Forming a Dirty-Work Group

Dirty-Work Group Organization Structure

A Step by Step Guide

1. Beating Down the Idea

Step 1: With utmost pessimism, identify the knowledge/experience you as an initiator lack that would doom the project into a failure. Divide them into two parts. Your Lack of Knowledge (K) about the field and your Lack of Confidence or Lack of Experience (CE) with that field.

Then take a second trip. Revise the list. This time with optimism, start beating at your project. Identify the parts of which with good smooth because of your competence and confidence. Break them into two parts. One would be what you feel you can cakewalk through and one you feel would be tough nuts to crack, but manageable.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices Marinating Cutting Vegetables Buying Vegetables
Frying Boiling
Putting Salt in right measures Serving Food
Cooking

 

Step 2: Revisit the column CE. If you feel after the bout of optimism you can move an activity from this column to column M, go ahead and do it. Revisit column M. If you want to move the activity to another column, go ahead. Revisit column CW. Revisit column K. Revisit column CE and column M. By now you should have a fairly stable task breakdown and your capability to handle them.

Step 3: Draw a line at the bottom of column CE and column M

Step 4: Move the items you would hate if you had to do below the line.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices Buying Vegetables
Frying Boiling
Serving Food
Cooking
 

Marinating Cutting Vegetables
Putting Salt in right measures

 

Step 5: Draw lines under Lack of Knowledge and Cakewalk too.  Move the items in Lack of knowledge you know you can not learn or do not want to learn about. Move items in Cake Walk below the line which you think are trivial for you or not worth you spending your time on or too unchallenging for you.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices Buying Vegetables
Frying Boiling
Serving Food
Cooking




Marinating Cutting Vegetables
Putting Salt in right measures

 

Note: What you see on top of the dividing line is your Nice-Work zone and below it is the important Dirty-Work zone.

2. Gathering People

Step 1: In general there are two pools to pick people from. One from within and one from outside. At times, the same department may mean within and the other department may mean outside. Or a company may be within and from outside would mean recruiting. A circle of friends may mean within and not knowing a person would be considered outside. For various reasons, we recommend a team as DWG be formed from the within the pool. The biggest being that the initiator would have a fair idea about the people who could have complementing Nice-Work and Dirty-Work zones.

Note: Within is described as a circle where people can be moved to around rather casually. The formal work that is needs, succeeds or is simultaneous to the moving. On otherside, outside is where a formal procedure precedes a person’s moving in.

Step 2: Interview with people aware of the project could be in form of above exercise and then finding people such that whole tasks are covered. Interview of a person having no idea would involve moving the activities above and below the lines based on response with respect to previous projects/tasks.

3. Shaping the Team

Next step is to identify when the team has been “formed”. Apparently, each item must figure in someone’s column CW. At a minimum, each item should appear in either column M or column CWcolumn. In case of activities are not in column CW but in column M of more than one, they have to sort out who takes it into his column CW. If it appears in can manage only one person he has to take it into his column CW. A team can always go looking out for more people at any time either of the scenarios appears.

Note: During the process of induction of new members, more tasks can be added or tasks can be broken down. The matrix remains very dynamic. But each task should be classified in one of the four columns for each member.

4. Distributing Tasks

Let the below activity matrix belong to two members are to be part of DWG.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices
Frying Boiling Marinating
Cooking




Putting Salt in right measures Cutting Vegetables Serving Food
Buying Vegetables

 

 

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Cutting Vegetables Putting Salt in right measures
Spices




 Buying Vegetables Boiling Marinating
Serving Food Frying
    Cooking

 

Step 1: Merge the activities column-wise

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
 Spices Cutting Vegetables Putting Salt in right measures
 Spices  Frying Boiling Spices
 Cooking Boiling Marinating
 Frying Buying Vegetables
Cooking Serving Food




 Buying Vegetables Putting Salt in right measures Boiling Marinating
Putting Salt in right measures Serving Food Frying
Marinating   Cooking
Cutting Vegetables Serving Food
Buying Vegetables
Cutting Vegetables

 

Step 2: Validate the matrix.

