Tuesday, June 19, 2018

BookMarks #41: Measure What Matters

Title: Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs 
Author: John Doerr 
Genre: Non-fiction, Management, Business 
Published: 2018 

In Measure What Matters, John Doerr talks about the concept and utility of Objectives & Key Results (OKRs in short) as a tool for goal-setting and evaluating business performance. 

OKRs were introduced by Andy Grove in Intel, where Doerr started his career, in the 1970s. From Intel, Doerr took the gospel of OKRs around the world, especially in the tech sector. Google has been one of the most faithful adopters of the OKR philosophy. 

Measure What Matters describes what OKRs are and provides case studies of its adoption in different organizations worldwide like Google, Adobe, Lumeris, Gates Foundation, ONE foundation etc. 

OKRs streamline a company’s objectives and are communicated to all teams and individuals who then align their own OKRs to the company’s ones. Even the progress tracking and monitoring is open to all. Regular reviews are carried out for re-calibration of Objectives. 

The distinctive feature of OKRs is that an OKR will be considered successful if 60-70% of the objective has been fulfilled. If you are achieving the complete goal, then you are not stretching yourself! And thus it sets groups on track to outperform themselves! 

However, the book presents a very rosy picture of OKRs and it is a sold as a panacea for a company’s success. What we do not learn is what happens if OKR approach doesn’t work! 

Previously on BookMarks: Poirot: The Complete Short Stories 

Saturday, June 09, 2018

MovieNotes: Deadpool 2

Title: Deadpool 2
*ing: Deadpool, Thanos & others
Director: David Leitch
Language: English
Genre: Comicbook

Sequel to the ultra-fun superhero movie Deadpool. A man with superpowers who does not take himself too seriously.

Basic Premise
Deadpool attempts to save a young mutant from a time travelling soldier. 

MovieNotes [Spoilers Alert]
What do we love about Deadpool? He doesn’t take himself too seriously, is funny and witty, often breaks the fourth wall, and keeps reminding the viewers that this is just a movie like other movies. Yet, for all the nonsense spouted by Wade Wilson a.k.a Deadpool, the movie actually turns out to be an emotional roller-coaster with a grieving Wilson tries to figure out his life post his wife’s murder. 

The opening credits are all over the place, again seem to be the work of Honest Trailers team. Yet, they manage to open with a gun barrel sequence, with Celine Dion singing Ashes. The Deadpool team have here outsmarted James Bond as well!

The stand-out aspect of the movie is its self-deprecating humor – e.g. calling Cable as Thanos, not seeing the other X-Men in the mansion. All this enabling to keep up the fun quotient despite the tragic background.

The movie is a near non-stop torrent of cultural references – James Bond, Star Wars, MCU, DC Universe, X-Men, Wolverine, Stranger Things – nothing seems to have been spared. For all I know, I may have missed a thousand others as well.

During the last two decades, over the course of multiple movies, we have seen myriad abilities as superpowers, some physical, some of the mind, some simply extra-terrestrial, yet it turns out being lucky is the biggest superpower one can have. Sometimes plain luck (and some pluck) is what works when all else fails.

The Cameos – Vanisher is amazing & just when you though he was all CGI, it turns out he was Brad Pitt. Meanwhile, Matt Damon is just unrecognizable. Is doing cameos becoming a habit for him? (Remember Thor: Ragnarok – with the play inside the film)

Important Question – Which timeline is this movie set in? The X-Men shown are the younger versions (e.g. James MacAvoy plays Professor X, not Patrick Stewart), yet Deadpool references the later versions comparing and contrasting his movie to Logan, which is set much further in the future. Ah, mixed timelines! That’s why he is not appearing with the mainstream X-Men!

Finally, on time travel as a story element. Again, it’s too easy and too lazy. But Deadpool uses even this to more comic affect like killing Ryan Reynolds before he can sign Green Lantern!

India Connect – Deadpool’s friendly taxi driver Dopinder is now playing “Yunhi chala chal rahi”. He was listening to “mera joota hai japani” last time around!

And lastly, what next for Deadpool – teaming up with the remaining Avengers to stop Thanos? With his regenerative abilities (btw that leg growing scene is hilarious!!!), he should have certainly survived Thanos’ snap

Rating – 9/10. For just bringing back the fun element in superhero films.

