Clayton Christensen, Milk Shakes, Cigarettes and Facebook

“When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” something to get a job done. If it does the job well, when we are confronted with the same job, we hire that same product again. And if the product does a crummy job, we “fire” it and look around for something else we might hire to solve the problem.”

― Clayton M. Christensen

Clayton Christensen is expert on innovation. In his recent book “Competing Against Luck” he has come up with “jobs to be done” theory of innovation.

What this theory states is we buy a product not because of brand but we actually “hire” a product to see if it can get job done ex. I don’t buy toothpaste because of Colgate brand, but I hire it to clean my teeth. If it does a good job, then I will keep buying Colgate toothpaste. But if it does a bad job, then I will “fire” it and look for something else ex. I may go for other brand or maybe I will go for teeth cleaning twig!

So, companies should understand what job their customer is hiring their product or service to do, this will help them in innovating their offerings ex. Ola or Uber don’t own any taxi, but know what customer needs.

Clayton gives example of milkshake. Car drivers buy milkshake not because they think it is healthy or they love milkshake, the job that milkshake does it gives driver “company” during commute. So thick milkshakes that lasts during entire commute sell most.

“A smoker taking a break is not just seeking nicotine. Nicotine is a solution to a job. The underlying job is to relax. From this perspective, people hire Facebook for many of the same reasons. They log into Facebook during the middle of the workday to take a break from work, relax for a few minutes while thinking about other things, and convene around a virtual water cooler with far-flung friends.”

-Clayton Christensen

Clayton given another interesting example. Why do we hire cigarette? Firstly, for dose of nicotine, but it also helps smoker to get out of his workplace and meet like-minded people in smoking zone, it relaxes him. Facebook can do same job, so is competitor to cigarette companies.


Harriet Tubman, Colson Whitehead and Yaa Gyasi

“I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.”

-Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born slave in Maryland , US, as a slave she was beaten by her masters. But Harriet was a tough woman, she managed to escape from slavery. Not just that she helped many slaves to escape using what was known as underground railroad network, a network of tunnels and secret routes used by slaves to escape from states in south were slavery existed to northern states or Canada. She was called “Moses” for freeing number of slaves.

Harriet also led expedition to free slaves from plantations during Civil War. Later she was active in promoting cause of women suffrage.

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

– Harriet Tubman

Two authors have recently written books on slavery.

Colson Whitehead is an American novelist who has written book called “Underground Railroad”. Story is about three women- Ajjary who is kidnapped from Africa and brought to America as slave, Mabel daughter of Ajjary and Cora daughter of Mabel.

“The whites came to this land for a fresh start and to escape the tyranny of their masters, just as the freemen had fled theirs. But the ideals they held up for themselves, they denied others.”

― Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Ajjary does not believe that she can run away and escape slavery. She dies of brain haemorrhage while working in cotton field.

Mable on other hand manages to escape, but she decides to return as she is not ready to leave Cora behind. But while coming back gets bitten by snake and dies.

“Cora didn’t know what optimistic meant. She asked the other girls that night if they were familiar with the word. None of them had heard it before. She decided that it meant trying.”

― Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Cora makes repeated attempts to escape but gets caught by slave catcher Ridgeway. Slave catchers get emboldened by passing of fugitive slave laws which allows owner to capture escaped slaves. But Cora finally manages to escape by killing Ridgeway.

Yaa Gyasi is American novelist who has written book “Homegoing” on slavery. Novel is about lady in Ghana called Mamme and her two daughters Effia from earlier marriage and Esi from next marriage. Both Eiffia and Esi are not awareness of each other’s presence. Since Mamme leaves Effia with her father, she is illtreated by her step mother Baaba. Esi has a pleasant childhood.

“Esi learned to split her life into Before the Castle and Now. Before the Castle, she was the daughter of Big Man and his third wife, Maame. Now she was dust. Before the Castle, she was the prettiest girl in the village. Now she was just thin air.”

  • Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

But life takes different turn when Effia gets married to slave trader James Collins and lives in Cape Coast Castle. Esi is captured by slave traders and is kept in basement of castle to be sold as slave in America. While Effia is leading good life as mistress of castle, she is unaware of Esi who is trapped in same castle. While Effia and her progeny remain in Ghana, Esi and her progeny live in America as slaves. Yaa Gyasi devotes different chapters to desendents of each branch.

Finally, Effia’s descendent Marjorie Agyekum and Esi’s descendent Marcus Clifton meet each other and start dating each other

Procrastination , Pomodoro Technique & Francesco Cirillo

Do you tend to procrastinate? Do you find it difficult to concentrate on a given task?

Italian software developer and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo developed a technique during his student days to concentrate on given task and and once the task is completed take a break. He called this technique “Pomodoro Technique”. This technique helped him to improve his productivity and overcome tendency to procrastinate.

The technique consist of using a tomato shaped timer ( hence the name Pomodoro- Italian word for tomato) and set it for 25 minutes. For next 25 minutes you concentrate on given task, after 25 minutes are over take 5 minutes break, after break again set timer for 25 minutes, then a 5 minute break, repeat this for 4 times and after that take a long break of 20 minutes.

This technique helps a individual to overcome lethargy/distractions and become productive.


Nonviolence, Rohingya and Gauri Lankesh

An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi started nonviolence movement in 1919, during the movement some members attacked a police station and killed policemen. Gandhi decided to call of the movement. This action of his resulted in lot of criticism from other leaders, but Gandhi was firm on his principles. Violence had no place in his method of getting freedom. Later Gandhi also faced criticism for not preventing hanging of Bhagat Singh. While Gandhi admired bravery of Bhagat Singh, he was against use of violence.