Step 3: Make an activity allocation matrix. Allocate all column CW activities.

 

Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work
Marinating Serving Food Buying Vegetables Marinating Spices Frying
Frying Cutting Vegetables Serving Food Putting Salt in right measures Putting Salt in right measures Cooking
Cooking Buying Vegetables Boiling Spices Cutting Vegetables Boiling

More Reading

Dirty-Work Group Based Organizational Structure

Dirty-Work Group Organization Structure

Introduction

A team does not and can not exist as an island. In an organizational setup, it has to indulge in intra-organizational and external communications. How does the concept of Dirty-work group provide a solution to this and how would an organization based on this idea look like?

In this article, we introduce the concept of interfaces to a Dirty-Work Group and propose an organizational structure.

Interfaces

As a Dirty-Work group‘s organization is internal to a group, from the outside it would look like a black box. Proper interfaces should be defined for various kinds of interactions. The most apparent communications are of following types:

Internal - Dirty-Work Group  Internal:  This interface is one point contact for all intra-company communications. Any request for information from other teams, dissemination of information, etc to the Dirty-Work Group is through this interface. Any member can pick this activity as their Good-Work (Good Work Group) and if none exits then as a Dirty-Work (Dirty Work Group).

External - Dirty-Work Group  External:  This interface is one point contact for all external communications. Any request for information from the press, other companies, agencies, etc to the Dirty-Work Group is through this interface. Any member can pick this activity as their Good-Work and if none exits then as a Dirty-Work.

Hierarchical - Dirty-Work Group  Hierarchical:  This interface is one point contact for all reporting to the higher level of management and their communication to the group. Any member can pick this activity as their Good-Work and if none exits then as a Dirty-Work.

Dynamics

Consider an organization named Any Organization Ltd. Its top management can be a Dirty-Work Group of all or some of these people:

  • CFO: Chief Financial Officer
  • CIO: Chief Information Officer
  • CTO: Chief Technology Officer
  • CMSO: Chief Marketing and Sales Officer
  • CHRO: Chief Human Resources Officer
  • CLO: One who manages buildings, offices, infrastructure, canteen, transportation and all that none of the above have to worry about – the ‘Handy Man’ officer.

Let there be three Dirty-Work Group working on various projects. One of them is a high visibility project about which business community is also interested.

Dirty-Work Group Organization Structure

Each member of each group after picking the Good-Work and the Dirty-Work will also pick whether to be an interface. And if yes, then what kind of interface. Internal, External or Hierarchical. The teams which do not need to interact may not pick an External interface or pick one when needed.

More Reading

Dirty-Work Group

Dirty-Work Group

A Team Management, Dynamics and Structure Model

(Originally published in 1998)

1. Management – Sense in Multitude

1.1 In the beginning there was…

With the industrial revolution, came a problem, which was unfathomable for the people of the times. It was simply how to manage the enormous. A large number of workers, machines, raw materials that flowed in tones, production, the products and supplying it. And last, but not the least, the profits it generated and the money involved in the whole process.

1.2 Then came the manager…

This led to the development of some methods, functions and attitudes, which came to be collectively called as management. Management, like all abstract thought intensive activities, has no clear definition. Collections of sentences, which cover its various aspects, are taken as a framework in which it can be said to belong. Some of the accepted thoughts that broadly classify as definitions are:

1. Management is the integrating force in all organized activity.[1]

2. The process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals, working together in groups, efficiently accomplish selected aims.[2]

3. Utilization of technical, human, conceptual and design skill at various levels in an organization to achieve selected aims.

4. Planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling various inputs in an organization to achieve selected aims.

As step-by-step formalization of management techniques, it was possible to understand and chart the course of a revolution. And it led to another revolution. From production-oriented industrial revolution to a commerce-oriented economic revolution. Profit almost is now a dirty word. Modern paradigms of efficiency, growth and environment-of-work and customer-is-king were the driving force.

