a finding faults in others, thats another topic, on our own narrow framing and biases, but the point is, even if we come to know that we have crossed our peak performance, it will happen not before but only after.

 

This does not mean, we should quit. It means, going back to basics, focusing on Core, revamping our own ideas, above all, keep have insecurity of getting into mediocrity trap. Above all, complacency should not set in like a rigour mortis.

Courtesy : Idea – Seth godin blog / photo – James altucher blog.

Money and Happiness by Angus Deaton

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Angus Deaton…Who?

 

He just won Noble Price for Economics.

Daniel Kahneman…Mostly you know. Father of Behaviour Economics.

Both of them published a much debated articles about Money and Happiness in the year 2011. They claimed, beyond US $ 75000/- yearly income, additional income has no consequences on Happiness. Its academic article, if you are interested, you may read it here.

Okay, now whats your thoughts.

 

Does more money brings more Happiness?

Do you agree, money has any association with happiness?

 

Whatever your answer, I am not judging it either way. But, I am sure, after reading next few lines, whatever is your answer, it will make you rethink.

 

As Mr. Kahneman says, ““Happiness” can mean different things to different people at different times.”

 

So, answer depends upon your state of mind today or generally in last few days. More over, both of them have further divided happiness into two parts. (1) Emotional Well being – Happiness in day to day life or how you feel today or oflate. (2) Life evaluation – what you make of your life based on where you are today, compared to when you started off. It means general satisfaction about your own life. Research says that upto a point with additional income, happiness increases, this is logical because, without reaching a stage of financial freedom in life, individual are concerns with making two ends meet or to deal with future. But, after a point, additional income doesn’t make a great difference. In India Context, I think beyond Rs. 15-20 lacs a year income ,more money does not generate more happiness.

But then why, we should work hard and accumulate wealth. So research is wrong. NO. We are always taught, money and happiness has no connection. After a time, we think of sabbatical or meaning and purpose in life etc….But, we have to make money and earn, you simply can’t give up your job and become entrepreneur or being an entrepreneur change the nature or work. because:

 

The research also states that more money make Life Evaluation more worthy ( In …………..Eyes_). Apart from anxiety and concern about Emotional well being in day to day life.

 

One feels that he/she has achieved proverbial definition of Success, because material success obviously coupled with social status, assets to show off, does gives an external validation and over a period of time, we ourselves, start building a notion of success ( I should use the word Life Evaluation) based on the wealth that we have. A cycle of 99.

I am putting the exact words used by both the Nobel Laureates:

 

“We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation (Success) and low emotional well-being.”

 

Looking from Work – Life Balance perspective, more work brings High Life Evaluation.

We are unable to trade off between high emotional well being ( stop working hard once you have achieved a stable income) with low life evaluation (low social status, anxiety of future without social security in india context, or high peer pressure or expectation of family). Hence, just like work – life balance, you can’t achieve the equilibrium.

Thus, work hard, earn more, it may not bring Happiness but in long unit will increase your Own Worth, in your Own eyes.

To sum up, if you are content and confident about your self and who you are and what have you become and reasonably certain about future, more money does not increase Life Evaluation. If you haven’t reached that stage. Work Hard, Earn More.

Exercise for Intellectuals

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The caption suggest, i am referring to some mental exercise. If you are thinking along the line, you are wrong. Just don’t read further.

 

Exercise is boring. You require a strong will and motivation to do some physical exercise. If you are intellectual or pseudo intellectual (like me), you ought to be giving more focus on mental health, compared to physical health. But, a small 3 minutes video from The School of Life will open up your thinking.

 

 

To me exercise, nutrition and food science is most complex issue, riddled with N numbers of myths. Frankly, no one knows, what is optimum or ideal exercise or diet. Before you move forward, I must warn you, do not take what I am writing as Seriously. And taking advice from CA on any subject other than Accounts/Taxation is injurious to the health.

 

I am no expert at anything, and least a role model on fitness. Still, if you want to take a ride, read it. These are the main reason, why you should exercise.

 

Core : Core is our back, to put it simply, if your core muscles are not strong, in old age, you tend to have arch like body. Think of old lady.

Flexibility : Ability to strengthen your muscle. Just like mind, if it is not stretched, it will result into atrophy.

Strength : Body’s ability to do a heavy lifting. Without strength, you become feeble. Strength both physically and mentally demonstrates resilience, a core trait for well being.

Weight : I do not advice, its a major cause of injury. Unless, you are trained by expert.

Cardio : Popular way of breathing oxygen and making it reach parts of body. Think of pranayam.

 

If you are interested, sworkit lite is a good app, available on iOS, to start. Its free.

When Advice sound best: When giving it.

Dark Pattern

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This is follow up to last post on Social Science and how if used in Public Policy can create unwanted outcomes. Every new invention has either positive or negative impact on our lives. But, we hardly bother to think about it. The Internet and always connected/networked life is great for us, but at what cost we don’t know. The social media and internet companies effectively controls our behaviour. The one more glaring example is called Dark Pattern.

 

“A Dark Pattern is a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.”

 

To learn more about Dark Pattern, visit : Darkpatterns.org

 

Recently, Linked in was subject to the litigation in the US Court, precisely for same reason. To read more about this read at Fastdesign.com. If you book tickets online, even Cleartrip.com is guilty of this..as you have to untick the insurance button to opt out of insurance payment for the trip.

