Monday, 14 January 2013

Out of the mouths of babes ......

Isn't that a brilliant question.  This is a question asked by 7 year old Loulou.
This is part of Facebook initiative by the Holland based banking giant ING . Its is part of their recruitment portal called ING Careers and this idea is called Next Generation banking. In it they are asking children to ask simple questions and for prospective employees who wish to join ING to answer them.
Here are some of the answers
  • We need banks to keep money moving and safe
  • Banks are also a safe place to put your money and not only that but the bank will even make sure the amount you gave them increases over time by using it in different businesses
  • We need banks for your money:
    1. To be safe - Your piggy bank can get lost, stolen or empty.
    2. To grow - Do nothing and see your money grow each year because of interest.
  • So banks were a place you could keep your money safe and also get some extra money if you agreed to pay it back soon
  • So you see banks are there to help people. They have a lot of helpful ideas to make life easier for everyone
  • We need banks because there are two kinds of people, people who has money and want their money to be in a safe place where they could get it anytime they want and people who wants money to make things and sell them in order to make more money.
  • To keep it very simple. Banks make our life easy
------- And so on and so on.
All perfectly true of course. The problem is that this is no longer what banks mostly do.  If senior bankers read this and reflect, perhaps some blinding truths may strike them.
Maybe every industry must do something similar and try and explain their reason for existence to children. They may find themselves squirming and very uncomfortable.
As it is said in Psalm  8:2 , "Out of the mouth of babies and sucklings hast thou established strength ......... "

PS : This blogger had to hold his nose and go into Facebook to get the material for this post. He has quickly exited and is somewhat affected even by this short experience. He won't be going anywhere there in a hurry !


The Million Miler said...

Ha Ha, every industry has a feel good advertising. I bet if you get into the website of British American Tobacco (they call themselves BAT don't they?) you will definitely find the calming effects of tobacco and a statment that there is no evidence of any proven link between tobacco and lung cancer. (cheeky comment from someone who savours tobacco, practicioner of smoking almost like an art form!)

Ramesh said...

@Kiwi - Oh you can spin all you want, but a child will cut through the bullshit in all of 30 seconds.

By the way, how does one make smoking an art form ?? :)

sriram khe said...

What? You peeked into the dark side that FB is? I thought you would never,ever, do that ... ;) Now head to Varanasi to wash away your sins!!!

Yes, every industry explaining to kids about the important roles they play will be a wonderful experience. But then, remember that movie, "Thank you for smoking"??? Oh, Ramesh doesn't watch movies ... Did the Million Miler watch it? The lead character is a master spinner for the tobacco industry, and his buddies do similar wonders for alcohol and guns. (A satirical movie, that covers all the three parts of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, with a focus on tobacco)

My point is that even if we require them to talk to kids, well, I bet the porn industry too will sell itself really well to kids. As Harry Frankfurt noted, the modern world is all about marketing, which is all the more the reason why there is such an explosive growth in bullshit.

The Million Miler said...

Yes I did watch that move Prof. It redefined the term spin doctor! Have a look at this
This is the contribution of all marketing geniuses (is the plural of genius geniuii?) to the English Language. Marketing and Spin are conjoint twins I guess

Asha said...

ING knows the market pulse better i think.... today most of the marketing or advertisements are aimed with kids in mind..they have become decision makers in most families.. even IT dept of india advt says " HAs your father paid his taxes"....seeing this my then 9 year old son ( now 13) asked " appa, have you paid tax?")

I am amazed at your knowledge in theology because you have quoted a Psalm here with the number.

Appu said...

U in FB. ha ha :) :) You are missing my updates by not being in FB not to mention gilsu :P
OTOH after all there is no hope. may be bankers and financiers will change for good.

gils said...

asha madam..thalaikku theriaatha matternu onnu ulagathula unda? :) theology enna sundaiika matter :)

holding ur nose into FB!!! ithelam remmbaa over..naangalam athula thaan kudiyum kuduthanamuma settle aagirukom :D

Deepa said...

I almost jumped out of my seat when I read 'FB initiative' :D Almost felt that the stock did deserve its upward swing! :D

Almost all financial businesses these days involve children to be seen in a more humane light. But I feel this could go either way- either the business world would indeed become more empathetic or they'd become so thick skinned that they wouldn't blink an eye before lying to a kid.