1.3 The honeymoon is over…

Soon, with the growth of this new attitude, something was found missing in the concept of an efficient manager. Some said it was that a manager adopted an impersonal (though not passive) attitude towards goal.[3] They tend to view work as an enabling process involving some combination of people and idea s interacting to establish strategies and make decisions. They preferred to work with people and avoided solitary paths. This was seen as a good managerial practice but thought of as a big hindrance in taking those small bold step, calculated risks that made all the difference. It was increasing felt that a manager went on with his job with total trust that the function he performed was sufficient for the goal. The whole system lacked something, which could break new ground. It was felt if a manager was more personal, far-sighted, pro-active, driving, motivating in his unique was, he would fill this gap. A void in concept was detected and here came the concept of leadership. A void rightly understood, but wrongly filled.

1.4 A leader is born…

Certain traits were identified, certain attitudes were formulated and this resulted in the birth of a leader. A leader was required to be personal and proactive towards organizational goal. Leaders always took calculated risks and were more concerned with ideas, relations with people and worked in an intuitive and empathic way. Leadership was called the art of directing sub-ordinates will, abilities and efforts towards organizational goal.[4] A leader was to comprehend that people are different in work style and motivation pattern; understand group dynamics; create a stimulating environment; inspire and gain respect; understand the big picture and boil it down for his employees. Something called the fundamental principle of leadership was developed.

“Since people tend to follow those who, in their view, offer them a means of satisfying their own personal goals, the more managers understand what motivates their subordinates and how these motivations operate, and the more they reflect this understanding in carrying out their managerial actions, the more effective they are likely to be as leaders.”[5]

It was believed that a manager could utilize only 60-65% of the capacity of his subordinates without the exercises of effective leadership.[6] Many approaches to leadership were defined. It was observed, “Research has produced such a variegated list of traits presumably to describe leadership that, for all practical purposes, it describes nothing. Fifty years of study have failed to produce one personality trait or set of qualities that can be used to discriminate between a leader and a non-leader.”[7]

1.5 Shayad leader – Shayad manager…

Amidst all this discussion on leadership and how a leader differs from a manager, one subtle but distinct trait does come forth. We feel that all the traits of a leader described in management book are in general traits of an efficient manager. Leadership, it seems is the next step of being an efficient manager. A good manager, given authority and held accountable, will certainly take risks as dictated by his vision. In order to achieve that vision, he will surely make it personal and filter down the motivation and urgency to achieve it to his subordinates. Empathy is a trait of any decent human being and if found in a manager, would certainly make him a better manager. But what is that make an efficient manager cross the line and be a leader? We feel it is his personality, charm, charisma or style. It is his personality. Traits in his personality that make him seem genuinely superior, pedagogical and serene in his vision. It is not what but how of thing he does that makes him a leader.

1.6 With every wish, there comes a curse…

It takes good followers to make a leader. What is it that the subordinate wants from his manager that he finds in a leader? What do these traits do to a manager to make a leader out of him? A leader tries to understand what is in the minds of his subordinates and then tries to provide that and boil down big aim to task level for each of his employees. It is, we feel, things that people a lower level don’t understand or want to understand that makes a leader a necessity. But a manager too could have done this. But a leader, with his persona, inspires respect and trust which manager could not. So he is listened to.

The concept of leadership was considered to be the panacea for organization that wanted to be in the market to stay. Good leaders in your organization and it will be a leader. But it came with a flip side story. The personality cult and leader with no lead.

“I can’t forgive or abandon violence. I am not as great as Mahatma Gandhi…”, said the man.

Leaders exist at two levels. At the higher level, say, as a senior executive or CEO. We will try to understand the personality cult factor for two great leaders, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and William H. Gates III.

When Einstein said of Gandhiji that generations to come would not believe that a person of his greatness ever walked on earth, he knowingly or unknowingly hinted at the problem of personality cults. Gandhiji learnt that truth set him free, work made him a better person and freedom of thought made him a human who could find space-time to understand God. While he was alive, he made sure his ideas, not his person was the leading light. But after his death, our society labelled as a Mahatma and revered him as Father of the Nation. Mahatma, the great man took precedence our Gandhi, the ordinary man who not talked but followed truth. Today a word that goes against the image of Mahatma is blasphemy as no one wants to accept him as a normal human. His ideas, however, are lost as practical deeds but are mere words. Had no cult been formed around the name but his ideas put forth, he would have been of better service in his death to the nation.

