Mga Archive ng Tag: games na ang mga tao i-play

Panuntunan ng Salungatan

In this last post in the rules of the game series, we look at the creative use of the rules in a couple of situations. Rules can be used to create productive and predictable conflicts. One such conflict is in law enforcement, where cops hate defense attorneys — if we are to believe Michael Connelly’s depiction of how things work at LAPD. It is not as if they are really working against each other, although it may look that way. Both of them are working toward implementing a set of rules that will lead to justice for all, while avoiding power concentration and corruption. The best way of doing it happens to be by creating a perpetual conflict, which also happens to be fodder for Connelly’s work.

Another conflict of this kind can be seen in a bank, between the risk taking arm (traders in the front office) and the risk controlling teams (market and credit risk managers in the middle office). The incessant strife between them, sa katunayan, ends up implementing the risk appetite of the bank as decided by the senior management. When the conflict is missing, problems can arise. For a trader, performance is quantified in terms of the profit (and to a lesser degree, its volatility) generated by him. This scheme seems to align the trader’s interests with those of the bank, thus generating a positive feedback loop. As any electrical engineer will tell you, positive feedback leads to instability, while negative feedback (conflict driven modes) leads to stable configurations. The positive feedback results in rogue traders engaging in huge unauthorized trades leading to enormous damages or actual collapses like the Bearings bank in 1995.

We can find other instances of reinforcing feedback generating explosive situations in upper management of large corporates. The high level managers, being board members in multiple corporate entities, keep supporting each other’s insane salary expectations, thus creating an unhealthy positive feedback. If the shareholders, sa kabilang banda, decided the salary packages, their own self-interest of minimizing expenses and increasing the dividend (and the implicit conflict) would have generated a more moderate equilibrium.

The rule of conflict is at work at much larger scales as well. In a democracy, political parties often assume conflicting world views and agendas. Their conflict, ratified through the electoral process, ends up reflecting the median popular view, which is the way it should be. It is when their conflicting views become so hopelessly polarized (as they seem to be in the US politics these days) that we need to worry. Even more of a worry would be when one side of the conflict disappears or gets so thoroughly beaten. In an earlier post, I lamented about just that kind of one-sidedness in the idealogical struggle between capitalism and socialism.

Conflicts are not limited to such large settings or to our corporate life and detective stories. The most common conflict is in the work-life balance that all of us struggle with. The issue is simple — we need to work to make a living, and work harder and longer to make a better living. In order to give the best to our loved ones, we put so much into our work that we end up sacrificing our time with the very loved ones we are supposedly working for. Oo naman, there is a bit of hypocrisy when most workaholics choose work over life — they do it, not so much for their loved ones, but for a glorification, a justification or a validation of their existence. It is an unknown and unseen angst that is driving them. Getting the elusive work-live conflict right often necessitates an appreciation of that angst, and unconventional choices. Paminsan-minsan, in order to win, you have to break the rules of the game.

Buhay: East vs. Mga bansa sa kanluran

Sa huling post sinuri natin ang buhay mula sa pananaw ng sa gitna ng ebolusyon biology. Ngayon ay ilipat sa pilosopiya ipaalam. Mayroong isang mahalagang pilosopiko pagkakaiba sa pagitan ng mga pananaw sa buhay sa East at ang West. Ang mga tanawin form ang senaryo sa mga panuntunan ng buhay, na hugis ng lahat ng bagay mula sa aming mga familial at lipunan ng stock sa aming mga pag-asa at panalangin. Paano ang mga panuntunang (na kung saan ay depende sa kung saan ka nanggaling) gawin ito ay hindi lamang kawili-wili, ngunit kinakailangan sa pinasasalamatan sa mundo ngayon ng global na pakikipag-ugnayan. Sa isa sa kanyang mga aralin, Pilosopiya propesor Yale Maraming kabibi Kagan ginawa ng isang pangungusap na ang pangunahing tindig vis-a-vis buhay (at kamatayan) sa West ay na ang buhay ay isang magandang bagay na magkaroon ng; ito ay regalo. Ang aming trabaho ay upang punan ang mga ito na may maraming bilang ng kaligayahan, kabutihan at kaluwalhatian hangga't maaari.

