I Hate Rationality!!!

Scene 1

A dark night, it is raining heavily. In an isolated house on the outskirts of the city, the actress is at the mercy of a “villain”, who has pointed a gun towards her. The actress pleads for her life. The villain is defiant. We hear the trigger being pressed. The actress is seen falling down. The villain has succeeded in his evil motives, we conclude. We stay glued to our chairs as the murder mystery unfolds. Finally we realize that the bullet was fired by someone who was hiding behind the window.

Scene 2

We are working on the assignment for Operations cases. The company described in the case is struggling to meet customer demand. The resources are underutilized, we conclude and recommend that the capacity utilization be increased. Next day in the class, the case unfolds in front of us and we realize that it is imperative for some organizations to carry extra capacity.

What is  common to both the  scenes?

A series of events unfold so innocuously that we fail to think anything unusual about it. The end results sting badly and shatter our beliefs that were held with pride for a long time. At IIMA, the shells of over-rationality are getting chipped off gradually and we are not complaining.

Before coming here, it was hard to imagine that human values and behavioural psychology would play a key role in operations management. Psychology tells us what no exhibit or report or graph can tell. Hence an understanding of human behaviour is an important step in solving the operations problems. Again and again, we realize that core human values are the impetus behind success of most organizations of the world. We develop an eye to identify the underlying human aspects and the rest of the process falls in place easily.

Rationality has its own place in strategic thinking and decision-making. However too much emphasis on rationality makes one blind to the off-the-track solutions. The best formula for success is that there is no such formula and hence it takes something extra to build a success story. You can call it guts, sixth sense or X-factor and bringing it out takes a  lot of effort.

Ever since we learnt to think, we have been trained to think rationally, to connect dots together and form a picture.  The process of connecting dots together is also so stereotypical that the picture formed at the end turns out to be more or less similar. Seldom does one find geniuses who dare to change the rules of the game. These geniuses come forward and shuffle the dots and show a picture that we could have scarcely imagined.

As we progress through the PGPX program, we are getting exposed to  scenarios where rational thinking may not be the best solution. Just think about a decision-making process based on quantitative analysis: An optimum solution gives guaranteed returns, but of moderate magnitude. However, some of the extreme solutions are poised to give the highest returns. The key here is to influence the environment towards improving the chance of the best possible outcome.

John F Kennedy  said these immortal lines in 1962, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Would we have known Kennedy had he said,” We choose not to do those things that are hard”? History has no place for mediocre. The mantra is: Go irrational, but with conviction, for most likely that is the way you will be able to rise above mediocrity and carve out a niche.

Amit Dingorkar
PGPX 2013-14


8 Replies to “I Hate Rationality!!!”

  1. This post appeals to me strongly to recall my aritificial neural network theory from the Perceptron theorem classes taught by prof Yegnanarayana. He used to say that it is simply impossible to capture human behavior and events into rational structures or strictly speaking mathematical models. What an awesome post. You rock bud!

    If you want to see prof Yegnanarayana’s lecture, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG6VcPmy30c
    Observe him saying “You cannot model human behavior”. This statement is one of the reasons I revere him so much and your article is touching up that point exactly.

    1. Thanks Rahul Sir for the encouraging words and the insight around aritificial neural network theory. Inspires me to write further.

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