Today everyone knows the names Windows and Microsoft as the brainchild of Bill Gates, CEO Microsoft. A leader in life and market. Windows NT was always slotted to wipe off Unix. Today the battle is on. Here, we have a typical Personality v/s Idea battle. NT is running on its efficiency. But what happens when Gates is no more CEO. Will its subsequent versions have the same push of being a Gates led product? Today Microsoft is very Gates sensitive. Without Gates, will the market be as supportive? Unix has no such leader involved with it. It has survived on pure efficiency. Many products are making it big only because of Gates persona and surely have been a failure has some other company pushed it in the market.

1.7 Who’s Next…

This leads to another problem. More charismatic the leader more difficult is it to find a successor. After Bill Gates, who? The insecurity and speculation involved in such events could be felt when J. R. D. Tata passed away. When Ratan Tata was to join, there was a thought going around that decline of Tata group was near. The reason was simple. Such was the persona of J. R. D. Tata, that nobody could expect Ratan Tata to fill the void. Without the leader, a decline was expected. In Indian politics, a prime example of this is Sonia Gandhi as leader of the Congress party as she belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi family.Note

Big words are put up in offices, with the name of a bigger personality attached to it. The sole purpose of this is spreading the good word. And one does feel the depth of the words if the person saying it was some great man. God is one – Ram Kumar Sharma, won’t catch influence our thought as God is One – Mahatma Gandhi. The whole idea is to extrapolate the personality influence on the reader. The words may get lost if a reader may not agree with the person.

At the lower level, i.e. the managerial level, when all want to lead, who will follow? Often it is seen that the mark of success is climbing the ladder of hierarchy. Though it is not encountered in organization too often, it is there. Though this is a common phenomenon in the social environment.

1.8 United we stand…

At this moment we introduce a concept of dirty-work group. First, what is a dirty-work? A job, which a person can do, preferably efficiently, but would not do it because he does not like it. e.g., a programmer may enjoy coding, but documentation is a dirty job. He will be happy if someone else did it as nicely, else he would do it himself. A typical dirty-work group is essentially a small, heterogeneous group in which each does his nice job and finds another to do his dirty-job. This has to be cyclic.

Dirty-Work Group

Dirty-Work Group Legend

Blue Red Green
Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work

Action B

Action A

Action A

Action C

Action C

Action B

1.9 So, all this means that…

In a typical scenario, there will be at least one initiator. They/he is the one with the original idea and want to give it an organizational form. He chooses his nice-work and dirty-work and looks for another whose nice job will be his dirty-job and so and form a cyclic group. A team of heterogeneous members will be self-motivating.

Blue has initiated a project. Now he spreads his idea to other two. They all share the vision now. If red goes slow on his job, blue will pull him up, who in turn will be pulled up by red for completing his dirty-work in time or up to mark. Also, if a member, say, red leaves, other to will sustain the project. Until the time they find another dirty-worker to substitute red, green will do his dirty-job himself.

Let us see, how does a dirty-work group fill the void leadership was filling.

Shared Vision: Among a Dirty-Group, it is easy to share a vision, as it was the ability to grasp that vision that made them come together. Any clash of vision will be rare as it is a heterogeneous group, with people doing what they like and knowing another work, will understand all the restriction and difficulty of certain approaches. If they feel their idea can be implemented they can easily take it up as their dirty-work. As they all are of different but related to the field of next, it will make them less like a committee, which as people for representation sake, rather than work contribution sake.

Idea Cult: A mix of people working will ensure that a single personality fixation is avoided and thus we will have ideas as the guide rather than personalities.

Big Picture: Big picture is often very complex to gather and very easy once understood. A Dirty-Work Group will be easily able to absorb in the big picture due to varied expertise people and spread their understanding to all as one passes it another, who in turn has a lot in common with the first one.

2. How did the idea of a Dirty-Work Group developed

Do not tell lies about the past.

– Leonardo da Vinci

The concept of Dirty-Work Group was first presented as a paper in Indore Management Association’s Quest For Leadership held in 1998 in Indore, India.

