Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Buffalo Theory

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"The buffalo theory definitely is a law worth remembering while working in a group"

The buffalo theory is something that I remember from a long time. It goes as follows
A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
And this is something that I completely agree with. Many times, when you are working in a group project or activity, that involves the participation of a certain number of people, the overall progress of the project or activity is dependent on everyone. You might be really good, but then, If there are elements that are slow, then the overall performance drops due to these weak links.

Interestingly, there is another quote that says that the chain breaks at the weakest links, and I am a firm believer of this. Therefore, it is better to have fewer links in a chain to reduce chances of breaking. But sadly, fewer elements, implies that the entire burden falls on the shoulders of the fewer links themselves. It is important to strike a balance between these two. Don't think that by reducing the number of links, this attitude is making you a "non team player". On the contrary, you are resorting to this because working as a team seems to be counter productive. I know a couple of people, and personally I myself also feel several times, that if something can be done alone, it is best to be done that way. This reduces the risk of failure and collapse by a large margin.
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The above discussion was a serious one. In case you want a small, lighter bit to read, then read the subsequent part of the buffalo theory. This is from a famous sitcom called "Cheers"
Cliff expounds his "Buffalo Theory" to Norm:

“Well, you see, Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

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