 

 

More and more companies are guilty of using such techniques for their gain

 

The only learning, we can have is to be aware about such techniques. This is akin to phishing, that we all know about. But, individual indulging in phishing are criminals, companies engaging in such behaviours are poster boys of silicon valley.

Behavioral Science

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Behavioural Economics, as we all know deals with the hidden motives and debunk the classic economic theory, the premises being each individual/rational human being tries to maximise its reward. So, how does it plays any important role in public policy? Surely, you have heard about nudging people in taking a right decision, thats again is a subset of behavioural economics. Essentially, removing jargon, worldwide every one, starting from Android/ios games maker, software developers, marketers, economist to policy makers are exploiting our vulnerability. Indirectly controlling our behaviours and instincts. If you know, even Facebook or Google Analytics does the same thing but not in so subtle way. Based on our post, they can influence our behaviour by manipulating our actions, by presenting us with alternatives chosen by them. The list can go endless…

 

All this means, we do not have free Will.

 

What if, by an executive order, government get right to use the behaviour science in public policy. This is what US government has done. Though, intentions are noble, finally, its execution power is with bureaucrats. Just think of a situation, when your religion, political, social, economical, welfare choices are guided by Behavioural Science.

 

Does it sound scary. Okay, Check This.

 

Even, otherwise, its interesting to know, how US Government Function, even look at the beauty of drafting.

Nandan Nilekani Speech on Banking Disruption at Tie

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Recently Mr. Nandan Nilekani gave a speech on disruption happening in Banking Sector or more particularly Financial Services. Its bit long, but anyone interested in understanding emerging patterns or how technology, new payment banks, small bank and digital economy will shape the Indian Banking in coming years, its a exhilarating watch.

 

 

Avoiding Stupidity is easier than Seeking Brilliance

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Conventional wisdom teaches us to focus on our Core Competence. Doing your best, sharpening your skill, and Always play to Win. But what if , winning also depends upon NOT LOOSING. It makes the entire thinking upside down. How would we Win, if we don’t try to Win. Simply by not loosing.

 

In a classic book by Mr. Simon Ramo –

 

Extraordinary Tennis for the Ordinary Tennis Player.

 

This concept was described at length in the context of the Equity market returns generated by so called professional investment advisor, and why investing is no more a Winners Game. The article was published by Charles Ellis.ellis_charles_the_losers_game_1975

 

He had outlined Strategy : To put it simply,

 

Simon Ramo identified the crucial difference between a Winner’s Game and a Loser’s Game in his excellent book on playing strategy, Extraordinary Tennis for the Ordinary Tennis Player. Over a period of many years, he observed that tennis was not one game but two. One game of tennis is played by professionals and a very few gifted amateurs; the other is played by all the rest of us.

Although players in both games use the same equipment, dress, rules and scoring, and conform to the same etiquette and customs, the basic natures of their two games are almost entirely different. After extensive scientific and statistical analysis, Dr. Ramo summed it up this way: Professionals win points, amateurs lose points. Professional tennis players stroke the ball with strong, well aimed shots, through long and often exciting rallies, until one player is able to drive the ball just beyond the reach of his opponent. Errors are seldom made by these splendid players.

Expert tennis is what I call a Winner’s Game because the ultimate outcome is determined by the actions of the winner. Victory is due to winning more points than the opponent wins – not, as we shall see in a moment, simply to getting a higher score than the opponent, but getting that higher score by winning points.

Amateur tennis, Ramo found, is almost entirely different. Brilliant shots, long and exciting rallies and seemingly miraculous recoveries are few and far between. On the other hand, the ball is fairly often hit into the net or out of bounds, and double faults at service are not uncommon. The amateur duffer seldom beats his opponent, but he beats himself all the time. The victor in this game of tennis gets a higher score than the opponent, but he gets that higher score because his opponent is losing even more points.

As a scientist and statistician, Dr. Ramo gathered data to test his hypothesis. And he did it in a very clever way. Instead of keeping conventional game scores – “Love,” “Fifteen All.” “Thirty- Fifteen.” etc. – Ramo simply counted points won versus points lost. And here is what he found. In expert tennis, about 80 per cent of the points are won; in amateur tennis, about 80 per cent of the points are lost. In other words, professional tennis is a Winner’s Game – the final outcome is determined by the activities of the winner – and amateur tennis is a Loser’s Game – the final outcome is determined by the activities of the loser. The two games are, in their fundamental characteristic, not at all the same. They are opposites.

From this discovery of the two kinds of tennis, Dr. Ramo builds a complete strategy by which ordinary tennis players can win games, sets and matches again and again by following the simple stratagem of losing less, and letting the opponent defeat himself.

 

To understand the concept, I suggest you read the entire article.

As Charlie Mungar, puts it, we must know our circle of competence. We should also not try to be clever, or one should not speak beyond his level of knowledge. To know, whether you are professional or amateur, is the key. Confidence is good, but overconfidence gets you killed at times. Its a great advice, only, if we admit that we are not professional at everything. We have limitation of knowledge, expertise, exposure and above all skills.

Courtesy : Farnam Street Blog.

Quote to Ponder

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“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices…” William James

 

Our thinking is crowded by our past, we do not have free spirit because we are controlled by our emotions and expectation. And we do not have free thinking, unless we remove Bias & Prejudice.

 

Do you agree. If you say, Yes, I say you are Biased, if you say No, I say you are prejudiced. LOL.

 

On serious note. You want to test yourself. Just try and see, how your kids learn. If you could learn and remember just like them, you are free of bias, but if not, and your like me, its time to declutter the mind.