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Friday, July 20, 2012

MTV Roadies and Game Theory

I am not a big fan of MTV Roadies, but given some free time, I do not mind watching it. Few weeks back, I was watching an episode of Roadies, where the last 5 Roadies were asked to make a decision. They were given a choice between surrendering their 50 Grand prize money to get a chance to play immunity task or keep the 50 Grand with them and play a pre-immunity task. But there is a catch in this, that if their decision is same as the one taken by Majority, then they will have to go through a pre-immunity task.
This situation is tricky and the choice must be made wisely.  If I were in their position, I would have kept the 50 Grand prize with me, because this choice gives me optimal payoff. Payoff.. Yes I am talking about applying “Game Theory”. 

The justification for applying Game Theory is based on 2 conditions which are quite true in this situation, First that it’s a perfectly strategic situation, as the outcome of this choice is highly dependent on the choice that another person makes and Secondly the Pay Offs (In this case 50 Grand & chance to play immunity task )  are the motivations.

Let’s list down the Pay-offs or the outcomes of the choices:-
1. I surrender 50 Grand, I am in Minority and thus directly get a chance to play immunity task.
2. I keep 50 Grand, I am in Minority and thus directly get a chance to play immunity task
3. I surrender 50 Grand, but I am in Majority and thus I need to play another task in order to qualify for immunity task
4. I keep 50 Grand, and I am in Majority and thus I thus I need to play another task in order to qualify for immunity task.

In this situation, we need to determine the ‘Dominant strategy’, a strategy which needs to be followed irrespective of what strategy other players follow. So what could be dominant strategy in this situation?

Let’s build the answer: As a human being, I cannot read other person’s mind & thus cannot determine with conviction about what is going to be the choice of all the other 4 contestants. So my choice should be such that it gives me optimal pay offs.

First , If I choose to surrender my 50 Grand, then I get a direct entry into the Immunity task, but If any other 2 contestants make the same decision, then not only, do I lose my money, but my cakewalk into Immunity task is jeopardized. 

Secondly, If I chose to keep my 50 Grand and based on other contestants, either I can end up being in majority or I can end up being in minority. If I end up in minority I have a cakewalk to immunity task, else If, I end up being in Majority and I have to undergo another task. Either ways I am 50 Grand richer.
Clearly now, we have deduced the answer. Keeping the 50 Grand would be the dominant strategy or rather a choice that gives me the optimal pay offs irrespective of what the other contestants choose.
Sadly, all the contestants ended up surrendering their 50 Grand and making it inevitable for anyone to get a Cake walk to Immunity task. 

I don’t know if their decision was scripted or real, which is no way my area of concern, I just wanted to demonstrate, how a tricky situation can best be handled through application of Game theory.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beginners Luck !!

Every search begins with beginners luck and ends with the victors being severely tested

This quote and numerous references to the phrase ‘Beginners Luck’ throughout Paulo Coelho’s book “The Alchemist” prompted me explore in depth about this phenomenon.
Beginners Luck is a phenomenon of novices or amateurs experiencing disproportionate amount of success or succeeding against experts in a game. It is sometimes also referred as “Principle of Favourability”. This particular phenomenon has a logic that novices are not aware of nuances of the game and free to think & act. However, as the person starts knowing more about something, the more limited he becomes in his thinking. Beginners luck is thought to end when ‘innocent’ psychological mindset is replaced by that of an expert & experienced mind.

Beginners luck is something that encourages a newcomer to chase & fulfill his dreams. But as the quote in the beginning states that to be a “Victor” each and everything that you have learned will be tested and as Paulo Coelho states “Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way”. As the person realizes his dreams, the soul of the world wants him to master the lessons he has learned as he chased his dream.

Now this thought brings me to arena of sports where sportsmen have had their share of beginners luck, but gave up & faded into oblivion when they were tested, while few others persisted with their efforts to realize their dreams and are today names that are thought of being greatest their respective disciplines.

Sachin Tendulkar for instance has been one of the few victors. In his initial days as first class batsmen the beginners luck brought him early success at domestic level having made centuries in his debut in Irani trophy, Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy that led to his selection to National team after just one first class season. Soon, the beginners luck ended. It took him 79 ODIs to score his First Century at international level. But after that, there was no looking back and today he is credited with almost all the records that a batsman can create. However his dream was to win the World Cup. He kept on his pursuit towards that dream despite all odds that included critics, physical abilities, age & mental stress. But he kept on performing with due diligence. At last his dream was realised after over 20 years of test and mastering all the lessons that he had learnt all throughout his quest for the ultimate dream. Kapil Dev, Vivian Richards, Allan Border are few others from cricket who have realized their dreams after the conquest. The chess grandmaster Vishy Anand undoubtedly belongs to this league.

However, there are others who have quit at a point, best described by language of desert as ‘Dying of thirst just when palm trees have appeared on the horizon’. Many athletes have basked in the glory of Beginners luck but never were able to cherish their dreams. Take for example Ronaldinho or Wayne Rooney who had some very glorious years early on, but have not been able to realize their dreams. As one searches through the history of sports one can find several such men who quit at that point and contained themselves with initial success, thus ending their chase towards their dreams.

