Monday, May 6, 2013

Why did fish leave water to live on ground?

I started my career with a motorcycle company as a sales person. My job was to sell targeted number of motorcycles through the dealer network every month. It involved very close personal interactions with quite wealthy people and getting things done through them. I distinctly remember one such interaction about 15 years ago. In those days, there were very few car dealerships around and I was discussing with one of my dealers why he did not take up car dealership. He pulled out a sheet that showed merely lending that money at prevalent interest rates would earn far more money than investing in a risky new venture. He did not think that the business case for a car dealership was stronger than simply lending the money. The calculation was impeccable but somehow the conclusion didn't seem right. I could not think of what was wrong but I could feel it.

Now when he looks back he must be regretting his decision. The bike dealership must have grown but car dealerships have grown multifold and are raking money. Gradually, their business proposition became much stronger than lending money.

This story is not isolated. There are many inventions or new business venture that were shunned by astute business minds as they failed to prove their attractiveness on an excel sheet. No financial model or theory could prove their merit. Someone had to take an uncalculated risk, someone had to listen to her gut than cash flow analysis and put their heart and soul to bring that idea to life and make it successful. As Ratan Tata famously said the one needs to work on making the decision right rather than just worrying about whether the decision was right.

This situation is however, not really unique to humans. It has happened in nature many times. The life on the earth started in water. Fish had everything needed inside water, the food, their oxygen, their eco-system. Still some fish decided to venture on land. Nobody is really sure why they did so or what the trigger was. Was there too much competition for food or too many predators or just boredom with status quo or all of the above? Or whether these fish were visionaries, we may never know. Some fish made their mind to plunge into the unknown, try to breathe in air, crawl instead of swim and the results are apparent. They started a whole new cycle of evolution of which we are all beneficiaries. We would not have existed in this shape and form if they had not taken the risk.

Challenging status quo without any apparent reasons and logical benefits has its own rewards as well as risks. Thats the reason this path is less travelled. If there is an idea, a new activity which you strongly feel about, which you think is going to change things around but no excel sheet supports your claim or none of the facts in the past point towards the success think of the fish who left the water for land. Think of my dealer who refused to expand to unknown just because immediate excel sheet did not support it.

May be you will get courage to start a big cycle of evolution! May be you will know why did fish leave water to live on ground!

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