Wii FM — What’s in it for me ?
Mark is a recent graduate from Uganda’s most prestigeous Makerere university in computer engineering;
A 4 year course that saw him absorb volumes of knowledge from textbooks and sit through hours of instruction in classrooms filled with students from all over the country; the brightest minds that Uganda has today who were lucky enough to make the cut and get through Makerere’s infamous admissions system.
All through university Mark has sat for tests and exams; skipping the recommended 8 hours of twisting and turning on a warm sponge mattress in favour of mastering concepts written down while in class; concepts that he will be required to pledge his allegiance to in written tests. The stakes are clear, answer correctly as many questions as you can to win highest acclaim and prestige.
In university as in all institutions of learning, understanding the material and answering test questions correctly will get you top marks and favour; The cause and effect principle is so clear that taking the time to read and study class content would invariably, always lead to the effect of good grades and straight A’s. The harder you worked, the higher your grades would increase in proportion.
Yes there were cases when tutors and lecturers seemed determined and bent on student failure; in these rare cases, the solutions were no where to be found either in the numerous pages of class notes nor the volumes of research books handed out. In spite of these rare cases, a hardworking student would generally end up with a high grade at the end of a semester or school term; given the cumulative method of calculating final results that considers an average of test scores from different exams and assignments. In this way, dismal results from a one off freak exam that wipes out all signs of intelligence in a classroom are offset by better scoring exams.
Mark is out on the streets of Kampala, filled with energy and ready to show the world what he can do. He wants to make his dent on the world doing awesome work that is fulfilling and pays the bills as well. The thought of entreprenuership is quite appealing and he carefully considers the options. He knows the math, that most startups in Uganda do not live beyond the first 1 year of life; He is forced to entertain a shift in his understanding of the way things work.
In school, he was certain of the rewards for an investment in effort studying but in the working world, nothing seems guaranteed. The effect he longs to hold is a fat cheque at the end of the day though its cause does not appear as straight a line as A to B. What do I have to do to get paid is a recurring theme in Mark’s mind ? Is there something real and tangible I can do that will like clock work always end up back at the 12 hour hand with green pockets ?
In school he recalls, he was guaranteed high rewards for consistent studying of the material; Perhaps, it was all a waste of time. A complete distortion of reality that actually puts you at a disadvantage in the working world. He thinks to himself about the requirements for a startup, time developing a concept and sweat executing; energy selling, promoting and raising money.
What’s In It for me asks himself ? With all this investment and the bad record of startups in our country, am I guaranteed a return on investment for all this exertion. Which rules are we playing to in this new game in the working world, where does my A grade come from ?
For now he resigns to doing his best, working hard in every phase of his startup without any guarantees of reward or recognition; All this so that if or perhaps when the referees or tutors in this game of work show up with gifts of gold and silver to spare, he wont be the reason for not receiving top marks or more aptly named the green pockets.