So, the truth lies in crossing the chasm of beginners luck and ending up as victor through realizing your dreams.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

“Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” fails to match the charm of the original

It was India’s 60th republic day and the stage was perfectly set for the re-launch of one of the India’s most popular anthem on national Integration; yes it was “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara”. In it's 61st year The Republic of India stepped up its quest for becoming a superpower by 2020, just 10 more years before it reaches there.
The album too was aptly titled “Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” coming to re-establish the fact that the diversity in which we live is the key strength to our nation’s success. The original score had come at a time when India was reeling under IMF sanctions and zero foreign exchange reserves.
Today the challenges have taken a different face. Recovering from recession, we are growing at constant pace but the economic divide is widening as well,giving rise to internal extremism in various forms. India is bugged by regionalism and its politics. India’s immediate neighborhood is no better; with couple of failed states and unstable economies they project a truly grim picture of the future. Sudden rise of middle class of two huge consumerist economies (China & India), pose an uphill task for agriculturist to increase food grain production by leaps & bounds. The global warming and climate change predictions give no respite.
So it was a right time to “Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara”, but unfortunately the album fails to match the charm of original one. The “Common Man”, itself is missing from the prolonged video. It is bollywood overdose of a kind. The words from Amitabh Bachan set amongst renovated background(renovated after 26/11) of Gateway of India and Taj Hotel give a perfect beginning to a song to become an epitome of strengthened India. However Bhart Bala’s recreation of eternal song loses track immediately. The original Mile Sur too had several actors representing various regions of country. But they were shot in such a way that actors were looking as good as any common man of that region. Take for instance Om puri sitting with a farmer family & singing the “mile sur” in native language gives a completely different impact than Deepika Padukone in western attire singing similar lyrics. It is unfortunate that several national icons like Vishwanathan Anand and Sachin Tendulkar have not been shown. The video fails to project the real picture of India. It is highly bollywood centric and projects as if India is all about bollywood artists and nothing more. I do appreciate the greatness and talent of all the artists in the video, but then they are just a small drop in huge ocean of talents & traditions that India is really made of.
Leaving me little disappointed about Phir Mile Sur, I went back to the old & original version of Mile Sur Mera Sur bane hamara!!! And relived the memories again...
Jai Hind..!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wake up Sid or Wake Up Time For Marketers

Yes I am talking about the movie “Wake Up Sid”, but not about how good or bad is the movie, it’s something else. It’s about marketing; not marketing of the film but marketing in the film.
As I was watching the movie, my marketing mind was stimulated with something really interesting. The stimulator was the brand of products, services being used by the protagonists in the movie. Everyday there are movies getting released and in each movie the character is shown using products/services, be it a car, camera, laptop, mobile phone, eating pizzas, dining at the restaurants, going to discs. Have you ever wondered what brands are they of? Does use of particular brand of product convey any meaning regarding their positioning in consumers mind?
I think the answer is a big YES. Let me explain how this works. We several times try and portray ourselves as a famous character of a movie. We try to see ourselves as Aamir Khan of DCH or Hrithik of Lakshya or any other famous character which relates to our lives in one way or the other. Further we do like to use the brand of product our heroes use to portray the movie character of our interest.
This concept is appropriately tapped in Wake Up Sid. The movie starts with ‘Sid’ a rich, easy go lucky guy clicking pics of all unique and innovative things with his digicam of brand “Nikon” and that same camera helps him become photographer for the famous “Mumbai Beat” magazine. Clearly indicating Nikon positioning as a camera which can turn an amateur into a professional photographer. The same creative lad is shown using “AppleMacbook” in sync with Apple’s positioning of being innovative, creative and trendy. One more instance is that of “Jazz By the Bay” shown as a place for all creative people to relax and enjoy their dinner alongside Jazz music played by prominent brands. When Sid is hungry he orders Dominoes pizza, a 30 min delivery specialist. The movie shows if you are hungry and dying to eat something, think of pizza delivered to you in 30 mins.
There are many more such instances all throughout the movie. It surely goes a long way in enforcing the positioning of brands in consumers mind.
Probably such instances provide a sea of opportunities for marketers to indirectly promote their brands. However this path needs to be tradedwith a word of caution, because without a proper selection of right character for your brand the complete exercise may go haywire. I am not sure whether movie with Govinda shown using Apple Macbook would convey the same meaning or not.
So what do all of you say.....??