Previously on MovieNotes – Avengers: Infinity Wars 

Friday, June 01, 2018

Thanos' Snap & the Aftermath

[Spoilers Ahead – Although it’s been weeks since the movie released, so should not matter] 

In Avengers: Infinity Wars, the central character, Thanos, seeks to bring together all six Infinity Stones, to enable fulfilling his mission to reduce the universe’s population to half, so that the other half can live happily on the remaining resources. The superhero team from across the universe joins forces in a failed attempt to stop him. Thanos succeeds and with a single snap of his fingers, makes every second living entity disappear from the face of this universe. 

What happens next will remain a point of conjecture, till the next movie comes up. In this post lets try to figure out the aftermath from a economics perspective. 

Thanos believes that resources are finite, the universe is overcrowded [a belief shared by every person who spends a considerable part of their day in commute] and the population has grown much beyond sustainable limits. For the betterment of humankind, he intends to destroy half of it. Resulting in the remaining half living happily ever after on effectively double the per capita resources. But does it really work out? 

Assumptions – Only Earth (as we know it) is considered. And the Snap works only on Homo Sapiens. All other life (plant, animal, extra-terrestrial) is spared. 

First, who survives the “snap” and who does not? As per Thanos, it will be a random occurrence. So assume it to be like a coin toss. We don’t know the outcome for each specific event but overall, it will be close to 50-50 heads or tails or in this case, survival or disappearance. 

And what happens to the survivors? Overcoming the initial shock itself will be a herculean task. Every other person just fading away, is too big a shock to easily recover from. They will have to bear with the huge emotional trauma of an unprecedented global scale. Humankind has faced disasters – both man-made (World Wars, atom bombs, terrorist attacks) and natural (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, cyclones) but these have been geographically limited and not on a global level. Here no corner would be spared. 

In the immediate aftermath of the snap, there would be further human losses. Folks in need of care (the sick, the very young and the very old) might not have people around to take care of them. Also, at any given point of time, millions of machines are running under human control (vehicles, industrial plants, utlities etc.), Sudden removal of this control in the immediate aftermath of the "snap", will lead to a multitude of accidents globally. Insurance companies are certainly going to take a major hit on their books from this global catastrophe.

Now coming to the resources bit. Assuming that the natural resources, crops, livestock are spared. Does it mean every survivor now has access to twice the per capita resources? The resource distribution is not homogeneous & neither is the consumption pattern. And more importantly the skill-sets required to manage the resources are differentiated. 

Natural resources – air, water, minerals – would be increased per capita. But managing the utilities will become a major task. 

Perishables will see a lot of wastage, as consumption would be halved (or even less, accounting for trauma and the cascading reductions). 

Supply chains will get severely impacted, with links broken in-between leading to glut of certain items and crunch of others. In an increasingly inter-connected world, breakdown in supply lines for essentials could create major havoc especially in the urban areas.

Labour will be in high demand leading to increased wages. But payment might be in kind and not cash. Barter system might make a sudden comeback. Overall production will reduce due to shortage of workforce. Automation might get a boost, but the number of consumers will also have reduced. So technological innovations might take a back-seat in the immediate aftermath. 

Prices will decline. Real estate will suffer. Owned housing will certainly become more affordable. Other consumer products will also lose selling value. Overall, economy will see a severe deflationary trend. 

The carbon footprint will decline. We might achieve the COP21 targets after all. Less humans will mean more space for the flora and fauna to thrive as well. The ecological balance will undergo a sea-change.

Some nations might have constitutional vacuums, if their leadership disappears. Significant shifts may occur in the geo-political map. Balkanization could become a worldwide phenomenon. Monte Carlo simulations might help predict boundary shift scenarios on the basis of which leadership survives ? 

Overall, the scenario becomes further bleak. Population reduced to less than half, survivors trying to rebuild from the trauma, supply chains broken, breakdown of law and order, territorial disputes, an economy in recession, shift in the ecological balance, climate change under control. In the immediate aftermath, the scenario appears grim for humankind. However, Homo Sapiens are a resilient lot. Life will survive and thrive again but it may take centuries to get things back on track i.e. exploiting our limited resources to the hilt and then some more. And what does the omnipotent, omniscient Thanos do in the interim? Does he wait for the population to grow back to a certain level and "snap" his fingers again or does he undertake regular trims? 

In all, Thanos's snap doesn't quite fufill his objective of making the world a better living place (at least for the humans). And certainly makes no economic sense.