Friday, February 19, 2016


Ladies! I really do not feel like writing a follow up for the "estimation" part ofshopping! But I do not want to disappoint you by not sharing my views on the same!! This is going to be the last article in that series!! "Dressing" is the last factor I would like to consider when I think of women's improvement.

Because I do not want to write another follow up later, let me state my reasons for this stance before we get into the "estimation" part of the article :-) I am sure all of us will agree that for someone to be empowered, they need to be independent. I believe the way a woman dresses has nothing to do with how independent they can think and act. I am taking my role model women as examples for the right side of it! These were the women who could think independently, act on their own will and fight for the cause they believed in but they all wore only or mostly sarees, of course, sarees of their choice!! I also know women on the other side. These were the women who wear western clothing or north Indian clothing most of the time. But their thinking was so out-dated, conditioned by society and easily influenceable! In fact, I know a few of them did not wear sarees because their close family members did not allow(?!?!) them to!! So I do not count this as a factor at all! It is more important for us to make people (both women and men) think independently and stand by what they think as right for sustained empowerment. I really do not care what someone is wearing; it is a negligible factor compared to what they can think and how they act.

Let us get into the "estimation" business! Please note, I am not talking about shopping for groceries or vegetables. In Indian context, the choices in that space are almost fixed and most of us just go by our list. I am mostly referring to clothes and jewels where the choice is more and we have to decide what to buy. The argument put forth was, most of the stores  have fitting room / trial rooms these days so you can have 100% of information needed for estimation. This is where I disagree! Here are my three main points - a) for you to have higher level of data you should try out all the clothes that are there in the store & you should not get tired in the process so as to look the same through-out the trials b) you should have all the accessories & your hair style, glow / confidence on your face etc. should all be the same, the lighting of your environment should be same as the trial room c) your own expertise with dressing.

Can you guarantee the first two? Theoretically speaking, let us assume that you are able to try out all clothes. Can you even attempt the second point including the items that seem to be in your control - like glow of your face or confidence level you radiate on a day? Just a bad argument that morning or a sleepless night can change the whole thing! How will you estimate that? How will you even account for that while estimating?

How about your expertise with dressing? There are a lot of parameters you will have to consider like the colour combination, which colors look good on you in what kind of lighting, what kind of fabric texture is suitable for your body type etc. It also includes things like fitting and style of an attire - where should the shoulder line be, where should the sleeve end for a casual attire, formal attire etc.. You will have to consider the accessories that will go with and if the entire package is suitable for the occasions you are considering. Please note, the parameters will be simpler when you consider South Indian scenario where we have bright sunlight all thru the year and the background looks almost the same throughout the year. If you have to choose clothing for colder countries, where the background is bright for half of the year and pale for the rest of the year, your choices will be influenced by that too!

You may argue that considering all this, the time taken is going to be higher. My point is, knowing all this upfront is going to be very difficult for anyone who is not fashion designer. It is easier to learn on the job :-) Buy a few clothes at a reasonable time, wear it, see how you look and feel in them, change your strategy next time based on your learning. I am suggesting inspect & adapt cycles because it is impossible to learn all these in one go! And you are not going to buy clothes for your lifetime in one round of shopping, anyway!!! So, why waste energy when you can save it for better things!!! Why to go big-bang when you can iterate!!!

To me, the logic that applies in business applies in life and vice versa! If I can inspect and adapt the business strategy, I can do that personally too. In business, if I can plan continuously for shorter duration by spending shorter time, I can do that personally too!! If I allow myself to learn iteratively in business I can allow the same at my personal life too! If I can do capacity based budgeting and be flexible with scope that is aligned with the business vision, I can do that with my clothes too - after all, my vision for clothing is simple - look professional and good! 

What do I do to reduce the time taken to estimate while improving my estimation effectiveness? I go to stores which have a) good sales people with expertise and care for the client for obvious reasons b) good large mirrors and lighting so that I can do the first round of filtering without accessing the fitting rooms c) good comfortable fitting rooms so that I do not get irritated while trying out clothes. I do not shop in malls because personal attention is limited!! I wear the same style of clothes I want to buy that is, if I have to buy sarees or salwar, I go in a saree or salwar respectively; for buying western wear I go in western wear.  This makes the sales people understand what kind of clothes I will like without me explaining it much. Mostly my shopping is done in the mornings when I am fresh and the sales people also are fresh. If not, I go right after lunch when there is no one else in the stores; this is to get exclusive attention. If a clothe does not catch my attention at my first glance at it, I do not even let the sales person open it - it is a waste of time for me and more so for them. Once they understand that you are conscious about their time & effort, and once they get the hang of what you are looking for, it is easy for them to be on your side!! I reduce the time taken to get into this state. If I realise achieving this state is not possible and I am also not able to locate the items that I like at my first glance on my own, I walk out of shopping! It is better to use the time on something more productive. Also there is no point in buying something half heartedly and build unnecessary / unused inventory at home!!

Sure, I too check if the item is affordable or not. But, I reduce the time spent on other aspects of estimation as much as possible. Capacity based budgeting does not depend too much on estimations! Such a business can not afford to spend (rather despises spending) a lot of time estimating!! I too can't / don’t want to spend time estimating!! If you can and if you want to, you are free to do so!!

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