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It Would Have Been 2 Years a few days Back (29th Aug 07 to 29th Aug 09)

You might be surely wondering what these two years are all about. Let me clear all your doubts. I would have completed 2 years in a wonderful company called Mastek Ltd on 29th Aug 09, but destiny had other plans and with heavy heart and a positive outlook I moved on just 3 months before this day.
I joined Mastek on faithful day of 29th Aug 07 in Mastek’s SEEPZ office and it definitely was a turning point in my life. After all Mastek was my first company and first employer always remains a special one.
Looking back at the 21 months journey I am reminded of many friends, colleagues, superiors and the moments spent with them. Let me take you through a flash back ride, not of 21 months, but of my first 3 months spent with my training batch.
To begin with, the first people I met in Mastek, (yes, after the HR representative) were my training batch colleagues fondly titled as “Warehouse ke tantriks or Warehouse ki Khoj”. I say colleagues because we migrated from training batch colleagues to good friends. We were 21 of us, all freshers, coming from various parts of India , joining Mastek on the same day & getting trained together. Initial few days were very formal ones, as we were just getting to know each other, but the “Campus to Corporate” programme acted as the real Ice breaker and there was no looking back there after. I vividly remember the days we spent playing carrom and watching T20 world cup matches in office cafeteria, playing dumb charades etc.... But two things still remain very fresh in mind. One was the 2 hour long evaluation viva, which had left us terrified for almost a week & made us to study for revaluation even before the results came and the second one was the dandiya/garba fun we had especially with Ashsih Joshi showing his maverick dance steps. We had shaped into a group open to fun & masti and as the tradition goes we decided to create our own community in Orkut. We finalised on “Warehouse ki Khoj” as the name of the community. Warehouse ki khoj? Why such a name? Because we were the only batch that got trained in Data warehousing and strangely though none of us are currently working in data warehousing. The khoj is still on...
But as they say all good things come to end, so was the training period in Mastek and soon we migrated to different projects. But end of one good thing leads to start of another. Yes, we made it a point to meet together at lunch table and celebrate each other’s smallest of achievements with ice cream treats, birthdays with cake cuttings and many more things...

Oops.. I am running out of time need to get in time for lecture......long live Warehouse Ki Khoj...Congrats to warehouse ke tantriks for completing 2 in Mastek.
Bye for now. Will be back soon.....

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Three Mistakes of My Life

No no I am not talking about my life but about the novel written by Chetan Bhagat. The novel is set in the year 2000 and revolves around three friends living in ouskirts of Amdavad(I know spelling of Ahmedabad but that’s the way u pronounce it). The chief protagonist of the novel is a young boy called ‘Govind Patel’. As the name suggest he is gujju and dreams of starting a business. He ia very good mathematician and had been the only one their locality to score 100 percent in 12. He thinks that being Gujrati, doing business runs in his genes. But he needs to accommodate two of his friends as well. So comes the Cricket Shop “Team India Cricket” with his friends as his business partners. His friends Ishan and Omi. Ishaan is a cricket fanatic, a patriot and best cricketer in locality while Omi is dumb kind of person, with not many dreams to chase. To support their income Govind starts taking maths tuitions and ishaan starts cricket coaching. With the business setting up we have three important people who are the central to the three mistakes made by Govind. They are: a cricket prodigy and a muslim boy “Ali”, math phobic “Vidya”, who is teen sister of Ishan & student of govind and Omi’s right wing hindu fundamentalist mama (maternal uncle) Bitto Mama. These three characters with a heady mix of cricket, politics, religion and love results in an enticing story.

Read it for a good fun and breeze story line. And if you loved Five Point someone then you surely should vouch for it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CATCH-22: What’s That?

One day while having a Chat with my friend I was amused when he said he was caught in a Catch- 22 situation. I exclaimed "Whats that?".
He was referring to a situation in which he had two choices: But both the choices lead to a lost cause. He was caught in a double bind or a no win situation.
I wondered why call it a Catch-22 situation. So, I decided to explore.

On googling I found good amount of info on this. Catch-22 a term coined by satirical novelist Joseph Keller, in his influential novel “Catch-22”. Now question arises as why to call something as Catch-22? So I decided to get hand on the Novel itself.
The novel follows Yossarian, a US air-force bombardier and number of other characters. Most events occur while the airmen of fictional Fighting 256th squadron are based on island of Pinosa, in Mediterranean Sea west of Italy.

The Catch-22 as it occurs in novel can described in words of Heller as “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr (One of the characters: a fighter pilot) was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more combat missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane (Of sound mind; mentally healthy) if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.”
Now what to do in such a situation?

Developing further, Catch-22 is a false dilemma in a rule, regulation or procedure where no real choice exists. Consider one more example. In order to get excused from flying combat missions in enemy territory one must submit an official diagnosis from his squadron’s flight surgeon demonstrating that he is unfit to fly because he is Insane. For this he must approach the surgeon to ask for one. However the catch-22 (twenty second of the guidelines) used by military surgeons suggest that “An insane person should not believe or suspect that he is insane. Thus, to be recognized as insane, a person must not ask for an evaluation, because doing so implicitly shows that he suspects him selves to be insane. But, if a person does not ask for an evaluation, he cannot be recognized as insane because the evaluation is the method by which such recognition would occur. Thus, nobody can ever classify themselves as insane (even if they genuinely are), and thus nobody may ever use an insanity diagnosis to escape flying combat missions.

Quite confusing? Read one more time, it is definitely going to interest you.

So have you even been caught in Catch-22? Think…you probably would have been caught.