I listen to even the data driven opinions with a pinch of salt now. I did it unwillingly and learnt it one can present data to please bosses even if the findings are unfavorable. It happened with a client of ours. They’d invested about 8 Cr rupee in their Above The Line (ATL) marketing. We used to do offer data analytics solution to them. So, we were told measure the impact. We found out, there was almost no impact – statistically, even if you take p-values and seasonality and market condition etc etc. The 8 Cr had gone in drain. However, we’d to help our manager at client’s office “look smart”. We’d to make a presentation that look and feel sound, statistically such that the branding efforts have had a positive impact. We somehow did it, against my wish. I quit the organization soon after, due to various reasons.
Actually we had conveniently changed the goalpost for the client. Our clients objective of the ATL was generating investments, however the presentation of the data was done completely for branding. All the communication for the ATL was regarding “invest with us”. The presentation was not about the impact of that in terms of call to action “investment” as such. Human being are smart, we create our own narrative from what we see, hear and observe.
So, one must take data and findings with open eyes and willingness and honesty to question. I’ve been favoring capitalism over socialism (or some sort of communism), the data suggests that capitalism is somewhat better than socialism. We have many examples – South America going through the upheaval North America is better off, USSR broke down, India moved to more open economy after 1993. Mass production or mass anything is great for economy of scale and businesses. I happened to stumble upon the episode of “Last week tonight” by John Oliver on Amazon or warehouses. John Oliver presents concepts interestingly. He adds humor with numbers and in 20 minutes drive home his point and makes you accept the conclusion.
After watching this episode of Last week tonight, I thought of writing on this. However, as I said, I have started taking data with pinch of salt. I asked myself, are these the only few stories about work condition at Amazon? Why other such stories not coming out? Should one get to see other perspective instead of believing only one side? I came across similar thought published in NYT, so I made up my mind to type it down. My opinion still stays – the quantum can be more or less, presentation may make the statistic look appalling.
The NYT article touches what John Oliver is talking about in his show – work conditions at Amazon. In fact Amazon is forcing competitors to match its standards, which affects lives of employees. I wonder if we really need that toilet paper at lightening fast speed, as John Oliver talked about in his show. Are we sure we want such competitive and capitalistic world? I wish no. Mass production results in unwelcome competition and possible corrupt practices example – using fertilizers for farm produce affecting the soil quality or destroying work life balance of employees for quality of service that may not be the demand of customer.
I’d not envisioned capitalism of this kind to win over socialism – where there is no trickling down as expected by economists however not happening on ground as recently economists found out. If we do not improve our capitalist approach to be more inclusive we will surely pay a huge price of inequality – as Prof Joseph Stiglitz had pointed out in his book by same name.
We need a world that is more balanced, the competition of capitalism can eat into mental peace of individual. Socialism as we know it, tries to make everyone equally poor that bad too, we need balance – the middle path. Few months back when I visited a village, I saw how Modi govt’s socialistic approach of govt worked. I see promise in such approach where there is a balance – in Govt trying to balance socialistic giving and encouraging competitiveness. Though currently, according to data the economy of India is not doing that great. Also some time back GDP calculation method was changed. Should we trust data that can be manipulated to suit narrative? Before trusting anything, should not we ask questions on validity of data and representative-ness of the same?
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