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			Zen and the art of promotions

Popular theory:
If you are good/great/brilliant at what you do, you will eventually get promoted.

Common observation:
Loud morons get promoted.

Alternate theory:
If you are good/great/brilliant at what you do, you will never get promoted.

Proof for alternate theory:

Lets begin with a simple example.

Say you own a bullock cart.

* Configuration

now, this is a special type of bullock cart; you need three bullocks to
pull it. out of which, one bullock's job is different from that of
the other two. its sole purpose is to "steer" - that is, to provide
direction. lets call it bullock 'A'. now bullock 'B' and bullock
'C' - their sole purpose is to provide the "thrust". in other words,
bullock A chooses the direction, and B and C provides the required
thrust in that direction. The way you use the bullocks is simple -
bullock A is not tied to the cart; while B and C are, and they pull
the cart in parallel. A just walks a meter ahead of B and C, "guiding"
them. and yes, A understands your language enough to decipher various
basic commands like "right", "left", "stop" etc.

| |--B
| | A -->
| |--C

Now - as the owner of the bullock cart, you consider A's job to be
more "critical". Thats understandable since you dont want your cart
steered into brick walls or tar pits. so you ensure that A gets
better food and other facilities as compared to B and C.

And yes, sometimes your bullocks get better "offers" from other
cart owners and then they "leave". then you have to recruit new bullocks.

* Bullock power

Now for bullocks of type B and C, their capacity to develop power is
measured in a unit called 'BP' - Bullock Power. the average B/C bullock
available in the market develops 120 BP; this more or less meets your
speed/torque requirements, so you normally dont have much trouble finding
replacements for B and C bullocks. another point to note here is that
the BP level of type A bullocks are generally pathetic - in the range of 50-60.

So one day your C bullock leaves. you go to the market and get yourself
a replacement. the replacement bullock arrives for duty and start
pulling the cart. "business" continues as usual.

* Problem

But soon you start getting a feeling that something is "wrong" - but you
cant put your finger on it. anyway, soon you find out - bullock B seems to be
struggling. panting, tired, general weakness.

you start digging into the problem and arrive at the root cause without
much delay - your C bullock seems to be developing more power than the market
standard of 120 BP. you start checking your speedometer - yes, you are getting
carted along faster these days.

* Root cause identified

So no wonder B is getting tired; After all B probably makes only 120 BP.
to confirm your findings, you take bullock C to a dyno - "performance appraisal",
if you like - and measure its BP output. whoa, you are surprised. C makes 170 BP.
(you are careful not to let C know abt the dyno reading). to get a complete
picture, you secretly take B's dyno reading as well. its just 105. B has dropped
below market average actually. so its getting clearer, the picture.

Its obvious that B cannot keep up this thing for long. B is not only tired,
it is developing a serious ego complex as well; becoming harder to manage
these days.

* Solution?

What do you do now? you come up with the following options :

(a) fire the weaker bullock B. let the strong bullock C pull the cart alone,
so that the configuration is now like :

| |
| |--C A --->
| |

(b) fire the weaker bullock B. recruit a new bullock which makes as much
power as B - around 170 BP.

(c) restructure the configuration such that, B and C are no longer in
parallel. that is, change the system to something like :

| |
| |--C--B A --->
| |

* Options analysis

So you have some options ready. now to select the best among them.

option (a) is the easiest to implement. just kick out the weakling B and
let C do all the pulling. but its not as straight as it looks. it brings
in a lot of complications:

o the load on C is doubling. true, you can provide extra facilities
and food to C, since you dont have B anymore. but there lurks the
danger of you becoming heavily dependent of C and it developing
unnecessary ego and self-esteem; leading to dissatisfaction,
unrest, and various unreasonable demands in the future.

o moreover, firing B and using C alone to pull the cart is a very clear
indication to C that its dyno reading was way above market average -
something which you have managed to conceal so far.

o then there is an ego issue involved - yours. other cart owners might think
that you have fallen on hard times. why else would you try to manage
with only two bullocks while everyone else can afford three? that should
be avoided at all costs.

o there might be clever cart owners around, who realize what is actually
happening. and they might try to entice away C with better offers. and
one fine morning, you wake up finding no bullocks to pull your cart.
another problem with being dependent on a single bullock. should be avoided.

so in the end, (a) is out of the question.

onto option (b). it is the hardest to implement, because :

o bullocks of 170 BP are extremely rare in the market.

o even if you find such a rare specimen, the chances of it being unaware
of its own BP value is even lower. which equates to high demands.

o now suppose you ignore the above point and go ahead and recruit a
high performance bullock who is aware of its own capabilities. so
it becomes bullock B and starts working with C. it wont be long before
B informs C abt his capabilities and it wont be long before C deduces
that hey i can easily match B's abilities, so i must be equally good.
double trouble.

so option (b) can be at best impossible or downright dangerous.

so you move to (c). hmm even though you added (c) as an afterthought, it
is now beginning to look as if you have something here:

o obvious advantage is that the strain on B disappears. hopefully
you can reduce the food/facilities available to B (slowly) and hope
that it wont notice.

o you can always convince C that it is not pulling the cart alone,
that B is putting in an equal effort as well. for good measure,
you can throw in some garbage like how C actually enjoys aerodynamic
advantages by being behind B.

o your explanation would be that you did a reorganization as part of overall
restructuring for efficient cart operation. that should sound nice and
might even add to the general mood.

o being right behind the steer bullock A, B might gradually pick up
steering abilities. you have already started suspecting that A is on
the lookout for better opportunities; so in case the traitor leaves
one fine day, you can always push B to front slot, and hire a weak
bullock (with learning affinity towards steering skills) into his slot.
some kind of forward planning.

o lack of exercise would bring down B's BP to the 50s or 60s - but thats
fine. actually even desirable, since that would make B more suitable
for A's position. more forward planning.

o B has low BP already - 105 is pathetic. no wonder your average speeds
were suffering these days. so B is obviously in the wrong place and
with that thought in mind, the new configuration looks more appealing.

o You noticed, B seems to have good communication skills already. it
generally keeps making various types of sounds, while C is always quiet.
and sometimes it seems to understand your dialect. which means that it
can cooperate better with A, like say correcting A if it makes a mistake
deciphering your commands, etc.

* The result

option (c).

| |
| |--C--B A --->
| |

* Conclusions

(a) promotion is a transfer from level X to level Y such that skills required
at X is completely different from skills required at Y - absolutely nothing
in common. in other words, the intersection of the required skillsets
of the two endpoints of a promotion yields a null set.

(b) Be good at what you are hired to do, and you will never be promoted.

(c) Somebody with a perceivable disability at what he is hired to do, sets
himself up for either promotion or layoff. the former happens if the
person has the gift mentioned in (d).

(d) The combination of :

* an ability to make meaningless noises
* an inability to be brief and to the point

is percieved as "communication skill" by management.

(e) promotions are nature's way of removing incapable, but talkative, workers
from the productive flow.

In brief, Zen and the art of promotions state that :

* Thick and Loud goes up.
* Thick and Quiet goes out.
* Thin and Quiet doesnt move.
* Thin and Loud does not exist.