Ang Eastern view ay lamang ang kabaligtaran – ang una sa mga apat na marangal na katotohanan ng Budhismo na ang buhay ay paghihirap. Hinduism, na nagbigay ng kapanganakan sa Buddhist, sabi mga bagay tulad ng mundong ito at sa cycle ng buhay ay mahirap (Iha Samsare Bahu Dustare sa Bhaja Govindam, halimbawa). Ang aming trabaho ay upang matiyak na hindi kami makakuha ng masyadong naka-attach sa mga hindi tunay na bagay na may buhay na nag-aalok ng, kabilang ang kaligayahan. Kapag nagdarasal tayo sa ating mga patay, idinadalangin namin na sila ay dapat alisan ng cycle ng buhay at kamatayan. Pagliligtas ay di-buhay.

Oo naman, Malaking-malaki ako oversimplifying. (Ipaalam sa akin rephrase na — ito oversimplified bersyon ay ang lahat ng alam ko. Ako ay napaka-ignorante, ngunit Plano ko na gawin ang isang bagay tungkol sa mga ito sa lalong madaling panahon.) Tiningnan sa liwanag ng mga magkakaiba stances laban sa mga palaisipan ng buhay, nakita namin kung bakit westerners na lugar tulad ng isang premium sa personal na kaligayahan at kaluwalhatian, habang ang kanilang eastern katapat may posibilidad na maging fatalistic at alpa sa virtues ng pagpapakasakit sa sarili at kakulangan ng ambisyon (o ang kanyang unang pinsan, kasakiman).

Upang isang mapaghangad taga-kanluran, anumang pagkakataon sa isang incremental pagtaas sa personal na kaligayahan (sa pamamagitan ng isang diborsiyo at muling pag-aasawa, halimbawa) ay masyadong magandang pagkakataon na palampasin. Sa iba pang bahagi ng mundo, sa isa nagdala sa Hindu na paraan ng buhay, kaligayahan ay lamang ng isa pang hindi tunay na pagpapahayag na hindi matukso ng. Ang mga nahuli sa pagitan ng dalawang mga hanay ng mga patakaran ng buhay ay maaaring makahanap ng tunay at sa huli nakakadismaya ang lahat ng ito na nakalilito. Na masyadong ay isang macro pattern level regimented pamamagitan ng micro patakaran antas ng laro.

Sining ng digmaan Corporate

A more complex example of how the rules shape the patterns on the ground is the corporate game. The usual metaphor is to portray employees as cogs in the relentless wheel of the corporate machinery, or as powerless pawns in other people’s power plays. But we can also think of all of them as active players with their own resources engaged in tiny power plays of their own. So they end up with a corporate life full of office politics, smoke and mirrors, and pettiness and backstabbing. When they take these things personally and love or hate their co-workers, they do themselves an injustice, Sa tingin ko. They should realize that all these features are the end result of the rules by which they play the corporate game. The office politics that we see in any modern workspace is the topology expected of the rules of the game.

What are these famous rules I keep harping on? You would expect them to be much more complex that those of a simple chess game, given that you have a large number of players with varying agendas. But I’m a big fan of simplicity and Occam’s Razor as any true scientist should be (which is an oblique and wishful assertion that I am still one, oo naman), and I believe the rules of the corporate game are surprisingly simple. As far as I can see, there are just two — one is that the career progression opportunities are of a pyramid shape in that it gets progressively more difficult to bubble to the top. The other rule is that at every level, there is a pot of rewards (such as the bonus pool, halimbawa) that needs to be shared among the co-workers. From these rules, you can easily see that one does better when others do badly. Backstabbing follows naturally.

In order to be a perfect player in this game, you have to do more than backstabbing. You have to develop an honest-to-john faith in your superiority as well. Hypocrisy doesn’t work. I have a colleague who insists that he could do assembly-level programming before he left kindergarten. I don’t think he is lying per-se; he honestly believes that he could, as far as I can tell. Ngayon, this colleague of mine is pretty smart. Gayunpaman, after graduating from an IIT and working at CERN, I’m used to superior intelligences and geniuses. And he ain’t it. But that doesn’t matter; his undying conviction of his own superiority is going to tide him over such minor obstacles as reality checks. I see stock options in his future. If he stabs someone in the back, he does it guiltlessly, almost innocently. It is to that level of virtuosity that you have to aspire, if you want to excel in the corporate game.

Almost every feature of the modern corporate office, from politics to promotions, and backstabbing to bonuses, is a result of the simple rules of the game that we play it by. (Sorry about the weak attempt at the first letter rhyme.) The next expansion of this idea, oo naman, is the game of life. We all want to win, but ultimately, it is a game where we will all lose, because the game of life is also the game of death.