Once upon a time, a tribe deep in the Amazonian rain forest realised how important rain and water was to make plants grow and keep their world vibrant. Unfortunately, no one in the tribe knew what made the rain fall.
Then, one bright young warrior spoke up and said, “I know…I will do a dance and that will make the rain fall!” He did a dance…and the rain fell! Well, the other warriors were a bit jealous of his successful prophesy and so another one spoke up and said, “I have a better dance that will make the rain fall.” He added some costumes and a bit of drumming. Lo and behold…the rain fell. Not to be outdone, a third warrior said, “I have the best dance of all!” He organised a parade of singers and dancers emblazoned with colourful outfits. And…the rain fell.
Clearly, rain was an important thing. And the tribal elders wanted to ensure that the rain kept falling. They decided to appoint a Chief Warrior for Rainmaking. When they discussed the three candidates, they struggled. Every one of the warriors made it rain so they don’t know who was the most powerful rain maker. But, the third warrior had the best rain dance. So they decided to make him Chief.
One villager thought this thinking that dancing was making the rain fall was all a bit of hokum. He thought, “It always rains in a friggin’ rain forest!”
An adventurous spirit, this villager found rich soil outside the forest that allowed him to grow new food out in the grassland. But the rain didn’t fall much there. He didn’t think much of the rain dancing, but he figured out how to dig wells and irrigation ditches which provided plenty of the water that he needed.
One day, the rain stopped falling in the forest causing a great calamity in the tribe. They danced and danced, but no rain fell. Finally, someone mentioned the villager who was able to grow food in the dry plains. They called him before the council to explain his magic. He described his system of ditches and irrigation, but very quickly the elders got quite bored and irritated. They proclaimed, “All that sounds very dirty and dreary. Don’t you have a rain dance??” The villager shook his head. The elders then pronounced, “Well, the village is in crisis and we need all the resources we can to fix this drought. So sell your hoes and ploughs. We need more money to buy more feathers for our rain dances.”
The villager complied and then moved away to thrive on his own plot of land, while the village withered dancing away more and more frenetically.
The moral of the story – Beware of simple answers to complex problems.
Over the past decade, the village of business has enjoyed the paradise of prosperity dripping with the windfalls of technology breakthroughs and easy credit. While it was a drenching monsoon of apparent success, it was also conversely a drought of failure. As everything seemed to thrive regardless of their sensibility or viability, what withered was deep understanding and humility. Big companies packed their executive suites with warriors who had danced the most colourful, fanciful and feather-intensive rain dances. In order to survive in the climate change of the new economic reality, businesses will require a bit more grubby ditch-digging embracing the failure of their sacred rain dances.
A recent Onion video portrayed a similarly humorously superstitious response to the complex black box of the faltering economy…