2.1 The Birth

DWG started with Expressions, an annual advertising festival of International Institute of Professional Studies (IIPS), Indore, India where we were pursuing our MCAs. We, as a small group of friends, were attracted to it for various reasons. Some wanted to contribute to jingle because of their interest in music and some in posters because of their interest in graphics and some wanted to join in because of their interest in just having fun.

And as years went by, we all remained a group. The strand or glue that held us together was the diversity of interest. And, the understanding that to do something interesting, there are lots of overheads that need to be taken care of and which usually are not interesting. So when one of us wanted to design the college T-Shirt because of interest in designing, the overhead of dealing with manufacturers, printers at business level was a dampener. So stepped in another who loved to make deals. And the dirty-work group created the first IIPS T-Shirts.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. 

– Albert Einstein

IT industry has one peculiarity. Its dependency on people is huge and also on how they interact with each other. Project management is a heavy technical and managerial task. As all of us landed with jobs in this industry, our workplace experience increased and our college became a fond memory. One thought prevailed amongst us. We were a nice team! And if we had similar teamwork at work…

2.2 Who are We

[Three kinds of people] Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.

– Leonardo da Vinci

Definitely, those who see.

In an earlier avatar, I had made an anonymous website for DWG. The idea was to test the concept of DWG on itself. Can it survive just as an idea or does it need a face or a name backing it? To keep anonymity, we used to refer to us as Original Idea Developers (OIDs). Unfortunately, I had to give up on the experiment due to web administration related reasons.

2.3 Acknowledgement

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

– Albert Einstein

Praveen Rao – Student of Masters in the Management faculty at IIPS for all his encouragement to formalize the concept and present in Quest For Leadership.

Indore Management Association – For providing the platform for presenting this concept.

3. Dirty-Work Group Summary

3.1 Foreword …

Dirty-work group started as a convenient way to do things by a group of friends in college. Dirty-work group started as a convenient way to do things by a group of friends in college – a group that puts its hand into everything. And according to interests of each person, he or she may or may not involve.

IMA gave us a chance to formalize this and present it to everyone as a model that could be used at workplace and at play. The idea, though very simple was very difficult to put into words. So with help of the paper and a deck, we were able to express it. Now we do not know how many there thought of it as a really good idea and not just a cool presentation (we were runners-up), but we knew that the idea worked.

So when we left college and went to work, we realized how much effort is being put and work is being done to create a good teamwork environment. And we realized how unknowingly, people who were a dirty-work group were doing well. And so we thought of putting this idea up. To see if it makes sense to formalize this concept.

The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.

– Albert Einstein

If you think this idea is too simple and too trivial for all the effort, a few years ago we would have agreed to you. And it would also tell us that you have crossed the first mark. You have understood the concept. But seeing how difficult it is to word concepts, standardize it, put it in a way that everyone makes the same sense out of it, it is all worth the effort.

3.2 All Dirty-Work Group means is…

The part always has a tendency to reunite with its whole in order to escape from its imperfection.
The lover is drawn by the things loved, as the sense is by that which it perceives…

 – Leonardo da Vinci

Here we dare to sum it all in few words. Not a good thing. So let us put it up as an example.

Your wife does not enjoy driving. You do not sitting idle in the car. So, you drive and she watches. What a happy dirty-work group you are!

Your project team is trying to crack a new technology. Your secretary does you time-sheets, leave cards, and tax return for you. You hit the technical specifications and the student-trainee converts your notes into presentations so rest of the team learn the easy way so the rest of the team learns the easy way. They in the meantime have all basics done, so as soon as the team know what to do, they shoot at it. What an efficient dirty-work group you are!

3.3 With this you get a free…

The idea which we highlighted in presentation with help of the slides was, what we felt was how steady organizations would survive in future, was to have ideas rather than people as leaders. And how we thought that a dirty-work group implemented ideas as leaders rather than people as a leader.

3.4 Always, have a backup…

Among the biggest threat to a good team is the loss of a team member. If we look carefully at a dirty-work group, we see that in implementing it, a team also inadvertently, implements a method where we have a back-up for each member.