And yes, I second the recommendation from Sriram! You've got to watch at least some good ones! After all you did snoop on FB didn't u? You definitely wouldn't have to hold your nose. :P

Loved Kiwi's link as well! Hilarious and hit the message home!

Ramesh said...

@sriram - Yes, I have to go to Varanasi - or better still Allahabad, where the Khumb mela is going on. Oh yes, any industry can sell itself to kids, but try explaining what you do to them, listen to their probing questions and it will be a different story.

@Kiwi - Advertising and spin are conjoint twins. We should heap contempt on the marketer who thinks marketing is only advertising.

@Asha - Oh yes, much of advertising is aimed at kids. But kids bring out the virtues of simplicity by asking basic questions. That's why we struggle to answer them all through their growing up years, don't we.

@Appu - AM NOT IN FB. The damn link to the story took me to their Facebook site - if I had known I wouldn't have even gone there :):)

@Gilsu - One man's food is another man's poison .....

@Deepa - Wasn't it a child who said aloud, the emperor has no clothes. It takes a child to say the blindingly obvious ....

Ramesh said...

@kiwi - Ho Ho Ho on the link. Hilarious .

Ravi Rajagopalan said...

I would like to venture a conjecture - I love to do this on Ramesh’s blog! – that the separation of form from function leads to the frustration of function.

Banks were where people deposited money for safekeeping. Until some bright Phoenician or Roman figured that instead keeping it there as a magnet for thieves, why not lend it out for interest to people who wanted capital to run a business. And better still, pay some interest to the depositor as a “fee”. As long as the form (i.e. an institution that collected savings and disseminated capital) matched function (keeping savings safe and growing, while acting as a source of funds for those who need it) things were stodgy, slow, boring – but safe.

Once you separate the two, we have problems. The bright young MBA who seems the form and not the function, will decide that he can pay 3% to the depositor but take wild punts with the capital to get a risk-adjusted 9% (instead of a less risky 6%) and he keeps the 3% for the 1964 Chateau Latour. He forgets that the function is to keep savings safe and inflation protected, while making boring but prudent use of capital. Further, he figures that if he is earning 9%, why spend time wooing widows and orphans to give him their savings, instead he will go to the shark around the corner and borrow at 6% because he is getting 3% anyway. And that is how Northern Rock happened.

Think about it.

Sanjay Balachandran said...

I am worried with this heap of marketing (B***shit) being thrown at our kids. Today my son wants a burger over Thair Sadam. I think marketers have realized that the best way to somebody pocket is through their kids... Guess Parenting is more difficult in this information explosion age-- thanks to marketing and internet

Anonymous said...

I do feel bad about targeting kids, but in someday when everybody place their advt for kids, kids will became very smart to ignore it (like this kid in your post).

Ramesh said...

@Ravi - Wonderful conjecture. Actually its more than a conjuncture -its a fair reflection of what really happened over time. Bravo.

@Sanjay - That's a whole different ethical question - how ethical is it to market aggressively to kids. In today's age, that's a given, so parents have to learn to cope !!

@Anon - I don't think kids will learn to ignore - if they have that maturity, they wouldn't be kids. We as parents can simply help them cope, that's all.

Ravi Rajagopalan said...

Ramesh, Hugh Hefner had no problem explaining to Christine Hefner what he did for a living. Indeed, she took it over and did her best to cope with the spread of free internet porn that will kill the top-rack girlie magazines.

I have been pondering this issue of form and function for quite some time. A few years ago I went to the Bauhaus exhibition in the UK. The design movement launched by Walter Groppit in Weimar Germany sought to simplify the design of everyday things to suit their function, and in the process of simplification achieve beauty of form. Its impact was quite profound, and ultimately Nazi goons forced it to close and dispersed all the votaries of the movement. But the approach has profound implications for how we look at the implements of daily life as well our institutions.

Reflections said...

Targetting kids is a sure-fire way of attracting attention and if it is on FB then....I rest my case;-P
Just noticed U have taken to concluding ur posts with a quote from the Bible...pray tell:-)???

Ramesh said...

@Reflections - Yes, the case is well rested. On the Bible bit - well, no significance at all; just that it seemed to fit.

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