Archive for category Non-sense
两个星期前我在 “OK Enough is Not Enough Any More” 中就已经提到，一个习惯于赚快钱而无视质量和技术底蕴的社会，会慢慢丧失其竞争和自我提高的能力。希望这次仅限于中美的局部贸易战，能成为中国坚决进行产业和行业升级的契机，尽快走上一条可持续发展之路。
I remember reading an HBR article back in 2010, the then-seemingly robust Chinese economy was hailed by the media across the world while most of the developed countries struggled to climb out of the financial crisis. The article pointed out that the Chinese way of doing businese, particularly in the manufacturing sector, in a “OK-enough” standard enabled the country to position itself better in the world economy than the developed countries, who tend to emphasise on higher quality and good services.
I am never a fan of OK-enough concept myself. Products are more prone to be massively produced than what is actually necessary, they are required to be replaced more often than should, and causes more environmental issues. However I need to make my point clear, there is nothing wrong for a country to start its economy somewhere, OK-enough for instance, get the engine running, and slowly move up to play the quality- and service-based game. Just look at Germany and Japan, they are probably the two best examples from the post-war era. No one wants to stay cheap forever, it is as natural as evolution.
But this progression appears to be much longer and harder for China. After 3 decades of continuous hyper-growth, one would normally expect the country to have a handful of world leading companies across industries, offering top-notch products and services and not pricing itself using cost-based method. But the reality is, except Haier, Alibaba and Huawei, there aren’t any other that can be seriously considered in this category (Baidu, Tencent, and other Fortune 500 Chinese firms are mainly the byproucts of political monopoly in my opinion).
Some could argue that they shouldn’t have it changed if it is still working. Well, as a matter of fact, for years the Chinese government has been trying to restructuring the economy because they knew it won’t last. The pressures are both domestic (1.3 billion of desires of non-stop improvement on wages and living standard) and international (cost competitions from new batch of emerging countries). Though the communist regime has a track record of achieving targets set for itself in the past, the goal of “upgrading the industries” somehow seems to lie beyond their reach.
To simplify the their paradox: the labour, energy and pollution intensive ways of producing have to be replaced gradually by businesses of value, quality, efficiency and sustainability, but any attempt towards that directions would face tremendous resistances: temptation to make quick money, concerns of high unemployment, risk of uncontainable bad debt, and above all, the potential damage to the political legitmacy of the ruling party.
And waiting should not be taken as an option either because the equilibrium is only getting more fragile. There is probably no better example than the Chinese real estate bubble (no one feels it is healthy and yet no stakeholders wants to see it go down) to reflect what’s happening on a larger scale.
But, let’s just assume the Chinese government has the courage and ability to pull it off, it’s not the end of it. The path beyond isn’t going to be easy either. To frame it nicely, the nation is quite well known for its disrespect of intellectual property. At least in the foreseeable future, this will present itself as tremendous barrier to most of the (high) technology related FDIs. That’s is to say, the country has to rely mainly on itself to work things out, and for a nation that has been “conditioned” for generations to just do “OK enough”, and constantly disregard intellectual property and craftsmanship, it is going to be challenging.
这真也不能全怪开车的素质低下。作为一个不开车的我说句实话，路上的行人和骑脚踏车的素质更低。结果就是你占我的道，我抢你的路，看起来宽敞的马路上没一个 Road User，人人都是 Road Owner，毫无规矩可言。
Everybody in the manufacturing industry knows how big the company Assobot is. It literally monopolises the assembly robotics business around the world. Yet, not many knew that Assobot has been secretly working on the Artificial Intelligence in the humanoid form factor since the beginning of this century. In fact, there have been at least 2 prototypes released in recent years. Why haven’t you seen any, you ask? Well, because they look just like the normal human beings.
