Monday, March 13, 2017

The Indian Education System inadvertently trains you to deal with customers

The first part of this blog post is anecdotal.

As Indians, we tend to complain a lot about our education system. About how it focuses only on securing marks and does not spark interest in students.

A neighbour recently asked me for my book on C++, saying she wanted a few theory concepts to write as part of an assignment her teacher gave.

As the book was an old one, I told her the best place to get her info was on the internet.
Her answer surprised me. She said she wanted to refer the theoretical concepts in the book and write those for her assignments because that's what the teacher would expect. Scoring the marks was of a higher priority than learning the theory.


Two ways of looking at it:

Way One: Here's where you start cursing the Indian education system which designed assignments only for the purpose of scoring marks. Pull your hair out and ask for the system to be changed so that kids would have better practical programming knowledge.

Way Two: Our Indian education system had just given birth to another little girl who saw the problem from the customer's perspective. This is exactly what every CEO wants their sales people to understand.

Find out what the customer wants and tailor your response and product to that. You make the sale!!!

My little neighbour learnt how to anticipate what the teacher wanted and gave the teacher exactly that. Marks scored!!!
You see students all over India finding such shortcuts which get the job done. Finding innovative ways of impressing the teacher, pretending to be extra humble for some leniency or marks, pulling strings to get hold of the studious guy/girl's notes...and so many more...

Rings a bell? Somebody's famous quote of "I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it".

We are expected to do this as engineers too. If there's a solution already available, just use it instead of spending time doing things from scratch and allowing the competition to gain an advantage over us.


The customer focus:

As a person who designs the Architecture of software, my primary goal is to ensure that the customer's requirements are fulfilled, instead of choosing an architecture and technology that would look good on my resume/CV.
If the customer's work can be done with a simple technology, it is better to use that, than to choose a different, more complex, more time consuming technology that would add a lot of punch to your portfolio, but would be of little or no value to the customer.

When you do find people who care about what the customer wants, treat them like a precious gem. You have a valuable find.


ps: This is not to misunderstand those genuine people who spend time understanding concepts and improving on the theoretical understanding. This is also expected of good engineers. To be well informed, educated and at the top of the game. These engineers are a league apart. Inventors. Scientists. People who create value for the world.

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