The key here is, we choose not to do our dirty-work. It is not that we do not know how to do our dirty-work. So if tomorrow, the worker who was doing my dirty-work leaves the group, I can still do that task. So while we look for a new member, we are not stood still or are lost.

3.5 To Po(i)ntificate the Concept…

  • Dirty-Work Group implements a team structure, work distribution and robustness of the team
  • The knowledge of purpose, direction and means are all shared among the team and decided upon further by the team
  • Each worker has interest in the work involved and would love to do it
  • Each worker also has skills to perform at least one other task involved but may or may not want to do it
  • Each worker compliments another worker by choosing a task as nice-work, which was declared as dirty-work by other
  • Each member thanks the group member who handles the dirty-work by keeping in touch with the progress, issues and general details of the Dirty-Work.

4. Reviews of Dirty-Work Group

4.1 Martin Ryder (University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education) 28 July ’01

… It offers an interesting angle to the idea of collective activity and potentially fits within the context of one or more subject indexes that I maintain: notably Activity Theory and possiblyOrganizational Learning and Knowledge Management.

My main concern is your anonymity. I assume that you are a human being, but the identity of your web page and of your email message is solely that of an impersonal organization. We both know that organizations and humans are codetermined: one cannot exist without the other in human society. …

Note: This comment was made around July ’01, when I had presented these views in anonymously as “OID”.

4.2 David West (Dean of managementlearning.com) 29 July ’01

We think your ideas make eminent sense. We would like to reference your material on managementlearning.com. The topics that we feel that it connects to are team building, leadership and organizational culture….

This concept was also published on their website in form of an essay/article. The Article in ManagementLearning.com

5. Reference

1. R D Agarwal: Organisation and Management (Tata McGraw-Hill) pg. 1
2. Harold Koontz, Heinz Weihrich: Essentials of Management (McGraw-Hill International Editions, Vth Ed.) pg. 4
3. A. Zaleznik : Excerpts from Managers and Leaders: Are they Different ? (Harvard Business Review, MayJune 90) pg. 54
4. R D Agarwal: Organisation and Management (Tata McGraw-Hill) pg. 224
5. Harold Koontz, Heinz Weihrich: Essentials of Management (McGraw-Hill International Editions, Vth Ed.) pg. 346
6. Harold Koontz, Cyril O’Donnel: Management: A system and Contigency Analysis of Managerial Functions ( McGraw-Hill) pg. 587
7. E E Jennings: The Anatomy of Leadership, Management of Personnel Quarterly (Vol.1, no. 2, 1961), pg. 2

Shayad (Language: Hindi) – Maybe

6. Note

JRD Tata was head of TATA group. He and his organization has richly contributed to not just the economy of India but also help in improving the social life. The contribution of JRD to India is fondly remembered. This paragraph is not a comment on his successor but heartfelt realization on our part that people like JRD Tata are irreplaceable.

7. More Reading

The Edge of Product Management: Talk at Institute of Product Leadership

Product Management Talk Institute of Product Leadership

I gave a talk to the students of Executive MBA at Institute of Product Leadership, Bangalore on 19th Nov 2016. It was a conversation around Product Management, industry practitioners approach to it and what’s new in this domain.

I also shared some new ideas I am toying around with and sought the feedback. It was a lively discussion.

SlideShare.net: http://www.ddiinnxx.com/slideshare-edge-product-management/

SpeakerDeck: http://www.ddiinnxx.com/speakerdeck-edge-product-management/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvp-I-vymp0


Are Startups a MVP for Maslow Hierarchy?

are-startups-mvp-maslow-hierarchy

What’s a MVP?

MVP has features just enough to prove a value and justify continued development.

mvp minimum viable product

We have all seen this. The MVP cuts across the value hierarchy and delivers a bit of each level.