All working in the AI industry, except the Marketing and Sales who don’t really know what AI means, would tell you that it is easy to make something looks like human, but almost impossible make it to think like one. Assobot knew it too (after 3 billions investment over more than half a decade). In the year of 2010, the head of Assobot Strategic R&D finally accepted the fact that it wouldn’t be possible to develop humanoid robot for all job functions. Instead, they would consider it a success if their robot is able to perform the easiest job without being spotted.
Yes, Assobot decided to make the robotic manager.
According to an insider who knows the product, Assobot has been partnering with some big MNCs to slowly replace their middle management with Assobot AI robot. “It’s really hard to notice the difference, but I know that they were code named Type-D and Type-M.”
As far as AI algorithm is concerned, the easiest way to impersonate a manager is to avoid any job, thus making the robot “immune to any business mistakes”. The design of Type-D (stands for “Dodger”) followed this principle. Its embedded intelligence focuses solely on generating excuses for a “No” answer. Unfortunately, the market didn’t really like it. Feedbacks from customers often described that “the presence of Type-D in the workplace gradually demotivates the team it manages.” Assobot urgently needed to improve its product.
The idea of enhancement came shortly from a senior manager within Assobot’s own HQ, during his regular toilet visit in a Wednesday afternoon. He didn’t suggest a radically different design. “Good manager empowers subordinates,” he rationalized, “why don’t we designed our robot in such a way that it always throw the questions back to its team members? We motivates the team while still taking no risk!” The board members, after spent a few seconds reflecting their own management style, quickly approved the proposal to make the Type-M (“Motivator”).
Type-M was an immediate success. Partly because the AI requirement is actually simpler than Type-D (how hard can it be to find different ways of saying “I honestly expect you to give me a solution”? or “I think you are fully capable of solving this problem alone”?), and partly because many human managers in fact act in exactly the same way!
The Business Leader Association Handbook (BLAH) famously divided employees of the entire world into 2 types – those who can talk comfortably about things they have no idea about (the talker) and those who can’t (the doer). According to the Association, talkers are generally better for the managerial positions because “the unlimited supply of the seemingly useless speech is, in some rare cases, able to disorient the minds of their customers, and even more likely, able to trick the minds of their own management.”
Interestingly, due to their intrinsic inability to listen and observe, talkers are more likely to be attracted to their own kind, thus gradually and inevitably turning the whole management into a tons of colorful PowerPoints. “The expansion of talkers in the management positions around the globe”, as the Handbook pointed out in its 2011 Edition, “drastically expedited the development of Voice of Internet Protocol, which in turn made it financially even more possible to convert more talkers into managers”. (trivia of the day: the 2011 Edition is probably the second most sought-after copy throughout the history of BLAH publication, second only to the 2014 Edition which featured Sam Nablah as the new Macrosoft CEO on its cover)
While most of the inspired talker-to-be have to spend many years of their professional career perfecting their skills, some are simply born with it. The best talker I’ve personally worked with was so good at it that when he talks, his words form an invisible bubble which shelled him not only from the outside world but also from himself. He only needed 1 or 2 minutes to warm himself up before becoming completely free from any technical, commercial, physical and mathematical constraints to do business with. The only time I needed to wake him up was when we’re about to commit to things illegal.
With him, it had been extremely efficient for the company to pin-point to that 1% of the “target customer”, who are almost certainly another group of talkers and, with whom we could easily secure at least 20 more conference calls in the next 3 months without actually doing anything. That’s when I started to believe the Handbook, the VoIP technology that many of us take for granted nowadays, had been indeed fostered by the unsung talkers.
It was quite sad that 2 years later he chose to leave us to join a bigger MNC after realising that our company plans only to do business on Earth. I can’t imagine how disappointing he must have felt.
纸牌屋第五季最后一集，总统 Frank Underwood 批评 Tom Hammerschmidt 没有大局观，在国家为应对恐怖主义忙的焦头烂额时报社居然发文抨击他的腐败。
而 Tom 只一句，”That’s the same reasoning dictators use.”