Leave Silver, Grab Gold! — Quotidian — 024

(Transcript of video originally posted on 24 Jan 2021)

Namaste!

The Crystal Maze was a fun TV program. A fun adventurous TV program. In that, half a dozen people will be led through many adventurous mazes where they will earn crystals, and using those crystals they have to collect some tickets. Watch this!

They have five crystals, here. That means twenty-five seconds inside the Crystal Dome. You have to collect the gold tokens — which will be added to the total. And you should NOT collect the silver tokens — which will be DEDUCTED from the total! The powerful fan blows everything up into the air. As the time counts down, they have to collect it all in a hurry… Very famous, very popular game, called The Crystal Maze!

So, gold will give you PLUS points, and silver, they will deduct. Up in the air, like pieces of paper. You have to collect them… What will be your strategy?! How will you approach this?

Think about it! Silver minus. Gold plus. This is where we face the dilemma between efficiency and effectiveness. The tussle that happens.

What is efficiency? Finetuning the “how will we do it” to the best possible approach. What is effectiveness? What is our end goal? What are we trying to achieve? Wondering and thinking about that deeply. Have we identified that end goal properly? Deliberating on this topic is what effectiveness is all about.

Which is why… they keep talking about the crucial difference between doing things right versus doing the right things! A robot, for example, will do it very correctly! But, a human being? The assumption is the human has the ability to discern whether they are doing the right thing in the first place. Efficiency versus Effectiveness.

Take a look at this cartoon. Even if the tortoise is going slowly, it is going in the correct direction! But the hare… even though he has a motor boat that will travel a hundred times faster, what is the use traveling in the opposite direction?!

There is this book called The Day of the Jackal. One of the best books, even today, that describes the “anatomy” of a long-distance shooter, a sniper. The story. The plot. Described so beautifully. Two seconds. Just two seconds. From the gun to the body of the person the bullet has planned to assassinate… It takes just two seconds. Two to three seconds. Throughout the book, though, the whole discussion is about the last gunshot in the last page of the book. But… the buildup… What are the things that go into the barrel of the gun… What are the things he does to aim and train… He takes into account the velocity of the wind, he checks the lubrication, he makes a small notch in the nose of the bullet, a thousand little things… that go into the planning. That is what makes it EFFECTIVE.

There is this book by Stephen Covey. Titled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (Not highly efficient people!) The seventh habit in that book? Sharpen the saw! It must have probably evolved from this original quotation from Abraham Lincoln. If you’ve been given just six hours to chop down a tree, then, I would spend a full four hours just in sharpening the axe, he is supposed to have said! Why? If I have a sharp enough axe, I can chop off a tree in a matter of minutes. That is the kind of confidence the person gets. Again, effectiveness is more important than efficiency. What you choose to do is probably more important than how you end up doing it.

And so, if a little girl, perhaps your daughter, perhaps your sister, perhaps somebody who is working with you in your team, whoever she may be, if she is at a window, idly staring away into the faraway nothingness, don’t jump to a conclusion there, right there… Don’t say, “You are wasting your time”. She could be J K Rowling. Thinking about her next amazing Harry Potter story. She could be Kalpana Chawla. Dreaming about the stars. How do I fly to the neighbouring planet! She could be that! So, she could be sharpening her saw! That is why, we saw a while ago, about “metrics”. What are you going to measure? That is a very important question to get an answer for. No point measuring how long you’ve been staring at a computer, typing at the keyboard, if you haven’t been sharpening your saw! Thank you!

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Rajendran Dandapani

Rajendran Dandapani

Business Solutions Evangelist at Zoho Corp. President at The Zoho Schools Of Learning.