Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another Exit

In my career of 6 years this blog (and my car) have witnessed the other two exits I have made. In Bengal, they have this curious piece of land which is never dug and called something like ¨Sakkhi" (akin to Witness) which is supposed to remain there to remind people what the land was before the dug out.

It was my last day at my current employer today. As always, I left with mixed feelings. The key question on everyone´s mind was What made me leave? Thats a complex question for which we need to make multiple detours. First Consider this

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A".

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
The most interesting observation above is that somehow quantity produces quality than other way around. If thats not enough lets turn to Charlie Munger who has to say the following

The last idea that I found very important is that I realized very early that non-egality would work better in the parts of the world that I wanted to inhabit. What do I mean by non-egality? I mean John Wooden when he was the number one basketball coach in the world. He just said to the bottom five players that you don’t get to play. The top seven did all the playing. Well the top seven learned more, remember the learning machine, they learned more because they did all the playing. And when he got to that system he won more than he had ever won before. I think the game of life, in many respects, is about getting a lot of practice into the hands of the people that have the most aptitude to learn and the most tendency to be learning machines. And if you want the very highest reaches of human civilization, that’s where you have to go. You do not want to choose a brain surgeon for your child from 50 applicants where all of them just take turns doing the procedure. You don’t want your airplanes designed that way.

The above paragraph says that the more you play they better you are than anything else. As if that werent enough, please consider the research of Dean Simonton whose paper titled ¨Age and Outstanding Achievement: What Do We Know After a Century of Research?¨

First, if one calculates the age curves separately for major and minor works within careers, the resulting functions are basically identical...

Second... minor and major contributions... fluctuate together. Those periods in a creator's life that see the most masterpieces also witness the greatest number of easily forgotten productions, on the average.

Another way of saying the same thing is to note that the "quality ratio," or the proportion of major products to total output per age unit, tends to fluctuate randomly over the course of any career. The quality ratio neither increases nor decreases with age...

These outcomes are valid for both artistic and scientific modes of creative contribution. What these two results signify is that... age becomes irrelevant to determining the success of a particular contribution.
The above piece mentions that Quality of output does not vary by age. In other words, attempting to improve your batting average of hits versus misses is a waste of time as you progress through a creative career. Instead you should just focus on more at-bats -- more output.If this sounds insane to you, Dr. Simonton points out that the periods of Beethoven's career that had the most hits also had the most misses -- works that you never hear. So what makes us think we can be better than Beethoven in terms of average over time?

Given the above synopses, the clear theme is that you should bat early and bat often. Meaning you should try different things and try them more which is why I choose to exit now and do something different than do the same thing I have done close to 2 years. Time for me to change :)

So it is that time of the year for me where I tend to bat at different pitches and try to bat more than anything else which drives me to this opportunity, Wish me luck because I need all of it :)

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