Friday, January 23, 2009


Benchmarking - be it in industries, methodologies, or software development, all processes are benchmarked. Why ? To compare if what one has is equal to the best in the world. Then there are personal benchmarks too... in all possible places and occasions. Isn't bargaining against a benchmark ? Isn't trying to achieve set against a benchmark ? Personal or professional, private or public, benchmarks exist. And it exists so that best practices can be emulated, can be followed and tested against. And, this word has been something that has always got me thinking. Actually, it has helped in setting personal goals, in pushing myself that extra mile to achieve something. For beyond that, I know there is no horizon. It is where I decide whether to walk, run or fly.... and I love that. Not that I have reached that point very often. It has been very very rare. And those are moments when I have exceeded my own expectations and surprised myself. And when I felt a high. It is difficult to explain the emotion.

But, of late, speaking about benchmarks is a taboo word especially where I work today. The question that comes back very often is, "Why should we always compare ourselves with others ? Why can't we set our own path ?" True, very true. But remember, man never reinvented the wheel. The wheel looks the same from the ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, uptodate. You know why ? Because there is no better design for a wheel and it is utter folly to try to better it. That is exactly the point. When you have examples of how to do something perfectly, why not learn from it and then try to fly from there - that is when we become "pathbreakers". Wouldn't that be better than having to spend time the experimental way to reach the same point. Imagine scientists trying to find their own way from scratch for every experiment. We never would have got where we are today. True, environment and scenarios vary. Also true, creativity and innovation is vital. Important also is that one tries to do something differently. The point is when are where do you decide to do it. And given the time and resources, how to increase productivity. Hence, learn from best practices followed in a similar environment if any, and then innovate.

So much for benchmarking. It has left me wondering if I am starting to grow old. But then, I realized, definitely not. It requires some amount of experience and some amount of understanding to get to that point. And that comes with maturity. Till then, I guess I will find people just stating, "Why should we do it like them ? Why can't we try to do differently ?"
Answer: What are you trying to do? What is the goal ? Has it been done before ? And at what costs ?

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