Gandhi knew that any use of violence will result in repression by British administration and his followers were no match to police and army. Gandhian methods worked well in India and finally won independence.

In Burma there were two leaders- U Razak and Ata Ullah

U Razak was Indo Burmese, though he was a Muslim, he maintained ties with Buddhists, he learned Pali and founded Mandalay College. U Razak was good example of how cooperation can result in better relations between Muslims and Buddhists.

Ata Ullah is Rohingya Muslim, he heads organisation called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). ARSA killed citizens and Burmese guards. This resulted with ARSA getting attacked by Burmese Army, which in turn resulted in thousands of Rohingya leaving Burma and becoming refugees in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Number of refugees is increasing every day.  Problem with ARSA is they believe violence is only way to settle issue, but clashing with Burmese army has only resulted in misery for Rohingya.

Rohingya first wanted to merge with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), but when Jinnah refused their offer, they were viewed as anti-nationals by Burmese and persecution of Rohingya started, they got labelled as illegal Bangladesh migrants and citizenship was denied to them. ARSA has only made matters worse. With both Burmese Army and ARSA taking belligerent stand, solution to problem is nowhere in sight, while millions of Rohingya live in terrible conditions. They are people nobody wants.

Gauri Lankesh was a leftist writer who published Kannada weekly named after herself – Gauri Lankesh Patrike. She was also an activist. Gauri was anti BJP, and in her articles attacked BJP leaders. Nothing revolutionary in this, there are lot of senior journalists and writers who have taken leftist stand and have spoken against BJP. One such senior and responsible person was historian Bipin Chandra.

“The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is attribute of strong”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Gauri lacked maturity that is required from a responsible and senior journalist or may her blind hatred overpowered her maturity. She made immature comments like calling Prime minister “gay”, called mothers of RSS “prostitutes”. She made allegations against BJP leaders, resulting in defamation case by BJP leaders which she lost and was sentenced imprisonment for defamation. She was currently on bail.

There were two ways to resolve issue, one is RSS should have asked her to write articles for their journals or even encourage her to participate in debates to expose her hollowness or Gauri Lankesh should have invited BJP leaders to write articles in her journalism. But both sides lacked maturity and settled for childish immature comments against each other.

Violence is never a solution, those who killed Gauri should be condemned. They made Gauri more popular, suddenly she was labelled as senior, responsible, fearless journalist and was given a state funeral with 21-gun salute.

Narcissistic leadership, Hubris and Morosoph

That sir which serves and seeks for gain,

And follows but for form,

Will pack when it begins to rain,

And leave thee in the storm.

But I will tarry; the fool will stay,

And let the wise man fly:

The knave turns fool that runs away;

The fool, no knave, perdy.

-The Fool, King Lear

The word Morosoph comes from combination of two Greek words- Moros (stupid) and Sophos (wise). During medieval ages kings used to keep a jester in their court, whose job was to entertain king and his courtiers with his tricks. But some jesters also used humour as tool to give right message to kings. In India we have lot of stories about emperor Akbar and his jester Birbal,where Birbal uses his wit and humour to drive a point.

Most kings had narcissistic leadership style. The sense of self-importance at times resulted in taking decisions which were disastrous. Their pride or hubris prevented them from consulting others. Here a jester could use humour to bring some sense.

Good example of this is in Shakespeare’s drama King Lear, the king is narcissistic and loves flattery. He is critical of those who talk sense and oppose his decisions. He does not like honesty of his daughter Cordelia or bluntness of his nobleman Kent. His hubris results in taking disastrous decision of handing over his kingdom to his daughters Goneril and Regan.

“The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long / That it had it head bit off by it young”

-The Fool, King Lear

The Fool warns king about his foolishness of handing over his kingdom to Goneril and Regan. Fool like Cordelia and Kent is honest and is loyal to king, he uses his songs to warn king about wrong decisions he is taking. The King also give licence to Fool to be critical of him (within limits), this prevents Fool from facing consequences (unlike Kent and Cordelia).

“I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing,”

-The Fool, King Lear

Modern day equivalent of Kings are CEOs of organisations. Most like Kings are narcissistic and their hubris prevents them from taking advice of others. To keep their hubris in check they should identify Morosophs in their organisation- individuals who are wise and use humour to tell leader that his is wrong.

Organisation Development expert Manfred Kets De Vries has done lot of research on this subject and states that fools have critical role in organisations with narcissistic leaders.

Pakistani Hindus, Tharparkar and Communal Harmony

“In our village, Hindus and Muslims have been living together for decades and there has not been a single day, when I have seen a religious conflict. No loud speaker is used for Azaan at the time when Hindus are worshiping in their temple, and no bells are rung when it is time for namaz. Nobody eats in public when it is Ramazan and Holi is played by every member of the village.”

-Muslim resident of Mithi in Dawn

In 1947 India was partitioned into India and Pakistan. While some part of Punjab and Bengal remained with India, whole of Sindh went to Pakistan. Most of the upper caste Hindu Sindhis left Pakistan and came to India, but many lower caste Hindus remained in Pakistan. Partition changed demographics of many places. Pakistan today is Muslim majority state and Hindus are a small minority.

In Tharparkar ( meaning crossing Thar) district of Sindh, there is town called Mithi. In Mithi majority of residents are Hindus, nearly 80% while rest 20% are Muslims. But Mithi is good example of communal harmony, there have been no cases of communal disturbance. Hindus and Muslims live peacefully. As one of the Hindu resident told Dawn…

“I am a Hindu from Sindh, but throughout my life I have lived with Muslims and this is why during Ramazan, we fast along with them; and when it is Muharram, us Hindu boys lead the procession because this is the culture which Sufism has given us”.

Good example of how two communities can co-exist.