Had one more agenda during the free time… Getting free lunch at the cost of friends. Convinced one of them to give a party after helping him out on finalizing a hotel. And here we are on the discussion table with the hotel guy to finalize the menu. So what should we order, veg manchow soup – no it has mushrooms, not sure if everyone will have mushrooms. So how about baby corn – i know people in south India love it but not too sure about folks from north. Hmmmmm…. so no one food item which will satisfy all so let us play safe. Order something which has the least probability of being disliked by most of the people. Isn’t that the same compromise all of us make when we need to take decisions. Remember another discussion in office where we made a decision to take an office in the middle of Bangalore so that it is equally inconvenient to all.
The temptation of being fair is too hard to resist and even more is the temptation of being perceived as fair. And both the temptations are equally dangerous. I would have taken the following approach to the office location. Find out 5 top performers in the company and let them decide the office location although rather difficult to extend the same logic to deciding menu for the party. The truth about fairness is that it is not about counting each person as having one weight but taking a weighted average based on performance in organizational context and maybe some other personal parameters in personal context. Choosing the option of ensuring discomfort for all is certainly not a good substitute unless you enjoy getting sadistic pleasure out of such activities.
Coming back to menu, the party is still on. There is nothing like a free lunch – can you figure out that this statement has two meanings based on how you pronounce it…..
The temptation of being fair is too hard to resist and even more is the temptation of being perceived as fair.
And this leads to a prevalance of mediocrity in many aspects. But such things we have to live with for the sake of social propriety. Perhaps it is an acceptable price to pay to avoid conflicts, but I’m sure there are other, if not simplistic, ways out.
Another phrase which I tend to associate (sometimes unfairly) with lack of passion and accountability and responsibility. Engage with risk – even if it means having a dish which people might not like – an entire world of unexplored possibilities lies there.
One of my friends gave me a very sane advice long time back…. Don’t try be God. Just be a decent human being. And I feel sometimes we do go overboard on fairness in organizations at the cost of meritocracy as you mentioned. I can still imagine scenarios where you would apply socialism over meritocracy. These are scenarios where performance differentiation amongst employees does not have any significant impact over the final deliverable. In those cases I would rather play safe.