Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Does Education throttle us 'Off' Simple Solutions?

Here's a short interesting story of my colleague, her husband & their friends. As most software professionals, after years of toiling in front of laptops, null pointers & memory leaks, they too, like many others in their mid career, were bit by the Entrepreneur bug and decided to invest in a farmland. So they invested in a Farmhouse in a remote village, a couple of hours drive from Bangalore

To manage, they appointed a local 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker' for their Vineyard. They visit once a month to check on things

When they visited last month, they were excited to see their vineyard and estimated around 1.5 tonnes of grapes, a little on the lower side, nevertheless the toil of their hard earned investment

However when they visited last week, in the hope of taking the produce back home, they found, not one, yes, not even one grape! The whole vineyard was empty

When the 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker' was questioned, he looked down and said the entire produce was stolen and he was too scared to inform them earlier on the phone

So our Corporate friends, in the most professional manner, gave 'feedback' on how disappointed they were to the silent 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker'; after all a software guy seldom knows to handle the 'exceptions'  beyond the world of codes

Needless to say, after the chastising session, they huddled to brainstorm on a permanent solution to this issue. They couldn't immediately replace the 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker', as there were no 'succession plan' in place. So they had to have him around, until further recruitment

On the theft front, they had to address it; clever as all of them were, they quickly arrived at the best solution - they needed to put the farm under CCTV surveillance; probably the first ever farm under CCTV surveillance in India, nevertheless it was the need of the hour. So they dusted their disappointments and got back to Bangalore to work on the costs and vendor, listening to Chumbawamba's - I get knocked down, but I get up again

At home, my colleague spoke to her mother about this incident & how they had decided on installing CCTVs. Her mom, who herself owns a farm, looked very bewildered. After a few minutes of puzzled look, she asked

"Why don't you put a picture of a God, tie some threads and write below that the one who steals the fruits will be punished?"

"After all, all villagers believe in God, Mantras & Magic, wouldn't this be enough to scare them away?"

All of them were dumbfounded. Anyone who's from an Indian village knows that they deeply believe in God and fear the powers of Mantra's & Magic. A black thread would do the whole trick! A Rs. 100/- solution to a Rs. 100,000/- solution from the best software minds!

As we become more 'educated' and sophisticated, do we stop finding obvious, easy, straightforward, localised solutions?

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