What’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs*?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

maslow-need-hierarchy

We have all seen this. The theory stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs, and that some needs take precedence over others. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

Startups and Maslow’s Hierarchy

One reason why startup excites us is that in one go it satisfies each of these needs. A la how the MVP cuts across the value hierarchy and delivers a bit of each level.

maslow-need-hierarchy-startup-mvp

While they may not pay a lot, the basic needs are covered. There is a strong sense of belongingness to the startup and each other. The awe and aura of being a entrepreneur boost the esteem. Finally, the opportunity to create a business, a brand, make difference is ultimate realisation of personal potential.

Conclusion

Startups represent that thin vertical slice across Maslow Hierarchy making it an MVP for it. That explains the fascination with it. This insight can be used by other orgs to create avenues for employees to have same experience with leaving to start a startup.

 

* There are bunch of criticism and changes to this theory. But this idea is applicable still 🙂

Black Holes – Applying Theory of General Relativity

black-holes-applying-theory-of-general-relativity-dinker-charak-ddiinnxx

The Color of Black Holes

Wait. I just mentioned previously that black holes have so much of gravity that light can not escape it. How come then a black hole have color? A hint. Event horizon. Black holes have no hair nor color. But event-horizon, the only observable part of black hole is a very colorful and alive.

Step in theories of Stephen Hawkins of evaporating black holes.

Evaporating Black-Holes

The black holes can evaporate. A black hole emits particles at the event horizon. This is based on the uncertainty principle which says that at any given point, we can never be sure of both energy or location of an atomic/sub-atomic particle. This defines there is always a “zone” where the probability of find that particle. Thus, a space is never stark empty. Any given piece of space is part of this “zone” for a close by particle.

The vacuum in quantum field theory is not really empty; it’s filled with virtual pairs of particles and antiparticles that pop in and out of existence, with lifetimes determined by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. (less than h/E, where h is Planck’s constant and E the energy).

Sometimes one member of a pair crosses the horizon, and can no longer recombine with its partner. The partner can then escape to infinity, and since it carries off positive energy. The negative energy falls into black hole and the energy (and thus the mass) of the black hole decrease. To an observer the decrease will be exactly same as the the particle that got freed and will deduce that the particle was emitted by the black hole and it lost the equivalent mass/energy.

In quantum field theory, modes with positive frequencies correspond to particles, and those with negative frequencies correspond to antiparticles.

Note that this doesn’t work in the other direction – you can’t have the positive-energy particle cross the horizon and leaves the negative-energy particle stranded outside, since a negative-energy particle can’t continue to exist outside the horizon for a time longer than h/E. So what ever falls into black hole will only be negative energy part of the pair. So an observer will only see a steady stream of particles only.

So the black hole can lose energy to vacuum fluctuations, but it can’t gain energy. That means, there is continuous drain in black holes energy. This is the gradual erosion of a black hole. And one day, when it’s gravity is so low that it can not hold itself, it will explode in form of a burst of gamma ray showers.

The average life expectancy of a black hole is 10 billion years.

To understand the colors, let us plunge into the black hole.

Falling into Black Hole

Say there is a scout mission to go inside a black hole and report back as much as possible before crushing under it’s gravity.

The Mothership’s view: They will see the scout ship plunge into the black hole and it would seem to them to take forever.

As the ships reaches the event horizon, the reflected light (which helps us see) finds it harder and harder to get out. So objects that fall into a black hole appear from the outside to freeze in time at the moment they cross the event horizon.

As the light struggles to get out we will observe a red-shift. The scout will not vanish. But will fade from white to red till invisible light only makes it out and soon, when no light is able to come out as he falls at huge speed which is approaching c. If we could see a clock in the scout probe, the clock would appear to us to slow to a halt.

As the probe and other bodies are absorbed into black hole and they go red-shifting, we can see a the whole range of colors just above the even horizon. Black hole, will appear to very colorful indeed.

The Scout’s view: Remember, Einstein said, all laws of physics are same when the speed of light is approached. For the scout, every thing will appear normal. The light is crossing the event horizon so he will be able to see the mother ship till the gravity stretches it and flattens on the black hole.

Image: NASA Images

If Nothing Divides Like Religion, Then What Else?

if-nothing-divides-like-religion-then-what-else-dinker-charak

“Nothing divides like religion.”

“Everyone is broad minded as long as you do not say something they do not believe in.”

