Sunday, April 30, 2006

What is Good for Geese...

Here is the excerpt that is taken out of an email that got sent to me; Someone has quoted Bryan Dollery as “Flow takes time to achieve, and it is fragile. If a programmer’s flow is interrupted it can take a large amount of time for her to regain the state, sometimes up to an hour. That’s an hour of lost productivity to your team. If a programmer is interrupted many times during the day she may never reach this state. Without this state, creativity is crippled”; and using this had come to conclude – “In Bay Area, environment is manageable as we get to use fairly good sized cubicles and generally its very peaceful here… … I noticed in India (no generalization here, this refers to my experience only) that there is not much of an effort in filtering out this new noise. Every input is of high priority. Chat from a friend, call from somebody, email from somewhere. … …”

Firstly, I want to agree to what is being said here; I'm sure we can be more alert, more organized, more disciplined in how we do our own work and how we do enable others. So lets all agree on that and take a deep breath...


Now that agreement is done, I want to take conflict on this one "If a programmer's flow is interrupted it can take a large amount of time for her to regain the state, sometimes up to an hour. That's an hour of lost productivity to your team" - I believe this is a gross generalization - both on what engenders 'creativity' and what is implied by 'privacy'.

It may be true that some of the productivity is lost; but there are positives that come out of it; the point that we are able to relate well and work well within such a chaos, is a pointer to the vibrancy of others feel when the come to India. The seeming chaos and the seeming hurry all around us to get somewhere quickly, is also the one that arises out of our perennial scarcity; and the syndrome of scarcity is the one the make businessmen and housewives all across India innovate in their business model and in their daily lives. Also, some of this seeming chaos is what provides other aspects of work other than 'creativity'. Its patronizing to assume what is true for a culture is true for every other culture; just because IT which was done in the US is now done in India does NOT imply that it has to be done in a similar environment and in the same way. We were doing creative work within this chaos even before IT came here - look at all the R&D Government organizations; movie industry, ads, Tagore, Barathi, fast breeder reactor, Jaipur Foot and thousand other day-to-day innovations people make to live within the constraints of scarcity.

The privacy of space is much different in our culture than what it would mean in a western (or US) culture. Last week a friend of mine took my family into his parents’ home and his parents were most welcoming. I’m sure it introduced chaos into their lives and intruded into their ‘privacy’. Inspite of differences of languages between us, our inability to communicate effectively, at the end of it, there was nothing from them to suggest that they resented our presence as loss of their privacy. Privacy of space does not imply the same in India as it would imply in the US. Seeing it uni-dimensionally and assuming so, will be at Assumer’s own peril

Having said all that, just I’d suggest a viewing of this video:
I wonder if such a self-organizing and self-healing environment can ever exist in the Bay area, for all the goodness the presence of Fry's and Saravana Bhavan brings to life :)

What is good for geese, in this case, is definitely not good for gander. And what perhaps makes up as a (newsy-juicy) sleaze should not be up for slander.


Anonymous said...

Well said and how true!

k said...

having lived in pristine and squeaky clean and whisper quiet surroundings for several years, i can vouch for the fact that i prefer the chaos and noise of india any day. the everyday small challenges keep us from getting bored to death. i happened to work for an american executive on assignment here once, who used to often lament that the one thing he couldn't get accustomed to in india was the crowd and noise whereever he went. i told him it is that very chaos that keeps many people going here and if we were asked to live in a place where we had to drive 2 kms to greet a neighbour we would all go crazy. One man's poison is another man's food.