“Everything was good in the olden days.”

“Our way of life is better.”

Scientists have earned their place in human existence like no other group of people. Science is often mistaken, however, as merely a body of knowledge. It is taught in schools with the help of examples to demonstrate each concept, theory and law. Each day as a child undergoes the indoctrination of a scientific education, there runs a risk of science becoming yet another religion, the risk being that we might end up with the replacement of one set of laws, theories and concepts with another.

Religion started with humans becoming aware of nature around them. Newly acquired intelligence needed to be used and curiosity needed to be satisfied. The concepts of gods and God were introduced to explain everything. Thunder, rain, wind and the sun all became a part of the religious escapism.

Somewhere along the way, it was forgotten why it was that such religious ideas came into being in the first place. However limited the capability, they were the result of human reasoning. Instead of building up on the reasoning, however, these ideas took on a life of their own and matured into religious beliefs.

On the other hand, as science developed, various natural phenomena were understood better, and clearer reasons were attributed to them than the blanket concept of God’s wrath or pleasure! Slowly, science has increased its volume of knowledge to root out religion from many nooks and crannies of human belief. Thus science continues to grow without killing human reasoning in the process inasmuch as the focus is always on the process and methods, and the outcomes are deemed transient, thus making sure that the current set of knowledge will not take on a life of its own.

Ironically, as opposed to politicians and religious leaders who have made the biggest blunders in human history and yet are sometimes deemed infallible, scientists can always make mistakes. And they have made them. It is the scientific process, itself, that has always come to its own rescue.

The scientific process enlists a series of steps of a problem, an observation; a theory, a hypothesis; experiments, tests, validation, rejection. Science has always expected mistakes and has always been ready to undergo close scrutiny. And that is why these processes and the knowledge that is the outcome of these processes continue to increase our understanding of nature.

Nothing divides scientists like a theory that cannot be verified. Scientists will stand on each end of the divide and tear each other’s arguments to shreds. But for each theory that remains unverified, there are many more which can be tested against observations and experiments. There are no dividing lines in such cases. As long as you bring along something with which others can tinker, you can say anything that contradicts whatever theory is currently held.

Religion does not lend itself to such close examination and change, thus rendering everything under its umbrella a tool for division.

But there are places where science cannot go, and these are the places where religion has rooted itself well. These are the concepts of morality, the coincidence of human existence, the reason for the misery of the human condition, and all that which exists in the human mind.

Wherever science has been unable to seep, philosophers have failed to provide any process analogous to the scientific method which would help the human mind to understand itself as much as we understand nature, thanks to science.

When did belonging to one particular religion become more important than being a human being? When did belonging to one particular religion make one individual superior over another? When did human life become expendable at the cost of the deliverance of the human population in the name of religion? When did one set of morals become more moral as compared to another set just because some religion certified it so? It all happened when the philosophers failed to ask the right questions and suggest a method which all could follow to find the answers.

In one way or another, at one time or another, all religions have proposed a way. But then, religions no longer are a process. They have become a set of knowledge. They have become a set of static knowledge around which human progress and intelligence is wrought rather than vice versa.

A religion is composed of three parts: the ritualistic part, the social part and the philosophical part. Creation of new ritualistic ceremonies in modern times only reaffirms that our Stone Age heritage continues. We should understand that rituals are an intellectual vestige. But they are also a basal necessity. Superstitions are there not to guide our lives but to provide short term relief from having to figure out whatever appears strange.

Religions have a powerful weapon against change: their antiquity. Human tendency is to romanticize the past, respect things old, and revel in nostalgia, all of which has created a unique “moisture” in which human reasoning has developed signs of rot. The more the past antiquates itself, the more the “rosy” takes on the form of gloriousness and righteousness–an easy seduction into the world of religious escapism.

As long as philosophers do not provide answers to the questions for which humanity turns to religion, the statements made at the beginning of this article will continue to haunt us.

The next century will not belong to those who lead the scientific progress, the next harbingers of human progress will not be those who lead scientific progress but the philosophers who dare to go where only religions have gone before.

From way back in Oct, 2004.